Interview: Shaun Hutchinson

Today, I present to you my interview with Shaun Hutchinson whose novel The Deathday Letter will be released tomorrow, June 15, 2010, through Simon Pulse.

Without any further lame comments, I give you, our awesome conversation/interview.

T.J.: Ok, ready for your first real interview question?

Shaun: Absolutely!

T.J.: Ok, do you have a muse food? I have one friend who liked Cheetos (until they stopped liking her). I enjoy an Oreo or 12.

Shaun: Definitely coffee. I can’t write without it. I don’t know who well that would go with Cheeto’s though.  It could work with Oreos

T.J.: I can’t imagine coffee and cheetos being great. I’ve seen people dip Oreos in coffee though. Who is an author that inspires you?

Shaun: That’s tough….recently it’s been Patrick Ness. He wrote the Chaos Walking trilogy and it knocked my socks off. But JK Rowling and Tolkien have figured heavily in my desire to write.

T.J.: Sadly, haven’t read Patrick Ness.

Shaun: You really should. The first book of the trilogy is THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. It’ll knock you flat. The pace is insane.

T.J.: Pace is a great thing in a book. Have you read I Am Not a Serial Killer? (Interviewer’s Note: I referred to this great book because of its pacing.)

Shaun: Yes. I actually just read it a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty intense and I really liked the characterization of a teenage sociopath. Not sure it worked as a YA though. It kind of read like a how-to manual for future criminals.

T.J.: Having heard Dan Wells speak a few times, he may like that answer.

Shaun: Really?

T.J.: I’ve just heard him teach a few times at writers conferences.

Shaun: Lucky.

T.J.: He gives a great presentation.

Shaun: I ordered the second book from England because I don’t want to wait for it to come over here. (Interviewer’s Note: If Dan ever reads my blog, he should appreciate this free advertisement from a published author.)


T.J.: Lucky. I hear it’s more intense. I’ll wait.  Ok, how’s your geometry?

Shaun: I actually failed high school geometry.

T.J.: Sweet! (Interviewer’s Note: Yes, I did just affirm his failure.) So, you get to take part in T.J.’s Triangle Self-Evaluation for a normal writer.

Shaun: Awesome! I hope I do better than I did in high school.

T.J.: Don’t worry, there is only one wrong answer and multiple correct ones. Imagine, if you will, a triangle with the top point having the word “RANDOM” on it. The bottom left has the word “COOL” on it and the bottom right is “WEIRD”. Where do you put yourself in the triangle?

Shaun: On the line between random and weird, closer to weird.

T.J.: Nice. You passed.

Shaun: I never thought I’d hear that in regards to geometry. Yeah, I’m not cool. I don’t think I ever was.

(Interviewer’s Note: Here is a pictograph of Shaun’s geometry test.)

T.J.: Speaking of ‘cool’, who is cooler: Chuck Norris or your agent? (Note: Not who can beat up whom)

Shaun: While I really like my agent, no one’s cooler than Chuck Norris. Seriously, I think Chuck Norris’ dirty socks are cooler than most people.

T.J.: Ok, so how did you find your agent? Traditional method? met at a conference? Went to his office and begged?

Shaun: The answer here is dumb luck. I was completely clueless about the submission process. I actually had never heard of Chris, but I queried his boss because she had good taste in music and she passed my query to him. It was thing to ever happen. Back then I was querying agents based on the oddest things.  I queried one because I liked the name of her cat.

T.J.: Nice. What is her cat’s name? (Was if the poor thing is no longer with her.)

Shaun: Still alive as far as I know. But it was Stinkyboy. The agent was Colleen Lindsay over at Fineprint. She’s got a really great blog.

T.J.: Yes. I follow Colleen. She’s pretty hilarious…and feisty.

Shaun: Indeed….  I’m a strong personality so we probably would have clashed anyway.

T.J.: Ok, five favorite books.

Shaun: Five huh? Okay. In no order. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Jellicoe Road

The Dark is Rising

The Hobbit

The Canterbury Tales

7 T.J.: Intersting choices. Harry Potter and the PoA is one of my top 5.

Shaun: If I could choose all the HP books, I would. But the list changes. I recently read Jellicoe Road and it really struck me as brilliant. And I studied literature in college and Canterbury Tales was my fave.

T.J.: (Interviewer’s Note: Internet malfunctioned at this time) Sorry, my internet decided to wig out on me. I was going to say…We need to do some shameless advertising for this new book called The Deathday Letter….I assume you’ve heard of it.

Shaun: That book? Sheesh. Who wants to talk about that? But I guess I’ve heard of it.

T.J.: Shoot, I changed my Twitter pic to promote it (mostly to win a copy) (Well, just to win a copy)

Shaun: And I love it! It’s so confusing watching all the different dead head icons. Sometimes I’m like, “Did I say that?”

T.J.: Lol. Yeah, I’ll be changing mine back in about a week. What can you tell my followers about The Deathday Letter?

