Robert had a chance to chat with Logan J. Hunder, the debut author of WITCHES BE CRAZY (Night Shade Books, July 2015), a whimsical and mischievous tale of courage, unconventional friendship, and persevering even when you’re completely out of your depth. It may also involve killer fish, sexy princesses, and rocks getting punched in the face. It is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the pure of heart.
Logan is a Canadian, and as you all know from our cohost, Kristi, the whole lot of them are suspect at best. He describes himself as “Just a young guy who wrote a book and loves gabbing about stuff!” and also as a humanoid creature that “sits around eating Cheetos and playing Minecraft, occasionally stopping to write something down.” His goal is to write fantasy stories laced with action, adventure, and stupid jokes.
Logan: It actually started off as little more than just an attempt to see if I could! Twas the summer of 2013. Netflix stocks were high and the Toronto government was even higher. I had just finished up my degree in criminal justice and needed a way to decompress after a few years of the no-nonsense atmosphere that came with research papers, exams, and hipsters smoking pipes while advertising their love of pastiche novel du jour. So I decided I wanted to write something MY way. Goofy, informal, and chock full of references and stupid jokes! I honestly didn’t think I’d even attempt publishing as I wrote it; I thought it would just give my friends and I a few laughs. But a good friend of mine urged me to pursue it and the rest is history.
AISFP: What makes your books stand out from the crowd?
L: They’re unconventional, unpredictable, and occasionally unhinged. Love it or hate it, I think few would disagree that I have a rather unique writing voice. When combined with historical allusions, pop culture references, and reimaginings of common tropes it tends to make some really fun reads. The original thought that led to Witches Be Crazy was the idea of a hero going on an adventure not to rescue the princess, but rather because the princess was the villain for a change!
AISFP: Tell us some ways that you promote your work?
L: Well naturally my mother and I are compelled to shamelessly harass every person foolish enough to have us on a social media platform. Aside from that, I seem to have graduated to giving interviews! We’ve also sent out advance review copies to book blogs in attempt to drum up some buzz, and in May we did a giveaway with Goodreads of five advance copies. But I’m always looking for little ways here and there to sneak in a plug and get the word out, like my Instagram account where I occasionally post a little cartoony sketch of a character now and then.
AISFP: How long have you been writing fiction?
L: I would say my fictional story telling career began way back when I was five years old; right around the time my dad said “Hey! Who broke this window?” Hopefully I’ve gotten better at it since. The first full story I ever wrote was when I was in about 7th grade I believe. I was reading some of Gordon Korman’s books and his bio said he wrote his first at around that time. Not wanting to be one-upped by some prodigy I had never met, I took a shot at doing the same! It was something space themed with a dragon monster thing and an assassin and a robot with a convoluted acronym for his name… All that usual Sci-Fi stuff. Naturally, like nearly all 13 year old dreamers, I never did anything with it and it’s long gone. I did get to turn it in as an English assignment though, so it kind of worked out.
Will you read reviews of your books?
L: Absolutely. There’s a couple advance reviews out already that I’ve read several times apiece. I can’t help it. There’s nothing more gratifying to me than knowing that I’ve entertained someone with my work. Short of that, I need to know what worked, what didn’t, what it was missing, etc. I originally wrote it just for me, but if people start reading it and liking it then I want to give them more of what they like too! Family/friends/strangers on the internet all insist that it’s unhealthy to read such things, and perhaps once I make it through droves of them I’ll start to go insane(r), but for now it’s a compulsion that I don’t even bother to fight. Long as I can remember not to take the occasional negative one to heart I should be alright.
AISFP: Where did your love of storytelling come from?
L: Honestly I just like to make people laugh. I’m not a performer though; I have enough trouble ordering food at the drive-thru. So, oxymoronic as it sounds, I like to entertain people without having their attention actually on me. I came to find the way to get my fix was to create something. I used to draw little comics with friends or do cartoon doodles in class, but nothing draws people in and engages them better than a really absorbing story with relatable and fun characters. And that’s true whether you’re reciting it from a stage or writing it on a piece of paper.
AISFP: Who are some of your favorite writers and how have they influenced your work?
L: It goes without saying that a significant amount of paving on the road to comedic fantasy should be attributed to the master himself, Terry Pratchett. I have his entire Discworld series on audiobook. And it was mister Pratchett himself that said fantasy authors should never limit themselves to reading just fantasy, lest their style go stale. It’s advice I’ve taken to heart, though it hasn’t stopped me from reading my fill of Mr. Pratchett, or Robert Jordan and Piers Anthony. The old Louis L’amour westerns are some of my favourites, a fondness I inherited from my dad. I’m actually named after Logan Sackett who, like many of them Sackett brothers, is rough, buff, and gruff with a bit of scruff and doesn’t need to talk tough. In fact most of them don’t really feel the need to talk much at all if they don’t have to. So there was likely some influence from there during the characterization of Dungar, Witches Be Crazy’s protagonist. Most recently I’ve picked up Don Quixote after watching Man of La Mancha. Gotta see what 400 years worth of recommendations looks like!
