Monday 7 June 2010

My Guest: T.M. Hunter

Today we meet T.M. Hunter, another Champagne Books author.  T.M. is known for his Aston West space operas.

LR: Tell us a little about yourself.
TM: Not much to tell. I’ve always had a love for space exploration and aerospace in general. This (and knowing how much engineers earned in salary) led me to decide in the third grade that I wanted to be an engineer. Through trials and tribulations, I finally achieved that degree and have since worked in the aircraft industry (which is often harder to handle than the writing business). On the side, I write science fiction short stories and novels mostly based in the universe of my space pirate Aston West. My first book Heroes Die Young was awarded the Best Selling Book of 2008 by Champagne Books, and my second (Friends in Deed) just came out this January.

LR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and for how long have you been writing?
TM: I’ve been writing since I first penned an adventure story back in the third grade (which was far longer back than you would think). Granted, it was what you would expect out of someone that age. I didn’t seriously start writing until after graduating high school. Without getting into too many of the details, life’s circumstances dealt me great tragedy around that time, and I finally had the foundation I really needed to develop realistic characters and situations (at least in my opinion). From that point on, I was hooked with the disease of writing and have wanted to share my stories with the world. It’s been a long, strange trip, complete with all the pitfalls and setbacks you’d expect out of a classic work of literature, but in the end, I’m having fun. That’s worth a lot.

LR: Hmm, sounds like the makings of a good memoir...  What sort of books do you normally write?
TM: I write mostly in science fiction, technically in the sub-genre of space opera (or as I like to refer to it, science fiction for the rest of us). I enjoy the freedom that comes with the creation of new worlds and new beings, and there’s nothing finer than men and women with ray guns in too much leather. I like space opera over hard (not to be confused with erotic) sci-fi because it’s more character and plot-driven, and not so focused on the technical side of things.

LR: What inspires you?
TM: Various things, depending on the day and the circumstances. My first novel, Heroes Die Young, actually stemmed from a dream I’d had which ended up being the basis for the first chapter of the book. The second novel, Friends in Deed, came about from a scene in the first book where Aston (while sitting in a jail cell) reminisces about his escape from a prison planet and briefly mentions the brothers by name. Sitting around one day well after the first book was written, I wondered what these twins would be like, and what life would have been like for Aston back then. I began sketching out these characters and wondered to myself, “These two are pretty devious hombres. What if Aston met up with them again?” Thus began the plot and the rest, as they say, is history.

LR: What do you try to get across in your written works?
TM: Honestly, I don’t think I try to get any deep meaning across in my work, as much as I just love telling stories that people enjoy reading. Perhaps that’s a shortcoming of mine, but it’s how I do it anyway. Along the way, I seem to have several readers who love (and hate) particular characters, or enjoy specifics from the works (one reader has professed their love for a species having bit parts in both of my novels, go figure). So, I figure I’m doing something right. At least I hope so.

LR: Who are your favourite writers and why?
TM: While growing up, I was a big fan of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, which I did not realize until recently (after I Googled it) were penned by several different authors under pseudonyms. Go figure. In the modern day, I’ve become fond of reading Sue Grafton (Kinsey Milhone “alphabet” series), Janet Evanovich, and J. A. Konrath, all of whom write mysteries (and presumably are all writing under their real names). Another great author I like reading is Steven Shrewsbury, who writes horror and thrillers. It’s odd that a guy who likes science fiction would read so much in the way of mysteries, but I think the fact I read so many character-driven novels is the reason Aston is so loved by his fans.

LR: What are you currently reading?
TM: I’d mentioned Steven Shrewsbury, and I’m currently reading one of his horror novels, Hawg. It’s funny, because the last time I mentioned him was on a convention panel where I referred to him as “lesser-known” and in fact another person on that same panel knew him personally. I don’t call him that anymore. *smile*

On my to-read list after that are a couple of other science fiction authors from Champagne Books, K. M. Tolan (Rogue Dancer) and Ciara Gold (Celestial Dragon). It looks like I’m going to need to add your book to my list as well.

