Author Spotlight: Ann Hunter and Lee Isserow

We have so many amazing and talented authors here at Instafreebie, and we’re really excited to introduce them to you. Instafreebie’s Author Spotlight gives readers the chance to meet some new authors and see it first before anyone else!

Ann Hunter – Young Adult and Fairy Tale Author

Exclusive A Piece of Sky by Ann Hunter

A Piece of Sky by Ann Hunter

What inspired you to write “A Piece of Sky?”
I was writing Fallen (a dark, fractured retelling of The Frog Prince) when Ros revealed she was THE little red hen. Soon it all came crashing into my head pretty quickly, followed by the crazy idea of “What if it was told by the acorn who struck her?” Nobody’s ever told his side of the story.

What inspired you to create some of the characters in “A Piece of Sky?”
A lot of my fairytales are based in Celtic mythology. So I pulled both Cerenunos, and pieces of Nurgal from that, as well as the Kelpie from Lake Lomond.

What motivated you to become an Indie author?
I knew at age 14 I wanted to be an author when I grew up, but my parents told me to pursue other paths because writers didn’t make enough money to quit their day jobs at the time. So I pursued my second passion, theatre, in order to become a drama teacher.
Turns out I hate school, but I never hated creative writing. So in college, I picked up writing again. The indie revolution was just beginning, more in its fetal stage than infancy, and I started dabbling. A writer friend told me if I self published no one would take me seriously, so I got discouraged. A few years later, I was driving home with my daughter. I’d been asking the universe for an answer to the direction of my life, and my daughter piped up from the back seat, sounding almost afraid to say it, “Mommy? I want a bigger house.”
That’s when I knew. I had to take courage and forge ahead. So I put out The Subtle Beauty, quickly followed by Moonlight, Fallen, A Piece of Sky, and Moredread. All but Moredread were award nominated that debut year, and A Piece of Sky was nominated to the Newbury Medal. I haven’t looked back since.

Why should I read “A Piece of Sky”?
Actually I want you to check out the audiobook which is phenomenal. Narrated by JoBe Cerny, voice of the Pilsbury Doughboy. I sat there listening to his recording and wondered who wrote this gorgeous little tale. The paperback has a visually engaging interior too.

Why are you letting us read “A Piece of Sky” for free?
Because I want everyone to know that no one is too small to make a difference in the world! You have the power to change the world. Be the acorn!

Lee Isserow – Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

Footprints by Lee Isserow

Footprints by Lee Isserow

What motivated you to become an indie author?
The short answer would be failure at becoming a ‘traditional’ author…
But technically I had a writing career for the longest time, albeit on screen in various forms. Spent my late teens through to 30s stacking up over a hundred concepts for series and movies that rarely went beyond a pitch…
As soon as I escaped that world, I began knocking books out, one a month, because there were no more gatekeepers to hold me back, telling me that nobody is interested in sci-fi and fantasy with queer and minority characters, that everything has to have a bloody zombie in it because Walking Dead is a hit, and so on.
Finally, I could tell the stories that I wanted to tell and engage directly with the audience, and that’s the kind of empowerment I never imagined possible when I first started putting pen to paper all those years ago.

How many hours a day do you write?
Somewhere between 2-4 hours, with a break to stretch my legs every 2500 words.
Other than those short interludes, I like to write in one session because the first hour is mostly filler and getting my head in the game. Tend to aiming for around 5000 words a day, but if I hit a stride and catch a good flow, it’ll be 6000 or 7500, I usually try to round up to the nearest 500.
Although that said, sometimes I get distracted. The cafe I go to write in is full of the sweetest people, and friends or folks I know or readers will wander in and say hello because they know I’m there… so occasionally a 2-hour day becomes 7 hours, and suddenly I’m being kicked out because it’s closing time.

What is your writing process?
That changes all the time. If you asked me last year, it would be with a pack of smokes and whisky in winter/vodka on ice in summer. This year I’ve accidentally sobered up and quit smoking (neither intentional, both boring), so it’s coffee and a vape. I can technically write without stimulants, but that guy only comes out at night and needs to be re-written, whereas the caffeinated/nicotined guy is more eloquent, and his first drafts are significantly more precise and clutter-free… Plus, I’m usually in bed before midnight these days, and the night-writer only wakes up at around 3am.

Are any of your characters based on real people?
Most of my peripheral characters are at least based on facets of people I know. Although, that said, some are amalgamations or two or three people, and others I just steal the physical descriptions of.
Anyone that wrongs me and mine tends to get turned into a villain with a name that is slightly similar to their real one (although not similar enough to be considered libel… the “any similarities to persons living or dead” disclaimer is my friend in that regard.)
When it comes to protagonists you can be damn sure that any of their flaws are reflections of my own, any stories they tell or recall are far too reminiscent of events from my life, same with any experience of flawed relationships or abuse they suffered…
Support characters often have tales that I’ve lifted from a myriad friends, who have been kind enough to allow me to fictionalise their various traumas. I’m big on getting permission before I dare think about writing a word about anything that occurred to anyone else…
At some point I’m going to run out of my own misadventures and misfortune to mine, let alone those of my peers, and I’m going to have to start to live a life again and make new friends with new horrors to crib from – but I think I’ve got at least another year of writing a book or two a month before I get that desperate for material.

Why should I read “Footprints?”
I’d like to think it takes you on a bit of a fantastical journey through a myriad themes and concepts, and you come out the other side hopefully having enjoyed the brief ride.
In these turbulent times, it seems thematically relevant: a fantasy tale of ego and the cult of personality, where the best interests of mankind lie, and how we justify our selfish actions. It floats over the concept that the ultimate truth of life is that while we might consider ourselves mighty, whilst we live and prosper and are told it is best to accumulate wealth or power and so on, when it comes down to it we’re replaceable… Every day new people are born, we have these oh so brief cycles of 50-100 years upon the earth and we should try to make it a better place not just for those that look like us, but for all people of all faiths, all races, all genders, all orientations, rather than focus on our fears or selfish endeavors. Humanity as a whole should be our priority, not just our minuscule pocket of existence.
Of course, the more concise answer would be: “it might not be great, but it is short.”

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