For this week’s Wednesday Interview, I have here John Harrison. He has released two eBooks on poetry, and recently he self-published his first novel, Shadow Dance, which is the first book in his Shadow saga. This interview focuses on his novel writings:
Megan Cashman: What made you decide to be a novelist?
John Harrison: Well…to be honest, it was a bet. One of my ex co-workers bet me dinner that I couldn’t write a novel. Now although I have finished one and on to my next, we never did settle the bet. So if anyone knows George Decker from the Boise, Idaho area; let him know that I won. 🙂 Now that is not saying that I never dreamed about it before. I have always been writing story ideas or telling stories to others. I even created a role-playing game system just so I could tell a story that involved more input than normal.
Megan Cashman: You grew up in Okinawa, Japan. Did this have any effect on you as a writer?
John Harrison: Yes, I believe it did. My experience as a young child in Okinawa really helped me fall in love with their culture and their beliefs. One of the things that i picked up on was a knack for talking around a point, but never truly stating my thoughts on the topic. I have found this helps in script writing as well as story telling. It allows the reader to determine what happened for themselves in parts of the story. This allows them to become more connected to a story as well as drives their enjoyment to a different place.
Megan Cashman: Your novel “Shadow Dance” is labeled as a fantasy book. What draws you to fantasy?
John Harrison: I think the fantasy genre is more accessible to people. It also has the most opportunity to challenge someone’s ideals without making them feel threatened. I think really helped me when I was younger. I felt like reading a book by JRR Tolkien or Piers Anthony, I was transported to another world that was like ours, but different enough to allow me to wrestle with issues from our world in their terms.
John Harrison: Everything…and Nothing. I feel that every story offers a unique take on any topic, but I also think an author should try to challenge themselves and their audience in ways that they are not fully in control of. That being said, the Shadow Saga (Shadow Dance is the first book int he series) is written in a way to bring the whole story in front of the reader as it happens. I tackled this by not letting the book stick to one character. Instead of it just focusing on Namir, it actually devotes time to all of his friends and a few of his enemies so that the whole story and plot twists can be more visible. I have also found that it helps to hide the seeds that propel the story forward easier as well. From what I have been told this series has a very visual feel to it and that it lends itself to the visual side of the imagination easier than others because of the style it is written in.
Megan Cashman: You are a self-published author. Do you have any advice for anyone wondering if they should go down that route?
John Harrison: Yes. Before you decide to become an author in general, figure out why. Why are you writing and what is the purpose? What is it that drives you? If it is the desire to be a big international star and the idol of millions, go to school and start with Non-Fiction. It is far easier to make a big break by being a Subject Matter Expert and then writing a book about it , than it is to to write a work of fiction and then get discovered. If the reason you write is to share your ideas with people and to touch lives with your stories…then by all means jump in and never look back, but do it intelligently. Don’t quit your “day job” and become the master of your time. Every minute not being used for something else can be used for writing. I discovered that just having my cell on me in lines has helped me because I can jot a quick text to myself with ideas for my story. Now as for whether you should self publish or go traditional, that is a personal choice. I tried going the traditional route, but then found a way to self publish at a time when I needed to in order to propel my writing forward. I guess that is the crux, do whichever you need to get to where you feel you need to be in your writing career. These days there are so many writers that have decided to self publish that it has lost a lot of its negative branding, but there is still the lure to not have to do everything yourself. That’s the freedom of the traditional route. You get to be free to write. As a self published author I have found that marketing is a lot harder and more time consuming than any other part of the process. Thankfully there are a lot of resources out there to help.
Learn more about John Harrison here:
Here are links to John Harrison’s works: