Okay, I have an author interview for you lovely folks today that I am so excited to share! I had the chance to chat with author, blogger, and character torturer, K.J. Harrowick to talk about her writing, Winterviews, and whatever else popped into our heads over the course of our chats. So keep reading for lots of comments (some snarky, some not) on a whole bunch of fun, bookish things!
Okay, first off: What are three things you’d like people to know about you?
I write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Whether it’s in the realm of space ships and lasers, or dragons circling the skies while medieval warriors ride across mountainous terrain, my stories always have one thing in common: no earth. I prefer readers to experience distant planets, exotic worlds, inner magic vs technology, and fantastical languages that push the limits of thought. Each story is part of a fully-formed universe with its own system of laws, boundaries, and behaviour rites.
My characters tend to be older, emotionally (and sometimes physically) tormented, with lives they’ve already lived and destroyed. The stories are about second chances, sometimes even third and fourth. Characters who had happiness (or not) and were plunged into a darkness out of their control. It’s about the fight to regain their humanity and recover some small portion of themselves, but ultimately become smarter, stronger, and ideally change the world around them a little bit.
I love to world-build. It’s my favourite thing about writing any tale – digging beneath the strata of each character’s life to understand the history, language, customs, and a legacy of belief systems arising from powerful, influential moments in the lives of their ancestors. When these tiny details coalesce together, it creates both a shared and individual driving force for each sentient being.
Have you always been interested in writing? How did you get started? Why did you get started?
I’ve had a strong imagination and dreamt vividly about many things nearly all my life. When it came to writing… nope. Hated it. In fact, when I was younger, school assignments were always about the most atrocious things and I’d choke down slapping words together and researching tedious, unromantic, earth-based facts. I found no pleasure in the tasks, which pushed me deeper into my own escape – fantasy worlds.
As I got older, I discovered a love for world-building and forum-based RPG (role-playing games). The very first characters were on an old Wheel of Time free-site forum and were horrendous. Thankfully, that place no longer exists. Yet, it opened my eyes to how liberating it could be to pull ideas from my head and put them down in a readable, tangible form.
Thus, began my adventure. Since then I’ve created two unique universes, two fantasy languages, nine manuscripts in various states of completion, written adventure quests for a mobile video game, and written guide books for role-playing sites.
Does what you like to write and what you like to read match up at all?
Yes, one hundred percent.
My favourite things to read are dark, gritty, adult science fiction and fantasy. I want all the spaceships, fantastical worlds, swords and sorcery, and adult relationships. Most of all, I love gritty tortured male protagonists up against fierce female protagonists. Give me all the dark and twisted adulting stuff.
What are your favourite books?
Oh dear, I don’t even know where to start. I have so many favorites I could never list them all, but I do have certain books I read almost every year:
The Eyes of Light and Darkness by Ivan Cat & Darren Sarvari
This book is exactly what science fiction should be.
The Book of Ti’ana, The Book of Atrus, and The Book of D’ni by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller & David Wingrove
This series was launched based off the Myst worlds and is a complement to the video games. I only wish they’d written more of these because the world-building is so rich and beautiful.
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
This book is the third instalment in the Ender’s Game saga, and follows Ender and his new wife and adopted children, all brilliant scientists. What got me the most with this story was the symbiotic relationship between sentient creatures and planet-wide flora. It was so beautifully done and I’ve never seen its equal.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Best. Storytelling. Voice. Ever.
What are you working on currently writing-wise?
Bloodflower is a Medieval Science Fiction (think Last Knights meets Firefly) following two protagonists divided by tragedy and nearly four thousand years:
Her innate powers awakened by torture, Jàden emerges from hypersleep to a medieval world of swords and sorcery. She must bond her uncontrollable magic with her enemy, or risk the destruction of two worlds.
Captain Ayers is bound to protect a woman whose magic could destroy his world. When she’s kidnapped, he must trust the help of an old enemy to save her life.
