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How to Join the Awesome Bald Guy Club: an Interview with Justin Hunter

We had a conversation with our only non-Virginian Penultimate Peanut staff member, fiction reader Justin Hunter, to make him seem a little less far away. Here's what he had to say: Q: How did you become involved with Penultimate Peanut? A: Abi and I were in the same MFA cohort and have remained in close contact. When she said she might need some help, of course I was on board! Q: You write short stories. What is your favorite story that you’ve written and why?

A: Oh man, that's tough. Might have been easier to answer which one I hate the most. But if we're going with my favorite, I'll go with Army Men because it captures a life (one people from the outside would of course condemn and judge, but one that exists nonetheless) from the eyes of children. So it was easier to just tell the story without subtle judgements creeping in. I think it's important to keep judgement out of our writing, by and large. But it's tough because of the subconscious judgements we pass finding their way into our writing.

Q: Our fiction editor says you are an “awesome bald guy.” What is it about you that makes you so awesome?

A: I think it's probably not having hair. Anyone who shaves their head automatically becomes awesome. There’s a whole club and everything. But you have to bring a bag of your chopped off hair to gain entry.

Q: What is a good snack to eat while writing?

A: Beer is a snack right? Yeah, beer.

Q: If you had to go on a coast-to-coast road trip with one United States President, which one would you choose and why?

A: Can I say 44? Is that the obvious choice? Whatever, I'm saying it. I'd go with Barack Obama because he was our coolest president by far so I have to believe he'd be a cool road trip buddy. Dude has more awesome in his pinky than I have in my entire body. Imagine if he shaved his head bald!

Q: What is your reading recommendation?

A: I could name a hundred individual recommendations, but more important than that, I think everyone needs to read more of the work from people of color, from women, from the LGTBQ community. Because I grew up along the border in Arizona I'm naturally drawn to Hispanic voices like Reyna Grande and Benjamin Alire Saenz, but there are so many great authors out that not getting nearly enough attention. My new friend Gabino Iglesias will challenge you with his novel Zero Saints. Natashia Deon will blow your mind with Grace. One great sugvestion, I think, is to look at what you're reading now and find something as close to opposite that as you can. Reading straight literary fiction? Maybe pick up something from Ken Liu. Readin

g Horror? Try some Ozark noir from Michael Farris Smith. Just read widely. That's my suggestion!

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