AISFP: What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
L: I’m sure there’s a better answer to this question, but the first thing that immediately jumped to my mind was the very first time I saw the current cover. It was a beautiful picture, like one of those Tinder girls that I would never expect to swipe right for me. And now it sits proudly on the cover of my pride and joy. Actually, now that I mention it, the first time I held a copy in my hands was a surreal moment too. Just looking down at its little body, thoughts of love and wonder at what the future holds filling my mind. Yep, no other feeling like that in the world. That breath of relief after the final edits is a moment worth savouring too.
AISFP: What are your thoughts on print books/ebooks and traditional/self-publishing?
L: This is purely a personal preference, but printed books will always be what I like better of the two. They’re pretty, they feel nice in your hands, and you don’t worry about their inner circuitry when you hurl them across the room after they cause you anguish. That being said, I love the new era of accessibility that has come with ebooks. You can be on the go and never without something to read. And the whole reading in the dark thing is handy too. As for the forms of publishing, I decided very early on that self-publishing was not for me. I would be lost without my team from Skyhorse and Nightshade. Not to mention I likely would have never met my invaluable agent, Mark Gottlieb, and the team at Trident Media Group. They not only take care of the many facets of producing a book that I have no expertise in, but also the things that I wouldn’t even think to think of! But if you know what you’re doing, have faith in your work, or are lucky–or any combination of those three–then self-publishing is not a bad idea at all. I mean hell, look what happened with Fifty Shades of Grey.
AISFP: How detailed are your outlines?
L: Hmmm, I’d describe them as whatever the step above non-existent is. I get a very loose idea in my head of how the story is going to go. Maybe a few set-piece ideas, a couple ideas for new characters, and then just a very general notion of how the story will proceed. Other than that, I enjoy leaving it to myself to improv a lot of it as I write. If it sucks then I’ll scrap it, but a lot of the time I find it works quite well for adding spontaneity and even realism to the narrative. If I leave myself room to ramble and just let things progress organically then I can find myself just as surprised as the reader at where my characters end up!
AISFP: What future projects are you working on?
L: There are many tales to tell from the land of Jenair! Currently I have a sequel being hashed out where a new threat and subsequent adventure dawns. However I also have the first few scribbles of a spinoff story taking place within the kingdom about an almost entirely new set of characters. But the future is an optimistic place with limitless potential, and there is a limited but still vast amount of fantasy tropes ripe for the exploiting. And that’s just fantasy. Those old westerns I mentioned earlier have their own set of cliches that I wouldn’t mind preying upon one day. Might have to wait until my dad is gone before that though, lest he disown me.
AISFP: What made you decide to write humorous fantasy as opposed to standard fantasy?
L: Like I said before, the original motivation I had to write this was to break out of the formal writing rut that I had been stuck in for the preceding few years. Humour seemed the natural route to go because comedy and informality go together like peanut butter and seasickness: it isn’t a cure, but it sure helps with the bad taste it can leave in your mouth. As for fantasy, it has always been a preferred genre for me and I can’t love something without obnoxiously making fun of it until it has self-esteem issues. Hey there, ladies. Did I mention I’m single? But no matter what the genre, I’m the type of person that has a tough time taking things seriously. Even if I were to branch out one day, whether it be to western or spy or Sci-Fi, chances are I’ll be approaching it with the same level of goofiness that brought about Dungar’s adventure in the kingdom of Jenair.
Witches Be Crazy: A Tale That Happened Once Upon a Time in the Middle of Nowhere
Real heroes never die. But they do get grouchy in middle age.
The beloved King Ik is dead, and there was barely time to check his pulse before the royal throne was supporting the suspiciously shapely backside of an impostor pretending to be Ik’s beautiful long-lost daughter. With the land’s heroic hunks busy drooling all over themselves, there’s only one man left who can save the kingdom of Jenair. His name is Dungar Loloth, a rural blacksmith turned innkeeper, a surly hermit and an all-around nobody oozing toward middle age, compensating for a lack of height, looks, charm, and tact with guts and an attitude.
Normally politics are the least of his concerns, but after everyone in the neighboring kingdom of Farrawee comes down with a severe case of being dead, Dungar learns that the masquerading princess not only is behind the carnage but also has similar plans for his own hometown. Together with the only person senseless enough to tag along, an eccentric and arguably insane hobo named Jimminy, he journeys out into the world he’s so pointedly tried to avoid as the only hope of defeating the most powerful person in it. That is, if he can survive the pirates, cultists, radical Amazonians, and assorted other dangers lying in wait along the way.
Logan J. Hunder’s hilarious debut blows up the fantasy genre with its wry juxtaposition of the fantastic and the mundane, proving that the best and brightest heroes aren’t always the best for the job.
Robert Junker – AISFP Contributor