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?
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
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!
|HH & Chess Mate|
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.
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.
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|
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:
Amazon UK Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003PD4JTM
Amazon US Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003PD4JTM