Guest Blogger: Joanna White
This week, please enjoy guest blogger Joanna White. She is a fellow author with Ambassador International. She will share with us about her debut novel Hunter.
What does Hunter mean to me? That’s a question I’ve never asked myself and one I feel deserves an answer.
Hunter is my first.
Sure, before Hunter I’d written lots of books; after all, I’ve been writing since I was ten or eleven and I first wrote Hunter when I was seventeen or eighteen. But it was my first fantasy novel. It was the first in what became a seventeen-book, epic series. It was the first novel I wrote after I got serious about writing and wanted to turn it into a career. It is my first published novel. It was the first book where I’d written major fights and action scenes. It was the first book where I’d created my own world. It was the first book that had names I’d made up on my own. It was the first book that ever had a direct Biblical parallel - until then, I’d always written Christian dramas with Christian themes, not direct parallels.
Hunter reminds me there’s always room for improvement, but that doesn’t take away from the original story.
After Hunter, I just continued writing. Onto Experiment, working on Mortal, then Assassin and Shifter, Samurai, Survivor, Remnant, Warrior, Enslaved, Rogue, Raider, Wicked, Paladin, finishing Mortal, Immortal, Valiant Part One, Valiant Part Two. After Hunter, I spent the next several years writing one book in the Valiant Series after another until the seventeen-book series had been completely finished. Throughout the years, my husband and I edited a few books in the Valiant Series together, including Hunter and I went through it again after the series finished, when we realized it paralleled with the Bible, so I could add a few more scenes to make it better. But for the most part, as soon as the Valiant Series was over, I started another series and wrote six books in it before I took a break. Then I started another one and wrote three books in it and in between wrote various novels, novellas, and short stories.
Then Hunter was accepted by Ambassador International, so I went through it and the first book in the Valiant Series, Shifter, with my editor. There were a lot of things to be edited and changed. Seeing the final product - all the edits, the smooth structure, the added scenes, the better pacing and development - it really showed me and made me appreciate the concept of revising and editing your work. I’m a writer and I’ll always be a writer, not an editor, but now I understand that sometimes editing my work and polishing it doesn’t take away from the original story. Hunter is still there and the original ideas I had back when I was senior in high school (and a much younger writer back then), were still good ones.
But over the years, all the writing I did - seventeen books, then six, then three, then several standalone ones - gave me experience as a writer and matured me as one too. That showed me that while my original ideas for Hunter were great and super creative, it could use a touch and polish. What Hunter is now, is smooth, better, improved, and still sitting on the platform of the original ideas and the book that was there before.
Hunter gave me my favorite characters, ones that have stuck with me over the years, through so much of my life.
As I graduated high school, then went to college online, got my writing degree, started my writing career, got married, moved away, started my life…I was writing the Valiant Series. Jared and Averella were my first two major protagonists. Hindah was my first villain and Radon…well, he was still being developed, but he was there. Jared and Averella, however, stuck with me and kept showing back up throughout the series as major protagonists in the Valiant Series. They were my first, so above all the other characters, they held a special place in my heart.
Even Hindah, who had been the first major villain in the series, stayed with me, so much so that I had to recreate that original conflict again and drive the stakes higher the second time. Now, as I look back at Jared and Averella, I see their development and overall character arcs throughout the entire Valiant Series and it inspires me to create more characters with their stories and arcs and make them grow and change as much as Jared and Averella did.
Hunter taught me how to write good, intense, action scenes
Since all I wrote before Hunter were Christian dramas, at most before then, I’d only ever written a fist fight here and there. Maybe the occasional car accident scene. Needless to say, I was not prepared for enhanced assassins tracking down and killing prisoners inside a multi-biome arena with medieval weaponry.
That was where my husband came in at, during the time we edited Hunter. Phew, there was so much that needed fixing, but it gave me all the lessons I needed; the proper words to use in a fight - slice, dodge, twist, smack, slam, pound, jab, lunge, drove, darted, sped, dashed, pierced, swung, etc. It taught me to picture the fight in my mind and clearly visualize it, then slowly describe what I’m seeing in my mind, even to the point of acting it out if I have to in order to see it properly. It taught me to know the characters and the environment they’re fighting in. How would they use it against their opponent or to their own advantage? What would they notice? What would they use? How would their body react with their weapon?
Hunter showed me I can create an epic world and intense survival scenarios to go with it.
I didn’t world build the entire planet itself - Averell - much, but I did world build the prison, Zagerah, since that’s mostly where Hunter takes place at. I created different biomes scattered all around the map - volcanoes, swamp, the shadow forest, ice caves, caverns, the mist, and even tried to make a few non-natural structures too such as the glass pyramid and the invisible maze. This allowed me the freedom to create survival scenarios that would naturally arise as the characters traveled to these dangerous biomes.
Hunter showed me that I can write in genres I’d never tried before.
With Hunter, I literally went from writing Christian dramas, to epic Christian fantasy novels filled with action, suspense, romance, drama, tragedy, and more.
Most of all, Hunter showed me to never give up.
I cannot tell you how many times Hunter has been rejected by publishers. I also self-published it first and it only brought me in about ten bucks a month. I submitted it to publishers over and over again, so much so that I doubted it would ever be accepted. And yet, it was. Hunter is going to be my first published novel and thus, my dream of becoming a published author will be fulfilled through Hunter. I started writing it in high school for fun and in the end, I created a career and now, Hunter is going to kick-start that career.
Never, ever give up on your dreams. God has a very special plan for your life and no one and nothing can change that. He has your back. He gave you the gifts and talents He gave you for a reason and He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26) and no giant or storm can stop Him. I hope Hunter can remind you of that, too.
So today, I’ll leave you with a short excerpt from Hunter:
Slipping one of his arms around my shoulder to steady him, I stopped short, feeling someone watching me from ahead. The clicking noise echoed again and barely had time to shove Wexx to the side before I was pierced by something sharp and knocked to the ground.
Pain exploded in my lower left shoulder. I groaned, practically a scream. I bit my lip to try to keep from screaming as loud as I could.
“Dalex!” I heard.
We were both dead.
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.
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About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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