In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Lee Hunt, a geophysicist, Ironman Triathlete, traveler, and author. Lee shared insights into his creative process, inspirations for his stories, and approach to character development. He also discussed the importance of research and the challenges he faced while writing his latest novel. Lee pursues his dream of understanding and being understood through his works of fiction, using metaphor to convey his message and entertain his readers. With a diverse range of interests and experiences, Lee’s passion for storytelling shines through in his novels. Our conversation with him was fascinating and inspiring, providing a glimpse into the mind of a talented author and dedicated athlete who is dedicated to delivering high-quality storytelling to his readers.
- If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Passionate, relentless, critical.
2. The quote “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” – Lloyd Alexander is correct to describe your book, “Last Worst Hopes.” What excites you more, reality or fantasy?
Reality excites me more than fantasy. The hope, pain and challenges of life give birth to all fantasy.
3. The characters in your book Last Worst Hopes are not heroic from birth but turned to conquer their disabilities. What are the reasons behind choosing such characters?
I did not wish to explore the old trope of a special hero, chosen from birth, but wanted to look at the heroism of every day persons. I felt it was more interesting —and perhaps more powerful—for the heroism of Last Worst Hopes to derive from choices that each of us flawed human beings can make. And, it turns out, that each of these flawed characters are special too.
4. Rationality is sometimes seen as irrational, as shown in the book Last Worst Hopes (The Dynamicist Trilogy) How would you like to connect with your readers emotionally or intellectually?
Both! It’s a powerful thing when an idea has both intellectual merit and emotional power—when ideas resonate with needs and values. Last Worst Hopes and the Dynamicist Trilogy deal with ideas rooted in the real world, but they become emotionally compelling in how they affect the characters of the story. This intellectual—emotional affect will hopefully be felt by the reader through their connection to the characters.
5. Last Worst Hopes (The Dynamicist Trilogy) emphasizes the working togetherness of misfit characters to save the world. What is the hidden message behind it?
A not so hidden message is that we will have to work together to do any good in the world, let alone save it. A little more concealed is the message that none of us are perfect, but perfection is not required to make a positive difference. We do have to care, though, and each of my main characters deeply care.
6. The characters are suffering from more realistic issues like self-doubt, learning disabilities, and dementia. Why did you choose these mental illnesses instead of physical injuries and illnesses?
The characters do experience physical challenges, but you are correct that the emotional and mental difficulties they each experience prove to be more important. This is often true in life. Things happen to us, but how we feel about those experiences matters most. I also wanted to explore these mental and emotional issues in the story and felt that this would resonate with readers.
Some of the characters in the House On the Hill (the old folks’ home in Last Worst Hopes) do have physical challenges, but all the main characters have emotion and mental hurdles to overcome. I chose this path based on my own experiences with elderly relatives. More important than their failing bodies was the vanishing sense of purpose and battle against despair.
7. One of the fascinating things about your book Last Worst Hopes (The Dynamicist Trilogy) is its cover page, which has a man carrying a dog that is hidden with messages. Would you like to share something about it?
All dogs carry a message. Several characters interact with Fenris (the dog)—often poignantly—though I don’t want to spoil anyone’s read by revealing what exactly, is exposed. Mick, the old man on the cover, starts to rediscover himself through his rescue of the dog.
8. In your book Last Worst Hopes (The Dynamicist Trilogy), which of the characters do you think you are, and which one do you inspire to become?
In a way, a piece of all of the characters are within me. In writing, we inhabit each character. I could only hope to have a heroic breakthrough like any of them. The character I am probably most like (or was like, when I was younger) is Heylor Style from the Dynamicist Trilogy.
9. Humanity has been the embedded theme of your books. How do you describe humanity?
Oh we funny, feeling animals, both blessed by self-awareness and cursed by it to rarely be happy; to be capable of such great things but to have such difficulties consistently achieving them. We are complex, rational and irrational, predictable and unpredictable. Worthy and needing of story.
10. What were the hitting points that inspired you to complete your book, “Last Worst Hopes” (The Dynamicist Trilogy)?
I started with the end, which was the idea of who the One True Devil—that Farrah Harbinger prophesized in the novel—was. There was never any question of finishing the story, but rather how to construct it so that the ending would make sense. Also, each character had a resolution: Val must learn to lead, Mick must find his memory, Dav must accept his evil left hand, and Ave must come to believe in herself. These character arcs needed to be achieved, and I could not stop writing until this was done.