Shaun: Well, The Deathday Letter is a book about a teen guy facing his last day of life. It’s full of pudding and sex and Dave Matthews.

T.J.: So, basically a nerdy teen guy’s dream?

Shaun: Death is such a dark topic that I think it’s fun to laugh at it sometime. Let’s just say that it was definitely the kind of book I would have wanted to read as a teen. Or an adult. Either way.

T.J.: Lol…writing what you’d want to read. That’s always good.

Shaun: My fear was that I’d be the ONLY person who’d want to read it, but the support has been awesome.

T.J.: Next writing question: how/where do you like to write?

Shaun: Oh, I’m a morning person. Which is funny since I’m NOT a morning person. I like to sit and write before the outside world gets to me. Before the emails or news or phone calls. I can’t drive or operate heavy machinery when I first wake up, but I can write.

And I love hand writing novels but I can’t write fast enough to keep up, so I don’t do it often. I just use a little netbook and lock myself in my office with coffee and some good music for a couple of hours.

T.J.: So, what do you do outside of write? (i.e. current occupation)

Shaun: I work in computers. But now that you know that, everyone’s going to want me to come over and fix their computers.

T.J.: Don’t worry, most my readers are in the western U.S. (Interviewer’s Note: Shaun is not in the Western U.S., but I’m not going to blab where he’s at.) They’d have to pay for your flight and hotel stay.

Shaun: Are you kidding? Most of my dad’s calls begin with: I have a computer problem. I rarely get a hello.

Shaun: I hate my day job though. So buy lots of books so I don’t end up a cranky old IT guy.

T.J.: Nice. I’m an accountant and I try to use my imagination as much as possible.

Shaun: Too many numbers make my head hurt, so I have massive respect for you.

T.J.: Ok, lefty or righty?

Shaun: Lefty. All the way.

T.J.: You are now officially a gazillion times cooler. Lefties rule.

Shaun: You’re a lefty? We do pretty much rule. The only time it sucks is when it comes to scissors.

T.J.: Yes! Scissors are a lefty’s nightmare. I’ve just figured out how to use regular right-handed scissors and deem myself incompetent to cut anything perfect.

Shaun: ha ha! I’ve learned to adapt to using mice right handed.

T.J.: Besides writing and fixing your dad’s computer: what else do you like to do?

Shaun: Since I sold the book, sometimes it feels like writing is all I do, which is sort of pretty cool. I love riding around in my Jeep and going kayaking. I watch too much TV. I’ve been running a lot lately to lose weight, and I’m going skydiving on Monday.

T.J.: Please don’t die the day before your book launches. That’d suck. (If you do, be sure your royalties are left to me.)

Shaun: I know, wouldn’t that be the ultimate WTF moment? Author of book about death, dies day before book.

T.J.: Yes, that would suck.

Shaun: Although it might help sales.

T.J.: Ok, here’s another scenario question:

Shaun: Ready.

T.J.: Stuck on a desert island. You have a tv that magically works and can have every episode of five shows on tv. What do you choose?

Shaun: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Freaks and Geeks


Veronica Mars



T.J.: Interesting. So, next very important question: Star Trek or Star Wars?

Shaun: Star Trek definitely. I love Star Wars, but there was too much family drama.

T.J.: Good answer.  Favorite Star Trek movie?

Shaun: It’s a toss up between Wrath of Khan and First Contact

T.J.: Oo…Good choices. Mine would be First Contact and Voyage Home.

Shaun: Voyage Home would be my third, definitely.

T.J.: Good spot. What’s the best advice you’ve received when it comes to writing?

Shaun: Write what you love. To me that’s the golden rule. Writing is such a brutal, lonely career path that if you don’t love what you’re working on, you’ll go crazy.

T.J.: Very sound advice. Final interview question, then I’ll let you go while I work on my own book.  (And catch up on Twitter.)

Shaun: LOL. Twitter is important.

T.J.: Yes it is. What makes this interview the best one you’ve ever had? (Interviewer’s Note: I stole this question, somewhat, from Sarah M. Eden’s constant 5 reasons this is the best interview you’ve ever had.)

Shaun: Well, I’m still thinking about Cheetos so that’s pretty awesome. Also, I got a geometry question right. Mrs. Alley would be proud.

T.J.: See: Geometry can be easy when you apply it to your life.

Shaun: I might have to do it more often….but I probably won’t.

T.J.: There you go. Well, thanks for letting me interview.

Shaun: No, thank you! This has been fun.

And there you have it folks. My first online interview that I conducted and it was with author Shaun Hutchinson. Be sure to check out his book as it debuts tomorrow: The Deathday Letter.

If you’d like a fun interview where you get to shamelessly plug your book, or if you’re an agent wishing to shamelessly plug a client’s book, I’ll be willing to interview you. It makes me feel good about myself, like I’m contributing to society.

As always…

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.