Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today. David W. Huffstetler is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and one lucky commenter from his tour will receive a $10 Wild Child Gift Card awarded from both David and Wild Child Publishing, so be sure to leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win.
BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...
I was born and educated in North Carolina, and then my wife, Trudy, and I moved to South Carolina in 1977. We’ve been married 41 years and, yes, that means I’m not a young guy anymore. Perhaps I should learn to act my age. :) I’m something of a history buff, especially on the rich history of Texas. And, I think the late Broderick Crawford is underappreciated as an actor.
BK: Please tell us a little about your book....
Blood on the Pen is the story of an unpublished writer, who receives one rejection letter too many and starts killing literary agents, but it is also a story of redemption. Jack Harden, the big, strapping modern-day Texas Ranger lost his wife to a drunk driver a year ago. He struggles with whether to kill the man who cost him his Jenny or just kill himself. The only thing that keeps him going is his job and trying to catch the person who is killing agents. Enter Elsie Rodriguez, the aggressive, pushy newspaper reporter. Elsie always wants the things she can’t have, and she and Jack form a very complicated, sometimes stormy, relationship. They get more than they bargained for in a desperate chase across Texas.
BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?
Two things, really. First was the frustration that I, and many other writers, experience in trying to get an agent or published to read a manuscript. A few of those rejections were quite rude, and I wondered what would happen if they sent one of those to the wrong person. Second was a personal tragedy in our family, the loss of a niece to a drunk driver. I saw what that did to our family and the family of the driver who killed one of the sweetest girls I ever met. And that gave rise to the tortured, conflicted soul that is Jack Harden.
BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I signed my first publishing contract. As much as I appreciated what friends and family said about my writing, that independent voice told me someone in a professional setting thought my work was worth an investment in time and money. That doesn’t mean folks who are yet to be published are not “writers”. All writers are unpublished until they are published (duh). It’s just the time I felt validated.
BK: How do you keep your story flowing?
I ask my characters - really. Authors create characters with personal traits and histories. The question is not what I would do next, but what they would do. We need to listen to them. What’s important is what Jack, Elsie, and Eddie Carter would do, not what I want them to do. I let them get into my head. Sometimes, when I am proofreading a manuscript, I don’t remember having written the text I am reading. Those are the times when the characters took the pen.
BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?
There are times when I seem to run dry of ideas, and I have to get away from the story for a few days. I talked about listening to the characters, but sometimes I’ll see a news story or hear the lyrics of a Dylan song, and it sparks a thought. I believe that thought was always there and it just needed some stimulus to bring it out. Banging my head against the keyboard hasn’t helped.
BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?
Some authors say they like to listen to music or drink wine as they write. I just need a space and my computer. I’ve written in my home, on the deck of a swimming pool, and rocking on the porch. I do need time, as I find myself absorbed in the writing and lose track of how quickly the clock moves. I hope that’s a good thing.
BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?
There is a saying that we make plans for the future, and God laughs. I think all authors would like to be best sellers, but, realistically, I want to write quality stories, those that speak to the reader. If my books make a difference in someone’s life, even if that is only entertainment, then I’ve done my job.
BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
The Road Less Traveled starts by saying, “Life is difficult.” I hope my books show that, even though life can be tough, there is hope. Jack Harden’s road to recovery is long and slow. He may not get all the way there in Blood on the Pen, but he sure is trying, in spite of himself. Elsie might help him with that, if he lets her.
BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Elizabeth Cox, a published author and college professor, told me how to write about deep emotions. She said the author should go to that dark place, the place where sociopaths go, the place where a husband whose wife was killed would let his mind go. Let yourself feel the anger and pain. Go to that dark place, but don’t stay too long. There’s a price to pay if you stay there longer than you should.
BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?
Patience, of course, as most writers suffer through lots of rejection. It’s also important to have your work reviewed by someone who has no personal interest in how you feel about their feedback. Friends generally want to please and they seldom understand the expectations that editors have. Even a really good story won’t get past the gatekeepers at an agent or publisher, if it has issues with point of view, redundant phrases, and author intrusion. Read a good book on writing or watch a clip on Youtube. Then read your manuscript again with that more critical eye. Some of the most valuable feedback you get can be hard to hear. Swallow hard and make your story better.
BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?
Blood on the Cards is scheduled for release by Wild Child Publishing in early October. It is the second book with Elsie and Jack, but I tried very hard not to make it a sequel. This book has a hint of the paranormal, and I hope it stands on its own merit. I’m close to finishing a manuscript for Thread of Life. It’s the story of a twelve-year-old boy who inherits a fortune from his elderly father, who won’t stay dead. After his father is killed, the boy comes under the custody of a young, female detective. His first comment to her is that she is the blackest woman he ever saw, and they form a rather odd couple, as the power mongers in Boston try to grab the boy’s billions by any means necessary.
BK: Where can readers find you?
My website is davidhuffstetler.com, and my books are available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Wildchildpublishing.com, and several other online vendors. If local Barnes and Noble stores don’t have a copy of Blood on the Pen in stock, they can order it, if readers prefer that avenue.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
It has been my pleasure. Thank you.
About David Huffstetler:
Educated in Dallas, North Carolina, David Huffstetler holds degrees in Engineering and Business Administration. He has worked in the area of human relations and spent fourteen years weaving through the maze of politics, including participating in a Federal Law suit with a sitting governor over issues of separation of powers. David has served on Boards of Directors for numerous professional organizations including. He has advised governors and legislators on matters of public policy and legislation. His wealth of experience is broad and brings deep insight to his writing.
David’s work as a senior manager with a major industrial concern took him to international venues and exposures that helped feed his urge to write Disposable People, a dramatic expose of the working conditions and politics that engulf undocumented workers. Disposable People is a top-ten “Suggested Book” at Tufts University in Boston, MA
He turned the frustrations and rejection that plagues thousands of yet-to-be-published authors into the heralded mystery/thriller Blood on the Pen, with a serial killer disposing of literary agents. David, an avid history buff, led him to write Dead in Utah, the story of Joe Hill, the controversial musician and union organizer accused of a double murder in 1914.
As an editor, public speaker, and seasoned professional, David has appeared on television and radio, and has lectured on the East Coast, California, Canada and Mexico.
David currently lives in Lexington, South Carolina with his wife, Trudy.
A modern-day Ranger, Jack Harden, and a young, Mexican-American reporter, Elise Rodriguez, team up to find a serial killer, and they get more than they bargained for in a desperate chase across Texas. Jack grieves over the loss of his wife to a drunk driver, while Elsie tries to pull him from the edge of sanity in an action-packed thriller.
His knock had become familiar. She slipped on a light robe and opened the door. “Well, I see he loaned you a car. I never thought he would. Did you come to show it off to me?”
“Actually I came to bring you something,” he replied. He took the pistol from his pocket and held it out.
“What’s this about? Come inside before someone sees you and thinks I’m in the gun business.” She closed the door behind him, and he laid the pistol on her nightstand.
“Moses told me the investigators have been looking for this. I thought it would be better if they got it from you since, well, you shot the guy with it.”
“Okay, I guess I could go down there in the morning. Why don’t you go with me? You could say hello to your friends.”
Harden recoiled sharply. “I don’t need to see those guys. I’m doing fine without them.”
“What is it with you, Jack? How long are you going to torture yourself over something you can’t change? How long will you shut your friends out, everyone out? I’d just like to know.”
“Maybe you don’t need to know. Maybe you should mind your own life and butt out of mine.”
Her heart hadn’t felt such pain since her father’s death. She turned away and forced out a tearful answer. “Maybe I should.”
Then he spun her around and pulled her hard against his chest, nearly lifting her off the floor, and said, “Maybe not.” He kissed her full and deep on the lips. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back with parted lips and felt the heat of his pain and loneliness pouring through her. They burned with raw emotion, unleashed without a thought to where it would take them. They pulled at each other’s clothes until they lay flesh on flesh, wrapped around each other with just their passion to cover them. Only they knew exactly what happened that night, but it was deep and genuine, and neither of them regretted it.