There is one other aspect to the ending of Last Worst Hopes, and that is that it needed to leave certain problems unfinished. Last Worst Hopes is a prequel to the Dynamicist Trilogy, and it had to end in a very particular way in regard to the Ardgour Wilderness (as it would come to be known) and the Methueyn Bridge.
11. Have you ever tried incorporating cinematic creations and ideas into your works?
There are some spectacular cinematic scenes in Last Worst Hopes.
12. You like to travel. Have you ever tried to write at your travel spots and sites? Would you like to share some experience?
Usually when I am travelling, I travel. What inspires me more than place is people. Those unexpected people that you meet—they sometimes need to be shared in a story.
13. Do you have any further plans to adapt your book into a web series or movie in the future ?
I would love to, though I have no current theatrical plans for the novels.
14. You have also dealt with many health problems and illnesses. Have you ever tried to discover yourself through your work or redefine your initial personality?
I mentioned earlier that Heylor Style shares some similarities to my younger self. It is no accident that Heylor has a remarkable character arc in the third novel of the trilogy, Knight in Retrograde. However, regarding my personality—I do not and will not try to change who I am, however in understanding myself I may become a better person.
15. There is so much diversity in your working experience as a geophysicist, journalist, consultant, and professional writer. Which one of these professions was the outcome of social conditioning instead of intuition?
What could any of us claim to do that was not affected by social conditioning? I became a geophysicist because I wanted to use one of my skills to build a career. So that met a need, though I love geophysics. I always wanted to write. The journalism was born from a desire to explain certain complex ideas better than I thought journalists tend to do. There is a level of egoism in each choice—they all made me happy, I always felt I had something to contribute.
16. For which age group is the book intended, and does it successfully cater to its target audience?
The book is intended for anyone. Any human being who hopes for meaning in their lives could enjoy Last Worst Hopes. The novel is written at a high level, so having at least a high school education helps. Having said this, I have done readings of Last Worst Hope at a retirement home, and it resonates very strongly with older people because of its treatment of the older characters in the fictional House on the Hill.
17. How do you maintain balance while introducing new readers to the fantasy world while maintaining the pacing and momentum of the plot?
That can be very challenging. In my first novel, Dynamicist, some might argue that the plot moves slowly in relation to the world building. In the subsequent novels I was more cognizant of the modern need to move things along a little quicker. In Last Worst Hopes, I tried to walk the tightrope between world building and idea building and plot. This was done by using each character group separately to paint part of the picture. When these groups come together later in the story, everything makes sense.
18. In your article titled “Science in Fantasy and the Fantasy of Certainty,” Why have you chosen only scientific questions to examine the changes in the world?
That article was published in an engineering periodical, so I focused on technical ideas like Bayes theorem, signal theory and the materials science behind amorphous metals. In many ways Last Worst Hopes speaks to more human, sociologic, questions.
19. Why does The Dynamicist Trilogy (TDT) choose humility as an essential characteristic for success?
It is hard to learn new things, and harder yet to change, when we think our assessment of the world is perfect. The strength in humility is a more subtle one, but we will all need it if we are to do more good than harm in our desire to change the world.
20. In contemporary times, change is seen differently with different eyes, but what is constant is the philosophical nature of it. Why do you think that “change is good” is more of a wish than a fact?
Firstly, on the face of it, such a statement “Change is good” cannot by itself be considered a good logical argument. What change? And who is it good for? History is rife with changes, some good and some bad. Change is presumably most often good for whoever is making the change, but even then, an assessment of change’s ‘goodness’ depends on the ultimate results, which may not be those intended, and a valuation of what ‘good’ is. However, good or bad, change is inevitable, so in Dynamicist it is argued that people should be involved in making change, that involvement at least giving them some agency.
In the world of Dynamicist, though, change has a more difficult history. Inventors in this world have been hunted and murdered by a transcendental, demonic being, called Nimrheal. This has stunted growth throughout history and created a much more visceral fear of change.
