Everyone has a story to tell; each one of us writes poetry – some, without even realising. That stream of consciousness that runs in our veins? It’s poetry waiting to be written. We believe in the power of words, and that power is what urged us set up PoetsIN.

It’s because of those inner streams, that we are bringing you all a regular interview feature, Writer Profiles. An interview with a writer. This week we’re talking to the formidable S.A. Hunt and asking him all the questions that matter.

Who are you and what do you do?

Who is your daddy, and what does he do? Oh man, does anybody below the age of 35 get that joke these days? Anyway, I’m S. A. Hunt (Sam), and I write horror-fantasy novels for a living sometimes most of the time 60 percent of the time.

What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?

When I was a kid, the writing was a wild animal, an unsteerable vehicle that I had fun trying to learn to control when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork. When I was a teen and a young adult, it was a swimming pool that I did laps in, trying to strengthen my writing muscles by participating in online roleplaying groups and text-based roleplaying games. As I approached thirty, it became a mirage that I chased whenever I could find it. And then, when I came home from Afghanistan to a divorce and no civilian job, when I was broken, on my hands and knees at rock bottom and had nothing else to give me purpose, I looked up and the mirage was close enough to touch. Now I’ve dedicated my life to maintaining this oasis.

It is my oldest love and my darkest nemesis. It is my Irene Adler.

It’s always been a serious pursuit, never really a “hobby,” but I haven’t always had the time or energy to chase it with the persistence that it requires, nor the mindset to give it the gravity it deserves. Writing has always had that spectre looming over it, the one that whispers, “this is just playtime, this isn’t something you can make a career out of, it’s not something you can pay your bills with or feed your family with. You need a Real Job.” You know what I’m talking about. You have to push that feeling aside and make yourself take it seriously if you want to go anywhere with it.

You’re a veteran. How has that aided your writing and/or how has the writing aided you?

I think it’s really lent itself to the authenticity of my action scenes and fights, that’s for sure. And scenes set within the military and other military-like structures. And the accuracy of heavy assault weaponry.

How long have you been writing, what is your favourite style of writing and why?

Off and on since I was in high school. My favorite style of writing is the way George R. R. Martin did the Song of Ice and Fire books, where he dedicated each chapter to the viewpoint of specific characters, and ended each chapter with a cliffhanger or a button to always make you want to get back to the last character you inhabited. And he had a certain style, a lanky, easy way of phrasing. His words are generally simple, allowing his sentences to be complex, lyrical mechanisms without overwhelming the reader with syllables.

Many of us within this group have experienced times where writing has helped us overcome times of pain, describe the first time you realised the true power of words.

The day I realised that my first book, The Whirlwind in The Thorn Tree, had been my therapy, my way of recovering from my disastrous Afghanistan deployment in 2011, and the divorce I had waiting on me when I got home. In a way, all the books I’ve written have been a form of that same therapy continuing perpetually. Having purpose, and something to channel my energy into, keeps that energy from tearing me apart.


We all have moments where we truly connect with words we read. What quote inspires you the most. Why?

In the Bhagavad-Gita, the Lord Krishna says, “If I did not work, these worlds would perish.” And that’s been a driving thought in the back of my mind whenever I look inward for motivation. I have to continue my stories, or the people in them never reach their destination, they never attain their goals, and without anyone to read their tales, they die. Forgottenness is the surest way to kill your characters, and that’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to the people that have been there to see their journey this far. I may believe in the impermanence of all things, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to die.

Writer’s block, real or a myth?

Both. Writer’s block is fear, and it is the fear that exists, not the block. The block is an illusion. You’re afraid of writing the first word that comes to mind, of grasping the first rope you see. You keep waiting for something perfect instead of trusting what’s already there. Most often, when you start writing with a feeling of inspiration, it’s because you let yourself begin with the first few words that came to mind. It’s because you allowed yourself to begin with the first image in your mind. Stop trying to find something perfect and go with what comes to you, regardless of whether you like it or not.

All babies are ugly at the moment of birth. If you’re waiting for a beautiful baby to come out, you’re going to be disappointed. Just get it out of you and clean it up later.

You write about non-cliché LGBT, black, female, the disabled and those with mental health issues; all of whom face bizarre situations with strength and poise. What has been the feedback from respective communities?

I don’t think my work has proliferated widely enough to warrant a response from a collective subset of people yet. I haven’t really received any feedback on a representative level, other than a few fans here and there thanking me for writing living, breathing characters that aren’t just caricatures of minorities or the mentally ill. Mostly responses about the mentally ill characters.

Is there one quote or saying that sums you up?

It’s not so much a single “saying” as it is a way of thinking, and that is the Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi,” or the love and acceptance of the imperfect and the impermanent. It comes from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, 三法印, impermanence, suffering, and emptiness. That sounds depressing as all hell, but it’s actually rather liberating. This calls back to the answer I had for you about writer’s block, which was accepting the imperfect instead of waiting for the perfect. The Wikipedia article for wabi-sabi explains, “Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. […] Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

“Wabi and sabi both suggest sentiments of desolation and solitude. In the Mahayana Buddhist view of the universe, these may be viewed as positive characteristics, representing liberation from a material world and transcendence to a simpler life. Mahayana philosophy itself, however, warns that genuine understanding cannot be achieved through words or language, so accepting wabi-sabi on nonverbal terms may be the most appropriate approach. […] Wabi-sabi describes a means whereby students can learn to live life through the senses and better engage in life as it happens, rather than be caught up in unnecessary thoughts. In this sense wabi-sabi is the material representation of Zen Buddhism. The idea is that being surrounded by natural, changing, unique objects helps us connect to our real world and escape potentially stressful distractions.

“In one sense wabi-sabi is a training whereby the student of wabi-sabi learns to find the most basic, natural objects interesting, fascinating and beautiful. Fading autumn leaves would be an example. Wabi-sabi can change our perception of the world to the extent that a chip or crack in a vase makes it more interesting and gives the object greater meditative value.”

In a word, ‘inference’.

This can be applied to fiction writing, and characterization in particular. One suggestion tossed around in the writing world is ‘show, don’t tell,’ and I think it shares a lot of DNA with the concept of wabi-sabi. (Indeed, now that I think about it, I believe wabi-sabi could be considered the real-life version of ‘show, don’t tell’.)

It can be beneficial to the complexity of your characters to show them with unexplained quirks and scars–real people have scars, tattoos, and fears everywhere you look, and so to give your characters similar unexplained markings can reveal hidden traumas or experiences that only truly take shape in the reading, much like when you see a crack in a vase and contemplate that crack: where it came from, who did it, how did it happen.

Reveal the origins of these traits later if you want, slowly and methodically, but it’s rarely necessary when compared to the speculative power of the reader’s mind. Wabi-sabi allows you to appreciate something’s flaws without knowing all about it.

Which book/s is/are on your bedside table right now?

I don’t have one going right now, but the last one I finished was the third book of David Wong’s Dave and John series, “What The Hell Did I Just Read?” The one before that was Josh Malerman’s “Mad Black Wheel”. The one before that was Edgar Cantero’s “Meddling Kids”.

Finish this sentence… Words are the epitome of…


You can wound others with words, and you can share your own agony with words. Most times, words are the only way you can accurately convey just how deep your injury goes.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

You can find me at my Twitter, my Facebook, and my website. I’m currently working on getting my horror-fantasy epic Malus Domestica ready to be re-published by Tor Books, which is why the first book has been de-listed from Amazon. But rest assured, it will be back soon, along with the next two books in the series. And there’s still the first three books of the Outlaw King series, the fourth of which is indeed still in the pipeline.


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