What inspired you to write Jack Templar Monster Hunter?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve, a 30 page action-adventure called The Amulet. In fact, I still have it sitting on a shelf in my office. But I had taken a detour from fiction and had mostly written career guides for college students before this book. What changed was that my eleven-year-old son, Jack, had turned out to be a reluctant reader. He was bright and motivated in other subjects, but reading was a chore. We set a schedule to read together an hour before school and started in on the Percy Jackson books. Soon, his interest faded so I had to come up with something fast. Jack Templar was born.
In reviews I’ve read, Jack Templar is often compared to the Percy Jackson books? Do you agree?
Absolutely. My boys and I are huge Rick Riordan fans and I obviously take the comparison as a huge compliment. Both he and JK Rowling have done a huge service to children’s literacy. The lines around the block to buy new books reminded parents that the best gifts don’t come with batteries…unless it’s a Kindle.
Jack Templar Monster Hunter is listed as middle grade fiction but it seems a lot of your readers are YA and older. Why is that?
Again, I think it goes back to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. And Tolkien and CS Lewis before them. There’s a timeless quality to books directed at a younger audience that can capture the imagination of any reader, whereas a new Michael Chabon or Jonathan Franken novel appeals to a particular cultural subsection. Also, I think parents and grandparents enjoy a shared experience with their kids and grandkids that doesn’t require them to master an X-box or PS3 controller. A good book can do that.
When do you find time to write?
With five kids and a national business to run, it’s hard to find time. Stephen King has a book called On Writing that was a tremendous impact on me. He stresses the importance of writing every day, even if it’s for five minutes. I try to stick to that.
What’s your writing process like?
I write screenplays with a writing partner and that influenced the way I approached the book. With a partner, you can’t write by the seat of your pants. You have to outline and define a plan, otherwise it’s chaos. Also, you need to flesh out the characters completely so you both have a clear picture of who they are. I outlined each chapter thoroughly before I started, following the advice of Terry Brooks (great author!) in his book on writing called, Sometimes The Magic Works. In fact, I have a rough outline of the entire series so I was able to plant plot points in Jack Templar Monster Hunter until far later in the series.
Middle Grade books can sometimes be preachy. How did you walk the line between having a message and not sounding like you you’re lecturing?
I know what you’re talking about. It’s the same thing in movies. It’s like Hollywood feels the need to smack kids in the face with a message or they’re not going to get it. My sense is that kids are much more nuanced and enjoy interpreting ideas rather than being hit over the head with them. I have two strong themes in the books. One is about personal responsibility, that one has a duty of to causes greater than oneself, even if that cause requires great personal sacrifice. The other is about escaping the trap of bigotry by seeking out the dignity of the individual rather than employing broad classifications. The key is to get those across during awesome fight scenes with vampires, demons and blood-thirsty harpies.
You mentioned you wrote this book for your reluctant reader son. Any tips (other than writing a book!) for parents with reluctant readers?
First, I’m not a reading expert. There are amazing professionals who work in this space and they have great articles online. The key things that worked for me were:
5) Pick a fast-paced book that they can relate too. Only let them read it during your morning read. A great cliffhanger gets them up the next morning!
Are you working on Book Two?
Yes, I’m about three-fourth done with the first draft. It’s turning out great and I’m having a lot of fun watching my characters interact in new ways. It’s like watching a movie as I write.
Do you have a title? The Monster Hunter Academy. We’re still working on the cover. I’ll be sure to send over the details about the cover reveal when we have it.
Best of luck with the rest of the blog tour.
Thanks. I appreciate you having me.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Jack Templar Monster Hunter
The Templar Chronicles Book One
Author: Jeff Gunhus
File Size: 322 KB
Print Length: 197 pages
Publisher: Seven Guns Press (October 17, 2012)
Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendant of a long line of monster hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.
As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the “One?” Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.
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Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.
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