Indie author A M Hounchell wrote his very first story in kindergarten. ‘It was a love story between a rabbit and a grasshopper,’ begins Hounchell, speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction. His answers to each of our questions are crisp and direct yet thoughtful. As a matter of fact, on being asked if he remembers his oldest story, he responds with a smile, ‘I still have that yellowed page somewhere in my house actually. And yes, I do remember the story.’
With several books currently in his kitty, the Kansas-based author, who has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, lets us know he is a big fan of the flashlight method. ‘I just write what comes naturally and let everything grow organically. I have never been able to use outlines because it feels limiting,’ he says.
Veins Filled With Ink
Talking about his very first book Zumanity, which he started working upon two years ago, the 26-year-old, who often jokes his blue veins are filled with ink, says, ‘Every zombie story has the one character that holds onto its humanity for a bit longer than everyone else. But what if that continued for a longer period of time? The main character in Zumanity falls to her death shortly after being bitten by a zombie, so she has an odd transformation.’
Nonetheless, it is his second book that he considers his magnum opus. Titled Running out of Time, Hounchell makes known that it came about mostly as a joke about an ordinary guy being the centre of a cosmic battle between time and space. ‘It’s grown in the last four years to a five-book series with a sixth on the way. It’s unedited, absurd, and experimental,’ Hounchell explains.
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Fan of Piers Anthony
On being asked who his favourite author is, Hounchell, who has 35 works in progress as you read this (and you read it right!), doesn’t take more than a second to splutter Piers Anthony’s name. ‘His Xanth novels are filled to the brim with puns and magical wonder. In fact, during my time in college, I contacted him for my senior capstone project, and he got back to me,’ Hounchell makes known.
Anyhow, if you ended up thinking this young author’s life revolved only around books, you would be mistaken; for Hounchell divulges that writing apart, blacksmithing is something that he is keenly interested in. But he categorically states he is not great at juggling between two or more tasks at a given point in time. ‘Especially now, everything is changed for the worse. I’m looking for a new job and just trying to survive while writing,’ he states, adding, ‘I read, play video games, and when I finally find time to start blacksmithing, I shall do it. I’m reading up on it right now.’
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No Hard and Fast Rules
Hounchell says he writes when he feels the urge. ‘I sometimes write thousands of words at once, and other times I write twenty. Since I don’t have outlines, I just have story ideas rattling in my head constantly,’ he lets on. ‘I try to write an hour or two before bed though,’ he adds. Be that as it may, there is something that he is extremely excited for. ‘It’s my solo gamebook Technomancer and the Sword,’ he says. And does he want to become a full-fledged author? ‘I can’t plan on anything, but I want to make writing a full-time career when I can,’ he says.
A player of Dungeons and Dragons, Hounchell has a piece of advice for budding authors who feel discouraged if their works don’t do well. ‘I want to tell them not to get discouraged,’ he says, only to add, ‘but it’s hard to feel that way sometimes.’ He stresses, ‘Instead, try to take your little victories when you get them. Sometimes, just the fact that your friend bought your book should be enough. One step at a time.’
And as our discussion comes to a close, we ask him if there is anything he would like to change in the world. ‘Wealth inequality,’ he utters. ‘It seems ridiculous that CEOs make 10000% more money than their employees,’ he points out before signing off.