Temujin Hu is a hard-working American living rather like a nomad. At 36 years of age, he’s moved about 36 times and at one time or another called “home” California, Texas, Colorado, or five other states as well as Germany, China, and Kuwait. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He served over four years in the US Navy in the 90’s and recently spent more than six years doing professional security in Los Angeles, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He also ran a small family-owned internet business for a couple years. He’s a Christian who spends a lot of time in the Word, and his interests include mixed martial arts, international relations, and dogs. Hobbies include hiking and shooting guns, but mostly he loves being an American and wants everyone to believe they can climb mountains.
His latest book is the inspirational crime fiction, The Rage.
Visit Temujin on the web at http://www.temujinhu.com.
Traumatic circumstances drive two men to drugs, crime and murder as they pursue redemption in all the wrong ways. Nicolas is a sedate businessman who transforms himself into a trained killer on the hunt for vengeance, while Roland builds his own gang of highly skilled criminals. Over a five year period, they almost cross paths repeatedly as they inch closer to their goals but begin to doubt their choices. Finally, a criminal racket tries to recruit Roland and kill off Nicolas, which drives them all together in a clash of errant objectives.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Roland is a very discouraged, bitter young man. He is so angry that he wants to take as much as he can from everyone, and consciously immerses himself in becoming a consummate criminal.
Nicolas had a comfortable life, but his family is taken, leaving him in a depression that becomes an obsession with revenge. As he transforms into a trained killer, he slips into the same world of crime as Roland.
Darlene is a beautiful woman and loyal servant of a mysterious criminal racket until her feelings interfere with business.
Vanessa knows Nicolas and Roland, and cares for them, but choosing law enforcement as a career forces her to chase them down like criminals.
Janie is just trying to get by when she crosses paths with both men, and things seem to get better until the racket uses her as bait.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are total fabrications, and that is a good thing as they both do terrible things. I am inspired by real people, but once I begin putting a plot together, I make no attempt to hold to a particular person or event or anything else that sparked the idea. The theme and goal of the book has to drive the plot for me, and the characters are tools that I use to tell the story.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I have a target theme in mind when I begin, and I outline extensively before writing, therefore the plot is not a mystery to me as I write. I did wait to decide exactly how to end The Rage until I got there, but the decision was obvious, for me at least. I had a message I wanted to tell and there was only one solid way to tell it. If I tried to discover my plot as I wrote, I would tell a story that went nowhere. My mind doesn’t work like that!
Q: Your book is set in unspecified cities in America and Mexico. Can you tell us why you chose this?
I did not want to name the cities because I wanted the reader to make assumptions based on their experiences and stereotypes. For the same reason, I also never specify the ethnicity of any character. As part of the theme, I want the reader to imagine the characters as close to them as possible. By leaving a few details unspecified, the reader makes these decisions in their head and the story and theme (hopefully) become more real, more impactful.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Not really. There are times when it makes more sense for a character to be in a big city rather than a small town, but for the most part any city or town will do. As I mentioned previously, my goal was to bring the story as close to home for the reader as possible. Where ever the reader imagines this sort of crime occurring, that is where it will occur for them.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Nicolas is on the hunt for Red Ghost, the mysterious man who murdered his family. He’s at a motel making phone calls to detectives about possible Red Ghost crimes and searching the internet for any hint of where the murderer could be working. This scene shows how Nicolas is both a little crazed while being very disciplined. He is constantly exercising his body, training with weapons, and alert to his surroundings; meanwhile his demons torment him and drive him to extremes that slowly tear apart his mental health.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
This is Roland’s “casino dream” scene:
He lifted his head and found himself sitting at a wooden bench on a large ranch. It was beautiful with rolling hills nearby, and a little ways in front of him was a bright red barn built strong and pushing, forcing itself straight up into the sky. There was a cabin behind him with three levels, built of stone and mud and wood. It too was strong, but instead of giving the impression of driving directly upwards, it seemed to be layers stacked haphazardly, pushing out to the sides as it lumbered its way upward.
There were horses inside a wooden fence that seemed to go on forever, and some farm equipment that Roland didn’t have any idea how to use. There was a large tree with long branches spread out into a fantastic green sphere, providing him with shade from the sun that beat down perfect warmth and complemented the cool breeze magically. The sky was blue with a few clouds drifting by.
It was like heaven, if there was such a place. It was what Roland wanted heaven to be. Then he noticed the book on the bench table. He pushed it to see what it was, and it was a Bible.
That was about to spoil the experience for him when he had this feeling, a sensation like a gentle wind against his skin, and though he could not see it, he knew someone was descending from the clouds toward him. The man was wearing white robes and seemed to be ﬂying on large, white wings, but at the same time he didn’t think there were any wings at all. It was as if there should be, and maybe there was, but he could not see them.
The descending man stepped onto the ground in front of him and Roland took a good look at him. He had an average build and height, but his frame was sturdy, and he stood with a conﬁdence that made Roland envious. And his face, childlike in innocence yet strong and mature in character, was a revealing face with a telling smile and penetrating eyes, like that strange old woman he met outside the casino. Exactly like that woman, actually. Simply looking at this man was exhilarating, intimidating, comforting and empowering all at once. He wanted to bow in reverence to him because he had to be a higher being.
“I am.” The voice had a booming quality without actually being loud. It echoed but only inside Roland, inside his soul.
Roland’s heart froze, not in terror but in reverent fear. Suddenly his mind raced with all the terrible things he had done his whole life, and the more his mind raced, the more he wanted to collapse on the ground weeping.
He dropped to the ground before the man, throwing himself down headﬁrst, the weight of wickedness overburdening his whole being. But the man touched Roland’s shoulder and the weight vanished!
Roland looked up at him, and he was smiling.
“Get up, Roland. I have a message.”
Roland rose to his feet slowly, unable to take his eyes from the man’s face.
“W-what? What do you have to say to me?”
Roland felt not like a baby, all helpless and insecure and afraid, but rather like a child, vulnerable yet protected, as if a mighty father and mother stood nearby ready to defeat anything that may harm him. But how could he know what that felt like? He felt it then.
The man put a hand on his shoulder. He stood eye to eye with him, and the man looked at Roland with a smile on his face that made Roland…happy. Conﬁdent.
The man laid the ﬁngers of his other hand on the Bible and said, “You have never been alone. We have been with you since you were born.”
Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
I get stuck sometimes, I suppose, but I always find it difficult to write while sitting still all day. When I get stuck, I move. While writing the book, I would hop from coffee shop to park to library and on. I would make 3-5 stops a day sometimes, trying to break up the scenery and keep me fresh and moving. When I am brainstorming, I am usually walking, sometimes with music playing but sometimes not, and that’s the same idea. I struggle being creative while sitting static.
Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
I would write the first chapter of the book I’m going to publish one chapter at a time on my blog, a satire of sorts based on my experience working security on one of those bases that doesn’t exist in Afghanistan. I’m anxious to get started but everything keeps getting in the way.
Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. I am amazed at how he captures the heart and dreams of these men as they struggle through life, and how simple he keeps the story. I want to write like that.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?
There are many ways to get yourself out there, but as a first time author, most of them don’t seem to do much. If I were doing it over, I’d start with local marketing to start a fan base that you can easily meet face to face, and then build from there. Have a plan, give yourself plenty of time, and don’t expect things to happen overnight.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Temujin. We wish you much success!
Thank you! I appreciate the time. Be blessed.