Interview with B. Harper MD

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Fiction is the great "What if" game. if your characters are honestly drawn, they will surprise you. I like to push them off balance, then see how they re-establish equilibrium. I've yet to meet a person who could honestly say that their life turned out just as they'd expected. It certainly hasn't in my case! Forcing them to deal with setbacks and the unexpected, give them ambiguous choices, make them get back up after being knocked down, that's life for me, and I suspect for my readers as well. We read to be entertained, and that's fine, but that fades quickly. If my reader can see something of themselves in my story, and be inspired to face their own challenges with greater insight, then a part of my story has now become their story too. What could be better than that?
What do your fans mean to you?
Ha! As a baby author (well, a very mature baby), my fans wouldn't fill a large tent. But I have been lucky to have a few people that aren't related to me or owe me money who seemed to enjoy my writing. That's validation I'm on the right path. They keep me at it.
Who are your favorite authors?
Doyle. I read the entire Holmes canon the summer I turned thirteen, and cried when I'd read the last one. When I wrote my first novel involving Doyle in the Ripper murders I knew I was treading on sacred ground. Hopefully, Sherlockians will feel I respected the man and perhaps broadened his audience. I'm also a huge fan of Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, and Terry Pratchett.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lord of the Rings. I re-read it every ten years. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said a man can only cross a river once, for the next time both he and the river will have changed. Every decade I get a new insight into the world and characters Tolkien created. It still enlightens and enthralls me. Holmes, of course, my favorite being A Scandal in Bohemia. No great deduction here, but the character of Irene Adler is one of Doyle's most memorable. I used her as my model to portray my heroine, Margaret Harkness in my first novel. Stranger in a Strange land, by Robert Heinlein. That taught me about Point of View. The hero, raised by Martians, was a wonderful foil in looking at the assumptions of modern society. It made me think. Grapes of Wrath. Many of my relations made the trek to california from Oklahoma. Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. It taught me the importance of plot. It has enough details to keep you intrigued, but not enough to bore you.
What are you working on next?
I'm on the third revision of my next novel, tentaively called Queen's Gambit, about a plot to assassinate Queen Victoria during her Diamond Jubilee celebration. My heroine from my first novel, Margaret Harkness, moves to top billing this time as Conan Doyle is now too busy and well-known for such adventures.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The next story. "Where shall I go today?" I can travel the world from my "writer's Lair," as my wife calls it. If I write well enough, I can entice others to join me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mid-November to the first of January I work fifty hour weeks as Santa Claus. I've helped young men propose to their girlfriends (I'm batting a thousand so far!), consoled children fighting cancer, and once told three sibling orphans they were being adopted by their foster parents, together. My wife and I go to an Alzheimer's day care center every year, and twice the photo of me hugging one of them was expanded and put beside their casket at their funeral. I'm probably the luckiest guy I know. I also swim, and travel. Every year I try to go to a country I haven't visited yet. I've been to over fifty, and to all five continents, so I'm running out. Lichenstein? Not yet!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By genre, title, and cover. If the author is sloppy on that first impression, I fear they don't take their reader seriously.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was still in the Army, deployed to Bosnia, and had a lot of free time on my hands. I wrote a Holmes short story involving Jack the Ripper. No great derring-do or deductions, it was more of a character study. Little did I know where that small beginning would take me.
What is your writing process?
I'm a plotter. First I develop a premise, my big "What if." Then envision how it would start. Then I imagine the ending. For me writing a story is a journey; it helps to know my destination. For a short story I then just go with the flow, with an idea of what elements must be present in the story. For a novel I write major plot points and decide on what theme I want as the underlying story. That can take a week or more, using file cards to arrange the plot in sequence. I know many writers say that limits their creativity. All I know is, I can write a lot faster once I start, knowing the steps along the way to my final climactic scene, and the one just after.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I taught myself to read at four using my uncle's Batman comic books. So when I went to first grade, I was far beyong Dick and Jane. I have always loved stories. My parents had little time to read to me, so once I taught myself to read, I discovered a whole world out there I could smuggle beneath the covers at night with a flashlight. I was never the same again.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover needs to be honest, by which I mean it can't suggest one thing, then the book turn out to be something else. It should entice, suggest, and stand out. I turn 67 this year, I ain't got time to be timid. I wrote this. I want you to read it, but only if it's something you're apt to like. My cover should allow you, the reader, to make an honest assessment of your likelihood of enjoying my story. I owe you that. I'm not gonna get rich writing. That's OK. Like being Santa Claus, there are other satisfactions to be had than monetary alone. I'm pleased some people enjoy my writing. What more do you need?
Published 2018-02-19.
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Books by This Author

Gallery of Death
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,280. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure
B. Harper MD releases his first story collection of three pieces, each in its own way dealing with Death. The book consists of, Coyote, dealing with a detective with only hours to cheat Death. Homeword Bound concerns two soldiers in their race to escape it. Catrina is an essay concerning a death scene investigation, and the dead woman's final message. An excerpt of his upcoming novel is included.