- a two-time Sidewise Award finalist for alternate history, author of A Time of Need (Insomnia Publishing), an MFA NUScholar, and Dad. And fan of dinosaurs.
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Brent A Harris!
Brent scours the universe searching for stories but usually finds them wedged under his couch cushions. Mmm, French fry.
He currently lives in Italy, which is great because he loves to travel—er, sit on his couch, eating. He has currently gained 5 Lockdown Pounds, which don’t count like regular pounds, he’s sure.
Brent, 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?
A pet dinosaur. Probably something small and manageable. I can’t imagine cleaning the litterbox for a Triceratops. Maybe a cute little compy. We could go on walks and it would chirp and skitter around all adorable-like.
In real life, I once had an albino cockatiel, which is like having a small dinosaur.
I love it! My favorite dinosaur is the Charonosaurus, (the best of the duck-billed dinos), but Triceratops are definately cute and stompy.
What do you write?
I write speculative fiction. I imagine ‘what if’ and then come up with what might have happened. The go-to example is something like, what if artificial intelligence gained sentience? And then you write a story about that, usually how it’s going to kill everyone.
However, I also do that to the past too. For example, what if the Roman Empire never collapsed? Or, what if George Washington wasn’t a Founding Father? And then you write a story, answering your own question. Writing speculative fiction is a bit like talking to yourself. Shut up, no it’s not. Yes, it is!
I love exploring the what-ifs, both for the future and the past. It’s a great way to explore what might-have-been.
What do you like to read?
I read a little about everything. Writing involves a metric crapton of research. My TBR piles are all related to the topic at hand, and they tend to by drier, first-hand primary sources or technical papers. I have a ton of history books on my bookshelf. My current reading is on the Victorian era, but for my last project, I
dozed off read technical papers about computer programming. I read these so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
I’m actually a software engineer in my dayjob, so I read plenty of design documents and government regulations. I recommend bribing yourself with 1 chip or piece of chocolate for every so many pages you make it through.
It is impressive how much research making stuff up can need!
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Write what you know.
It’s not that it doesn’t work for me, but that it’s commonly misunderstood. Robert Louis Stevenson was never a pirate before writing Treasure Island. George RR Martin has (probably) never seen a dragon.
You absolutely should write what you don’t know, but you *should* know something about the emotions behind the journey your character is making. That’s the misunderstood part that gets lost in interpretation.
How well you know the experiences of your character makes it real and authentic to the reader. Dammit, Martin, we’re all a bit of Tyrion, aren’t we??
That’s the exact point I try to make when people come out either strictly for-or-against this advice. If I’m following in your footsteps, I must be on the right path. *winks*
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
There are no hard or fast rules.
Only Sith deal in absolutes.
(which, in itself, is an absolute and proves the absurdity of the Jedi—, you know what, nevermind).
Honestly, I don’t have a hard and fast rule I adhere to. What works for one project might not work for another. So, I guess it’s to be flexible, but if that’s your hard and fast rule, then you fall into Obi-Wan’s logic trap from above. Dammit!
Writing is hard.
So true! I have to admit that I kept waiting for the ‘balance to the force’ be by someone who balances passion and logic. Grey force users that have conquered the Jedi AND the Sith paths… and I digress.
I’ve heard so many writers share that what worked for the last novel, was completely the wrong way to go about things for the next novel. Being flexible and remembering that the process exists to help you get your work done, not the other way around, seems key on any project — writing or not.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
A Twist In Time
Dickens Meets Steampunk.
Foundlings are disappearing from the workhouse where Oliver Twist once begged for a second bowl of gruel. He sets out to save them, with help from tinkerer, Nell Trent, and a slew of fantastical contraptions – including a mysterious pocket watch that allows its bearer to bend the rules of time.
With Oliver’s childhood nemesis, the Artful Dodger, and her lethal bag of tricks dogging their steps, he discovers that there is more at stake than his own life and the missing orphans.
Can he save London from the flames?
A Twist in Time is available on Kindle Unlimited, paperback, and Audible!
Check Brent A Harris out across the web!