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2023 Fellowship Award Winner Aubrey Hunt Publishes His First Book

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In November 2023, Aubrey Hunt, a member of our event staff, was awarded a Great Performances Fellowship Award. The $5,000 grant is presented following a rigorous selection process overseen by judges who are notable individuals in the creative and artistic fields throughout New York City. Members of our event staff who meet employment criteria and invited to submit an application to the grant, which comprises a description of their project, a budget and outline of what they’d do with the award money, and any additional supporting materials. We received almost 100 applications and awarded 4 grants.

Aubrey’s project was to complete a children’s book he had written inspired by watching a flock of pigeons take flight while he was working at an event at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He used the grant money to complete his story, hire an illustrator, and get his book published.

His book, The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly, is now available on Amazon in print and digital formats. We sat down with Aubrey to talk to him about the process and what his plans are next.

GP: We’re so thrilled that you’ve been able to publish your book! Can you tell us how the award helped?

AH: The award actually helped me get over my most difficult hump because the book was already written. I was able to hire an illustrator and then publish the book through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

GP: The story is beautiful, as are the illustrations. How did you find an illustrator?

AH: I went through a variety of sources, but ended up using a freelance service. I found five different artists and I paid each of them to do a sample page from my manuscript, and they could choose their scene. It was great to see their interpretations, but Bahagia’s stood out immediately. Her art style kind of reminded of the art that was in the books that I read when I was young.

GP: Tell us about your writing process?

AH: My commute is kind of long, sometimes 2 ½ hours, depending on where the event is, so I use my commute to do most of my writing. I’ll write or think while I’m on public transportation or even during breaks and downtimes during events.

GP: Where do you get your ideas from?

AH: I get my ideas from everywhere, and a lot of them are about lessons that I essentially wish I could have learned when I was younger. But these are all coming from personal life experiences and that’s why it’s something I feel is incredibly relatable. And when I find inspiration, I’ll just jot down notes and come back to it when I’m off work.

GP: What’s your process as you’re developing your ideas?

AH: I would talk with some of the other staff at GP, especially the people who, when I first came up with the idea and discussed it with them, supported it from day one. Those are the pepole I would turn to and ask if they’d mind reading it for me and giving me their general opinion. That’s worked wonders for me.

GP: It sounds like you have a lot of ideas for new books. What’s next?

AH: Oh yes! I actually currently have two [books] already completely written. They do have to be edited, so that’s my next step, and then I’ll be working on trying to publish at least one if not both sometime this year.

Aubrey’s dedication to his craft and his goal of impacting the future generation through his writing is truly inspiring. It’s clear that his journey as an author is just beginning, and there’s much more to come from his creative endeavors.