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cover of Cheryl Hunter_The Zach Feldman Show_ZRadio LIVE
Cheryl Hunter_The Zach Feldman Show_ZRadio LIVE

Cheryl Hunter_The Zach Feldman Show_ZRadio LIVE


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Author Cheryl Hunter discusses her new book, "Green Horn," which is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Nick. The book explores themes such as rape, suicide, and bulimia, and is set in the 1970s. Hunter explains that the inspiration for the book came from her childhood in the Greenhorn Valley, where everything was named after Chief Greenhorn, a Comanche teenager who became chief after his tribe was massacred. She wanted to challenge the negative portrayal of Chief Greenhorn and explore the idea of endurance and resilience. Hunter also discusses her experience as a writer during the writer's strike and the freedom she felt in creating her own story. This is a Zach Feldman Show Replay on ZRadioLive.com. The WebCity Music Station, ZRadioLive. This is the Zach Feldman Show. Joining me over the phone is an author. Her name is Cheryl Hunter, and she has a brand-new book called Green Horn. Cheryl, thanks so much for joining me here on the Zach Feldman Show. How's everything going? It is going great, Zach. Thanks for having me. Anytime. Tell me all about this mystical book. This mystical book. I'll tell you, it's worth mentioning that the book came into being actually back during the previous writer's strike. I wrote this. I used to write. How dare you, first off, write during the writer's strike? How dare we strike? Well, how dare you write during the writer's strike? What are you doing? Well, I mean, that's the point. I couldn't write commercially. Oh, I see. I had just sold a show to CBS Paramount Pictures at the time with a writing partner, and we'd been writing every day, and we're really in the zone that you can get into when you are, in fact, writing all the time. And I realized, man, I had been waiting forever to get into that kind of a zone. I don't want to stop now. And so I thought, I'm going to write this book that I've been thinking about for so long. And I'd grown up as a kid in the remote Colorado Rockies in the Greenhorn Valley, and everything from our schools and the phone company to the swim team and my saddle club where I used to ride rodeo, everything was named Greenhorn. And as a kid, I started learning about this Chief Greenhorn. He was a Comanche teenager when he became chief after his entire tribe were wiped out by – they were massacred by Juan Batista de Anza, who was taking over the American West in the name of Spain. And it was rumored in the Greenhorn Valley that Chief Greenhorn was a bad, vicious guy and that he put a curse on this mountain valley. And people used to speak about him, even though everything was named after him. He was the namesake of this whole area, the mountains, everything. They would malign him. And I thought, as a girl, I just didn't sit right with me. And we studied him a little bit in history, and I thought – I decided to do my own history report on him. And people were like, oh, the other kids are like, you're going to invoke the curse, man. You're going to be cursed. And I thought, is he really a bad guy, though, like everyone said? Or is he just a normal person who endured hell and became whoever he had to become? And so I wrote Greenhorn as a coming-of-age story. It's a young adult coming-of-age story. But my hope really is that the story will transcend just young adults and move to a wider audience. Because let's face it, coming of age is hard no matter who you are, right? You don't have to be a Comanche chief from 200 years ago whose entire tribe was massacred. The protagonist in the book, her name is Nick, Nicole. So she, Nick, is coming of age. I set them 200 years apart, the 1770s, when Greenhorn actually lived, and put her in the 1970s. And she's a 14-year-old cowgirl, too, right? She sure is. That part I based on myself being a cowgirl. Who doesn't want to be a cowgirl when they're young themselves anyway? So it makes sense. You make a very good point, Zach. But as she's coming of age, she's dealing with all these challenges. And there are some adult themes. We recommend it for ages 13 and above. But there are topics like rape and witnessing or, you know, people attempting suicide and bulimia and other eating disorders. You know, challenges that people go through today. Not to mention the world is a scary, unsafe place to her, it seems, just like today's world. And I'm hoping that by placing it in the 1970s rather than literally current day, that it will give people enough objectivity to go, Oh, that seemed like a hard time to live. And then be able to recognize that, yeah, well, it's always kind of a hard time to live, right? Isn't that the human experience? For sure. You know, I want to ask you, too, about obviously creating the story. You know, I mean, you did it at a time when not only were the writers striking, but also, you know, there's a lot going on in the world, too. But having this in the back of your mind, when did you kind of really come up with this idea? When did it really marinate? Well, like I said, as a girl, when I had heard stories, there was a park that we used to play in and where, frankly, I used to go. It's a mountain park. It's not just like a city park, but where I used to go ride my horse. And there was a plaque about Greenhorn where he was massacred. Him himself later on by the same old Juan Bautista Danza and his men. And it talked