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Friday, January 7, 2011


Hello All,

This week I am starting something new. Apart from my regular writings, I wish that we get to know ourselves a bit more. I would like to introduce guests. Authors, poets whose work I have admired. They bring to the human table their own very talents and have been a great influence one way or the other. Actually writing is a great influence one way or the other. My first offering this week is someone who I hold in very high esteem and feel he is very special.
The truth of a human soul shines through from the windows of his spirit and that is in the eyes. My people will tell you, the conversation is in the eye. I have the distinct pleasure therefore to invite you to read about Gerry HUNTMAN

1. Please tell us a little about your self

I was born in Canberra, Australia from migrant parents - they came from The Netherlands. My father was not very well educated but he loved reading war and speculative fiction novels, and I picked up on that quickly. My mother strongly encouraged me to read early. I wanted to be a writer from the age of ten.

Unfortunately there was a lot of subliminal pressure for me to do very well in my education, and I ended up going from course to course, university to university, doing subjects as diverse as Law and Classical Studies. Stupidly I did not pursue creative writing, or capitalize on the considerable literary studies I had done.

Eventually I compromised (but did not include creative writing/literature), doing a science degree in Computer Science, an Arts degree in Biological Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Information Technology. This worked well from a career point of view, while my creative needs (throughout all this time, and much thereafter) were sated by way of participation in roleplaying groups, formal and informal. I can honestly say that many of my skills in writing today (plot design, world building and characterisation) originated in that very long apprenticeship.

I am currently living in Melbourne Australia, with a lovely wife and child. Melbourne is a good place to live for the arts, as well as my work - but the main reason why we live there is because there are truly world class facilities to help children with Asperger's Syndrome, which my daughter has.

About five years ago, when my one and only child was born, all my pent up energy and need to write finally came to the fore. Within a year, part time, I wrote my first novel (a high fantasy novel, 220k), and from that point in time I was totally hooked on writing. It was no longer a case of 'wanting' to do it, or it being 'nice'. I simply had to do it (and still do).

I learned many things about writing over those years, the hard way. Perhaps the most useful and rewarding was joining a small virtual group of speculative fiction writers, which eventually became the nucleus of the International Fantasy Writers Guild, and which culminated in us forming a publishing company. It was then that I discovered that I also had the right temperament and skills to be an editor - and which I have honed since then.

Over the last few years I have grown as a writer, culminating in 2010 where I had 10 short stories accepted for publication, as well as my first published novel, Guardian of the Sky Realms.

2. You say Guardians of the Sky Realms is mid age fantasy please explain

This is a fascinating area, Biola. In the general publishing domain there is a tendency at a high level to label, in terms of age, books into something like 4 categories - children's, young adult, adult, and restricted reading adult. The problem with this is that under such broad categories, children's stories (rarely novels) do not delineate the different needs of this age group - ie a toddler versus a pre-teen - but this is often taken care of by placing recommended ages on the covers, and some stories are simply self-evident for certain age groups. A similar sort of thing happens with the generic 'young adult' group - it really is made of several groups, all with different needs. True young adult titles really covers something like 16 years old to somewhere in the early twenties. By it's nature, it has tendrils into adult fiction, but it is more aligned with the culture and interests of the late teen age group.

Mid-grade, or more appropriately, 'middle grade' is a term invented quite recently to relate to the ages of children around the middle grades in high school - around 13 to 15, although, like young adult, has tendrils running into the young adult category. What this means is that my book is looking at this age group as the prime target (in fact, since the main character is a female, I could say that I am targeting female middle graders), but of course, some children mature earlier than others, and also, I wrote it with a lot of imaginative adventure that could be of interest to most age groups. What it doesn't contain, because it is middle grade, is any substantial content on matters concern young adults, such as emerging sexuality, strong emphasis on mating rituals, etc.

3. Do you believe in the supernatural?

I am a bit skeptical on this. Once I did believe in the supernatural, and perhaps my science studies purged me of it. And yet, I have a strong interest in the subject, and it is incredibly evident in almost all my writing - a necessary element. Perhaps I am agnostic on the subject.

4. How do young people relate to fantasy and today’s realities

Tough question. I think young people are smarter than adults think, but like all younger set, they also need time to learn life's many lessons, some of which cannot be substituted any other way. This tells me that they have a handle on today's realities, and of course with technology changing so quickly and permeating culture, they have advantages. With regard to fantasy, again the media, entertainment industry and literature (electronic and print) are saturated in fantasy. Again, they are well positioned. What is interesting is the way fantasy is changing , in terms of what is popular - urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, and other blended forms, including romance, historical, and alternate history. This is, at a high level, goodness, but I do also note that the literary world seems to love to clone what is the flavour of the month. Look at the vampire and zombie novels out there, including at a Young Adult level.

5. You are from Australia, has the religion of the aborigines ever affected your writings.

Not really. It is a shame. The Aborigines are in fact made up of many different subgroups, most of whom have their own myths and creation stories. Many Aborigines have lost their own culture to one degree or another, mostly because of an extremely ugly period of white settlement history, where many Aborigines were displaced from their homelands and forced to live like white people. There were even periods where Aborigines were killed - but the greatest killer were diseases that the while people brought with them. The end result is that there isn't enough source material, or the will to promulgate it, to infuse into contemporary Australian society.

I am outlining a novel, by coincidence, where many scenes take place in Australia, where I will in fact infuse some Aboriginal culture and mythology.

6. How do you find contemporary literature in your country.

Literature is always healthy in Australia, but it is also heavily influenced by UK and US markets. There are a fair number of well known Australian writers with international fame, and more of course with success within Australia.

It is not easy to be a bookseller or writer in Australia at the moment, due to international competition, and having a relatively small market.

Personally, Australia has a lot to blame if there are issues. As Australians many of us want to retain our own culture and idiom in our literature, but ignore the internationalisation of literature. Some others have the opposite view, and undermine our identity. I don't believe it is a cut and dry situation, we can accommodate both.

I am glad to say that speculative fiction is alive and well over here.


  1. Great interview. I love that your education is so spread out. And...that everything can enhance the writing experience.

    Congrats on making your dreams come true!!

  2. Thanks Liz, I think of it this way, if we all learn to accept that it is in the union of so many beautiful elements that perfection comes about we may have quite a lot to give each other. look forward to seeing you soon here as guest too

  3. Thanks Biola for interviewing me. Much appreciated.

  4. Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about a writer we already know and admire. No matter how talented one happens to be, this love for writing can be a monumental challenge that is difficult to succeed at.

    Like many of us who have been inspired by him, I’m certainly pleased Gerry was able to fulfill his own desire to become a published author.

  5. Thanks Geri,
    It was a real pleasure and privilege to be able to interview Gerry. He is my favorite person.

  6. It sounds like the Australian book and publishing industry has similar challenges to the Canadian one. I'm glad you were able to channel all that pent up energy into writing.

    The explanation of the various levels of labelling fiction in YA was quite interesting.

    Looking forward to your Aboriginal inspired novel.

  7. Yes Liz, I am looking forward to a culturally inspired novel. Would be fun to read. Thanks for stopping by.