Author Spotlight: Eric Hardenbrook

  • a fan, an author and an artist, usually in that order.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Eric Hardenbrook.

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Eric lives in central Pennsylvania with his gorgeous wife and daughter. He writes to get the stories out of his head.

When he’s being a fan he helps run Watch The Skies and assists in the publication of their monthly fanzine. He can be found (at least some of the time) at The Pretend Blog.

When not working on those things, Eric enjoys the occasional video or board game and is an old school role player.

Eric, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Ah… pets. I am not a pet person. I have nothing against pets or animals, I am simply not interested in having or dealing with pets.

I don’t freak out, I’m not allergic nor am I scared of pets – I just don’t want one. Yes, I know they’re “cute” or whatever word you’d like to put in there. Yes, I understand the bond that can grow between pets and owners. Yes, I know that statistically people with pets live longer.

I don’t care. I don’t want one.

No, it doesn’t matter how cute they are in your mind. If you’d like to have a pet, good for you. I’m glad you want to have that relationship. I’ll be fine without, thank you very much. Some consider this a short coming on my part, but most accept it and move on.

Being a non pet person DID lead to one of the best compliments I’ve ever had as a writer. It wasn’t phrased like a compliment and I suspect it wasn’t really meant to be one – but I’ll take it. A story of mine came out in Dogs of War as part of the Defending The Future Series from E-spec Books. The stories in the book are about our animal comrades in arms (military science fiction). I was interested in the opinion of somebody who reads a great deal, so I brought my copy of the book to her. She took a few minutes and read the story while I was there. She grinned at a couple of parts. She read it straight through. The part I considered a compliment arrived at the end. She finished the story and said (paraphrasing) “wow, it’s like you really love dogs…”

Most people wouldn’t take that as a compliment, but I write fiction. I like to tell a good story. If you believe it then I have done my job well. The fact that she knows me, knows the fact that I’m not at all interested in animal companions and still thought the story came off like it was written by a true animal lover is all the compliment I needed.

My life is currently petless. It is simpler, if not as happy or as messy.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write genre fiction. I know that’s a broad statement, but it covers things I think. My published work all falls under military science fiction and fantasy/humor at this point, but I love old fashioned sword and sorcery. I have also dabbled in urban fantasy, but that hasn’t really worked out.

As for getting started… I don’t really remember. I know there are lots of authors out there who will tell you about novels they wrote while in middle school and how many reams of paper they’ve got stashed away in a trunk. That’s not me. I have always loved telling stories, and somewhere along the way I figured out that you could write all those things down. My first story was published in 2006. I’d say I’ve been bumping around trying to make this work for around 20 years now total. I’m sure to be an ‘overnight success’ any minute now.

I hear ya on genre fiction. Growing up, I barely paid attention to the fat there was anything else. I’m so glad you figured out you could write your stories down, along with the rest of your fans!

What do you like to read?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” and I was off to the races. If it was fantasy I wanted it. I grabbed it and devoured it. In the many years since then I have grown and my reading tastes have changed. I have learned to identify what I like about the stories I enjoy the most, but that’s more about character and structure than genre. These days I read a little of everything. I’ve got a translated horror novel, a comedy, a fantasy and a non-fiction book all in progress right now.

Fantasy’s home for me, too. But, there’s so much out there.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know

First, uh… stuff I ‘know’ isn’t that exciting. I want to believe it is, but my friends and relatives have convinced me that construction specifications are not exiting at all.

Second, who knows about space flight, sorcerer spell casting or alien biology? It’s not possible for you to ‘know’ that.

Third, and I think most importantly, in writing what you know you run the risk of info dumping your thesis paper into your story. I recently read a story where the author essentially lifted a huge amount of historic research and dropped it into the story with the names filed off and replaced for the fantasy setting. It was not fantastic.

Don’t write what you know, write a crazy amazing story!

So true! You can filter in what you know of people and emotions and logic. But, to make your world work and spell out every step in excrutiating detail? It’s really something that’s better hand-waved.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Read.

It’s vital. It matters. Look at authors you love and ask yourself how they do what they do. Read your favorite genre. Read outside your genre. Read non-fiction… just READ. The more exposure you have to the written word the more your mind will expand, filling your imagination with all sorts of amazing cross sectional material.

Indubitably. It’s the rare writer indeed who didn’t start off as a reader. It’s our first love. Many of us write simply to find out how this story in our head ends, since no one else can tell us. When it comes to reading myself, I’ve taken a step back from writing every spare second, and started tackling my massive to-read pile. It’s not just aspirational.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

In fact, I know a cool thing you can read! My latest short story is going to be published in the final edition of The Realm Beyond from Fortress Publishing. I also am thrilled to have a story in In Harm’s Way – more military science fiction from E-spec Books. There are some great stories out there.

If you’re into fan based stuff, you should also check out Watch The Skies. We publish a fanzine (for real – we’re Hugo eligible) every month other than December and we’re always looking for contributors.

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