about him being eliminated. They eliminated the cruel scourge of the earth that Greenhorn had been. And, I mean, the language of this thing. I mean, I know it was put up in the, quote, old days. But to refer to him as the bad guy, I had said as a girl, I'm going to set the record straight. This is wrong. He shouldn't be portrayed as the bad guy. And when I started writing it back then, 2007, 2008, during the last writer's strike, there wasn't a lot online about him. And I had to go back to Colorado and really research everything I could find about him. But I came up with the idea then. I had an idea. There was a character in the TV show we were writing that was coming of age. And to me, she seemed like by far the most compelling in this entire family that we had created in the TV show that my partner and I had sold to CBS, Paramount Pictures. And I thought, God, let me take that kernel of it. Somebody who, you know, obviously it wasn't the same character or anything, but somebody who's, you know, witty and insightful and super smart and yet challenged and has no tools to deal with it. And Nicole, the protagonist of Greenhorn, you know, she decides, oh, I must be cursed when she's experiencing all of these difficulties. And so she says, much like the people in the actual Greenhorn Valley, well, maybe it is the curse of Greenhorn. And she decides, she thinks, well, from everything I could learn about him, he really loved two things. This land, you know, what would become later known as the Greenhorn Valley, he loved this land. And he loved horses. And she loved horses. Nick, the protagonist in the story, is in love with horses. And she also loved the land. Now, I wrote her as part Cherokee. And so she decides, well, I think the reason why I'm having all these terrible experiences as she's coming of age, I think the reason why I'm having those is because Greenhorn and his curse think that I'm, quote, the white man. And if he could know that I'm part Cherokee, too, then he would call off his curse and my family and I could get back to life as normal. Because her whole family is falling apart. So I actually do want to ask you, too. I mean, obviously, doing your research, you've done so much research since 2007. And obviously, technology has gotten a lot better since 2007. I mean, did you ever realize that maybe he was actually, you know, an asshole? Or was he just misrepresented? Or was he just misrepresented? Which was it? Well, look, I'm going to take the latter, that he was somebody who lost everything. And so I wanted to create this parallel between Nick in 1970 and Greenhorn in 1770, where they were both two people, well-intended, just trying to live their own lives, and everything is taken from them that matters most. Nick's family falls apart, her, you know, all the things that matter most, just like Greenhorn's does. And she finally, to try to call off the curse, decides, well, somehow I'm going to have to get my blood into the land so he can tell my blood is part Cherokee so that he would let it go. And so she comes up with this elaborate scheme to stab herself in the leg and all this. And in the process, she conjures him up. And he says, yeah, I did make a curse. And like all those things that we declare, it took on a life of its own. And now it's outside of me, and I no longer can control it. So the two of them make it their mission to end this. That's interesting. That's crazy. And so interesting, too. And it's also interesting, too. This is kind of like your first book that's been published. It's a creative piece. I mean, the other pieces you've written back in the day, How to Get Unstuck, Seven Steps to Bounce Forward When Life Knocks You Down, that's another one you wrote. And then Use It, also. They were both kind of like help books, you know, and getting yourself back up there. But this one is more towards the creative side of you. Is it exciting for you because you've written so much for TV and for film that it's just kind of like a relief for you when it comes to being a writer? Well, there's something wonderful about writing for Hollywood in some regard because it's a collaborative process. Film and TV, no one person does alone. You do it with a cadre of other super specialized professionals. And as a young writer, it was an honor to get to learn from and watch and witness. And at the same time, there's something about wanting to have a creative voice and have creative license. And in a way, you know, when I was quite a bit younger, I would acquiesce and say, oh, sure, we can take that line out. Oh, sure, we don't need to have that chapter or that character or that whatever. And yeah, we can eliminate that scene altogether. Or sure, I'll build something new. But I thought, what would it be like to just have full creative control and just use my own ideas in this way? And it was a liberating journey. Good question, Zach. I mean, honestly, it must make you feel so like, you know, so free in a sense, you know, because, I mean, we're always so constructed on like, you know, what does your boss want? What does your boss want? What is good for the network? What's good for ratings, you know? But then when it comes down to actually writing for yourself, I mean, it's got to be such a treat, too. There was a real treat about it. And it was such a departure, as you say, from the previous couple of books. This is kind of a non sequitur, but on the previous couple of books, I left the Mountain Valley, the Greenhorn Valley in Colorado as a teenager wanting to get out and see the world. And