Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Interview with author Kelly A. Harmon
Today, my guest is Eternal Press author, Kelly A. Harmon. Kelly's latest novel is Blood Soup. (This novel is available from Eternal Press at http://www.eternalpress.biz/searches.php?genre=22) Kelly has agreed to discuss her writing.
1)Tell me a little about your book.
Blood Soup is a story about murder, betrayal and comeuppance.
The story opens with a heavily pregnant Queen Piacenza. Her husband, King Theodicar naturally hopes for a male heir. The Queen is from Omera, where the first born rules, no matter the sex of the child. This causes no end of friction between them.
The Queen’s nursemaid, Salvagia, casts runes about the birth. Over and over, they yield the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women are convinced the baby will be a girl.
When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised, and Theodicar is faced with a terrible choice. His decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
This is the first story I wrote that didn’t come from a spark of an idea. A friend asked me to participate in the 3-day novel contest which was approaching rapidly…so I needed to come up with something fast.
I usually have tons of ideas for stories, but I didn’t want to use one up on something I was “only” going to be working on for three days…so Blood Soup was born out of method:
I decided I’d write something in a medieval time period…I decided I wanted an old crone figure who was both an herbalist and a “practitioner of magic,” I decided there needed to be a prophecy. I fit the pieces together, pruning out some ideas which would have required a lot more writing, finally coming up with a tale I thought could be told in about 20,000 words.
The blood theme running through the book came later, as I was writing.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I work full time to support my writing habit! Unfortunately, that means I don’t have a lot of free time to write. I write in the evening every night and as much as I can on the weekends. Last year the members of my critique group went away for a few days on a writing retreat. We enjoyed such success that we plan to do annually. Infrequently, I’ll take a day off work and spend it writing.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer...I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else.
5) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write (mostly) fantasy and science fiction.
Fantasy I like for the escapism…I like being transported to a different time and world. There’s something appealing to me about the possibility of magic and the likelihood of meeting some fantastic creature, like a dragon or satyr. Fantasy is like bedtime stories for adults.
Science Fiction appeals to my curiosity. It’s about extremes...I enjoy playing the “what if” game, taking a situation and extrapolating it to the nth degree.
6) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Because I work full time, I feel like I never have enough time to get anything done. So, finding time to write is tough. My mind is looking for large chunks of time at a clip…why should I boot up the computer if I’ve only got 15 minutes? But I’m coming to think that this is nothing but inertia that I need to get past. I’m training myself to get used to the idea that I only need a few moments to write at a time…if I can write a few paragraphs while dinner is cooking, or while I’m sitting at a stoplight, I’ve accomplished more than if I did nothing at all.
7) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I created the world of Borgund, so there wasn’t much research that needed to be done. Names confound me, however, so I researched old German names for the Borgunds and old Italian and Latin names for the Omerans.
8) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
There’s info on my Website. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, drop me an email.
I’ve also got an Amazon author page which lists most of my stories and anthologies my work appears in.
9) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
I think all writers should belong to a critique group, even experienced writers…it’s always good to have someone to bounce ideas off of or read a story for clarity. I believe a critique group sharpens skills more than any organization can.
Organizations can help with networking, job placement, leads, etc., but some, like SFWA, won’t let you join until you have qualifying sales. This can be a Catch-22 for writers just starting out.
Look at local, regional or state-wide writing associations. Before joining up, check out a few meetings to see if it meets expectations or desires. Don’t join for the sake of joining.
For women who write speculative fiction, I always recommend Broad Universe. There are opportunities for writers of all levels and interests in BU. The message boards alone are worth the dues.
Advice? Don’t go it alone. Writing is inherently solitary, but the business of it doesn’t have to be. Network, make friendships, and go to conventions. Opportunity will come knocking.
Kelly, thanks for sharing your writing life. Tomorrow, I'll share an excerpt from Blood Soup, so be sure to stop back again.