21. Creativity, inventions, and innovations have been celebrated around the world, but nobody questions their process or moral cost. Why did you choose the character NImrheal in “The Dynamicist Trilogy (TDT)” who goes against creativity ?
Nimrheal is the necessary plot and thematic device that I used in TDT and Last Worst Hopes to convey the importance of change (being dynamic), and increasing the stakes in the problem of change. Nimrheal is designed to be a very frightening being, it is difficult to define, amorphous; deadly. Into this creature, I have tried to concentrate and pour mankind’s fears and angst of change, and of the future.
22. The whole curiosity to change the world is evolving the mathematics, physics, and magic elements. Why didn’t you think of including theoretical disciplines?
I did include theoretical disciplines, lol, but they have not been discussed in interviews until now. In TDT, a character triggers Nimrheal based on a theory, though it would be a spoiler to say how, exactly. In Last Worst Hopes, one of the characters inadvertently summons Nimrheal, when—in a moment of grief—she creates a poem. And Farrah Harbinger, in desperate straits, gives the following warning about the potential destruction of her county and its culture:
“Burns. It burns
As our season turns.
The fires of forgetting
Are the immolation
Of terrible mistakes,
Of knowledge earned
The denial of human hates,
The too-short unspooling
Of all we have learned.
When tall walls crumble
And hopeful time drains,
When thunder rumbles,
And shattered stone rains,
Who takes all they have left,
Plants a flag, unfurls a totem,
Draws sword, stands in pain,
Accepts a lonely death,
For a book of love poems?
The true end of a people
Is the erasing of memory
And all the tiny, trivial stories
Of vast and costly feelings
The end of meaning and time
Is the erasure of history,
The hobbling of philosophy,
The utter annihilation of mind.”
In another book I wrote, Bed of Rose and Thorns, Socrates’ Theory of Essences is explored in a novel way, but this is another conversation.
23. In your article titled “Science in Fantasy and the Fantasy of Certainty,” why did you embrace uncertainty?
One of the biggest misconceptions about science is that it always gives certain answers or makes perfect predictions. But one of the first and most important things taught in university physics labs is error analysis and error propagation. Uncertainty lies at the heart of quantum physics, and is even a large part of geophysics and other disciplines. If we wish to make a better world, we must embrace uncertainty and understand it. In TDT, uncertainty is shown through the various misadventures of the characters and is a big part of the magic system. Even the very intelligent heroes of these stories must be humble before uncertainty.
24. How do you balance the relationship between fiction, science, and culture?
I try to use fiction as a way of describing certain sociologic and scientific problems. In LWH and TDT, I try to explore the intersection between science and humanity at an entertaining remove. The fiction allows the discussion of things like change and uncertainty in an entertaining and unaggressive manner. In this way, hopefully, the reader may consider some new ideas without being put on the defensive.
25. What works inspire you in science fiction?
Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion is my favorite novel. Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister was phenomenal. Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
26. Can you share any upcoming projects or works in progress that you’re excited about?
I have been busy with Carbon Capture projects lately, but I am thinking of a new story in the world of Bed of Rose and Thorns that digs into personal growth and how people in the medieval world might have tried to find it despite barriers that would have existed for them.
27. What advice would you give to aspiring writers, particularly those who may be struggling to find their own voice or develop their own unique style?
The voice comes out of the characters, and their own passion and uniqueness. Think about the arc of each character, the journey they are on and the voice will come.
28. What’s one thing that readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I am unafraid to try things that I have little natural talent for. Not writing, I hope, but I have only one working lung and have completed an Ironman Triathlon. We should always strive for personal excellence, however that measure is against our own capabilities, not that of other people’s. It is a test of true enjoyment of a thing in itself to pursue that which we compare poorly to others.
Don’t miss out on the gripping thrillers of author Lee Hunt! Check out his collection of page-turning novels on Amazon today and get ready to be taken on an unforgettable journey filled with suspense, excitement, and unforgettable characters. From The Dynamicist Trilogy to Last Worst Hopes and Bed of Rose and Thorns, Lee’s works of fiction are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. So why wait? Head to Amazon now and discover the world of Lee Hunt, a talented author who is dedicated to delivering high-quality storytelling to his readers. You won’t be disappointed!
LAST WORST HOPES BY LEE HUNT- BOOK REVIEW