LR: Why, thanks!  I hope you enjoy it.  What is your advice to aspiring writers?
TM: Make sure that writing is something you’re willing to live and breathe every moment for the rest of your life. If not, find another outlet for your artistic talent. This business of writing is a harsh and cruel one, rife with rejection and other such depressing activities, and is not for the weak of heart or spirit. If after all of that, you’re still willing to give it your all, then I recommend learning all that you possibly can about writing, the technical and business aspects of it, and then when you can’t stand any more, keep trying to learn even more.

LR: Reading your blogs, your advice is always sage and very insightful.  How do you go about, normally, researching your books?
TM: That’s why I generally work on science fiction, dear. If I wanted to do that much research, I’d be writing historical fiction, mysteries or police procedurals. Other than going back and verifying all of the facts I’ve worked into my published stories and novels, and making sure I’m not violating any of them in my latest novels, I’d say my research is minimal, mostly focused on studying human behavior.

LR: Tell us about your current release.
TM: Friends in Deed, in a nutshell, is a tale of friendship and betrayal. Space pirate Aston West stumbles across a pair of old friends, twin brothers. Unfortunately for him, the brothers have other plans besides just catching up on old times. All three of them escaped from a prison planet long ago, and now Aston’s old friends want him to return there to carry out an extremely risky rescue mission. Even worse, they aren’t giving him any choice in the matter. Some friends, huh?

In the process of carrying out this rescue, Aston discovers he isn’t the only one the twins are forcing into servitude. He meets a female pirate who wants out, and his inner hero can’t help but try to help her out of her predicament. Trouble is, the twins aren’t about to just let her walk away. Needless to say, things get pretty hairy, and fast.

LR: Sounds interesting.  Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
TM: I have several haunts which I frequent on the web. I’m currently out there on Twitter (@astonwest), Facebook and Myspace (both under Aston West). Friends in Deed also has a fan page over on Facebook, which was a recent addition. And of course, everyone should look me up on my website,, which contains various links to the spots one can purchase copies of both books, as well as links to my published stories as they come out. I’ve been told that my first book is going to be hitting bookstore distribution soon, but no timetable on when that will happen. Generally, I keep everyone updated on the latest news through all of these, so it’s truly whichever presence my fans are most comfortable with.

LR: If your book was made into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
TM: I’ve not really thought about it too terribly much for this latest book, but Aston West has always been a toss-up between Nathan Fillion (which is ironic, since so many compare my Aston stories to Firefly) and Viggo Mortensen (of Lord of the Rings fame). My money would be on Fillion.

Unfortunately, no female actress really stands out as being exactly like Leah Jordan, but there several who could fit the role. Felicia Day would be good at it, as well as Megan Fox.

The Cassus twins would be a trick, because you’d have to either find two people who looked somewhat alike, or have one person playing both roles through the magic of modern filmmaking. Brad Pitt might be able to handle the role, or perhaps Russell Crowe (or both?). Oddly enough, the person I had in mind when constructing the persona of Lars (and thus, the same look for Elijah) was Dolph Lungren (the Russian in Rocky IV). He might be able to pull it off as well.

LR: Agreed, I'd definitely go for Nathan Fillion!  If you could be a character in your book, who would it be and why?
TM: The easy answer would be Aston, but I’ve never been about doing things easy. I think it would be fun to be Elijah Cassus, just because he doesn’t care if what he does is right or wrong, as long as he can justify to himself that it needs to be done. Would I really be that person in real life? No. But that’s why it’s called fiction. *smile*

Here is an excerpt from Friends In Deed (Please keep it PG-13, thanks!):

Even in the depth of my nightmares, Lycus IV was a formidable hell. The scenery misled one to think of mighty grandeur. Lush green trees lined the banks. Sporadic cloud cover offered broken views of a pale blue mountain range.

This prison planet’s terror was not found in its natural surroundings, but from its unwilling inhabitants.

A wide, slow-moving river flowed in front of me over a deep bed of rocks. My filthy clothing was ripped and shredded, and exposed bloody skin. I gazed back across the clear, inviting water.

