Good morning, folks! Today, we have a treat as we sit down in the kitchen with Shann Hurst, author of Novelty, this week’s Starving Review dish. Let’s see what this literary chef has to tell us!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
My name is Shann Hurst. I grew up in the American Midwest, spent several years in Hollywood California. I’ve had enough scares in my life to finally realize that each day is precious, and I’m now attempting to make the rest of my life into a personal adventure.
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
I’m also an illustrator. I went to art school and have a couple children books out. I’m now finishing a 90 page graphic novel called TUNDRA that I hope to release next month. Words or pictures, it’s always about the story.
What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
I should have read this question before answering the previous one. Still, that would be TUNDRA. It’s a full color graphic novel. A two hundred year old British sea captain walks into a village in Arctic Greenland. It’s winter with six months of darkness, he announces that he’s a vampire and will only kill a quarter of the population if they don’t resist. But he will kill them all if they do. So the town accepts the bargain. It’s a comedy adventure.
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
Honestly, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wishing that I had written a book. That pretty much sums up a lot of things I do in life. I don’t want any regrets.
Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
It looks like my thing might be magical realism. I like to mix things up. I remember watching the 50’s television show, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, and thinking how wild it would be if they had an episode where the house became haunted.
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
Economy. I’m intrigued by the way a joke can be funny by using 10 words, and not nearly as funny when using 20 words. There’s something about the tempo of thought. There’s a music to language that goes deeper than just prose. I don’t know if I’m riding that wave yet… but I’m working on it.
Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
Larry McMurtry. His characters make me laugh.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
I like having the main character as a conduit into surreality. I keep the person grounded. That way, as the world alters beyond our normal confines, we can still find something we can relate to.
Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
Sparse. You already have a lifetime of memories to draw upon. When I talk about a cold glass against your forehead. There’s that distant five year-old in us who remembers. You don’t need me to spend a half a page describing it.
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Man vs Man. I want the chance to imagine the mind of the bad guy. Not just that he’s a bad guy because it helps the plot, but to really build up a character that’s really foreign to the way I view life. Maybe it’s a deep inner release. Hmmmmmm….
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
Oh, I’m a plot guy. I want that solid foundation. I will follow a boring guy on an adventure, but I don’t care how cool of a character he is. I’m not going to watch him just sit there. Obviously, we want both.
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
There should be some form of immediate intrigue. Why else would I want to spend 400 pages following this story?
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Oh, I’m a total cake guy. While I like the quaint nostalgia of a summer picnic pie. What I really want is that layered dark chocolaty chocolate that makes you cry out in agony for a cold glass of milk.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
Just create a world that enjoy being in because you’re going to be in there for a long time.