March 3, 2013

A Humorous Look at Indiana with Mark Hunter

Does it say something about mankind’s duel nature that I spent my youth dreaming of (and writing about) exotic places, but in the end stayed in my home state of Indiana? Or maybe it says something about me. It could be for the best: Would I have time to write as a space pirate?

Indiana was named some 10,000 years ago by migratory Native Americans, using a Potawatomi word meaning “Confused Europeans think they’ve discovered India”.
In the 1670’s it was claimed by France, much to the surprise of the Indians. A hundred years later the French were equally surprised by the British, who were surprised by the Americans, who were surprised the Indians were still here.
In 1816, the new state government initiated a massive infrastructure program that, twenty-five years later, left it nearly bankrupt and gave Paleo-Indians the last laugh. Thank goodness governments don’t overspend these days, huh?

But that was the past, and I live in the present, except for when I write about the future. They’re connected: Our topography was formed in the Ice Age, when glaciers advanced south until they were stopped by a wave of hot air from the state capitol. That left southern Indiana rugged; northern Indiana with glacier-gouged lakes; and central Indiana with vast, green fields and Indianapolis.
Up north you can’t throw a wet Speedo without hitting a lake. If you want big water you can go to the Dunes State Park along Lake Michigan, or the true-to-its-name Clifty Falls State Park along the Ohio River. You can hit the Amish country to the north, or the state forests to the south, or the culture and history of Indy, or Fort Wayne. A few miles from my home is the also appropriately named Chain O’ Lakes State Park, where I can swim or canoe badly, or camp and hike well. (After all, how hard is it to sleep or walk?)

For writer’s inspiration, a handful of miles in the other direction is the former home of one of Indiana’s most famous writers, now the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic site on the shores of Sylvan Lake.
For all that, one of my favorite views is three blocks from my house, where the Romanesque century old Noble County Courthouse towers over Albion.

It’s little wonder that, despite my early written tales of outer space adventure, post-apocalyptical battles and firefighting heroics, my first fiction sale didn’t happen until I came home.

With Storm Chaser I went to romantic comedy, for an adventure set in northeast Indiana, and it’s no coincidence that key scenes were set in my favorite wandering place, Chain O’ Lakes. The short story collection I published next was a prequel, with most tales again set in the Hoosier state. Now I’m working on a Storm Chaser sequel, a young adult mystery, and a non-fiction history book – all set in Indiana.
Why? Because you shouldn’t just write what you know: You should write what you love. (Unless you’re writing about something really evil.) It wasn’t until my Storm Chaser character, Allie, entered the state for the first time that I got a chance to see it through the eyes of someone who hadn’t been there before, and that made me love it all the more.
Not that I don’t still have some serious sci-fi in me.

Mark lives in small town Indiana with his wife Emily and their cowardly python Lucius. His night job is a 911 dispatcher, but he also works as a firefighter and writes a humor column, along with news write-ups and photography, for several local papers. In his non-existent free time, he writes fiction, fan fiction, and free PR for Relay for Life and the County Historical Society. He has served on the Town Council and BZA.
Mark enjoys reading, writing (of course), and outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing. He loves history, science fiction, and making really, really bad puns.
Connect to Mark and all his work, including purchase information here:


  1. I enjoyed reading the post. I did live in Indiana for a short period of time. I do have fond memories. You sound like a very busy person. Thanks so much for sharing.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. As a former resident of a neighboring state (Michigan), I'm sorry to say, I've never spent much time visiting Indiana to find the treasures you wrote about today. That said, I have visited both Falls of the Ohio State Park and Dunes State Park. Both are fascinating places and I enjoyed my visits tremendously. Thanks for you post.

  3. Indianna sounds fascinating, must visit one day.I also loved the snippet of history, always good to gain fresh knowledge.
    Lots of good wishes for your novel.

  4. And there's Santa Claus, and South Bend, Pop Corn, and of course 'the
    speedway'. Yep, born and bred in Indiana, a real Hoosier. I still get choked up on race day when 'Gomer' sings Back Home Again In Indiana. (Last year was probably the last)
    Love this post and you brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you.

  5. Love your humor, Mark, and the fact that you, as a man, write romantic comedy.

    I worked as a 9-1-1- dispatcher for 13 years in Missoula MT. Quite a stressful job, so it's great that you have such a good sense of humor!

  6. Interesting post on a state I've only driven through on my way to visit family who live farther away. I had an aunt who lived in South Bend, but attending her wake was the last time I was there. Indiana is much like my home state of Illinois, with the cornfields broken up by an occasional very big city. And of course, the Lake Michigan shoreline, with smaller lakes dotted throughout the state.
    I enjoyed your humorous post. Thanks for sharing your take on the Midwest.

  7. Thanks for your comments, everyone! Allison, I do love our Gomer Pyle singing Back Home Again -- but I'm afraid you're right that he's not going to be able to do that again.

    Heidi -- glad you survived your dispatching experience! One of our retired dispatchers moved to MT for awhile. Thirteen years is amazing ... I've been doing it for not quite 20 years, and burned out a decade ago.

    I hope everyone gets a chance to visit our state someday. Yes, I'm a busy man, but I try never to be so busy that I can't go out and enjoy my surroundings.

  8. Fun post! As you say, write what you know and love. It's no mistake my vampires are centered in Iowa ;)

  9. Great post. Loved reading this.

  10. I know nothing of Indiana; my only experience of the US being NY and LA if that counts. It does sound like a good place and I enjoyed the way you write about it, and just the way you write.

  11. Roger, it's certainly nothing like NY or LA! Thanks again, everyone, for reading and commenting.

  12. I totally loved it. Too funny.

  13. I've passed through Indiana as a child with family. I'll have to visit again.

    That is a beautiful courthouse!


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