Hunter Shea admits his love for Real Housewives and talks about the scariest night of his life and inspiration for Creature

Fun Fact: Hunter says, “I’m actually a big Real Housewives fan!”

SR: What’s your new book about?

Creature coverHS: Creature revolves around a couple, Kate and Andrew, struggling with Kate’s debilitating illnesses. Her quality of life is rapidly deteriorating. Andrew as a caregiver is doing the best he can, but he’s running out of hope. After Kate receives a powerful new treatment, Andrew takes the summer off from work and rents their dream cabin by a lake in Maine. It’s a perfect place to heal and relax, but nothing goes as planned. Strange sounds in the woods and rocks being thrown at the cottage are the harbingers of worse things to come.

SR: Was there a specific issue or incident that really motivated you to write this particular story? What was the prompt?

HS: This is a very autobiographical book for me. My wife suffers from a host of autoimmune diseases that had made our lives, at times, a living hell. When Flame Tree Press approached me about writing a book for their premier horror line, I wanted to draw on our experiences, weaving real life with palpable horror. Readers seem to really feel Kate’s real terror and are equally scared of what’s circling the cottage.

SR: What’s the scariest experience you’ve ever had?

HS: The scariest and worst night of my life was back in the mid-1990s. My wife had been in the hospital for a few months and wasn’t getting better. One night, the doctor came in and told me she would most likely not make it through the night. They asked if we’d like a priest to come in and administer last rites. I was literally numb, along with sad, mad, confused and terrified. It was the longest night of my life. The good news is, she DID NOT die that night and is still by my side twenty years later.

SR:  Your protagonist has to flee the country. Where are they headed to and why that location?

HS: I think Kate would look for someplace that is filled with life. I’m thinking the streets of Barcelona. She’s been sick and shut in for so long, she craves for the beauty and fun of life. She would love to walk down Las Ramblas, tour the architecture and revel in the nightlife.

SR:  Is your protagonist more likely to go insane or end up in prison?

HS: Kate could certainly go insane. Dealing with chronic pain and illness takes as much a toll on the mind as it does the body. Not to mention, some of the medications to treat these things can also play tricks with your mind. For Andrew, I’m thinking prison. He’s filled with so much rage at what’s happening to his wife, if he stopped his punishing running routines, he would eventually lash out at the wrong person and find himself in some serious trouble.

SR: What’s your protagonist’s greatest fear? Why?

HS: Andrew’s is quite simple – Kate dying. She’s the center of his universe and he can’t imagine life without her. For Kate, the exact same thing, namely because she doesn’t want to hurt her husband by not being around for him.

SR: Is there something you hope the reader carries away with them after they’re done reading? An insight or philosophy that you wanted to come through in your work?

HS: I wanted to give readers a glimpse into real life with autoimmune diseases. It’s a very real horror that is largely misinterpreted and misunderstood. The constant swirling of emotions is as real as the brute pain and fatigue. But I also wanted to show that people with these diseases deeply love and live everyday. Oh, and dream cottages in the woods are not always what they seem. ☺

SR:  If hell was watching one movie over and over and over again, or listening to one song over and over again, what would the movie or song be for you? For your protagonist?

HS: I have seen so many bad movies, it’s so hard to pick just one that would be my vision of hell. I think Tom Cruise’s horrendous version of The Mummy might do my soul in. I hated that one so much, it made me furious. How dare they destroy my beloved Universal monsters? Music wise, definitely Call Me Maybe. That’s an ear worm of a song that needs to be exterminated.

SR: What’s the first book you remember reading that had a huge impact on you? How did that story affect you? How do you think it shaped your desire to be a writer?

HS: The first ‘big people’ book I read as a kid was, not shockingly, Stephen King’s Night Shift. I absorbed those stories like a sponge. I was already a huge horror movie fan, but that book solidified me as a lifelong horror reader. As a horror writer, I don’t think you could have a better inspiration than King. An entire generation of horror creators owe their careers to that man.

SR:  What’s the best thing about writing?

HS: Just being able to settle into your made up world and do literally anything you want with it. I love tucking myself away and hearing the sound of my fingers tapping on the keys of my computer. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by sounds and images and a million distractions, writing is forced quiet and reflection time. It’s very meditative and quite relaxing…at least until you have to write action sequences and it can be an adrenaline rush.

SR:  What’s the worst thing about writing? Is there a worst thing?

HS: There’s always a moment when you think to yourself, “This book is crap. I can’t believe I just spent all this time writing utter garbage!” Working past that feeling is both the worst and best. I enjoy the whole process of writing, from the first draft to editing round number ten.

SR: What detail in your writing do you obsess over the most? Character names? Locations? Description? Dialogue? Research?

HS: It’s all about the characters. If you can’t make compelling, relatable characters, its game over. You can craft the perfect location, the scariest monster of all time, the most terrifying plot twists. But if you don’t have characters that readers cheer or jeer, all is lost.

SR: What movie or TV world do you wish you could live in? Why?

HS: Oh, I would desperately want to be the third wheel to Mulder and Scully in the X-Files. Give me a gun, cell phone and access to a monster a week and I’d be in heaven, even though said monsters would try to kill me. I’d be happy to be Scully’s sounding board and shoulder to cry on. 😉

SR: Everyone needs an outlet to help them recharge. What hobbies do you have outside of writing?

HS: If I’m not writing, I’m reading. My TBR and current read pile next to me is a dozen books, with so many more locked and loaded on my Kindle. I also love going to the movies. The Alamo Drafthouse theater by my house is a godsend. Beer and movies is the perfect combo.

SR: You strike it rich. What charity are you going to create or support?

HS: I’m going to buy a huge motor home and travel the country  distributing books and teaching people the importance of literacy. If you look at people in history that have made a lasting impact, they were all voracious readers. Their love of the written word and curiosity fueled them to change the world. In a day and age where attention spans are dwindling, we need to reconnect with books and deep learning.

SR: Do you have any special events coming up? Where can people catch up with you in person or on a podcast?

HS: I’ll be bopping all over the place on blogs and podcasts and live events in support of Creature. Stay tuned by visiting me at www.huntershea.com to follow everything.

 

Hunter Shea talks about his trust author assistants, Iris and Salem, here.

 

Hunter Shea Headshot 2016

Hunter Shea is the author of over 20 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological horror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon, Loch Ness Revenge and many others. His novel, The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays.

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