- Let’s start at the beginning… Are you a hugger? Kiss both cheeks? A hearty handshake or maybe a distant nod across the room?
Will we go on till we’ve come to the end: then stop? I’ve got an online friend visiting Korea for me, the PyeongChang Olympics, and kimchi and we agreed we’ll be rubbing each other’s bellies. Otherwise I’m more of a nodder, but I’ll go with whatever. If a friend’s a hugger, I hug. Haven’t met any cheek kissers—fortunately.
- When and how did you know you were a writer? Did any books help you along the way?
No books specifically inspired me or made me think “I want to be a writer now.” I’ve just done it since first grade when we had the Scholastic Books contest. They gave everyone the hardcover journal and the losers drew their stories while the winners had their parents do it. I had this totally original concept of a super hero that surfed through space fighting crime except he was also on fire through some magic. Then I kept writing till I was nineteen and learned how to write. That’s when I felt like I was a writer. Had my first short story (http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/loving-a-mutt) published in the college literary magazine and it won a contest. That was also when I switched from trashy genre fiction to literature. College made me a bit of a snob with text. I enjoy my trash visually in TV, movies, and let’s plays, but when I read, my editing brain flicks on at the first stock phrase or weak verb and breaks my immersion, but now I appreciate books like Nick Cutter’s The Troop (horror story) more because it uses its strong literary writing to terrify readers whereas everyone recommended The Hunger Games saying, “Well the (terrible, awful garbage first-person, present tense) writing isn’t very good, but it’s a good story!” I maybe inserted a few words for them.
- Eidolons has a fascinating premise- how do you see the Grim Reaper as a character and why did that speak to you?
Anita, my Grim Reaper, is the one that makes the story happen. TK is the story, but he’s this college kid who drifted through life and is now drifting as a ghost, deflecting everything with sarcasm or apathy. Anita has to drag that out, make him care, make him open up, which was fun to do because the usual Grim Reaper trope is a faceless, neutral skelly-man that’s calloused by eternity and Anita has flesh still. She still remembers what it was like to be alive. So even though she’s prickly, understandably irritated that everyone hates her or fears her, she has a lot of sympathy for the living and dead. I also liked subjecting her to an unseen otherworldly bureaucracy that makes her do paperwork.
- Is there another genre that you enjoy- just as a pure fan? What is it?
Sci-fi. I was named after Harrison Ford and my first movie memory was going to Tales from the Crypt in theaters when I was probably 4, but my second and important movie memory is being on our ratty plaid sofa, the lights off, with my special blanket with rocking-horse designs and tickly, stringy edges so you knew which was the long way, and I was watching that lightsaber duel in Empire Strikes Back with such dramatic colors lighting the smoke. And the part where the circular window gets blown out and Luke’s sucked out—that was the moment I suddenly knew I existed. I was seven. I have memories from before: Jimmy Pounds throwing up on the Kindergarten reading rug, a spider twisting as it let out its web till it landed in my palm and shoving it in my mouth at our first house, usual kid stuff, but they were scattered, unconnected. After that moment with the window getting blown out, my life had a narrative.
- Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?
Have a website. Mine is OrangePeals.com, which is both a pun and a reference to a JD Salinger story. A lot of people, probably wisely, just use their names. Blogger, Blogspot, LiveJournal, Xanga, Angelfire, Wattpad, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. are all great free resources for building your audience but they’re temporary. Your website, so long as you pay your domain registrar, is going to be a constant and you have control with the aesthetics, the analytics, the advertising, so on and so on. It’s great for reaching out to passionate readers.
- What do you wish your readers could know about you?
The reason I haven’t had sex since 2012 is a long distance, star-crossed-lovers romance with a woman I met online who is from a Muslim family that lives in a country where forced arranged marriages are accepted so she was removed from medical school a year before she’d be a full doctor to live with distant relatives in Saudi Arabia, which I think everyone knows is awful for women who just got the vote but still can’t drive and yet somehow (oil, money) they’re the allies to a lot of Western countries, and she awaited the official marriage doing housework, covering up her hair and face, rarely getting to leave the apartment or see the sky, and suffering regular abuse. A grandfather was sick and they were waiting for him to recover or die so she just had to wait and hope until that hope started to hurt because it felt pointless, but the marriage fell apart after a year where she met the guy twice in that first week for the legal ceremony and yet she was still stuck there another two years. It shredded her sense of self-worth because she wasn’t allowed to be productive or grow as a person. We contacted UN Women, UNHCR, Amnesty International and a lot of other smaller groups including my parents begging for help so she’d be free of essentially slavery. They either ignored us or told us “Good luck.” The story features heavily in my next novel, coming 2018—my website has some sample chapters (http://orangepeals.com/untitled). So the tragedy of this all is not that I haven’t gotten lucky in half a decade, but that’s the humorous lead-in to some real turmoil that destroys a lot of girls in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.
