We're welcoming author A. M. Harte to the blog today, who (much like me) writes dark, speculative fiction. Come and enjoy this wonderful interview:
I’m a London-based chocolate addict and avid reader, with a penchant for dark speculative fiction tales. On top of being an indie author, I’m a strong webfiction (or online fiction) enthusiast, and am writing several ongoing series available for free online: Above Ground, a post-apocalyptic fantasy; and DarkSight, a contemporary horror serial.
How long have you been writing?
I like to say I’ve been writing far longer than anybody’s been paying attention -- although I imagine that’s true for most writers! Ever since my early teens, I’ve been scribbling out stories, although it is only in the last couple of years that I decided to take the next step and approach writing from a more professional point of view.
“Hungry For You” is a zombie love speculative fiction anthology which takes a hard look at love and death, because at the end of the day, what else is there to write about? The collection is a study of extremes, from all-enduring love to twisted relationships, from traditional brain-eating zombies to thinking, sentient creatures.
Perhaps my favourite description of the book is from one of my reviewers, Lauren Smith (from Violin in a Void) who said: “Hungry For You makes zombies less scary, more revolting, but also morbidly fascinating. It’s smart and spunky, bringing together horror, tragedy, romance and dark humour.”
Why did you decide to write in the speculative fiction genre?
I don’t think it was a conscious decision -- speculative fiction has simply always fascinated me, and the books that have moved me the most have nearly always fallen into this genre. Perhaps it is a question of escapism, being able to daydream about what my life would be like in an alternate universe where magic exists, or demons are real, or everyone lives in space. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a daydreamer!
What do you find different about writing short fiction as opposed to longer novels?
I like to think of short stories as the summer flings and novels the long-term relationships. Writing a short story can be very quick and intense, because your space is limited – you need to convey a lot in very few words, which means it’s a constant challenge to tighten your prose and hone your writing. But overall I would say more of my heart and soul goes into writing a novel; the characters are dearer to me because I’ve invested so much more time in them.
What is the hardest part of writing speculative fiction?
Making everything seem plausible. As much as a reader of speculative fiction is looking for something different, your story always needs to be coherent and consistent. You may have werewolves or cabbage-eating fairies or cars that run on toothpaste, but they’ve all got to make sense in the world you’ve built, and you need to remember what the rules are so that you don’t contradict yourself later. For example, you can’t say that cars only run on fluoride toothpaste and then have someone fill up their car with mouthwash (unless the car then breaks down or explodes).
How did you research your books?
I don’t, mostly! Actually, that’s a lie. I generally end up asking unusual questions on twitter, or otherwise Google odd requests like, “What does snake poo smell like?” (Yes, really.) I don’t know how writers in ye olde days managed, but I rely heavily on the wealth of expertise available online. And if worst comes to worst, I’ll invent an answer.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Read critically. Write furiously. Experiment with ideas and styles; don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one plot, one novel, one genre. And accept all feedback and criticism graciously, no matter how much you may disagree.
Who has inspired you as an author?
One of my favourite novels of all time is “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman; I would love to write a novel like that. Other favourites include “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Margaret Atwood), “The Postmistress” (Sarah Blake), “The Bell Jar” (Sylvia Plath), and Dune (Frank Herbert) – very much an eclectic mix, I know!
As for fellow indie authors, I’m very much inspired by fellow 1889 Labs author MCM’s professionalism and dedication. Horror author Zoe E. Whitten deserves recognition for being enviably prolific; I wish I could write as quickly as her! And from the online fiction community, MeiLin Miranda (historical fantasy) and MCA Hogarth (science fiction) are absolute stars, lovely ladies, and great writers.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently editing my first novel, “Above Ground”, which will be released as an ebook and in print in September 2011. It’s a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy where humans live underground and monsters live on the surface. “Above Ground” follows the adventures of Lilith Gray, a human girl who is trapped on the surface, and struggles to survive as she fights to return back home.
After that, who knows? I still have many stories to tell.
A.M. Harte is a speculative fiction enthusiast and a chocolate addict. She’s a writer, editor, practical joker, and the author behind the online dark fantasy publishing project Qazyfiction. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and enjoys procrastinating over at http://amharte.com.
On Twitter: @am_harte
And for more on her book, Hungry For You, check out this spotlight: http://afstewartpromotion.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-spotlight-hungry-for-you.html