I interviewed Chance Hamlin, the star character of Storm Chaser and Storm Chaser Shorts by Mark R. Hunter. His mother Elsa and sister Beth couldn't resist adding in their own commentary, of course.
Storm Chaser is a romantic comedy packed full of adventure and a little mystery; Storm Chaser Shorts is a mixed genre short story anthology featuring the same characters. Both are set in rural, northeastern Indiana and published by Whiskey Creek Press.
Do you have any nicknames on the force?
Chance: State troopers don’t have nicknames. I’m okay with “Trooper”, “Officer”, or “Sir”.
Elsa: When his father was alive, he would call Chance “my little trooper” –
Chance: Mom …
Elsa: That was before he actually became an officer, of course. I thought he’d be a great accountant … what a wonderfully safe job.
Beth: Chance would find a way to make it dangerous. He’d crunch numbers while on a bungee cord, or something.
Chance: Beth …
Beth: Oh! He’d only take business calls while hang gliding. “You’ll have to speak up, the wind is in my ears.”
What about nicknames when you were a rookie?
Elsa: Some of the older troopers who knew his father did try calling him “Little Trooper”, but he never had a great sense of humor about nicknames. Apparently he would give them this stare, and they just … stopped.
Beth: Every time he gives me that look I don’t grow for three months. At this rate I won’t hit puberty until I’m twenty-three.
Elsa: Elizabeth Marie!
Beth: Allie called him a Nazi, because of the blondness, and the uniform thing. It’s not the first time he got called that – always by other people he was arresting.
What about as a volunteer
firefighter? Any nicknames there?
Chance: Nicknames happen there. I remember they called Rich “Knothead”, because things keep falling on him.
Elsa: Chance, wasn’t it you who called him that?
Chance: Well –
Beth: Oh, I remember! I stopped by during a training drill and you gave me a hug, then Rich called you Blondie Bear, then you called him Knothead, and I was only five but I think I remember you two wrestling with each other and then falling into the dump tank.
Chance: Just a little playful roughhousing. We came to an understanding.
Elsa: Why did I never hear that story? Was it just before that time he visited you in the hospital and his card said “thanks for the black eye”?
Chance: No, it was just before the time I visited him in the hospital, and my card said “matching fat lips – we could be brothers”.
Beth: Rich is like the brother I never had.
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Elsa: Vanilla? I’m partial to mint chocolate chip. I don’t eat it often, but since neither of them like it I don’t have to worry about it disappearing.
Beth: You two are so boring! Superman ice cream – yellow, blue and red together. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Who would you pick to play you in a movie?
Chance: A movie? That’s ridiculous. I don’t even know any of today’s actors.
Elsa: Charlton Heston would make a wonderful Chance Hamlin. A young Heston, of course.
Beth: Ryan Reynolds.
Beth: He doesn’t look all that much like you, but he’s hot. Wait – come to think of it, I wouldn’t want him playing my brother. How about Jude Law? He’s got that intensity thing going on.
How long have you and Fran worked together?
Chance: I was her field training officer; in fact, it was my first time being an FTO. That would have been … ten years ago?
Elsa: That girl was so full of …
Elsa: Bravado, I suppose. So gutsy and brave on the outside, and so smart – but part of her was still a scared little girl on the inside.
Chance: What? That’s ridiculous. There was no part of her that wasn’t completely up to the job.
Elsa: I’m not talking just about the job, dear. You do know she had a crush on you, right?
Chance: She most certainly did not.
Beth: Totally did. I was only five, and I thought they were dating. She used to come over and hang out all the time.
Chance: Of course she did. She had no family around here, and Mom takes in people like others take in stray cats.
Elsa: Maybe it’s for the best that she decided she shouldn’t date coworkers.
Chance: She never --!
Beth: Fran should totally get together with Allie’s brother. They could take turns taming each other.
Chance and Elsa: What?!
Um, what has been the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done
in the name of public service?
Chance: Who, me? I’m not into doing dangerous things – what are you two laughing at? Probably the most dangerous thing I ever did was allowing you into this interview.
Beth: I’m thinking the tornadoes. Mom?
Elsa: Tornadoes are easy. It’s dealing with people that’s dangerous.
Beth: But what about the fires? Remember when the building exploded? Or when he slid down the ladder on fire?
Chance: Oh, I was not on fire –
Elsa: It’s when he has to draw his weapon, that’s when it gets bad.
Beth: But what about when he’s off duty? You told me he used to jump boats –
Elsa: That doesn’t count for this question, and neither does the hang gliding.
Chance: Stop it, you two. Look, sometimes it’s a dangerous world we live in, and people have to go into harm’s way. I never do it without using all possible precautions: bullet proof vests, breathing apparatus, helmets, whatever. If I didn’t do it, who would? Why are you looking at each other?
Elsa: Nothing, dear.
Beth: If we pointed out how much you crave danger, you’d just deny it
Chance: I do not crave danger!
Speaking of danger, you met your fiancée in a most unusual way. How’s the wedding planning going?
Chance: Well …
Beth: Allie’s brother is insane. I really like him.
Elsa: Things have gotten … complicated.
Beth: Yeah, like crazy complicated. And dangerous. Chance should be loving it.
Chance: I’m sure, with Fran’s help, Ian Grant will be able to get everything arranged without getting – you know – killed, first.
Elsa: I’m not sure poor Ian was the best choice …
Beth: We’ll do it! I’m their personal planning assistant, and it’s the most fun wedding planning ever, and nobody’s gotten hurt. Much.
Chance: We’ll get back to you on that last question.
You can find Mark R. Hunter's books Storm Chaser and Storm Chaser Shorts at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com*, and Whiskeycreekpress.com. Mark is currently working on a sequel to Storm Chaser, a nonfiction book about the history of the Albion (IN) Fire Department, and, hopefully, his wedding vows for next summer...
*Storm Chaser Shorts not yet released in Nook format.