Jàden’s heart raced as her eyes slid to the steel door, closed within the airtight seams among overgrown jungle flora. Etched into the brushed metal, a tree with branches reaching skyward and roots digging toward the earth below her feet. Three symbols stood out along the trunk. A crow at the top, wolf in the middle, and horse near the base. Ice flooded into her veins as she pushed back the collar of her tunic, the symbol’s twin wrapping around her pale arm from shoulder to elbow. She tugged the fabric back into place, swallowing the lump in her throat. Run.
Bits of wire dangled from a steel box, clinging to a frosted plexiglass plate. She gripped the smashed light pad. Lichen grew along the surrounding cliff face, dusting the components with verdant green life. Her fingers slipped between the panel’s loose wires, the circular fitting still snug in its stone fixture. She slid a hand inside her tunic and pulled out a small glass orb. Cupping her hands around the firemark, she blew until it glowed, trillions of bioluminescent bacteria flaring to life. Creatures of pure energy from beyond the rim of the Alliance worlds, harnessed by sentient races for their power.
Jàden pressed the firemark in. The orb pulsed once. Frosted plexiglass illuminated. The Temple of the Three Moons. Sandaris has no third moon. Her stomach twisted into a knot. Run. She pressed her hand against the panel and held her breath.
Got any weird writing habits you’d like to share?
I do a lot of internet surfing while I write. I can see in my head the setting I want to portray, or a character’s features and arsenal of weapons, so I’ll find a close visual and use it as a starting point to write in the description. It’s also a great way to double-check small facts for your story, like how to find water in the desert.
I also love editing my stories. The initial writing phase is fun, but once it’s all hacked out, I like to spend a lot of time digging deep into the world to pull out settings, description, languages or local words, belief systems, politics, and pressure points. I use all these things to limit the characters, pushing their flaws to the forefront and making each person in the story approach the world from their experience, personality and point of view.
Music is a must. I’ve got several Pandora stations setup, each one labeled as the title of a different story. Every station has its own unique blend of movie scores, video game music, and a few other surprise tracks to give it the same feel as the world I’m working in.
So you’re doing this Winterviews thing. What’s that all about?
Winterviews (Winter Interviews) is one interview a week for the thirteen weeks of winter.
Starting 21 December 2016, I post one interview a week with an author or artist. It’s a chance for up-and-coming talent to showcase their work, their techniques, and share a little of their voice and personality with the world. This is the first year running, and we’ve got an Indie author with several published books, a celebrity burlesque dancer, and other amazing talent we’ll be checking in on throughout the season. I’ve even got a few surprises up my sleeve for January.
Anyone who wants to check it out, the official kickoff article and blog hop is on my blog. Feel free to comment and say hi to any of the interviewees. None of them bite, unless they’re erotic romance authors, but you may enjoy that. ^_^
Who can we expect to see featured in Winterviews?
The official list can be found on our blog hop:
A.J. Super || A.Y. Chao || Christopher Woolf || Dianna L. Gunn || Ian Barnes || Jennifer Galambos || Kaelan Rhywiol || Maria Guglielmo || Max W. Miller || Morgan Hazelwood || P.J. Midnight || Sara Bond || The Shanghai Pearl
Host: K. J. Harrowick
Okay, so you’ve been talking about all this Winterview stuff, and you haven’t even given us the links!
Oh, yes I have. ^^^ Pay attention, lady. 😛
For anyone skipping over all the stuff about me (don’t think I don’t see you), here are the Winterviews links again:
Once the interview goes up each week, I add a link to both Twitter and Facebook. Anyone is welcome to like/retweet/or… you know… send cookies. Writers gotta eat.
So when you’re not writing or blogging, what do you do with yourself?
Keep busy, that’s for sure!
I’m a freelance web developer, book cover designer, and email media specialist. Much of my work is with front-end responsive code, browser & device testing, code doctoring, and slapping pretty images together.
When not writing or working, I wrangle children and dogs, get my hands dirty with gardening, and ponder the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.
Any last things you’d like people to know?
Yes. I love meeting new people, so feel free to connect with me on your social media of choice.
Also, if you get a chance, stop by the Winterviews and leave a comment for any of our talented people. I know they’d love hearing from you!
Also alsø, a huge thank you to Hilary for this article and interview. She’s the best!
Where can people find you online?