By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
It was at the tables and in the stacks of the Washington Public Library that Washington School District student Andy Hunt first learned to appreciate literature, compelling prose, tight storylines, and a good thrilling mystery.
Now with his own book about two weeks from being published, Hunt is returning to where the love of literature first began ? sort of. It may be a different library than the one he used to go to that was located right across the street from the Washington Community Y, but he still feels the new building retains all the character of the original book depository that made him into a voracious reader and writer. When his first book ?Killer Choice,? which he authored as Tom Hunt, is released by Berkley Hardcover, a division of Penguin Randomhouse, the Washington Public Library will be the fourth stop on his interstate book tour.
?I was there all the time when I was growing up,? he said. ?I mostly enjoyed reading but I always enjoyed the programs they put on in the summer. They had a big collection of Hardy Boys books ? there are like 100 Hardy Boys books and they had a big collection of all of them. Over the course of about a year I think I checked out every single one of them and read it.?
Hunt will be at the library at 11:15 a.m. Feb. 3.
Born and raised in Washington, Hunt lived in town until going off to college in Iowa City at the age of 18. In the years since he has worn many hats, working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, as a printer salesman in Chicago, Illinois, and as an advertiser. He is now an award-winning advertising copywriter in New York.
Even while he was working as an advertiser, Hunt never lost the enjoyment of writing fiction, which began at a young age for him. He said it was always a dream for him to become a novelist.
?When I graduated from college I began writing a lot in my free time,? he said. ?This book is actually the fourth novel I have written, but it is the first one that will be published by a major publisher. it is the first one I have sold.?
It was a newspaper article about a sick woman who couldn?t afford treatment Hunt had read that became the basis for ?Killer Choice.? He described the plot as being a thriller about a married couple. The wife is diagnosed with a terminal illness. They find a procedure that may save her life but their insurance won?t cover it. The couple needs $200,000 to pay for the process. A strange man approached the husband and offers him the money, with the stipulation the husband kills someone.
The quest to become an published author was a long one, he said, and one where the odds were definitely against him. With a common goal for many people to become a published author, publishing companies and inundated with submissions and only are able to select a certain number.
?It has been an interesting process,? he said. ?How the process works is you have to find a literary agent. The literary agent is the one who has the connections with the editors at the various publishing houses. The literary agent takes a fee ? usually 15 percent of what the book sells for.?
He said the agents are just as picky about who they accept as a client as publishing companies. The agents only select clients who have books they are sure will sell and many have dozens of established writers they work with. The author has to have a completed book before he can even begin to look for a literary agent. Hunt said writers find literary agents by sending query letters which summarize the book, the author, and comparisons to other books. He said the odds are low for being selected. After about 60 letters, he was able to find one.
The team then worked for about nine months fine-tuning the book, in addition to the year it took to write. The literary agent then sold the book, which brought another nine months of revisions before the release.
?It was pretty amazing,? he said, of learning them book had sold. ?I couldn?t believe it. It was certainly a dream come true. It was my fourth book so there had been a lot of rejection up to that point.?
With Washington still being a common destination for Hunt, returning about four times a year, he hopes the people of Washington will come out to learn more about the book. He hopes to see plenty of old and new friends at the tour.
Hunt also said the deal with Penguin was a two-book deal. His second book is due in stores in January 2019. He said that he recently handed in a first draft of the second book. He said it is another thriller, but said that he is not at liberty to divulge any details yet.