Jeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.
His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.
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About the Book:
Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.
The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.
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Thanks for joining us at the book club, Jeff! Would you like to tell us how you got started writing thriller/horror novels? Did anyone influence you?
Jeff: I grew up as an avid reader. I lived overseas in Greece, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia where I limited access to TV or movies so books were my main creative outlet. I came across Pet Sematary by Stephen King novel (probably earlier than I should of) and I was hooked on horror books. My reading habits branched out into fantasy (Tolkein) and thrillers (Clancy). For me, writing is just an extension of the immersive experience of reading which is the reason I write in different genres.
I’d like to know more about your heroine, Sarah Tremont. Can you tell us a little about her?
Jeff: We met Sarah in Night Chill (Book 1) as a five-year old girl discovering for the first time that she has psychic gifts that evil men want to possess for themselves. For most of that book, she is a child-in-danger, relying on her father, Jack, to save her. At the end of that novel, in her final act, she stands up a the ancient evil and the fullness of her power is on display. In Night Terror, ten years have passed and Sarah is a teenager who has carefully kept her abilities secret, even from her parents. Over the course of the novel, her strength and moral compass are both tested as Mama D and her henchmen track her down. She complicated because she has evil inside of her (don't we all) but she has to sort out the what is her core self in order to defend her family. I love the idea of a strong female character who needs to be saved, but who saves herself.
What are Sarah’s strengths and what are her weaknesses?
Jeff: Sarah's weakness is that she wants to deny who she is and the power that resides inside of her. Then, when it's clear there are problems, she's unwilling to ask for help. Ultimately, Sarah finds her strength in her impulse to protect her family at any cost.
Would this also be classified as a YA given the fact that Sarah is a teenager?
Jeff: The YA designation has evolved over the last few years to encompass a lot of fiction. The tone and content of this book as as dark as any Stephen King novel, but many YA novels are also dark. I wonder if Stephen King's Carrie was released today if it would be classified as a YA novel or as adult horror. Certainly, I like to think my books are accessible to anyone interested in hearing a good story in an immersive experience.
Who is Joseph Lonetree?
Jeff:Joseph Lonetree is a retired Navy SEAL who helped the Tremont family in book 1. Lonetree's brother was killed by the same cult that is after Sarah so he joins forces with Jack. In book 2, he returns to warn the Tremonts of the new treat to Sarah.
I thought it was cute that you wrote your first book to get your 11-year-old son to read. Can you tell us about that?
Jeff: My son was a reluctant reader so we formed an Early Morning Book Club to encourage him to read. We read a few books out loud before school started but his interest started to wane. I decided a book where he was the main character--fighting monsters no less--would be a way to keep his head in the game. The result was Jack Templar Monster Hunter. The series now has four out of seven books published.
What’s next for you, Jeff?
Jeff: My thriller, the Killer Within, was purchased by Thomas & Mercer for rerelease in February. I plan to write the second book of that series, the fifth Jack Templar book and a stand-alone horror books called The Place Between. I'm going to need more coffee!