I was kidnapped by two men who promised to make me a model. And I didn't know what to do to overcome. And one of the ways I did that was I realized that I certainly wasn't the first person to go through trauma and adversity. And I set about to learn from people who had so I could find a way to overcome. I didn't just want to go to therapy or just read books. I wanted to create my own method. And I did that. And I started volunteering at old age homes and spent many, many years there and just listening to them. And I could see there were Holocaust survivors and 9-11 first responders later, you know. And there were war vets and people who'd survived all kinds of atrocities. And some were happy and some were understandably miserable. But I wanted to learn from them why, what worked and didn't. And I created this way to help people overcome adversity and wrote those books about it. But it was very, very distinct from what I was doing as my day job, you know, writing TV. So Greenhorn gave me an opportunity to write something on my own like the books I had done, but use a sort of allow myself to go on a fantastical journey, one that hopefully other people would enjoy as well. We're talking with the writer Cheryl Hunter. And again, the book is called Greenhorn. I want to ask you too, you know, what's next for this project for Greenhorn? I mean, you know, obviously you have the connections in the business. I mean, is this going to be something you pitch soon? I think it would make a fantastic movie. That much I know. Yes, that is in the works. What else is in the works for you too, you know, obviously outside the writing world? Well, one of the things that I did myself after creating this education to help people overcome adversity was I started sharing my own story, the story about overcoming the kidnapping on major media. And eventually, I mean, like, you know, I'd be a guest on news stations across the country and Dr. Oz, Dr. Bill, et cetera. And once I got my message out in front of an audience of hundreds of millions, I realized, you know what? I'm going to put to bed the work of helping people overcome adversity. There's industries dedicated to that and others that are beautifully suited to provide that for people. I'm going to help mission-driven entrepreneurs and experts who want to change the world with their messaging, their brand, their work. I'm going to help them get in major media. And so that's what my team and I do today. That's awesome. I pulled together a group of TV producers and directors and journalists, and we help these people get out in front of the world so they can serve. Well, you know, I want to say, too, you know, first off, your work has not gone unnoticed, for sure. I mean, obviously, it's a horrible thing you've been through. But, you know, the fact that you even helped so many people out there who were going through kind of the same situation, I think that's also a really great blessing, too. But, you know, at the same time, it's also awesome that, you know, you're starting this new adventure by helping other companies out, too. I mean, what's that like to kind of, you know, switch tasks? You know, it's so inspiring. I love to dwell in the world of inspiration. And the people that come to us are just extraordinary. They've found a way, whether it's product or service, they want to help people and change the world for those they serve. And I'm thinking of there's a dentist who I was just on the phone with a couple days ago. He created a mouth guard that prevents concussion. And he did it because his own kid was playing contact sports and he knew the statistics on concussions and how many people die of those, like 10,000 a day or something like that. And so he created this mouth guard, got it patented, got it into production, you know, just tested it, did all this work on it. And then he said, when he came to us, he said, you know, it was all that work to become a dentist and to realize what works and prevents concussion and get it tested, get it patented, get it out, you know, into production. That was less work than letting people know that I exist. Interesting. And so it's like helping these inspiring people who've got something wonderful to share get out there. It's just it's so inspiring. I love wearing that hat all day long. Well, that's really great, you know, and that's awesome that, you know, you're able to do that, too. You know, for those who are just we're just learning about you now, too, you know, where can people find you online? Where can people find Greenhorn? So my website is Cheryl Hunter dot com and it's C-H-E-R-Y-L Hunter dot com at just simply Cheryl Hunter dot com forward slash Greenhorn. The book is available there or on Amazon, wherever books are sold. I hope they say that right. I'm like on social on Facebook. I'm Cheryl Hunter. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Hunter Cheryl. Well, I'm very excited for people to read about this, about this amazing story, about this amazing creative story. And hopefully it'll go somewhere even further than just the book. Definitely excited to see what happens there. Cheryl Hunter, definitely come back when you have your next one out because we'd love to we'd love to talk to you more about it. Thank you, Zach. Anytime. The Webster Music Station Z Radio Live back with more Zach Feldman show right after this. Want to hear more? Listen to the Zach Feldman show every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Z Radio Live dot com.

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