J. A. Hunsinger lives in Colorado, USA, with his wife Phyllis. The first novel of his character-driven, historical fiction series, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, represents his first serious effort to craft the story of a lifelong interest in the Viking Age—especially as it pertains to Norse exploration west of Iceland—and extensive research and archaeological site visitations as an amateur historian. He has tied the discovery of many of the Norse artifacts found on this continent to places and events portrayed in his novels.

Much of his adult life has been associated with commercial aviation, both in and out of the cockpit. As an Engineering Technical Writer for Honeywell Commercial Flight Systems Group, Phoenix, AZ, he authored two comprehensive pilots’ manuals on aircraft computer guidance systems and several supplemental aircraft radar manuals. His manuals were published and distributed worldwide to airline operators by Honeywell Engineering, Phoenix, AZ. He also published an article, Flight Into Danger, in Flying Magazine, (August 2002).

Historical Novel Society, American Institute of Archaeology, Canadian Archaeology Association, and IBPA-Independent Book Publishers Association, are among the fraternal and trade organizations in which he holds membership.

You can visit his website at www.vinlandpublishing.com.

Thank you for this interview, J.A.  Can we begin by having you tell us what your book is about?

First of all, please call me Jerry.

Axe of Iron: The Settlers is the first book of the continuing Axe of Iron series of tales about a medieval people whose lives are surprisingly like ours. They have the same basic desires for happiness, love, food, and shelter that has dominated the thoughts of generations of cultures the world over. These character-driven, historical fiction books tell of the adventures of Greenland Vikings as they struggle to establish a settlement in North America in the face of hostile native opposition.

Your book is very character-driven. Would you explain?

Yes, it is. I felt it necessary to convey the intricacies of an unknown, alien culture to the reader through dialogue instead of long descriptive passages of text. People tend to remain engaged in dialogue. The opposite is true with descriptive text. Recall the struggle to focus on textbooks in college. It is that aspect of our nature that I felt I had to somehow avoid, e.g. – the building details of the settlement of Halfdansfjord was conveyed to the reader through the interplay between characters, and not through a long, detail oriented dissertation of dry facts.

How did you come up with the idea to write about medieval Vikings as they struggle to establish a settlement in North America?

I am an avid reader of both history texts and historical fiction novels. Written history has many holes, gaps if you will, that give an author an endless supply of fodder. It is natural for me to tell stories about subjects in which I have an interest. The Greenland Vikings and the Viking culture in general have always been my focus.

Axe of Iron: The Settlers is my first novel. It is a character-driven, historical fiction book. My characters tell the story and the reader sees the events through their eyes. I have had a lifelong interest in the medieval Norse people. That interest is focused on the five hundred year history of the Norse Greenland settlements. The mystery surrounding the abandonment of the two known settlements and the disappearance of every single person living therein has captured my imagination.

Years of research has led me to believe that they did not disappear, rather they assimilated with the natives of North America. My series of books tell a plausible tale in support of that contention. No other author has ever treated the subject the way I have.

Climax is one of the most exiting parts of any book.  Can you give us an example of this in your book?

Axe of Iron: The Settlers takes the reader progressively through the story until a point is reached where it becomes apparent that a delicate balance has been achieved by the Norse settlers and their relationship to the extremely hostile, more numerous, pre-historical natives. The first book ends after an affair of honor and justice leads to the inevitable conclusion that the settlers very survival hinges on the delicate balance that these disparate peoples have achieved.

What was the hardest part to write?

This is my first novel. I have written many manuals and engineering papers as a technical writer, but I had no experience with dialogue. I felt because I portrayed a medieval people whose everyday culture is unknown to us I had to carry the story with the interplay between my characters. I have created everything in this book, the descriptive passages and scenes in the book are drawn from extensive research and my own life experiences. Learning to convey all of this material through dialogue was the most difficult aspect of writing this novel.

Did you identify personally with any of your characters and can you tell us why?

Yes, I do, but I cannot tell you which character nor can I divulge any details of that association or somebody might throw a net over me. J

Thank you so much for this interview, Jerry.  Do you have any final words?

I realize that many readers might be left with, ‘Why in the world would I be interested in a fictional story that takes place 1000-years ago?’

I would tell them that I have made the characters as we are in many respects, while answering some of the nagging questions that occurred to the early European explorers on this continent. These questions have been ignored by archaeology because there are no pyramids or ruins left for them to create entire civilizations around. The Greenland Norse people were here, their descendants are still here, and my series tells their story.

Thank you very much.

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