I’m J.T. Hatter, your basic friendly, neighborhood, middle-class American. I’m a natural born citizen and can prove it. I’m an Army Brat so my family moved every three years from one military assignment to the next while I was growing up. We lived in a lot of different parts of the USA and also five years in France during my early teen years. I went to college, earned a degree and work in a technical field involving biology and chemistry.
I’m a Christian father and husband. I have children, a cat and dog, a house in the suburbs and a small place in the country that I love. I work hard and don’t get enough play, like most people I know. But when I’m writing I enter another world—one of wonder, mystery and excitement. I’d rather write than do most anything else.
When or why did you start writing?
I started writing in high school. I told my favorite high school English teacher that I wanted to be a writer and she told me to read everything I could get my hands on. That was good advice. I’ve published non-fiction technical resource material and a textbook as part of my professional career. It was only two years ago that I started writing fiction with an aim to publish.
What kinds of books do you write?
I’m a multi-genre writer. I’ve written young-adult science fiction and action/adventure thrillers. My most recent book is Lost in Zombieland, which is a political satire. I have three Christian books in the works, one of which is a romance. I’m looking forward to that one. I’ll publish more non-fiction articles, technical books and reference material. So I guess you can say I’m a pretty eclectic writer.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Just being present in this astonishing creation provides abundant inspiration. Every day is endlessly fascinating. Answering your interview questions right now, Crystal, is a hoot. My daughter is the inspiration for The Tabatha YA sci-fi series. The action/adventure series—Jake’s Place, Big Easy and Iron Bikini—were inspired by my adventures growing up and by military people I’ve known. Lost in Zombieland was inspired by the current occupant of the White House and the present situation in the USA. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Like many writers, I have to discipline myself to focus on what I really need to write about.
Do you read in your free time and if so, what do you like to read?
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books about the craft of writing: The Art of War for Writers by Bell; Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Truss; The First Five Pages by Lukeman. That sort of thing. For pleasure and illumination I gravitate toward books on the great men and women of history, books on science and religion. I love the classics (currently rereading Lorna Doone) and good science fiction. I’m a Tolkien devotee. I’m trying to keep up with the YA market, which is a great reading lark: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games—vampires, wizards and heroines, steampunk and high tech sci-fi. The YA market is a wild romp these days. This is a good time to be a reader and a writer.
What project(s) are you working on now?
Let’s stay with fiction, which is new to me in terms of publishing the work. Lost in Zombieland was just published (May 2012) and I’m in the book promotion phase. Writing books is easier and more fun. But this is fun too. I’ve got radio interviews and book blogs lined up and more around the corner. I’m meeting some great new people, like Crystal Schall. Lost in Zombieland is a political satire, and the way politics is polarized in the USA today, I expect both good and bad reaction to the book. Everybody in the world knows the USA is in serious economic, cultural and geopolitical trouble. My message in Lost in Zombieland is that we are heading in the wrong direction and that we have to work together to turn this nation around. If we don’t…well then all of us will lose everything we hold dear. Our children and grandchildren will suffer terribly if we don’t get our collective act together.
I believe that we can work together if we employ the Golden Rule and approach one another with love and truth—instead of ugly partisan politics. We’re also going to need a big dollop of that famous American humor that the rest of the world admires and marvels at. I chose satire as the vehicle for Lost in Zombieland because most Americans (but not all by a long shot) have a good sense of humor and will get the message. Satire reflects reality in a way that leaves a strong impression. Lost in Zombieland is a serious book. But it’s also a very funny read, if I may say so.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
I do. Jake’s Place and the Tabatha trilogy are written and in the can. My next publishing project will be to bring them to market. In two months I start writing a biography of a family that survived the Rwandan Genocide. Theirs is an incredible story of horror and high adventure. My research and work with the family has been very humbling. It’s called me to help them build an AIDS hospice in Kigali. I’m donating my time on the project. All book proceeds will go to the Rwandan ministry leading this effort. Most of the world has no idea that nearly 900,000 Rwandans were murdered in less than 100 days in 1994—most of them by machete and clubs. It was a politically motivated race war. I’m telling the story of one family who escaped the soldiers and militia who hunted them by the thinnest of margins. It’s a true story and the grimmest reality I’ve ever been exposed to.
I’m also working on my first Christian novel: Lunch with Satan. It’s a story about a man who goes to a restaurant to begin an adulterous affair. Only someone else shows up. It’s a story of sin and redemption told against the backdrop of Lucifer’s history—his being cast out of Heaven, his utter hatred of mankind, and his plan to use a particular man to escape his fate at the End of Days. The novel is cast through time—forward and backward—and this has been the most challenging writing I’ve attempted so far.
If you could give a new writer any advice, what would it be?
Think like a Boy Scout: Be prepared. Plan ahead. You are about to begin an arduous demanding journey and you need to prepare for it. Plan your writing with a good outline and story arc. This is your compass and map. I draw big story arcs in an oversized sketchbook. Plan when you’re going to write and how much quality time you can squeeze in. If you have a disciplined writing plan you can turn out good work. The late Michael Crichton called this his “butt in chair” time. He was right. Writing takes discipline.
Plan what to do once you’ve completed your final draft manuscript. You have to hand your work off to other people and then work closely with them: copy editor, development editor, redraft, master final draft, final copy edit, proofs, final proof. Some people use a different sequence but at the end of all this effort you have your very best work product.
Plan for book production. Today you have a choice between traditional publishing (book agent and publisher) or self-publishing. I had two manuscripts that languished on an editor’s desk at Random House for nearly a year before I said forget about it. It was great getting the books that far up the ladder. Big publishers are nearly impenetrable. I landed a whale—but jeesh, give me a break. You can’t wait a year to get a rejection—even if it is Random House. I’ve got manuscripts out now to publishers who told me up front that they’d take up to a year to get back to me…and that by the way, they didn’t want me to send the manuscripts to anyone else while they made up their minds. This has become the routine way big publishers do business. They don’t even want to see your manuscript unless a book agent hands it to them. A book proposal will get you better results. But the reality is that publishers have a constantly growing “slush pile” of really bad books, with a few gems hidden inside, and some really excellent books handed to them over lunch by trusted agents.
New writers need to toughen themselves up for some serious disappointment and a long slog whichever way they go. But with perseverance and belief in yourself—and good planning and execution—you can end up happily published. In my experience, non-fiction is much easier to get published than fiction. But none of it is easy.
Think like a Boy Scout. Be prepared and plan your project carefully. Get right with your family. You’ll be surprised how much support you’ll have from them. The writing adventure is worth the sacrifices you have to make. Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.
You can find out more about J.T. Hatter, his books, and purchase his books from the following sites:
Lost in Zombieland
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-in-Zombieland-ebook/dp/B0087H2AUQ/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-zombieland-j-hatter/1111070997?ean=9781470165222
iBookstore: search Apple iTunes store via iTunes
Sony Reader store: search ebookstore.sony.com: http://ebookstore.sony.com/search?keyword=lost+in+zombieland
Kobo Books: search Kobobooks.com: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=lost+in+zombieland
Copia: http://www.thecopia.com/home/index.html: Coming soon!
Gardners: http://www.gardners.com: Coming soon!
Brick and Mortar Book Stores: Coming soon everywhere!
J.T. Hatter Socials Links
Web Page: lostinzombieland.com
Facebook: JT Hatter