Monday, 26 October 2015

Tales from the Mists Featuring Brent A. Harris

Brent A. Harris is an author of Alternate History and SciFi/Fantasy. He has a story, The Bear Trap Grave, published in the anthology, Tales from the Tavern. His first book, A Time of Need, is an alternate history of the American Revolution in which George Washington fights alongside the Imperial Forces. He has recently stretched into writing horror in, The Server of Souls, in the newly released anthology, Tales from the Mists.

Connect with the Author

About the Book

Tales from the Mists is a collaborative horror anthology from writers around the globe. It features five frightful stories of the strange and cerebral. Our authors and stories: Alei Kotdaishura, writes about the worst monster of them all--your boss, in The Beast. Brent A. Harris gives a nod to classic, cerebral Twilight Zone stories, in The Server of Souls. Leo McBride, writes of a local urban myth in his adopted home in The Bahamas in, The Chickcharney. Morgan Porter, offers up a more Lovecraftian tome in, The Pillar of Hendarac, and Ricardo Victoria mixes Mexican mythology with tales of the Ancient Ones in, Bone Peyote.

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An Interview with Brent

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Because writing lets me say what I want to say about the world in the best way I know how. I could be a cook, but then all I could say is that I like to eat. Besides, I can't cook. I'm pretty much left with writing as my only option.

What genres do you write?

Alternate History is my primary genre. My first book, A Time of Need, is currently being shopped around to agents. I'm working on my second alternate history book now.

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?

Horror. It isn't in my wheelhouse. But there is no good reason it shouldn't be. It's a difficult genre to write and I've given it my best shot. I'm excited and a little bit nervous to find out what readers think.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

There are too many to list, but essentially, if I've read something someone has written, then it has influenced me (even if it reminds me of what NOT to do).

Harry Turtledove and all alternate history authors inspired me to write in that chosen genre. If I hadn't picked up one of Turtledove books, then my life would be different in ways I can't necessarily predict. 

Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Greg Berlanti, Bruce Timm, Michael Crichton are all of the influential writers in my life. But there are many, many more.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

I'd choose Joss Whedon, James Gunn, or any of Whedon's acolytes. They understand the discipline of writing and they posses the discipline to write.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?

My ultimate goal as a writer is to repay the author's that have ultimately inspired me. I was that kid wandering the library looking for a good book to read. I hope to pass on that experience by having someone pick up and be inspired by something I've written, so that someday, they'll pass it on themselves. Maybe that will happen in five years, maybe that will happen long after I'm gone. Who knows?

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

Like any goal, you have to have support. I'm lucky that I have both my friends and family that support me. But I still have to be selfish around my writing time. It's difficult to write even with the support of family, so I can't imagine how it can be done without a group of people who share your goals.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

The best advice I've ever heard: If you want to be a better writer, then read book written by authors better than you. Really, that's good advice for anything. If you want to be better at something, find somebody better than you. If you want to sell more cars than anyone, train under the best car salespeople. If you want to be the best chess player, then play against people who can beat you.

What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Keep writing. I really hate that phrase. It's bad advice. It's like telling a basketball player who missed the last ten shots to keep shooting baskets. If each shot isn't being done with the correct technique and an eye toward improvement, all you are doing is reinforcing the wrong way of doing something.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Reading seems the obvious answer. But really, I'm a family guy at heart. I enjoy spending time with them. Usually, it's something at home, like family game night or movie night. Left to my own devices, I'd probably disappear into my sofa on a Netflix binge, so it's probably better that I'm with my family.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

  1. Jurassic Park
  2. The Silmarillion
  3. How Few Remain (all 9 books if I could) (Turtledove)
  4. The Hand of Thrawn Trilogy (Timothy Zahn) (since I broke the rules already)
  5. The first season of The Flash (since the rules have been thrown out the window)

What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?

I can't say that I re-read too much. There is too much new stuff to read and discover.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?

An entire bookshelf, at least. I'm horrible about buying books, stacking them in some sort of 'order' then scoffing at said order as I buy a new stack of books.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

You have to have an outline. You have to have some guiding beacon, even if it is just the green light on the dock at the other end of the water. If you don't know where you are headed, how will you know you've arrived? Write the end first, sketch an outline. You don't have to stick with it, so long as you revise your outline as you revise your thoughts and ideas.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Too long and not long enough. My first book was very research intensive. Now that I'm essentially done with the book, I want to go back and change things. I want to make Greedo shoot first and have the Ewoks blink. But I keep telling myself to put it down.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?

Titles, like everything, will manifest themselves when they are ready and when you have done enough work to trigger that epiphany. My first title, a Time of Need, took months before I hit upon it. Dark Eagle, the title of my second book, was decided upon during the writing of the first. It's an organic process. Like the force, let it flow within you.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time and making the decision to read the short stories from our anthology. I know you will find a story that you enjoy and I hope that you'll share that experience with others. I also hope that when my alternate history book, A Time of Need, is ready to go off into the world, you'll already be familiar with me and my work and be eager to dive into its pages. Thank you for that support, without it, we are just writing words in the wind.

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