Unrelated question: Know how to fake someone’s death and smuggle them across borders?
- We’re just a month out from the Holiday Season- if you could give EVERYONE a gift… and expense or transportation was no object- what would you give them?
A copy of the game Undertale. Since this is hypothetical, it’s like ten bucks on Steam. It works better for gamers who are aware of the tropes in RPGs so they can appreciate how they’re subverted, but regardless, it’s a beautiful story of how difficult it is trying to understand one another and yet still worth the pain. Be gentle with one another.
- Denim versus leather- compare and contrast. It’s an argument that may never be settled. What’s your preference and why?
I’m not German or Canadian so I don’t know where the two would overlap in my life. Denim is for pants. Leather is for coats and car seats. Leather is purely style though. Or if you get in a lot of knife fights. In central Illinois where I grew up, you need insulation against the negative Fahrenheit wind chills and leather doesn’t have that. More of a fall or spring choice. Jeans work year-round.
- If you had to choose… Vegas or New York… where would you go? Why does your choice speak to you?
You shouldn’t threaten me so publicly. I guess Vegas. I have two friends there and only one in New York so that must mean I’m a typical Fire Sign utilitarian who goes where his friends are. I’m not a city person though. I grew up in a town of 9,000 and for college, scaled up to a town of 10,000. Then left for Korea which is mostly cities, but unless it’s Seoul or Busan (no one really visits Daegu), the cities don’t feel big. My current one, Yeosu, is 300,000 and before that Cheonan was 600,000, but each neighborhood feels like a small town that sprawled into the next small town.
- And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?
I spoil myself with hours of gaming, bouncing around PC, PS4, WiiU, and since there’s a newish Pokemon out, 3DS, but I’m not sure I’ve finished a single game last year.
All About Harrison Fountain by Harrison Fountain-
These author bios are generally in third person, right? That’s a little weird for me so—
Harrison Fountain said, “In Kindergarten, Mrs. Augustson sent me to Special Ed because of my speech impediment, the result of a 4-year-long ear infection that garbled the input and so a few letters needed the pronunciation corrected. I had to work on my Ss, Cs, Ks, Ws, Rs, Bs, Ps, Ts, Qs, Ds, Xs, Ls, and Ns.
Every year in elementary school, Scholastic gave students a hardback book with empty cream pages for us to scribble in as part of a school-wide contest. I never won. The kid in my grade who did plagiarized If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and those biased, paid-off judges didn’t even mention my amalgamation of the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch.
Still, I kept writing, finishing my first novel in my 7th grade Physical Science spiral notebook where the narrator’s best friend was an orange alien with green hair named Carrot. My next novel about a boxer, I started in high school before I’d ever even watched boxing, and fighters called out their moves (“The Double Rocket Upper—no, wait! It’s a TRIPLE ROCKET UPPERCUT!!!”) like they were Pokemon.
No one taught me to write until my second year at college when Mr. Johnson called me to his office as he did with all his creative writing students and then he bloodied my first draft of a character sketch claiming his marks were “just ink.” I almost cried. A few visits later, I’d written a character sketch about my sister’s divorce and the family dog. He crossed out a lot like usual. Told me why. Then he scrawled an A at the top. It’d be my first published short story (http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/loving-a-mutt/).
The pride felt earned for once.
While studying in Wales without satellite TV or an Xbox, I started a blog called Nothing Fazes a Ghost, where I posted weekly chapters. Those 10,000 views with ad revenue earned enough for a pizza. After a few years and a few drafts, it became Eidolons.
I also teach English to adorable Korean kids who, in turn, teach me cutie poses.”
Author: Harrison Fountain
Genre: Literary Fantasy
When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper gives him a second chance at life, but he says it’s more fun being a ghost. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead.
This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.