A bellow filled the air and I turned. A pale, naked giant rumbled through the brush, still yelling at the top of his lungs. High above his head, he gripped his makeshift mallet, a boulder strapped into the fork of a tree branch. I jumped aside as the weapon crashed down.

He stared with one wide eye and the other glazed over. Saliva dribbled from his lips.

“I am King of the wooded realm! You dare invade my territory?”

This wasn’t a fight I planned to stick around for. Psychotics were the worst type of violent.

He hoisted his club and swung it at me. I stumbled back and it came so close I felt the breeze. I turned toward the opposite bank and sprinted across the riverbed.

“Your punishment is death! Vengeance is demanded!”

I high-stepped through calf-deep water while the beast screamed bloody murder. I dared not look back, because there was no doubt he gained on me with every step.

My foot caught a cluster of rocks under the surface and I splashed down, drenched by the cool, clear water. I flipped over and faced my attacker as he left me in a cold, dark shadow. Milky-white foam oozed over his lower lip.

“Prepare to meet your maker!”

He raised the mallet high above his head. At least death would be quick, but I couldn’t say much for painless. I closed my eyes and waited for the crushing blow.

A whistle filled the air and the giant beast gasped and choked. My eyes flashed open as the beast dropped his weapon into the river behind him.

Only one object stood between me and oblivion, a homemade arrow buried in his neck. He couldn’t pull it from the front, so reached back. His mind gave up hope as soon as his fingers probed the stone tip. The monster’s eyes rolled up out of the way, then his body fell backward.

The corpse splashed down and huge waves rolled past me. I scrambled around and gazed at the opposite bank. There, a bow in his left hand and more arrows strapped to his back, stood the man who’d just saved my life.

Elijah Cassus.

Thanks T.M. for being my guest today and enduring these intrusive questions ;)


  1. Thanks for having me, TK! And though I didn't get in this morning (silly storms), I'd still like to offer up the chance for one random commenter to this post to win a copy of Friends in Deed. Ask questions, just say hi, it's completely up to you. I'll pick a winner from everyone who posts before Tuesday at 11:59 PM (Central time).


  2. I love Janet Evanovitch too, so good to see her name on here, not enough people seem to know about her! I loved Friends In Deed as you know, so just wanted to say thanks for letting us get to know Aston and the rest of the crew. Just a thought... Matt Davis as Aston maybe?

  3. I'm not sure if I know who Matt Davis is...? Thanks for stopping by, and if you have some movie he's been in, maybe that will jog my memory.

    I actually have a Janet Evanovich book on my to-read pile...which seems to be getting larger and larger instead of smaller and smaller. Oops. :-)

  4. Yay! Another T.M. interview I got to read, I feel like maybe I should go back and read past ones? :)

    I suppose I should figure out something to say eh? First off, as you know, I got your book today. I've been reading it off and on with my distractions but so far I'm really enjoying it.

    I wanted to thank you quickly for linking to all these other blogs, like this one, where your interviews are. they are quickly helping me build my own 'don't forget to read this' book pile!! ( which now includes both of your books and THREE doctor who books. Oi Vey...)

    I know you said you don't read/watch manga/anime but I keep thinking back to Outlaw Star. Even if you're not a huge fan of the genre it's a short series (26 episodes) and might be worth skimming, just to see the similarities to Jeanie/Gillium II and Ason/Gene.

    Alright, I'm done. Need to get back to reading your book. =]

  5. Thanks for stopping by! As for manga/anime, it's not a case of not being a fan but never having seen any to form an opinion. Unfortunately, writing tends to take a lot of time. ;-)

    I'll have to take a look, though. It's funny, because I'd never heard of Firefly before someone commented that my book reminded me of I'm a big fan. ;-)

  6. or reminded them of it...silly me. ;-)

  7. *cough* watch cowboy bebop *cough* watch outlaw star *cough*


  8. Thanks for stopping by, Ryan!

    Not sure that was subliminal enough, Mousey... ;-)

  9. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and to TM for being my guest.

  10. Were you going to pick the winner, or was I?

  11. Congratulations, Mousey, you've won a copy of FRIENDS IN DEED!

  12. Congrats Mousey, and thanks again for all who dropped by to have a read. Also, thanks again TM.