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Advice from IR Approved Author James Hayhurst: “Find a great first reader and pay attention to her (or his) criticisms.”

How the V is Formed received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author James Hayhurst.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

How the V is Formed, first published January 31, 2020

What’s the book’s first line? 

‘Dear Julie, You came to me in a dream last night.’

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

It’s about the crisis in America—a crisis of heart, the abrogation of virtue and the desecration of nature that leads to tragedy in all its terrible forms. How the V is Formed addresses critical issues facing us today, while exploring timeless themes of life and death, grief and healing, forgiveness and redemption—offering a message of civility and compassion to a nation divided by partisan politics.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Originally, I was inspired by observing the geese families who raise their young on my pond. As a city dweller and lifetime pilot, I had no idea that geese actually train their young to fly, and that as a group, they display amazing cooperation, discipline and tolerance. At first, the story was focused on the geese (which led to a companion children’s book titled Emmy the Goose), but as I wrote it, I saw there were lessons in nature and in the way the geese taught their young and organized their flock that applied to human society, things that we have forgotten that have led to alienation and isolation, with mass school shootings a tragic symptom of that malaise (and now the Covid-19 crisis). So came to be Grant Woodford, a warrior who has lost his daughter in a school shooting, a man struggling with grief and grappling with the polarization that keeps us from finding common sense solutions to crisis, be it gun violence or a pandemic.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

To read a moving and truthful story about gun violence, one that offers hope for a solution, not just to gun violence but to how we must live to know peace and be in harmony with nature.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

Grant Woodford is self-aware and thoughtful, simultaneously a flawed and noble human being, like Captain Miller (Tom Hanks’ character) in the movie Saving Private Ryan.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Christian Bale as Grant Woodford. Amy Adams as Elizabeth Woodford. For the voice of Emmy the Goose, reader Jill Smith, who did Emmy’s voice in the Audible version.

When did you first decide to become an author?

Upon reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in the 6th grade.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

No, several prior, non-fiction and fiction. I do some editing as well.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

Actively involved (12,000 jumps, 48 years) in sport parachuting as a competitor, parachute designer and coach. Member of the 2020 US Parachute Team (2020 world championships have been postponed, same as the Olympics, until 2021). Gentleman farmer.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

From 3 to 30 hours a day.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part is the independence, the freedom to write your passion. The hardest thing is it getting even a great indie book read is like selling lemonade at a stand in a country pasture.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Find a great first reader and pay attention to her (or his) criticisms.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

Probably. Primarily to get name recognition for works that remain independently published.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Fame—no. Fortune—sure, I’ll put the money to good use. But the true and lasting motivation is love for a story well told, for expressing human values that matter in literature. Ray Bradbury’s fierce love for independent thought in literature, turning away from the TV and connecting as humans through the written and spoken word—that’s my motivation, too.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Sidone-Gabrielle Colette.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.