Brent A. Harris is a talented writer of alternate history, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His material spans a wide spectrum, everything from steampunk time-travel with Oliver Twist, to a history-bending saga where George Washington fights for the British. His ideas are always unique and engaging, which is why I had to dig into his brain to find out more. Be warned: his wit is as sharp as a tack.
What would you say is your biggest failure in life?
Not believing in myself as a writer. Thinking that I wasn’t good enough. Heck, I’m still rife with Imposter Syndrome but putting myself out there in the writing world is a necessary step. I wish I’d taken it sooner. That and I wished I’d asked for a second slice of pie at Maggie’s Diner in July of ’02. Mmmm. Pecan.
You’ve won a second home anywhere in the world. Where is it?
Romania! I visited last year before the lockdowns started. Such a beautiful country and a remarkable fusion of Roman and Slavic language, food, and customs.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
You can do both but I naturally look for new twists to old things. And perhaps from that deliver something that is unexpected. I write a lot of alternate history and that’s exactly what one does: look for something in the past to change in order to speculate on what might have been. It’s a wonderful way to hold up a different world to our own, like a mirror. So, I write about what people know but not necessarily what they might expect.
Do you enjoy book signings?
Absolutely. It’s a perfect way to connect with readers. It’s a goal of mine to attend a convention as a guest author and have someone cosplay as a character I’ve created.
How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
The issue at hand as I see it is not about getting a book out there. That’s the (relatively) easy part. The challenge in publishing now is getting that book noticed; not an easy feat. Even as traditional publishing and retail outlet shrinks, the ebook market booms. That’s why if a reader likes something they’ve read, they need to let others know, otherwise that author will sink faster than Buttercup in lightning sand.
Does a bad review affect your writing?
No. I break with many of my fellow writers over the common advice to never read your reviews. I always read them, mostly because I’m a glutton for punishment, but also because those readers have taken time to not just read my books but to leave some words for me for good or ill. The least I can do is to take the time to read what they have to say. And sometimes even, they have a point. Why yes, I did write the answer to life, the universe, and everything on page 42. Thanks for noticing.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
Charles Dickens, and we wouldn’t cook. I’d just buy him a beer and he could tell me everything he hated about A Twist in Time and then he’d come around after the roofie kicked in and tell me how great I am.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Butt in chair. It’s especially hard during these COVID months and I don’t blame any writer over any lack of progress. It’s hard with work, kids, constant food prep (I’m pretty sick of eating at this one and only restaurant called ‘kitchen’) and the shadow of a deadly disease hanging over us like Damocles’ Sword.
It makes it that much harder to block everything out and sit your butt down and be creative. I mean, even before lockdown I’m a procrasta-writer, known for cleaning my desk and re-grouting the bathroom tile before forcing the first words of the day onto the page.
If you had to pick one other author to write your biography, who would it be?
I’d love for David Sedaris to stick me in his family tree and mercilessly mock me as if I were a long-lost cousin. But if it were a screenplay instead here’s hoping Aaron Sorkin is up for writing my biopic. Get that guy from The Room to play me.
Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?
All the time. I love collaborating and have done so in the past. The problem is always twofold: time (because everyone has their own mountain of projects to do, as do I) and inspiration (is this the right idea, worthy of both our time and investment?). If you have the time and you know you have the right idea, it can be the best thing ever *cough* Good Omens *cough*.