Axe of Iron: The Settlers – author interview – J.A. Hunsinger

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axe-of-ironPaperback Writer welcomes author J.A. Hunsinger, author of the historical fiction novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers (Vinland Publishing, Aug. ’08), as he chats with us today on his virtual book tour.


As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops.


The first novel of a continuing character-driven tale of a medieval people whose wanderlust and yearning for adventure cause them to leave the two established settlements on Greenland and sail west, to the unexplored land later referred to as Vinland.

Eirik the Red established Eiriksfjord in 986 and later Lysufjord, 400-miles to the north. Just 22-years later, new settlers from the homelands found all the best land already occupied, the fragile Arctic environment strained by too many people and animals on too little arable land.

Under the capable leadership of Halfdan Ingolfsson and his lieutenant, Gudbjartur Einarsson, 315 men, women, and children set sail from Greenland in the spring of 1008, bound for the unexplored continent across the western ocean.

Standing in their way are uncounted numbers of indigenous people, the pre-historical ancestors of the Cree (Naskapi), Ojibwa (Anishinabeg), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians. From the outset, these native people strenuously resist the incursion of these tall, pale-skinned invaders.

Two calamitous events occur that pave the way for the hostile beginnings of an assimilation process to occur between these disparate peoples. The way is rocky and fraught with danger at every turn, but the acceptance and friendship that develops between the Northmen and the Naskapi over an affair of honor, the eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and a scenario that seems ordained by the will of the gods, makes it all begin to fall into place, as it must for the Northmen to survive.

See the saga unfold, in this first book of the Axe of Iron series, through the eyes of the characters as each day brings a continuation of the toil, love, hardship, and danger that they come to expect in this unforgiving new land.


Hi J. A. (Jerry) Hunsinger,

Welcome to Paperback Writer

Thank you very much it is my pleasure.

Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?

A: Yes, I have had a lifelong infatuation with the Vikings of medieval Greenland. After reading everything available, one is left with a nagging question. What happened to them? It is difficult to study them because they wrote nothing down. Everything we know comes from archaeological research and the Norse sagas. The Saga of the Greenlanders and Eirik the Red’s Saga both tell stories about them, although centuries after the fact, but we know nothing about the people themselves. I decided to tell their tale using fiction because I wanted to convey to my readers what a lifetime of research has led me to believe regarding the abandonment of the two known Norse settlements on Greenland and the disappearance from history of every single settler. Nobody ever saw them again and nobody knows to this day, what happened to them. In spinning my Axe of Iron series of tales, I give my characters personalities, to make them as we are. No other author has ever told their story as I do.

Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

No, I do not outline. I write from copious notes and files and I relate the story as it occurs to me.

Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

A: Yes, I have the entire series in my mind. Each book is a continuation of the preceding, the story is contiguous, and the characters are generational, just as we are.

Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?

A: Of course, the characters are members of disparate cultures and they become a part of the tale as the story proceeds. Their individual personalities then manifest themselves as they would if we were meeting them in contemporary life, or at least that is my intent.

Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

A: Yes, I am there, but I cannot tell you which character nor can I tell you how it happened. I do not want to have a net thrown over me.  I can tell you that it was not intentional, it just happened.

Q: What is your most favorite part about this book?

A: That is a tough one. Truthfully, I am so involved in this tale, all of it, that it has almost taken me over mentally. I would have to say that I do not have a favorite part. Rather, I love the tale, all of it.

Q: When in the process of writing your book did, you begin to look for a publisher?

A: I had a completed manuscript. It had been professionally edited, rewritten, edited, rewritten, etc, until it was as good as our collective efforts could make it. After that point, I spent a full year submitting to literary agents.

Q: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?

A:It is a long, arduous journey. I think this material from an article that I wrote might provide some of the answers: Believe it or not, writing your book is only the beginning. With a final draft of your manuscript in hand, it is time to query. Famous people query with a proposal before writing the book. I will assume that you are not yet famous. As an author, you cannot deal directly with one of the large publishing houses, so your next challenge is to interest a literary agent in your work. If you find a literary agent, your relationship will be contractual. Do nothing with anyone without a contract. Fully understand your part of the contract before signing or hire an attorney versed in literary contracts to help you understand. There are numerous listings of literary agents on the Internet. Research each agent for their submission guidelines, select those receptive to your genre, be certain that they are accepting submissions, submit only what they require, and never send an unsolicited manuscript, they will not read it. Your literary agent will handle your contractual relationship with a publisher; they are your agent acting in your behalf.
If you are fortunate enough to become a published author through the literary agent/publisher/reader sequence of progression, congratulations, you have hit the big time. Your publisher will handle all the details of composition/format, cover design, printing/binding, fulfillment/marketing, and warehouse/distribution, leaving you free to crank out books. You will have little or no input regarding any of the production aspects of your book, nor will you retain any rights other than copyright. The publisher will own the ISBN and all future negotiations for anything concerning that work will be through, or with the permission of, the publisher.
Okay, you have spent a year submitting to literary agents without results. If you have not completely lost interest in publishing your work, you are left with publishing it yourself, e.g. self-publishing or becoming an independent publisher. A self-published author has hired a publishing company to publish a book, surrendering all rights save copyright. An independent publisher has formed a small company and gone through the process from copyright to a finished book ready for the market. That author owns all rights to the book because often the author and the publishing company are one and the same. Books are produced and marketed by an independent publisher working closely with a large full service book production facility such as BookMasters, Ashland, OH, where everything is done in house.

Q: What has been the best part about being published?

A: Recognition for completion of a very difficult task would have to rank right up there. There is only one first novel for an author. After that one is published, the follow-on books should become easier as your knowledge of the business and writing skill level increases. At least that is my hope.

Q: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

A: I hope that they have become a part of the story, that they can live it as they read, and that they cannot wait to find out what happens to the people with whom they have bonded.

Q: Do you have plans to write another book?

A: Oh, yes. I hope to write down my whole story and live to see the Axe of Iron series readily accepted as engaging medieval historical fiction.

Q: Where can readers find a copy of your book?

A: My distributor, AtlasBooks, Amazon, 57 major outlets nationwide, and in Canada.

Q: Do you have a website for readers to go to?

A: Website: Where you can find several additional book purchase options, including print and electronic versions.

Thank you, Jerry for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to interview with you and appear on your website.

AXE OF IRON VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ’09 officially began on March 2 and will end on April 30. You can visit J.A’s blog stops at in March and April to find out more about this talented author!

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4 thoughts on “Axe of Iron: The Settlers – author interview – J.A. Hunsinger”

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    Glad to see this great interview is finally posted.I hope we aren’t so late that people won’t bother coming by.

    Thanks for your interview. I will come back by occasionally in case somebody pops in.


  2. It is always fascinating to me that people can write a series of books and have the entire series in their head before they write it. Great interview!

  3. Jerry:
    You and I go back to the old days at the airlines and even though we have already have discussed the trials of being a first-time author, it bears repeating. Too bad we lost track of each other for the last twenty years or so, but everything that happened to you, happened to me “in Spades.” I blame my mistakes on the fact that it did take me that twenty years to complete what I thought was my best draft, and I was so excited that I let my POD publisher rush me into publication and printing. They even passed on a rumor that someone else from our old company already had a similar book in process. (Believe Nobody!) I panicked and my first edition was poorly edited. Like you say, there is a very steep learning curve in this business and it would make it easier if we could find what we need to learn WHEN we need it! Trite but true, those hard lessons may be the best!
    John U

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