Saturday, January 30, 2010
Interview with Joyce's Client Thom Hunter
I’m pleased present to you Thom Hunter, one of my clients.
Thom, tell us about yourself and your family.
Originally from Texas (we never recover from that), I now live in Norman, Oklahoma and love it north of the Red River. I lived my dream as a newspaper editor for a number of years and then exchanged it for a sometimes nightmarish career in corporate public relations with AT&T. I came to my senses and rejected that stability and entered the risky but rewarding realm of full-time writing, though, fortunately for my four sons and my daughter, not until they were able to take care of themselves. The four boys are a private remodeling contractor, college professor, Army Ranger and a police officer. My daughter is finishing up at the University of Oklahoma with her sights set on a career in some unnamed African country. My first two books, Like Father Like Son (and Daughter, too) and Those Not-So-Still Small Voices were about family life. Let’s just say there was a lot of it to write about. Lisa and I have been married for almost 34 years and God has indeed seen us through things only He fully understands.
Describe the two books you’re writing currently.
Both of my current books focus on the problem of sexual brokenness among Christians. One of them -- Signs of a Struggle – deals primarily with the growing problem of same-sex attraction – homosexuality. The second book -- Want Grace with That? The Christian’s Return to Sexual Wholeness – presents, from a Biblical perspective, how God heals and helps Christians who struggle with all forms of sexual brokenness, including homosexuality, pornography, sexual idolatry, adultery and emotional dependency. Both books are written from the perspective of a Christian who has struggled personally. That would be me.
You are writing about a tough subject. What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
These are tough subjects. People who struggle with a sexual problem – particularly Christians – tend to internalize it or cover it up and compound the struggle with even greater suffering, layered with guilt, shame and self-loathing. I hope my readers will find hope and comfort in knowing they are not alone and that they will learn to seek accountability and forgiveness, through grace, and direct their energy towards healing by approaching their issues honestly. By being transparent and writing from a perspective other strugglers can understand, I hope to give readers the courage to move from bondage into freedom. I also hope to encourage Christians who don’t struggle themselves to get in front of these sexual issues and stop allowing culture to take the lead instead of the Church. We should be helping, not condemning, those who struggle. We should be offering a new life, not condoning a broken lifestyle.
How important do you feel the internet is to your marketing plan?
The Internet is very important, partially because of the subject matter. While I write about a subject that affects the lives of many Christians, most of them still seek information as discretely as possible. The Internet allows for that. At the same time, the openness of the Internet allows for subjects like homosexuality and sexual brokenness to be discussed from a Christian perspective in the very same media format as that used by culture, which often promotes a conflicting viewpoint. Promoting these books through on-line groups, various respected web sites, and popular blogs and through organizations like Exodus and other Christian groups via the Internet reaches people who might be less comfortable seeking help openly in a local church. While these books are written to help and support people who struggle with any issue, those who struggle with deeply personal and hidden issues may be more comfortable ordering a book over a website like Amazon.com than off the shelf of the local bookstore. That said, I think they will sell well in the bookstores because more and more people are making personal decisions to confront and understand these issues.
Is there an area in your writing that you are working on developing more?
Because I always write from a personal perspective with great transparency, I am always working hard to try to write in such a way that the reader can place himself in the story rather than seeing me. I want the reader to say “that’s me,” or “now I see why he acts like he does,” or “I can understand her pain better now,” referring to friends and loved ones who struggle. The books reflect my experiences, but I want readers to see themselves or the people they care about. I’m working on being honest without being self-indulgent, so readers will trust me.
Do you have a favorite writing ‘How To’ book that you would like to recommend to other authors?
I taught PR Writing at the University of Oklahoma for five years, and, honestly, I think the textbooks I taught from were some of the best “How To” books because they were all centered on finding the quickest and clearest route to communication and making every word count. They instilled in me the ability to cut fluff and get to the point. I haven’t actually read a “How-To” that was directed at writing a book. However, I have had some great conversations with other published authors who were willing to share their success stories. I really think reading work done by authors you admire – particularly if they have a style similar to yours – is very encouraging.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey?
Perhaps the layman’s label can be a bit of an obstacle in Christian publishing. My career as a journalist and then as a corporate PR executive might open doors if I were writing books about media or business. However, my heart is to write to everyday Christians from the perspective of a layman who struggles with the same issues they do. Not having that theology degree or the pastoral perspective might seem like an obstacle in the early stages – trying to get the proposal taken seriously – but in the end, the only obstacle a writer really has to fear is the inability to write well. That one would be pretty hard to overcome. I think God has opened some doors for me and I am grateful. I love this journey.
What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer?
That’s a tough one. I can’t remember a time when I did not want to write. I always thought I would be a writer whether or not anyone ever read what I wrote. Now that I have a personal platform, I want everybody to read what I write. Don’t we all? Honest and true positive feedback from teachers helped me decide to become a write, from Mrs. “Looney” Lorts in junior high, Dr. Whitten in high school and a college journalism professor who would always require me to write both sides of an editorial position to make sure I learned to take every view into account. He said it would give me passion for my own perspective. As a Christian author, I believe true passion for writing has to come from God. He has given me a great desire to communicate about the issues which dominated my life in hopes of helping others. If we listen to Him, I think sometimes maybe we really don’t have a choice but to write.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Be passionate and fearless. Yes, seek plenty of input and feedback, but follow your instincts, trust your skills and stay true to your style. Instead of trying to write like someone else, strive to be able to say “no one writes like me.”
Where can we find you on the web?
The Baptist Messenger:
Thanks Thom for sharing with us and thanks to all of you who read our blog. We’re honored that you take the time to visit with the Hartline agents and their authors.
May God bless and keep you,