I have the privilege of helping out with the release of Hunter by Joanna White by having an author interview. As I learned more about her, I was impressed with how much we have in common. I’ll let you decide, but first, what’s the hub-bub about?
A reckless young woman named Averella does what no woman has ever done. She disguises herself as a man and purposefully gets herself arrested and thrown into Zagerah.
Her brother Gabriel was taken, and with his disease, he will not survive on his own. She has no idea what to expect inside the prison; all she knows is that once men get taken, they never come back.
The Hunters will find her. Genetically altered to be faster and stronger than humans, the Hunters use their powers to find and kill every prisoner who enters Zagerah. The only ones who can defeat them, are in fact, themselves.
Jared is a Hunter. It’s all he’s known, all he remembers. He kills ruthlessly and without regret, one prisoner after another. When a new prisoner Dalex shows up, everything begins to change. Jared goes undercover to make Dalex and the other prisoners believe he is one of them, a prisoner himself.
No one knows the truth. He will trick them. Toy with them. Then, he will kill them.
Let’s learn more about the author.
Tea or Coffee?
Tea for sure! I find coffee very disgusting. I mean, I can’t even stand the smell. I used to drink sweet tea all the time – literally – but recently I’ve switched to only water and I’ve been trying to stick with it.
Morning or Evening?
This is another one I’m passionate about – like tea, haha. Evening for sure! Both my husband and I are major evening people. Literally our normal bedtime is 4 to 5 am and we don’t wake up until 1 pm when he has to leave for work since he works 3 pm to 11 pm. Lately, he’s had to switch shifts so I’ve been sticking to our normal sleep schedule and when I go to bed at 5 am he’s been leaving for work and when I wake up at 1 pm, two hours later at 3 pm, he’s going to sleep. All that just to keep our normal evening time together at 11 pm.
We are definitely not morning people.
Mountains or Ocean?
This is a toughie and it really depends on if we’re talking which I would rather visit, which I would rather look at, or which I would rather write about, haha. I think I’d rather visit a mountain mostly because I don’t swim but being on a beach would be so pretty. I feel like being on a mountain I could really just gaze at God’s creation and be in wonder of it. I’d rather look at a mountain, but oceans are beautiful too. Although, if we’re talking which I’d rather write, definitely ocean. I love the idea of how mysterious the ocean is. Like, literally imagining that feeling of swimming and not knowing what’s beneath you. Anything could be down there. I love writing about large creatures, mermaids, sharks, dangerous creatures, anything like that. Underwater kingdoms and worlds is a topic I love to incorporate into my writing.
Cat or Dog?
I have both and I really don’t have a preference. I used to say I’m a cat person but sometimes my cat can be a little annoying, so it really depends. We have 3 dogs, 2 inside cats, a hamster, and 2 rabbits and we love all our animals. I love my dog, Bry, because he cuddles a lot more. My cat has a mind of her own, but cats are sometimes funnier. Well, sometimes.
Pen or Pencil?
Pen, for sure. I hate how pencil fades. I’ve lost so many old notes because the pencil faded and I couldn’t read it anymore, so ever since then, I switched to pen or computer and never looked back. I only use pencils for drawing maps to my fantasy worlds and only because I mess up so much I need an eraser. Drawing a rough sketch of a map in pen would be a total disaster for me!
When do your writing, and where?
Oh, every evening. I have kind of made a pact with myself that when I start a book, I try to write in it once every day and that works. Sometimes it’s between 7 pm and 11 pm when my husband gets home. If I’m busy, it’ll usually be after we eat our supper and do our own thing for a little while around 1 am. For the past few months, my writing time has always been around 1 am to 3 am – ish. I have a huge desk in my room but since I get the living room to myself, I have started this thing where I spread out on the kitchen table with my laptop and write there. It’s where I’m typing these answers right now, haha.
What inspired Hunter?
Goodness. Well, random fact, I wrote Hunter many years ago, so I don’t remember specifics anymore. This was way back in high school, so it’s been six years since I graduated and it might have been either my freshman or sophomore year. I wish I’d written it down, haha. I loved the idea of Mulan, I always have. The idea of having to disguise herself as a man to protect her family. At the time, I’d only been writing Christian dramas for fun, so I had no experience trying to write a war. Since Hunger Games was a huge deal at the time, I thought, what if it was adults and what if instead of an arena, they were arrested into a prison? So eventually, this shifted into the idea of a prison that was like the arena where they couldn’t escape with all kinds of dangerous geography features. So I had the idea – a girl disguises herself as a man to protect her family – and ends up inside this prison. I loved the idea that she was the only woman to do that, which helped me in terms of creating a strong female lead. Then, I needed more to the story and even though the dangerous geography features created plenty of survival scenarios, I needed more. That’s where the idea of the prisoners being chased by the prison’s specially enhanced assassins came in at. I wanted this to be part of a series, but I didn’t know what the overall storyline was, let alone have any ideas for it. So in the end, I named it Hunter since it was about the Hunters being after the prisoners.
