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today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Friday, December 10, 2010

bibliochat with Harper Hull

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. - Anaïs Nin

aobibliophile™: hi Harper and welcome to  my blog - aobibliosphere™. let me start off by asking what everyone wants to know: who is Harper Hull?

Whiteout Avvy
Harper Hull: That's yet to be decided, I think!  The quick history - born and raised in northern England, lived all over the country before moving to the US in my late twenties, after a lot more moving about now residing in South Carolina with my SC wife where I am scared of the wildlife and enjoy the bbq.

aob™: so what made you want to be writer?

HH: Reading! I could not read enough as a kid, it was some magical thing to me, as it is to lots of children I imagine, and I'd spend hours at a time travelling to imaginary worlds or backwards and forwards through time via great books my parents owned.  At some point I started writing my own ideas down to 'see if I could make the words sound pretty' - I still try to this day, decades later.  I think my first attempt at an actual story was about a hawk hunting a hare in the woods for his dinner. Cutting edge stuff I'm sure you'll agree, can't believe it's not a Hollywood film yet... I didn't actually really get into fiction for other people's eyes until a couple of years ago, although I have had writing in my life in some form almost constantly - copywriting in London, music journalism in Seattle, and a few 'zines along the way as well. Now it's all about the fiction and I wish I'd started it years ago, I feel like I'm playing catch-up with my own imagination sometimes.

aob™: where do you get your ideas?

HH: They come from all over the place to be honest. Very literal ideas can be suggested by something on the news or something someone says, an incident witnessed in public perhaps or just a dream that is actually remembered. Recently there was a news piece about teenagers texting 100 times a day or something ridiculous like that. I started to construct a scenario where several people who never, ever meet influence each other's lives in massive ways - divorce, suicide, whatever you can think of - through electronic means only. Murder via Twitter! Other times I get into weird 'loops' and become temporarily obsessed with something, like recently I've written a few short stories
HH & Chess Mate
based around talking - why people talk, the secret meanings of colloquialisms, what would happen if we could each only speak 5 words in our lifetime, loosely related stuff like that. Once that is out of my system I'll be alright for a while to swing loose and free on all sorts of ideas until the next obsessive 'loop' comes along. Maybe 2011 will bring half a dozen stories about magic sausage rolls or the symmetry of refrigerators or something. I'm sure it's some form of disorder!

aob™: what or who inspires you to write?

HH: My dad was a huge sci-fi and supernatural  fan and a lot of what I do is because of him and his infectious obsession - he was the key that started the engine.
A lot of it is because of the dark nature of people - we have so many flaws, bad sides and ugly thoughts and it's therapeutic to tackle them head-on through fiction since, in real life, I can't go down the street and hang the wife beater or burn down the house of the racist homophobe - not that either of these things have turned up in my stories (yet) but you get the idea. It is far, far harder to write a happy, optimistic story than a downer one, but I do try on occasion to take the way of the light. I also really enjoy jumping all over the place in terms of genre - it keeps the work interesting and fresh and also opens up many more ideas and themes.

aob™: how many hours a day do you spend on your writing?

HH: Some days all day long, other days no time at all. I see those people who can sit and write 5,000 words a day without fail and envy them, they release a novella every 2 weeks and it's ridiculous, really, to me. If I sit down and demand words they come out wrong, on the whole, or they read as pedestrian and done on autopilot, no passion. If I'm feeling it I can machine-gun a whole story or chapter in a day which is wonderful, when it happens. Usually I'll write in spurts of about 2,500 words, slowly and surely like the tortoise, and for those times that it's just not happening I'll still work on 'writing' as a whole by either fleshing out ideas, noting new ones down, researching factual stuff  or editing existing words.

aob™: what do you like to read Harper? are there any particular genres that you prefer and who are your favorite authors?

