on Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. THE ALARMISTS is his third novel.
Don Hoesel is the author of two works of fiction --- the suspense thrillers ELISHA'S BONES and the newly released HUNTER'S MOON. In this interview, Hoesel compares his two novels in terms of style and genre and expounds on his latest book's symbolic title. He also discusses the novel's overall theme of forgiveness and how the finished product differs from the original book he'd intended to write, and reflects on how a Sherwood Anderson novel impacted his writing style.
Question: HUNTER’S MOON is a much different type of book than your acclaimed debut ELISHA’S BONES. Why the switch?
Don Hoesel: I don’t really think of it in terms of a switch. When I started to write HUNTER’S MOON, and ELISHA’S BONES before that, I just wanted to tell the story. And along the way the type of book reveals itself. ELISHA’S BONES is a pretty straight suspense novel, which is what the story called for --- although there are elements that certainly set it apart from others in that genre. With HUNTER’S MOON, though, the book became something else. I was flattered when a pre-reader compared it to a Richard Russo novel. But there is certainly a suspense feel to the book --- all the touchstones are there. So I think that people who enjoyed ELISHA’S BONES will find HUNTER’S MOON satisfying too.
Q: Why is HUNTER’S MOON set in Upstate New York?
DH: While I’ve lived in the Nashville area for the last 13 years, I was born and raised in New York. So, in setting HUNTER’S MOON there, I was essentially returning to a place and a people that I know well --- the environment that made me who I am. I had a lot of fun doing it, but I also found myself a little nervous during the process because I wanted to make sure I was doing justice to the region. I’d hate to go visit family after they read the book and have them ticked at me for getting something wrong!
Q: What particular significance does the title HUNTER’S MOON carry?
DH: The hunter’s moon is the first full moon after the harvest moon. What makes it unique is that there is an unusually short time between sunset and moonrise, which makes it easy for hunters to continue tracking their prey. If you read the book you’ll see that hunting means a lot to the Baxter family --- it’s the thing that, aside from the fact that they share the same blood, ties them all together. And I think the hunter’s moon works as a metaphor for CJ too as he finally has sufficient light, if you will, to chase down the deep, dark family secret.
Q: Is there a central theme you were dealing with in HUNTER’S MOON?
DH: The underlying theme of HUNTER’S MOON is forgiveness. But it’s not as simple as that. It’s about a forgiveness that is beyond the average person’s capacity to grant but one that has to be given regardless --- even when the object of that forgiveness is wholly undeserving. Interestingly, it’s not the book I set out to write. Originally, the book was about justice rather than forgiveness. But there’s a really fine line there, and the theme turned on a very few key scenes in the book. And I’m glad it did, because I think it turned out to be a better book.
Q: What stands out about your characters?
DH: I try to make sure that each of my characters has something unique about them. Sometimes it’s a physical affliction, like Artie with his arthritis and Dennis with his stuttering. With others, it’s a character trait or a disposition, such as the Baxter family’s penchant for using intra-family theft as a means of solving domestic issues. I remember reading Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO years ago and being struck by the idea that all of the town’s inhabitants were grotesque in some way. And while smarter people than I have unpacked what that really means, my take-away was that every character in a story should have believability and a depth that speaks to the whole conglomeration of life experiences that fashioned them.
© Copyright 2010, Don Hoesel and Bethany House. All rights reserved
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