Is there any truth behind your fantasy?
Yes. At the time, I didn’t realize it until I’d written the end of the series, but every book in the Valiant Series paralleled with the Bible somehow, both in small and larger ways. Even Hunter. So I went back and added a bit more to flesh out the Christian theme, which is centered around being chosen and forgiven. A lot of the characters (to avoid spoilers here) make mistakes and those mistakes have costs. I didn’t want to have the costs go away because in real life, they don’t. We have to face consequences of our mistakes so I wanted my characters to have to face them too. But we can still be forgiven for them and that’s what God does for us through Jesus Christ.
What was the process for writing Hunter? Was it a flow from your pen or keypad or a by hook and crook to get it out?
I wish I could remember, but I really don’t. It took me a while and it was my first fantasy ever, so I’m sure I had some struggles. I do remember the first time my husband and I edited it though. That was a hook and crook and it was so difficult. There was so much to be fixed, since we had edited it years later and at the time I’d written it, I had been young and less experienced than I was when we got around to editing it. Man, it was brutal. And I actually didn’t want to be editing it at all but we had planned on self publishing at the time, so it needed to be done. Eventually, we got it done and eventually, the second book the series, Shifter, got accepted by my publisher, Ambassador International and then they accepted Hunter too. Their editor went through it three more times. Fortunately, this time, since it had been so many years since the last time I’d gone through it, it was much easier and even fun to revisit the past. Now, that past has become my present with it being published.
Can you share an excerpt or your favorite part?
Oh, goodness this is kind of tough. I have a lot of favorite parts and most of them include my favorite character.
Sorry, but I can’t give you much. There is one line that I love over everything else. The scene is when Radon, the Father’s Son, appears to one of the characters through white flames on a tree but the tree isn’t burning. This is the scene that parallels with the story of Moses. I love this scene for several reasons 1) It’s new. Most of the scenes in here I’ve read dozens upon dozens of times, so any of the newer stuff that I added in my first edit hasn’t been read as much. New content! 2) Because of that, when I added this scene, I knew the rest of the series and was able to add this to sort of tie it together with the others. Adding in Radon meant so much to me because he means so much to me as a character because of Who he represents. 3) It’s a powerful scene and it always fills me with lots of emotion. 4) This scene represents a major turning point for the character involved with it and it’s so much fun to read the character’s thoughts and feelings as they go through it. So here’s that favorite line I was telling you about (edited to avoid spoilers):
The face in the fire smiled. “If we look at who we used to be, and worry about what we will become, then we will miss who we are.”
I think looking back in the past is a problem I have, and I’m sure many others can agree. I also have a problem worrying about the future, so I didn’t realize how true this statement that Radon says could teach me a thing or two and not just the character he’s speaking to. That’s the thing I love about the Valiant Series is that each and every book took me on a journey and taught me so much about myself and about life. God used these books to influence my life and Hunter was just the beginning, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Even though I wrote it years ago, I’m only just now learning to live out this line in my life and not miss who I am now.
Do you have a favorite character? Why?
Jared. I don’t really know why, but out of all the characters throughout the Valiant Series, he’s always stuck with me. It could have been because he’s my first in this series, but so was Averella. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but I just love Jared. I fell in love with the idea of a brutal killer and seeing his transformation, especially when you see him later on, is just amazing to experience. He’s the easiest character for me to write and his scenes always come so easily to me. Getting into the mind of a character that had no idea what the world was like outside of being a killer was fun and let’s face it, he’s technically one of the main antagonists in Hunter, so I think I loved him the most because he was one of those epic villains you want to see more of – like Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars.
Anything you want to let my readers know?
I hope that Hunter can be the start of an epic journey for you like it was for me. I hope that you learn so many things – forgiveness, letting go of the past, moving onto the future God has planned for you, never being afraid to lean on others for help and support, believing in yourself, not doubting who you are and what you can do. There’s so much woven in this story. I also hope it entertains you. That you read it, fall in love with each of the characters, and that the ending leaves you wanting more, so that you’ll continue reading the Valiant books and continue this epic journey with me.
Joanna White earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. The Valiant series is her first published work, which first started off being updated on a website called Wattpad. She lives in the country of Missouri with her husband, where she continues to work on her other upcoming books. Writing has been a passion since she was ten, when she wrote her first book. Ever since then, writing has become her life outside of her family, God, and being a nerd.