Tomorrow, Andrew Fukuda's dystopian thriller, THE HUNT, will hit the shelves. To celebrate his novel's debut, Andrew was kind enough to answer some questions about the book, his writing process, and dream travel destinations, among other things!
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity? (summary via goodreads.)
Don't get eaten.
The society in The Hunt is very different from ours. How did you approach your worldbuilding and were there any specific challenges?
The Hunt imagines a world populated by vampire-like creatures where humans are virtually extinct. At the most basic level, this meant removing human identifiers from this world –beds, sunblock, etc. – and adding in stuff like mercuric lamps and blood-collecting eating cups. But because I most wanted this world to evoke loneliness for the protagonist, Gene, I made its foreignness lie less in its gadgetry, architecture, or governing structure, and more in the foreign nature of the people around Gene. Or more exactly, I wanted Gene to feel he was the one who was different and foreign and strange, that he, and not everyone else, was the aberration.
That’s when loneliness is the sharpest: when a fundamental aspect of yourself is out of sync with everyone else. In Gene’s case, it’s a fundamental difference which, if found out, would elicit not derision or hatred, but a race to devour him. So he lives his life covering up his essential being, denying his natural self and conforming his behavior and appearance to societal norms. He wears fake fangs, shaves his body, hides his natural body odor, scratches his wrists when he finds something humorous, wears a bland expressionless mask. All that pretending and denying . . . that’s a lonely existence.
In some ways, it’s similar to the pressures of high school conformity. But on steroids. Multiplied by 10,000.
What’s your favorite scene in The Hunt? What was the most difficult to write?
My favorite scene would have to be where Gene first encounters the other humans (or "hepers" as they're called in the book). There's awkwardness, curiosity, distrust, misunderstanding, and cautiousness in droves. As well as a sprinkling of humor. And it’s all done with virtually no dialogue. Very Castaway-like, if I do say so myself. There’s so much going on in the minutiae of their actions, so much communicated in their silences. The scene rolled off my pen and later required very little editing – a rarity for me!
The hardest scene to write was probably the now-infamous spin-the-bottle scene. Many readers can’t get past the elbows and armpits (if you haven’t read the book, I think I’ve just lost you!), but there’s actually so much going on here at an emotional level. I wanted that scene to spotlight Gene’s sense of estrangement from society, where the reader would most acutely feel Gene’s loneliness. I must have revised that scene a dozen times to get the nuances right, and the whole process proved to be quite emotionally exacting.
We like to travel here on the YA Highway. What about you? If you could go anywhere in the whole world, where would you choose to travel? What would you do there?
I thought about naming an exotic place and activity to come across as a culturally-sophisticated globetrotter. Iceland to hike up Eyjafjallajökull, or Koobi Fora to adventure in paleoanthropology. But you know, all I want to do is go to Hong Kong (where I grew up) and have me some dim sum. Hey, it’s tough to find good dim sum on Long Island!
What has been the most unexpected part of your publishing journey so far?
How the more things change, the more they stay the same. Signing with St. Martin’s Press for THE HUNT series enabled me to leave my lawyer job (I was a criminal prosecutor) and write full-time. A big change! But one thing stayed the same. The process of writing. Sounds obvious, but I still had to write. I still had to write. Nothing magical happened after I became “an author”: the keys on my keyboard did not magically press themselves down, the screen did not fill all on its own with literary words and graceful sentences. I wasn’t filled overnight with literary sagacity and wisdom. I know, shocker. At times, I even felt like shouting at the (endlessly) blinking cursor – hey, don’t you know I’m a bona fide author! It didn’t take long to realize that I was still the same dude sitting in front of a screen, needing to put down words, struggling to tell a story.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Find that one story inside you that gets your heart racing, your blood flowing. A story that matters to you and which puts all that other stuff – query letters, market trends, genre classifications, writing techniques, beta readers, gamma readers, genre tropes, literary conventions, etc., etc. – firmly into the background for now. This story should feel vital and necessary and alive, one you almost feel compelled to write. Hold nothing back, go for broke, and write the best damn book you possibly can with this story. Do that and you’ll have created something artistic, something personal, something real. Such a book will likely draw interest from the publishers.
Can you tell us what’s next for you?
That’s an easy one! I’m currently going through revisions for The Hunt Book 2 (we actually do have a title but we’re staying mum on that for a bit longer). After that, on to The Hunt Book 3. I’ve been evolving from a pantser to a plotter with every book, so I have a feeling I’ll be outlining Book 3 microscene by microscene.
Thank you so much, Andrew!