Ann Hunter’s runaway new YA book

Those of you who have read my YA books know that I write about a lot of gritty social problems like addiction, abuse, and homelessness. Ann Hunter is another writer who has taken it upon herself to tackle some of these very real issues. So let’s hear what she has to say about her writing life and her latest release!

First things first! Tell us a little about yourself, please.

I like to say I’m a Mom first, a writer second, and all around ninja. I’m a dyed and true Hufflepuff #badgerfierce, love dark chocolate and red velvet cake. And I love YA literature. I love mentoring other writers, too, and teens as well. I’m assistant teacher at the Taekwondo Dojang I train at with my daughters, and I’m so grateful for my epic husband– he really is too patient with me.

You started writing quite early, just as I did. Tell me how you got into writing.

I remember being in first grade and writing a story about a rabbit pulling a carrot out of the ground. I drew a little action “kapow” around the word POP, and my teacher really liked that. I also remember my aunt giving me this gorgeous book on Shakespeare’s works when I was, like, 4, and I desperately wanted to know what the words said. Needless to say, I was reading Shakespeare by age 6. 

But it wasn’t until I was ten that I truly realized the power of words, when I had to write my first official story. The words poured out of me as though they came from somewhere else. They weren’t mine. My hand couldn’t keep up with my brain. I spent the next 6 years writing 20 novels in the same fashion.

You also address tough youth issues in your series, such as bullying, suicide, and sexuality. How did that come about?

I know today’s youth face some scary stuff, and I wanted to give them someone to look up to. I want them to find me someday and say “You wrote this for me.” And I’ll hug them and say “I know.”

Especially the LGBTQ+ community. There’s nothing else like North Oak on the market. I pray every night before I write that I’ll be a vessel for what the Lord wants His youth to hear. And it’s love. Everyone deserves love.

I hear you. Compassion is a big part of why I address these difficult issues as well. Tell us about your newest release and the story behind it. 

Dark Horse is the 6th book in my contemporary YA series, North Oak. It deals with the aftermath of rape, the ongoing effects of depression, and PTSD. All while being a teen.

It has gotten great reviews, several angry emails (cliffhangers, gotta love them) and lots of ugly crying. I’m looking forward to getting book 7 out quickly (again, cliffhangers).

Also there’s pretty ponies that go really fast! #horseracing

Blurb for Dark Horse :

Just when Alex could hardly stand waiting another second to test for her jockey license, a brutal attack sends her spiraling into a depression. She’s a failure as a person, a rider and friend. Even Dejado and Carol can’t seem to reach her. Can they help her pull through, and realize her potential in time to get Venus Nights ready for her first race?

Your North Oak series features a young protagonist and her relationship with amazing horses. The blurb for Book 1, Born to Run, mentions Walter Farley’s Black Stallion. I loved the Black Stallion series as a kid. Was that a favorite book of yours?

I had a hard time getting into Black Stallion as a book series when I read them as a kid. My big inspiration is the Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell (and later Mary Newhall Anderson). I liked Dick Francis, as well, and I’m a sucker for the Black Stallion movies and Phar Lap. 

My biggest inspiration, however, was my parents breeding Arabians when I was little. I gained a sense of horsemanship by running around half-naked and barefoot with our herd on the Wasatch Front. 

Blurb for Born to Run:

Alexandra Anderson is on the run from the law. 

When the thirteen-year-old orphan can run no further, she collapses at the gates of the prestigious racing and breeding farm, North Oak. Horse racing strikes a deep chord in her. She hears a higher calling in the jingle jangle of bit and stirrup and in the thunder of hooves on the turn for home. It tells her she has a place in the world. But when the racing headlines find her on the front of every sports page, she realizes North Oak is no longer a safe haven.

Money can’t buy love, but it just might secure Alex’s future.

Born to Run is $0.99 June 10 – 17.

I love Dick Francis! What’s next?  Tell us about what your working on.

Book 7 in the North Oak series, obviously. It’s going to be a bit lighter toned than the last two that dealt with some really solid issues teens are up against in this day and age.

I’ve also got my first middle grade horror planned (“Zoo”, it’s going to be a cross between Jurassic Park and Jumanji), a YA standalone inspired by the song “Summer of 69”, some fairytales, and my first couple of romances for a project I’m doing with a few other authors. I’m also contemplating a book about nutrition for diabetics by a diabetic (macros and food are another thing I love to nerd over), and a book about getting more writing done without burnout.

Against the Odds is currently available for preorder.

Blurb for Against the Odds

Alex’s racing career starts with Venus Nights, the filly she helped birth into the world, and a head case mare named Florescent Cheerio who Brooke has claimed.

When things go missing around the North Oak barns, Alex is sure she is being stalked. What’s more is Venus Galaxies has foaled twins, fighting for their lives to survive.

Any closing words of inspiration and encouragement for your fellow writers?

Failure isn’t the opposite of success. It’s part of it.

Thank you for your inspirational words and your time, Ann. Readers, don’t forget to pick up Born to Run for $0.99 while you can.

Tell me what you think!

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