Please welcome Logan J. Hunder to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Witches Be Crazy was published on July 14th by Night Shade Books.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Logan: Thanks for figuratively having me!
I've always had a very active imagination. I think if my parents were to answer this question they would make claims about me writing stories all the way back in first or second grade when would scrawl semi-coherent blobs and call them illustrated novels. But personally I don't think I ever created anything that could be considered an actual story until I was about twelve or thirteen and in middle school. In lieu of playing sports or talking to girls, a couple friends and I would spend our lunch hours huddled in our classroom taking turns at putting out issues of our collaborative comic series: The Dunce Hat Warrior. An epic tale of a bumbling idiot that shot a lot of guns and put dunce caps on the heads of those he killed...for some reason...it sounded much better at the time. I was (am?) a strange kid.
Writing was always a creative outlet for me. Something I could do by myself for myself. The only real difference between now and then is some people seem genuinely interested in what I come up with. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Logan: Up until this very moment I had never heard either of those terms before. Now that I am newly educated I can say with absolute certainty that I am a proud pantser, much as that makes me sound like a guy who habitually pulls people's pants down. There's something about spontaneity that really adds to humour—just watch Whose Line Is It Anyway? I've found I actually have a more difficult time writing out points in the story that I had already planned. The words just don't come as easy. Rather, when I have no concept of what should come next and just let myself go I find I can end up in some incredibly amusing places. It's almost like I experience the story the same way the reader does in those cases.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Logan: Sometimes motivation can be an issue. Sometimes finding the right words can be an issue. Sometimes forcing myself to cut redundant things can be an issue. Sometimes unintended repetition can be an issue. One of the challenges I find myself facing is that of brevity. Polonius says it's the soul of wit, and wit is what I want, so often times I have to take a moment and ask myself if I'm rambling a bit too much. It's a challenge I often face in real life too.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Logan: Well it goes without saying that the pioneers of the art, Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony, have some level of influence over any of us who dare enter the hybrid realms of fantasy and making fun of things. And like virtually every other child born in the early 90s and thereafter, I was a huge Harry Potter fan growing up. However an author of whom I am a fan and probably derive influence from that one wouldn't expect would be Louis L'Amour. It's a fondness I've undoubtedly inherited from my dad, who named both me and my brother Nolan after members of the Sackett family. I still remember finding an old tattered copy of Ride the Dark Trail at an rundown book store. It split in half before I managed to finish reading it. Still sits on my shelf, though.
TQ: Describe Witches Be Crazy in 140 characters or less.
Logan: It's funny, punny, and worth your money! Witches has the action and humor you want in a big budget movie without the forced romance subplot.
That was exactly 140 characters. I'm proud of myself.
TQ: Tell us something about Witches Be Crazy that is not found in the book description.
Logan: Okay! So the blurb sets the scene, a goofy kingdom of scenic spots and nefarious plots. The reader is naturally expecting a story of an unlikely hero rising up to face larger than life scenarios and get repeatedly smacked across the face by circumstance, as is common in the classic quest. However what the back blurb fails to portray is the referential nature of the writing. Over the course of Witches Be Crazy I lovingly reference and pay homage to everything from Les Miserables to South Park to lyrics from one of my favorite Canadian Bands: Great Big Sea. I find inspiration from the strangest of things, and I love to incorporate it in my work. Many readers have commented on the pleasure they discern from picking out the countless Easter Eggs they come across. The best part is even if you're my mother and you don't notice ANY of them, it doesn't detract from the story itself at all.
TQ: What inspired you to write Witches Be Crazy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy and humor?
Logan: Fantasy has always been my favorite genre because it can be anything you want it to be. It is limited only by our own personal limitations as creative people. But even classic fantasy at its core is such a unique hybrid of drama and whimsy, fighting and fun, and the ability to incorporate it all under one cover without too many seams—if any at all. My nerdy proclivity for video games and D&D probably has had some hand in developing my tastes as well. As for writing humour, I've known for quite a long time that I have a degree of difficulty in taking things seriously—something that many of my college professors were not fans of. I still refuse to believe I'm the only person my forensic anthropology teacher had ever seen carry on a loud discussion about the merits of using a human femur as a mace. Though in retrospect I think she was just displeased I was brandishing an actual human femur at the time to illustrate my point.
That little story might seem tangential, but it was after college that I finally had reached my breaking point with writing serious things and wanted to take a foray into something offbeat. My original premise was "A few guys travel across the country to break into the castle and kill the princess rather than save her." From there I just "pants"d it, so to speak. It wasn't until I was over half way through that I even got the notion of trying to publish it.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Witches Be Crazy?
Logan: In my writing I find myself researching some of the strangest things. For Dungar naturally I had to learn a little bit about the blacksmithing process. But as an unabashed teetotaler I also had to brush up on various kinds of alcohol, how coveted they were, what they were made of, and what assumptions can be made about the kind of person who enjoys them. For Rose I had to familiarize myself with a variety of science mumbo jumbo, but my brother is literally a rocket scientist so thankfully he could always be relied upon to help me out there. Fun fact: when I'm crediting the women of SRS for various inventions, all the inventions I list (except plumbing) actually were invented by women. In writing the sequel I actually found myself watching a half hour long Youtube video describing the intricacies of making stained glass windows... All just so I could make a joke.
