We’re thrilled to have here today Hunter Carlisle from John Herrick’s new mainstream fiction/Christian fiction/LGBTQ novel, Between These Walls. Hunter is a 26-year-old sales & marketing guy living in Hudson, Ohio, the Cleveland-Akron area.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so for this interview, Hunter. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
I feel John gave me an honest portrayal. It’s more honest that I would be with anyone. He took every secret thought that goes through my head and made it available to the public. That’s awkward for me to see in print, but I believe it made the story genuine.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
Here’s what I loved about appearing in this book: John took a lot of the emotions and torment I’ve experienced since childhood and wrapped words around them. I’m not a “words guy,” so John provided an outlet for my story in a way that laid my soul bare. And although it’s uncomfortable for me, I think a lot of people feel the way I do, so they will find a friend and kindred spirit in me.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
I’m not into judging people or cutting them down. I think that’s because I hold secret, embarrassing struggles of my own, so I know how it feels to be beaten down in life. So I believe I start from that point and find ways to connect with people in ways they normally wouldn’t let anyone else connect with them.
I internalize my issues and rarely confide in anybody. I hold a lot of secrets. They have tormented me for years.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Don’t worry, I wouldn’t say myself! I hate being in the spotlight! Okay, I’ll give you two answers. First, the Hollywood answer: Nicholas Hoult or Hunter Parrish, two up-and-coming stars with a lot of potential.
But here’s my non-Hollywood answer: Gabe Hellman, my romantic interest in Between These Walls, harbored dreams as an actor growing up and performs in community theater today. He understands me best, he holds my trust more than anyone else, and I’d give him the shot at portraying me.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
This goes back to my secret. I harbor homosexual feelings inside but nobody knows it. In fact, I’ve become an expert at projecting an image of the average masculine, heterosexual guy. I’ve avoided the spotlight and shrunk into the background in life, which makes it easy to blend in. So I have my external side and my internal side.
When the novel starts out, I’m in a relationship with my girlfriend, Kara. But as the novel moves along, I find myself falling for Gabe. I’d kept my feelings hidden for so long, but in one moment, without intending to, I let my guard down—and discovered Gabe and I share a common secret. Kara was furious. But you’ll need to read my story to see how that unfolds. Talk about ways I could’ve handled things better. Ugh.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
My same-sex attraction is my worst, most embarrassing secret. So the closer John got to making it public to my friends and neighbors, the more nervous I got. My life would change permanently, and I could never shove the secret back into a dresser drawer. I didn’t know if it would change for better or worse, but I imagined the worst.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
You threw me with that question! When I started reading it, I thought you wanted to know who the character with whom I would trade places! I was prepared to say I’d trade places with anybody else—everyone else feels normal, and I’d give anything to get rid of the torment.
But you asked who I’d really not want to be and why. When my secret is revealed, some individuals stand by my and others don’t. I would not want to trade places with the people who are harsh, who point fingers not in an effort to come alongside someone, but in a hardhearted way of making them feel dirty and alone. Unfortunately, one minister took that approach, and it made me feel horrible for the people under his care. (Don’t worry, a balanced minister with a positive reaction also appears in the story!)
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about how John ends his books: He gives them closure, ties up the loose ends and answers all the questions—but then leaves them with a brand-new lingering question that goes forever unanswered. You’ll need to read the book to see. But he says he believes in letting the reader end the story the way he or she wants to end it.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?
After walking through this book, I’m a much stronger individual. I’ve walked through fire, both inside and out. I can handle much more. That being the case, I hope he’d use me to help hurting people. I crave to be used as a positive force in life.
Thank you for this interview, Hunter. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
John’s not a big fan of writing sequels, so normally, I’d say no. But in Between These Walls, he brought back a couple of characters from From The Dead, one of his prior novels, for cameo appearances. He set both novels in the same location. So you never know what will happen down the road! Stay tuned…
A graduate of the University of Missouri—Columbia, John Herrick explores themes of spiritual journey and the human heart in his works. Herrick’s debut novel, From the Dead,which was hailed as “a solid debut novel” by the Akron Beacon Journal, achieved Amazon best-seller status. Herrick’s second novel, The Landing, was named a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Herrick’s nonfiction eBook, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, received over 100,000 downloads and landed at #1 on Amazon’s Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration best-seller lists. John Herrick is a native of St. Louis.
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