Hunter Cates At Home: On Writing and Integrity

Hunter Howe Cates is a journalist, author, filmmaker, and creative marketing professional. He is principal and writer for Cates Creates, a copy and content marketing firm. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is the author of Oklahoma’s Atticus: An Innocent Man and the Lawyer Who Fought for Him (Bison Books, 2019).

What has changed (or not changed) about your writing life at home?

I’m way more disciplined! Since I started my business and began writing full-time, I’ve treated it like a job, not just a hobby. Which isn’t to say it’s not fun, it’s just more structured. I try to follow set daily routine. For me, that’s waking up and reading for one to two hours, then writing 500 words of my novel, then working the rest of the day for my advertising clients. Then I spend the evening reading some more. It’s a pretty sweet gig!

Your book discusses topics like class, justice, and family history. What do you hope readers will take away from it?

Firstly, I wrote the book to honor my grandfather. I was worried this story, like so much of history, would be lost and it was my responsibility, and my opportunity, to preserve it. I hope people read it and realize the “great figures” of history aren’t necessarily kings, queens, Presidents, and the like, but everyday people like you and me who keep the world running. 

Do you have any pets? Are they enjoying your company?

I adopted a senior Chihuahua named Lil Marco and have had him about three years now. I had been looking for a dog, but none really connected. I went to the Humane Society on “Clear The Shelters Day” to pick up a puppy, but the dog I wanted was already gone. I remember seeing Harley (that was his name at the time) from the website, so I asked to see him. The volunteers seemed surprised. I guess they figured nobody wanted a 9-year old chihuahua. He was in a cage in the back, because he picked a fight with a bigger dog. But he seemed happy to see me and after just a few moments I felt a connection. When you know, you know. That said, he’s quite needy, so I sometimes have to create some space, namely by putting him under a blanket and hoping he stays put for awhile.

What is one non-writing-related activity that helps you stay creative at your keyboard?

Reading, but that probably isn’t “non-writing.” I like to read one non-fiction, one novel and one light reading book at a time. So right now that’s The Genius of the System by Thomas Schatz, The Samurai by Shusako Endo, and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, which I haven’t read since I was in sixth grade. It’s great! As far as non-book, non-reading related activities, I love exercising. Running, swimming, weights, and martial arts are my go-to sports.

Why is your book important now?

There aren’t a lot of “good guys” in the world right now. Or at least it doesn’t seem like that. We live in a cynical age where the markers of greatness are getting rich, being famous, and landing a snarky burn to humiliate your opponent. My grandfather’s story proves that character counts, integrity matters, and courage is what happens when nobody is looking. I hope other people will find inspiration in his story as I have.

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