Today I’m interviewing James Harrington, husband, father, prolific author, blogger, gun enthusiast and American.
You have another book out, do you want to give a quick summary of what it’s about?
The book surrounds two characters; Raiya and Jagger. It takes place 30 years from the present day where humanity is locked in a global war against a race of aggressive reptilians that have been exiled from their homeworld. They fly, breathe fire, and are massive creatures, thus have been labelled as dragons. In addition to their hides being nearly impenetrable, they’re also prolific breeders and their numbers are starting to equal those of humanity. Drakin takes place at a point where the war has turned against humanity. The population has been reduced to millions and most major cities have either been decimated or turned into fortified refugee/military bases.
The book is about Raiya’s journey to hunt down the dragon that killed her family.
This is the second one I’ve edited for you. How have you found it less painful this time?
Yes, but thankfully that was because of less errors in perspective and typos.
It must be hard getting back your work with correction all over it, especially as your editor can sometimes be a bit sarcastic at times?
The sarcasm gets easy to translate when you’ve worked with and spoken to someone long enough to know how to detect it. So no, not really. You also did what I asked you to do; be brutal and tear the book to shreds. I don’t want polite, I don’t want a sugar coating, I want to hear the truth, because that’s how most of the mistakes are going to get fixed.
How much of the suggested corrections did you follow?
Probably about 85%. There are certain areas where you don’t like that I show instead of tell, but I believe that it is appropriate in the context of that scene. Some illustration from outside of a character’s viewpoint or explanation of a character’s feelings is better in some cases as said feelings and description can be next to impossible to convey from the character’s perspective. A good example is a line I used from the previous book you edited.
“It was at this moment that Corban realized just how badly Mary was still being haunted by her past. Even after all those years, her own demons had never left her. She didn’t feel like she was up to the task of protecting those she cared for.”
You thought that this should be cut and talked about between the characters, but I felt that it was quite poetic in the way it framed. (ed; I still think you should have cut it!)
Did you find there was much of a cultural barrier with this book being set in the USA and your editor being English?
No. The UK and the US have always been close allies and their cultures are very similar. Though speaking as a whole, I’d say the UK seems far more traditionalist. For me, it was easier, especially given that I’m from the Boston/New England area which is where most of the original UK migrants came from and large portions of the populace have held on to a lot of their traditions.
Turning to your blog. You having been running a popular series where other writers ask you questions, what gave you the idea?
Blogging is one of the ways that most writers recommend as a way to advertise their works. The trick is to find your niche. Find something you can contribute to the blogging community of your selected site. Aside from story writing, I’ve done a lot of work as a mentor, teacher, counsellor, etc. So giving advice is something I have a lot of experience with and… at the risk of self-promotion, I feel that I’m good at it.
By the time I started my blog, my first book was already on the market, but sales were marginal at best. I started spreading it around sites, but then started the blog, writing opinion pieces about fantasy characters, archetypes, and typical tropes that we see. Before long, people started leaving questions or comments on my posts, which took up too much space to respond to and soon became their own blog pieces. It was at this point that I realized that I had found my niche. So, I started an email specifically for readers/writers/fans to submit questions or comments… and I made the mistake of promising to respond personally to everyone. The resulting backlog has been hard to contend with, but I do try to send everyone a response, even if I don’t post their question. Eventually the blog kind of grew beyond a simple advert for my books (though it still serves that purpose), and took on a life of its own. I was blown away by the interest and really it’s a labour of love answering the questions. I feel like a kid at Christmas when I open the email and there’s a full inbox.
Sometimes your advice can be quite harsh, if necessary, do you find that hard?
Advice can be harsh without being rude or disrespectful. I treat my readers as adults, even if some of them give me good reason to do otherwise. I don’t like sugar coating things because I feel like it’s counter productive. This may seem cruel, but if you ask me an honest question, I’m going to give you an honest answer. I don’t intentionally go out to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t necessarily view it as my problem if they are. If you go over every word and think ‘is this going to hurt someone’s feelings’ you’re not going to be writing much. Writing is like any other art form. It’s meant to provoke, it’s meant to be uncomfortable, and its meant to be discussed. That’s my philosophy. Safe is boring.
Another aspect of your blog is sharing your writing play list; when do you think it will feature some decent music?
Oh, ha ha! By your standard, no. I’m a metal head, that’s the music that helps me write.
You have some quite outspoken and sometimes controversial views (and in the case of Harry Potter wrong views) on social media, do you ever worry these might hurt your career as an author?
I keep my public views, my views on writing, etc. very separate from my political views. Unless something political affects the writing community, I typically won’t cover it on my blog or my book’s facebook page. I try to keep my political leanings out of the topic. I’ve never revealed which way I vote, what party (if any) I affiliate with, or my opinions on the current regime. However, if there is something that I feel affects writing, freedom of speech/artistic expression, or escapism, I will cover it. If I feel there is something wrong, I will call it out, but I do it in as fair and professional a way as possible. I also welcome discourse. I’d honestly rather that than comment after comment of people agreeing with me. I want to have discussions so we can all learn from each other.
That being said, even in those cases, I keep it to a minimum. I remind myself that the people who come to my blog aren’t interested in hearing about my politics. They’re there to hear about writing and geek culture. As someone who got kicked out of a comedy show for telling a comedian to shut up about politics and tell jokes when he got on a soapbox for 20 minutes, to do any less would by hypocritical. Escapism is very important to me and is becoming harder and harder for people to take advantage of due to the influx of politics into almost every facet of our lives.
You work full time and have a young family, yet you have quite a writing output, how on earth do you find the time?
I don’t sleep. Heh, actually I do most of my writing when everyone else is asleep. I can usually bang out a chapter or a blog post in about an hour after everyone else goes to bed. When it comes to a full-length novel, this becomes harder to do and I’ll often have to pace myself. That’s part of the reason that I usually only put out a book a year, at most.
Now Darkin is out what have you got planned next?
Well… that’s the big money question. At this point, I’m not sure. I have a partially finished Magnifica book that explores the events leading up to the Last Enchanter that keeps calling to me… however it’s been tough to write, given that I have to stick to established rules and the story that’s already in place.
I also have a sequel to Soul Siphon that’s literally gone nowhere. I have an idea of how I want Corbin’s story to end, but getting to that ending has been incredibly difficult.
Finally, I have started a second Drakin book. My hope is to create multiple stories in this pre-established world. The stories will be loosely connected to one another with characters from each book making appearances in others, but finding the time to work on it has been slim. Hopefully getting into a pattern will help.
Thanks very much for agreeing to the interview
No problem, any time.
James Harrington was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a Bachelor’s in History, but also studied religion and how it related to his chosen subject matter. It was from those studies that his first book was born.
James has written several essays and short stories, but had never gotten a full-length novel published until his big breakthrough with Magnifica, The Last Enchanter. Following its success, two more titles were added to the Magnifica series.
James currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
For more info on James and his books, please visit his Facebook page:
The Creative Works of James Harrington.
Or his Blog page for regular updates as well as writing advice:
Interviews aren’t normally my thing but if any authors would like to have one featured on my blog please let me know. Don’t be shy!