HH: I only recently (the last couple of years) discovered the work of Cormac McCarthy and I absolutely love his novels, they are incredible. He can floor you with the most beautiful sentence you have ever seen and then immediately shock you with an act of violence so unexpected and blatant it's truly horrifying. 'Blood Meridian' and 'Child of God' are insanely disturbing books yet absolutely gorgeous as well. I admire his stripped down organic approach to writing dialogue too and would love to see it catch on over the current way of presenting it which seems very unnatural.
For all-time favorite writers I'd say Ballard and Bradbury, wonderful authors with imaginations that soared above all around them. Consistently brilliant over long careers. Individual novels, 'Secret History' by Donna Tartt and 'The Wasp Factory' by Banks are up there, always. Such clearly realized landscapes and characters, vivid and shocking stuff. Looking at my bookcase I have a whole lot of Bernard Cornwell, George RR Martin, Milan Kundera and Clive Barker as well. I try and read new writers as often as I can too - there's some really amazing talent out there looking for an audience, and it's people like you that will help to spread the word I think, directing the rest of us to great fiction we may not have discovered otherwise.

aob™: if you were to choose your favorite among your work, which one would it be and why.

HH: Yikes, tough one! Of course I have to say the best hasn't seen the light of day yet! Of existing works, I really like the short story 'Perpetual Motion Blues' which is in the collection 'Timelines' from Northern Frights Publishing based in Canada. The antho is one of several HG Wells tribute books they are putting out and this particular one is, of course, stories inspired by 'The Time Machine.' I'm also proud of a story titled 'Daddy Long-Legs' which is about to come out in a collection called 'Day Terrors' from the Harrow Press. All the stories in this one are horrors that take place in broad daylight - no hiding your characters in dark cellars or attics or deep in the woods, put them in the full glare of the sun and keep them scary - quite the task and I really like the, er, being I came up for this one.

aob™: have you ever based your characters on yourself or people you know?

HH: Haha, more than I should probably admit. To be fair, it's usually a combo of people rather than just one individual - if there is a dumb male character I'll pool memories of a lot of dumb males I've known, a child will be formed around actual children be it nephews and nieces or memories of my siblings when they were very young, an evil woman will be a Frankensteined monster of all my worst ex girlfriends, that kind of thing. I try to keep myself out of the mix although inevitably things will sometimes slip in, be it an outfit someone wears or a particular behavioural defect or fetish, say. For something like Terminal Sunday the location is completely real and the two characters were basically 2D versions of my wife and myself; she felt a bit creeped out reading it even though she appreciated it at the same time. Can't blame her, I did nuke the town and have her kill herself in the bathroom (Sorry, sugarsnap!)

aob™: what was the idea behind Terminal Sunday? i enjoyed that story very much and i thank you as well for posting a comment when i made a review about it.

Terminal Sunday
HH: Thanks a lot, I appreciate that. It came about from simply sitting on our front porch one day with a big mug of coffee- the house in the story is basically our place, as I mentioned a moment ago - and remembering what it was like growing up in the 80's when nuclear war seemed like a very real possibility on a day to day basis. It's really hard to get the younger generation to grasp how terrifying it was, how real it all felt, and the best way is to recommend they watch old tv from the time like 'Threads' or 'When the Wind Blows' which are both insanely disturbing even now. My high school was located right next to an RAF base and whenever the sirens there went off we'd all think we were about to die and scan the skies desperately as we ran for cover.
For Terminal Sunday I superimposed a nuclear strike scenario over an idyllic reminisce about a lazy weekend morning just to see what the contrast would be like and it came out pretty well, I believe. It had to be super short and snappy, any longer and it would have become diluted and weakened I think.

aob™: what are you working on right now? could you share a little about it with us?

HH: I recently took a writing break to work on some 'secret editing projects' but I'll be back into it this month. All sorts of things in the pipeline, including some new sci-fi that I hope to place in good homes, a long-form horror book that is really a series of inter-connecting shorts all set in the same town, a number of dramatic experimental stories and a possible children's book dealing with knowledge and how learning is fun  if I can find just the right illustrator for the project!

aob™: what do you like to do when you're not writing?

HH in Italy
HH: Spend time with my wife who is also my best friend, try and find a decent film to watch which seems to get harder each year, get out to any interesting events in the region (recently there has been a Salvador Dali exhibit and a Pixies concert,) travel back to England and Europe, and work on our house which is a constant battle as the thing is over 100 years old and very, very demanding. 

aob™: to wrap things up, is there anything you'd want to say to your followers and to your critics?

HH: The same thing I was ending my bio with all year - if you ever read anything I have written, I truly hope you enjoy it.

aob™: thanks Harper for taking time to be here at aobibliosphere™. it was  certainly a pleasure and an honor having this interview with you.

HH: It was a lot of fun and I'm delighted you decided to have this wee chat with me, thank you kindly! 
For more information on Harper Hull and his work, please visit:


Anna Y. White said...

It's like 'lucky thoughts' in here. Lucky author:))
Great joB!

Kate Evangelista said...

Love the questions. Well done!

Carolina [WritnBlock] said...

Very nice aobibliophile!! I very much enjoyed the questions, but over all I think the interview flowed wonderfully because it really had the feeling of a nice chat among friends!

It's interesting to see how writers, in the end, are very similar. Don't we all remember our first attempt at writing? Don't we all remember the fine details of the first story we ever wrote? It's very interesting.

It's also very uplifting to know that a successful writer such as Hull sometimes doesn't write at all :) I love to know that writers have "black-out" days in which the words just don't come out ... it makes me feel much better :)

Great interview aobibliophile! I really enjoyed it.

LunaMoth said...

woohoo1 GREAT interview! terribly exciting isnt it? i hope you do many more dearie.

esllou said...

A great interview with a great writer. If you haven't already, take the chance to check out as much of Harper's writing as you can - you won't regret a single moment spent with the characters and images that he conjures up.

Theresa @ TheCreativeWell said...

Hi there! I'm a new follower from the hop :) Hope you have a great weekend!

The Secret Writer said...

I really enjoyed reading your interview with this great writer and found it very interesting. Your style of questioning was great. You seem to be a natural in this field! ;-)Well done!

LJ said...

Loved it! Great questions, fantastic answers! I must pick up this book. I love interviews. They give me a feel of what the author's book(s) will be like with the way the answers read, and the answers themselves. Thanks! I'll have to pick this book up now.

Tribute Books Mama said...

I can heartily recommend our own Tribute Books author, Molly Roe. She is the author of the young adult historical fiction, Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires. It is the first of a trilogy of books about three sisters growing up in a coal mining town during the Civil War era. It also won the Mom's Choice Award.

I also love the books of Tommie Lyn - a fantastic self-published author.

Sylvia Massara said...

Great interview! Let me know if you want to do an interview for me on The Lit Chick Show!

Rane Anderson said...

I'm your newest follower!
Just blog hopping by! Nice to meet you. :-) My hop is at The Lit Express.

Come check out our 100 follower giveaway. Prize is an amazon gift card!

Darcy said...

Hi. Found you from the hop, and I am your newest follower. I hope you will drop by and follow back at openbookemptycup.blogspot.com


aobibliophile™ said...

@Anna @Kate @Carolina @LunaMoth @esilou @The Secret Writer and @LJ: your happy thoughts have certainly made my day. i'm very pleased as well with how the whole interview turned out - considering it was my first. HH did a great job too.

@Sylvia: that would be something to look forward too. thanks for the happy thought!

@Tribute Books Mama: thanks for dropping by and for your recommendations.

@Therese and @Rane: pleased to meet you both. i'm now following your blogs. thanks for hopping by!

have a great weekend everyone!

aobibliophile™ said...

@Darcy thanks. i'm following your blog now and i loved your review of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. it's one of the greatest books i have read as well.

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