Interview with Harlen Bayha

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think so. It involved a futuristic tank air-dropping out of some sort of aircraft or spacecraft. The tank driver came from a culture that valued personal combat, and she or he was saddened by the fact that when the tank hit the ground, it would likely eliminate all resistance without her having to lift a finger. She just rode along as a backup to the onboard computers, I think. She ended up switching the tank to manual mode and getting killed for it by the enemy. I still like that concept. I wrote it when I was around 12 or 13 years old, and my school published it in some sort of district-wide magazine. I was pretty stoked.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's something cathartic about writing down the words that crash through my brain all the time, jumbling around and crashing into each other. Every vitriolic, self-absorbed, or (very occasionally) noble thought that I have just pass around and around until I simply forget them if I don't write them down. While capturing that constant story that goes through my head is pretty amazing, the real joy comes in watching the narrative story come to life, as if I hadn't written it at all. The editing process really allows me to flesh out a story and make it bigger, better, funnier, better paced, so that when I go and read the final product, it's as if someone else had written it. That is a weird feeling, but soooo cool when it works.
What do your fans mean to you?
What a weird question for an author of a single book. It's difficult to quantify what the support my small handful of fans have given me. I can never thank those people enough, and it would be awkward, me hugging them all the time... Some I don't even know their real names. Let's just say that if they did not exist, I would not be writing now.

So, I think my answer is probably the same as for more established authors, but magnified because I'm new to the game. When you write, or engage in any type of creative endeavor, there's always a group of people who hear you're writing or creating and they give you the look of, "Oh, really? You think you're that good, huh? Good luck with that." The fans counterbalance the doubters, and the voices of doubt in my own head. My fans give me strength, confidence, and energy.

I hold onto the memories of conversations with and reviews from the people who believed in me early on, who were impressed by my work, and who respect that I've taken the time to try to create the best work that I could.

Those folks rock.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Other than spending time with my family, working my day job as a Motivational Technologist, and playing video games like an addict, I act as a board member at Pacific Arts Movement.

Pac-Arts is famous for putting on the San Diego Asian Film Festival, a huge festival of films from countries and cultures bordering the Pacific. They show everything from Hong Kong and Korean box office smashes to small, independent featurures made in Australia, to gay films about zombies. The whole organization is like a family, and they treat their mission and their members with such respect and joy. I'm proud to be a part of their story. If you ever plan to come to San Diego, check out the festival dates and come to some events--you'll love it.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I download sample after sample from genre lists, usually Science Fiction and Fantasy, and read a few pages of each. I discard the ones that aren't up my alley pretty fast. I can usually determine a book's likability in under 5 pages. The ones I keep, I'll read the sample through, buy the rest, and finish.

I love discovering new authors, especially ones who have few or even no reviews. I have to balance the number of books I buy, though, against my own writing time. I can't get sidetracked, or you won't see my next book as soon.
Describe your desk
I don't write at a desk, I write wherever I put my Google Chromebook, usually my lap. However, I will describe my work desk, because that's where I spend most of my time. I have a painting on canvas my daughter made on my right, a pair of wide-screen monitors in front of me, a giant mousepad and mouse on my left, coffee, another computer farther to my left, just in case.

Behind me, I've got a whole load of dolls--ahem!--figures. I've got Dream's sister, Death from Gaiman's Sandman, two Avengers, two versions of Spawn, two transforming robots, a Lego model of Serenity, Mr. Sulu, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer poster and matching lunchbox, Kermit the Frog, three Cars from Cars, one car from Blade Runner, and a picture of Luke Skywalker.

The pride of my collection is a tacky little pamphlet from 1977, sent by the US Department of Defense to my grandfather, who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force during World War II (which explains why he kept it) entitled:

in time of EMERGENCY
a citizen's handbook on
... NUCLEAR ATTACK
... NATURAL DISASTERS

Please note, I copied the capitalization directly from the cover, emphasis was in the original. Apparently the use of excessive capitalization to make a point pre-dates the modern chat-room experience. Who woulda thunk it?
What are you working on next?
Thanks for asking! Demigod Resistance, book two of Kyla's story. She may not get another book, so this one needs to be a strong closer. I'm nearly done with the first draft, and I expect to publish it in early 2014.
What is your writing process?
I sit down and I write words. They don't always make sense, but I do my best to make them flow.

If I have an idea about a scene I want to see, I will jump over to it and write it when I'm thinking about it. Because I write in this haphazard manner, I sometimes add summaries of sections I will need later but don't want to write now, like [add transition scene between evil oragami monsters] or [detect presence of zombie donuts]. This is as close as I get to outlining. My outlines always end in epic fails.

I try to hold most of my editing until I've completed a first draft. I make an exception to the no-editing rule if I get to a point where I need to make a major plot change or a major shift of where a character appears, but that feels less like editing and more like disaster recovery.

Once the first draft is done, I edit over and over. I cut and I add. I correct grammar and spelling. I try to find logical flaws as best I can. I pay particular attention to pacing. I love well-paced books, and I try to balance the speed of reading against the needs of the story.

There's only so much I can do by myself, though. I do what I can, then I get assistance from other writers at a writing group called Critters.org. Amazing group of people over there. They have taught me a lot over the years.

Finally, my amazing wife and I read and proof over and over. Then on to another stage of beta-readers to the very end.

The goal is to publish an excellent story I can be proud of at the end. If I can't see that, I keep the process up until it meets that goal.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Whitefall
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 99,910. Language: American English. Published: February 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Kyla Farmer. Former human. Former demon slave. She thought she had earned her freedom, but it turns out the price was steeper than she realized, and now she's stuck in a bad psychic relationship with people who would gladly kill her over and over to learn how to become like her. Now, all she has to do is free herself. Oh, and prevent the destruction of an entire planet.
Demigod Conception
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,610. Language: American English. Published: April 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(3.00)
Kyla Farmer, a burned-out firefighter, becomes a powerful demon on a distant planet, far from everything she knew on Earth. Armed with strange allies and the power to shape her body as she sees fit, Kyla must decide how far she will go to become a demigod.