Today I’m interviewing Harrison Fountain, author of literary fantasy “Eidolons”. Welcome to my blog!
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I always did it as a kid. I was the kid who finished first on every test so I had a lot of free time to write stories till I filled my 6th grade physical science notebook. Once I stole a friend’s website and turned it into my first public records of writing. In high school, when I could drive and a had a job with some spending money, there was a moment where I thought to myself “I could be out doing stuff,” and I chose to stay in—not only because I was a bit of a loser, but I also really enjoyed writing. That was the first story I got defensive about, telling everyone they just didn’t get it, and I’m outwardly much better about letting people dislike my stories. There’s still that little voice telling me they just didn’t get it. That voice is my best friend when I share something that doesn’t get a response but it always starts negging me when people like my stories.
What inspired you to write Eidolons?
I was studying abroad in Wales with 30 other Americans and I had started boxing with the university’s club and every weekend we traveled to a new city or landmark and it was amazing. One night, after boxing practice where this Londoner with a few fights marked in his crooked nose asked me to spar with him and I was too scared to hit him with any real force till yelled at me to hit him, didn’t even have his hands up or anything, then he eventually hit back and I teared up—after that weirdly happy night, I realized I’d been unhappy for the first three years of college.
I went to a college five hours from where I grew up, didn’t know anyone at my school except my freshman roommate who dropped out the next year and a few professors who failed me for the first time in my academic career because when you’re book smart, high school is just something you show up for to get good grades. I existed online and in books I read or wrote, but I didn’t really have any friends. Two or three back home, five around the world (who I still talk to), and the girl working at the cafe who was too short to reach the cookies they stored on the fridge. I ordered them every time she was working as a way of teasing her, like it was our friendly routine, but I’m sure I was just another customer to her.
TK came out of that. This kid who learned to entertain himself as a form of coping with his own shit, a lot his own fault but not everything. Through patience and old friends and introspection that he really doesn’t want to have, much the same as me, he starts looking at the future as more than just something to get through till it’s all over.
What is your editing process like?
I learned to write from my mentor and professor, a strict stylist, by dissecting sentences both good and bad and then improving them where possible, so I apply that to my own. He used to take each student into his office with their work and edit it in front of us till he noticed everyone getting teary-eyed over the massacre of red ink and then he’d say in his dry, old man rasp, “It’s not blood.”
In MS Word, I separate each paragraph into its own page and then each sentence into its own paragraph and whatever sentence can’t stand on its own gets combined or backspaced to oblivion. I have seven deadly sins of bad writing that I test sentences against, which I’ve been doing long enough on mine and other people’s that a lot is second-nature, but the process helps me slow down and disrupts my pattern of thinking so I can objectively see sentences as readers might.
It’s a lot of unappreciated work but whenever I read a book that’s so bad I’m reaching for my teacher’s pen to mark up, I feel like my process is necessary to keep other snooty writers from doing the same. I even wrote a tiny story about it (http://www.orangepeals.com/
What do you find the most challenging about being an author?
Everything that isn’t the creative process. Marketing, collaborating with cover artists, publishing, budgets—I got into writing because I liked telling stories even if just to entertain myself but the entire process isn’t as easy as copy-and-pasting a chapter into a text form and hitting submit, though I loved it when it started like that. I got 10,000 views on the story just doing that back in 2011, but now, doing it professionally, I have to research AdSense analytics and put all the polish on it that might attract readers who aren’t friends.
Do you have any writing goals for 2017?
Even the few weeks since publishing the book, I feel more creative so I’d like to spend 2017 enjoying the no-pressure writing and sharing, but also prepping manuscripts for publication before I forget everything I dealt with this year and have to relearn.
Are you working on something now?
I’m always doing short stories as part of my daily writing exercises, usually chiseling out one a month that I’m proud of, but my big project now is a Romeo & Juliet for the digital age with an online romance where the lovers are kept apart by US-Middle Eastern visa racism and a family that supports the Saudi Arabia dictatorship despite, maybe even because of horrid human right scores. The current back cover:
Thank you for letting me share this story with you. It’s something I want to tell you, but only in the private between covers. It’s the story of how I got engaged to an Arab girl I still haven’t met. It’s why I’m up every morning at 7 when I work 3. It’s why I sometimes leave when my phone chirps in that weird way and why I’m not a good kisser and haven’t been on a date in 4 years. It’s why I’m always sad. This is the story that broke me.
The first chapter(orangepeals.com/short-
About the Book
Author: Harrison Fountain
Genre: Literary Fantasy
When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper gives him a second chance at life, but he says it’s more fun being a ghost. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead.
These author bios are generally in third person, right? That’s a little weird for me so—
Harrison Fountain said, “In Kindergarten, Mrs. Augustson sent me to Special Ed because of my speech impediment, the result of a 4-year-long ear infection that garbled the input and so a few letters needed the pronunciation corrected. I had to work on my Ss, Cs, Ks, Ws, Rs, Bs, Ps, Ts, Qs, Ds, Xs, Ls, and Ns.
Every year in elementary school, Scholastic gave students a hardback book with empty cream pages for us to scribble in as part of a school-wide contest. I never won. The kid in my grade who did plagiarized If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and those biased, paid-off judges didn’t even mention my amalgamation of the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch.
Still, I kept writing, finishing my first novel in my 7th grade Physical Science spiral notebook where the narrator’s best friend was an orange alien with green hair named Carrot. My next novel about a boxer, I started in high school before I’d ever even watched boxing, and fighters called out their moves (“The Double Rocket Upper—no, wait! It’s a TRIPLE ROCKET UPPERCUT!!!”) like they were Pokemon.
No one taught me to write until my second year at college when Mr. Johnson called me to his office as he did with all his creative writing students and then he bloodied my first draft of a character sketch claiming his marks were “just ink.” I almost cried. A few visits later, I’d written a character sketch about my sister’s divorce and the family dog. He crossed out a lot like usual. Told me why. Then he scrawled an A at the top. It’d be my first published short story (http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/loving-a-mutt/).
The pride felt earned for once.
While studying in Wales without satellite TV or an Xbox, I started a blog called Nothing Fazes a Ghost, where I posted weekly chapters. Those 10,000 views with ad revenue earned enough for a pizza. After a few years and a few drafts, it became Eidolons.
I also teach English to adorable Korean kids who, in turn, teach me cutie poses.”
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