The part in Witches about diamonds is probably what required the most research.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Logan: While I don't personally see it, people who know me have said that Dungar is a lot like me. I suppose that's to be expected, him being my very first protagonist and all, but even if there are similarities I don't think they're so apparent that one could call this author-insert fiction. That being said, his lines and demeanour come pretty naturally; especially when often times there's the comically unreal Jimminy to act as a basis for comparison. But despite being a complete foil to Dungar, Jimminy was startlingly easy for me to write as well. Coming up with malapropisms and pithy remarks wasn't always a no-brainer, but his overall personality and outlook were very easy to draw character from.
If I were to pick a hardest character to write, it would probably be Gilly. I am a man which, by definition, means I'm not a woman. So just writing from a female perspective means I'm having to reach a bit. I'm forced to reach a little bit more when I'm writing a character that is deeply religious whilst I have no affiliations to the divine myself. And from there the only other thing that drives her is her love for her sister... Something I also lack. There's a bond between Rose and Gilly much greater than even what I delved into in the book, and it causes Gilly to have a distrust and perhaps even dislike for Dungar, a character that I just said is pretty me-ish. With Dungar I can draw on my values, with Jimminy I can draw on my humour, but with Gilly I'm basically writing a character that is nothing like me and probably would not care for me if she knew me.
TQ: Which question about Witches Be Crazy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Logan: Oh how fun! It has to be related to Witches Be Crazy, so I guess "Can I buy you dinner?" is out. Alright, let’s try something like this:
"Hey Logan, nice hair, so I was wondering: In your last response, you compared Dungar to yourself but also claimed there were differences. If you could take one aspect of Dungar for yourself what would it be? And if you could give one aspect of yourself to him, what would it be?"
Well hey thanks for that incredibly thought provoking question, me. If I were to take an aspect of Dungar for myself it would probably be either his bravery or confidence. Granted there were times in the story that he lacked sureness in his actions, he never crumbled under pressure and he never froze when he needed to be...er...fluid? No matter what this foreign and bizarre world threw at him, he could always persevere and find a way to keep on keepin on.
But the very reason I would admire him comes with side effects. Dungar can be more tightly wound than a catapult. Sometimes you have to be able to not take yourself or anything else too seriously. Dungar is so quick to rush to anger and violence that it's a good thing he lives in fantasy land, because that sort of thing doesn't really fly in many other places. His proclivity for punching people, even if he managed to weather the societal ramifications, surely cannot be good for his health. Sooner or later you run into someone that can punch harder than you, and even if you don't, your heart is gonna hate you. I don't think blood pressure meds exist in Jenair, so for his own good I'd prescribe Dungar some Logan chill pills.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Witches Be Crazy.
Logan: Alright it's kind of long, but easily one of my favourite quotes is from when they first meet the pirate captain: Nobeard
"We steal from the rich and give to the poor!" Nobeard repeated as he began to sway in rhythm with the music. "But we be more than your commoner altruistic outlaw! We are the very image of that which is not changeable, we are experts in every theft tactic that is stageable, we carry out our deeds to keep the wealth all rearrangeable, despite the occupational hazards being quite unassuageable!" He paused briefly yet again and turned back to Dungar. "Really what I'm trying to say here is that in matters profitable, cartable, and sinkable, I am the very model of a modern mighty liberal!"
Also one of the reviews on Goodreads listed this exchange as one of her favourite bits. To her it was a barometer of the books wackiness. (Names left out to keep it non-spoilery)
"Who is this guy?!"
"How are you alive?"
"How did you find us?"
"Where did you get that katana?"
"Why are you all standing around letting them have this conversation!?" [Villain] yelled.
TQ: What's next?
Logan: Well, the first draft of the sequel has been completed. It's currently being shown around to all the important people who have a say in such things. From there I definitely plan on branching out away from Dungar and the crew, but always leaving it open for to return. He's a swell guy, but ideally I'd want to establish new characters and their own adventures, then after a while I could start mixing the old with the new. Have crossovers, if you will. Endless possibilities!
I've also mulled over the idea of adapting my old Dunce Hat Warrior comics into a novel of their own. I'd have to break it down into its most basic elements in order to filter out the taint of 12 year old me, but I think it would leave some interesting building blocks. That's nowhere on the horizon yet though.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Logan: Hey! I told my people to tell your people I'm not answering questions about this!
Witches Be Crazy A Tale That Happened Once Upon a Time in the Middle of Nowhere
Night Shade Books, July 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
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 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.
Logan J. Hunder is a humanoid creature that sits around eating Cheetos and playing Minecraft, occasionally stopping to write something down. After graduating from college he embarked on a journey to tell fun fantasy stories laced with action, adventure, and stupid jokes. The first product of that journey is his debut novel, Witches Be Crazy, 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.