Interview with A. B. Harms

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
As long as I can remember, I've been one of those people that wanted to try everything but rarely finished anything. Ask my mom. When she bought me cross-stitch ornament, I'd get halfway through then toss it aside. How many half-finished projects I've accumulated, I'd never be able to guess.

But writing...writing is different. Writing is something I never get tired of. Look at my resume- I get tired of everything. But writing a story is exciting from the first word to the last, from edit to edit. Watching what was once a vaporous idea become a solid story line and eventually a book-in-hand ranks number 2 of the most magical experience I've ever had (the first is being a mom). I've never had a job I so looked forward to, one I worked tirelessly at. Days, nights, weekends, doesn't matter because I'm doing exactly what I want to do every second.

Like Confucius says: "Choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."
Describe your desk
It's my dining room table, usually covered in coffee cups, legos, and papers.
What do your fans mean to you?
The only thing better than writing a story is having someone to share it with. I had no idea how glorious it would feel to share my writing until I first attended a critique group shortly after deciding I HAD to be an author. I was so nervous about it! Ever since I worked up the nerve to share, my readers are where I derive all my motivation, all my inspiration to keep at it.

When I'm writing, I focus on discovering the story that wants to be told. But, my favorite moment, the one I sit on the edge of my seat for, is when I finally get the chance to share my work with others. Honest to goodness, I give thanks for every single person who reads my books, for every person who tells a friend, writes a review (good or bad), for anyone who takes time out of their lives to share time with me and my stories. For my fans, I am grateful beyond measure.
What are you working on next?
My first novel, BEWILDERED, which was intended to be a stand-alone novel but refused to cooperate, is the first of a series of at least 3 books I'm calling "The Bewilderness Tales". I'm in "Bewilderness" mode and have already gotten over half-way through the rough draft of book 2, which I'm calling "BETWIXT". I have ideas for the third in the series, which I plan to write in succession. My hope is that all 3 will be out before fall 2015.

I also have ideas for a few YA novels, which I've held in my back pocket for a while now, waiting for the "Bewilderness Fever" to subside and for the concepts to percolate a bit so their ready for my pen.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have to admit, I do judge a book by it's cover. But if it's got a great blurb, or if a friend loved it, I'm game.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I am busy running around after my three children, enjoying time with my husband of over ten years, Ryan, or talking to my family who lives in Missouri. I also love to knit, read (of course!), travel, eat out, and accumulate useless information through random internet searches. One of my favorite things to do is to play Scrabble (don't challenge me though- I'm terrible at it), and watch episodes of The Office, Seinfeld, or Futurama with my husband. Nothing glamorous.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Oooh- this is a tough one.

1) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. This is my favorite of all time- the adventure, the odd Captain Nemo, and the concept of living in a submarine completely detached from land- wow! Then there's the suspense of being stuck, claustrophobic, with a madman...what a fantastic book!

2) Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Can you tell I love nautical, adventure stories? Pirates, ships, revenge, treasure, what's not to love?

3) Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. This story has fascinated me from childhood. I love that Alice stumbles into adventure by falling into the rabbit hole. Magical things, like Looking Glass Land, could be right under our feet! Actually, Prudence Parks, from BEWILDERED, is a reverse Alice- she must learn to use her imagination when she falls into Bewilderness,

4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling. This fantasy series is at the top of sales charts for a reason. It's incredible. I didn't read the first book until the third book had been published, but I went through them all in a couple of days and read the rest as soon as they came out. I love everything about these books (except when Sirius died) and never wanted to be a wizard so badly as when I read about Hogwarts! Still wishing...

5) Witches, by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl was my favorite author when I was growing up. Whether it's George and the Marvelous Medicine, The Twits, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or The BFG, every story is filled with magic, and hilarious prose (scrumdiddlyumptious!) The stories are clever, funny, sometimes creepy, and always a fun ride. I love them still.
How do you approach cover design?
The old saying, "never judge a book by its cover," is not to be taken literally in the publishing world. I do it, you do it, we all do it. A great cover is like lipstick on a pretty face. It must be attention-getting, and a promise of what can be found inside. Of the funds I budget for book production, professional editing gets the most, and cover art comes in second. It's important.

For BEWILDERED, I found Angie Kwon, or she found me rather, when I posted a job on a freelance work website. I had high expectations, but almost no direction to give- a difficult combination. My theory was this: I wanted something original from an artist with a unique flavor- not someone who can imitate other artists, but someone who has their own style. Also, I wanted them to read the book and to lend their own perspective. As luck would have it, Angie was the perfect artist for me. She read the manuscript and developed every image independently. It was amazing!
When did you first start writing?
I have written since I was in elementary school, though I can't remember exactly what age. I do remember stowing away in my room with a stack of blank paper, making books with my mom's stapler, and going to town with crayons and pencils. In my mind, I can see one of them, a book about a girl who finds a unicorn in the woods. I wrote a lot of story beginnings, fewer middles, and almost no endings. Funnily enough, the middle, and especially the end, of a story is still the hardest for me to write. Guess I was born that way.
What's the story behind your latest book?
As is the norm for me, the world came to me before the characters. I was sitting in traffic, as luck would have it, behind a Ford Edge. As I sat, daydreaming and waiting for the light to turn green, I focused on that word, "edge". An image came to mind, one where a giant ship fell over a waterfall in the middle of the ocean. And what would be at the bottom--another world! Right below ours! Where all the imaginary creatures, lost people, and lost socks ended up. The wheels began turning and it was all I could do not to turn right around and head back to my computer to get started. The working title was, in fact, "Edge" until finally, the world was named Bewilderness and the title became "Bewildered."

"Bewildered" as we know it today is substantially different than how it started. There was no train, no ragdolls, no doppelgangers, and even Prudence's name was different (it was Laura, or Lula for short,) but the question was the same:

What would happen if an unimaginative girl ended up in a magical world? Even worse- what if she had to accept it in order to escape?

I was writing a dark YA dystopian novel at the time, but was planning a break for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is a writing challenge that happens every November where you write 50,000 words in 30 days--you should try it! The thought of writing about pirates instead of plagues sounded like a welcome reprieve, so I opted to participate. Yep! "Bewildered" started as a NaNoWriMo project. Well, I won the challenge in 2012 with my rough draft. I rewrote it from scratch about a month later, and kept editing and editing until I finally got it right. It's just over 50,000 words now, but hundreds of thousands of words have been put into it. :)

"Bewildered" was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but, as you will find out, there are too many corners left unexplored, too many questions that beg to be answered. Fate wouldn't let me stop with one! The clues for the future books are hidden inside- but maybe you'll be too bewildered to find them! (Get it? Ha!)
What is your favorite mythological creature?

Perhaps growing up far away from any coastline has made the ocean about the most exotic, most mysterious, most intriguing place in the world to me. Give me a choice between an aquarium or a zoo and the fish tanks are going to win every time. I love them! And what is better than imagining myself able to explore all the reefs, drop-offs, and underwater trenches without sacrificing the ability to eat cheeseburgers?! Nothing, that's what! Yeah. Mermaids are awesome.
Published 2014-01-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.