Interview with A. C. Harrison

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
As a writer of science-fiction, the greatest joy of writing comes to me when I witness a change or event in our world that I put down in one of my novels or have scribbled down as a note somewhere. It's easy to forget that science-fiction, especially cyberpunk, isn't about the future, it's about humanity in the here and now; seeing my take on things become truth puts a shine on my fiction.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm wrapping up the details on my first novel, "Jupiter Symphony." All that's really left is cover art, pricing, and formatting, and then it's off to publish, which makes me extremely excited. My next project is a set of prequels that reach further back in time, explaining the events that lead up to my first book. The first is titled "Unto Persephone," and the manuscript is roughly 3/4 completed. The last is called "The Long Night," but that one is indeed a long way off. After that, who knows? I'm still waiting to finish the outline of my historical fiction novel set in feudal Japan, but we'll see.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors (and inspirations) are: William Gibson, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and Neal Stephenson, who was my gateway drug into the world of cyberpunk. Outside of science fiction, I am a big fan of James Clavell and his Asian series, with "Shogun" obviously taking top billing. Lastly, the most traditional literature I've read consistently comes from Earnest Hemingway, an author I read in an attempt to keep myself grounded so as to not go all Stephensonian in my paragraphs and sentences.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'm involved in a lurid number of side projects, including home improvement work (nearly finished putting slate tile throughout), working out (both lifting and cardio), teaching martial arts, and running a business I founded with my childhood-friend and partner, which makes mechanics hand tools. That road has been an even longer and more challenging than writing, but we're very close to finally going into production, and that thrills me. Info on our tools can be found at www.logicatool.com.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Amusingly I'm not a big ebook reader. I like to stick to paper books, and I don't read much by modern authors, except for Neal Stephenson. I still need to get into Gibson's newest work from when he went beyond the cyberpunk phase. I just prefer the touch, feel, and smell of paper books. For example, my old copy of Shogun was completely destroyed due to the number of times I had read it, so when I bought a new one I skipped the ebook and went right back to a new paperback copy. When I do read ebooks, I usually ready free classics, such as works by Jules Verne. There are so many great, free ebooks from the 19th century and prior, classics that people have skipped, I don't see why someone wouldn't take advantage of their accessibility.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is very fluid and sporadic. I'm not the type of person to sit down and outline a story from end to end, because I find it too constricting. Usually I'll come up with a character or scene and inject some action, then see what develops. Typically I don't know how my book is going to end until I'm there. It's only during the revision process that I start to weave threads that tie my books together, as in the case of my cyberpunk trilogy, or that add complexity and layers to the characters and plot. It's not the most efficient way, and it probably is shortening my lifespan, but I find the stories I get from this process are far more creative and inspired than if I were to approach it like a college essay.
How do you approach cover design?
That one's easy. I hire a good artist and pay good money. Guess what: people judge books by their covers.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Just answering five would be hard enough, but also answering why? Now that's a challenge. In no particular order:
1. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - My first cyberpunk book and a huge inspiration. Recommended first reading for anyone who wants to dip their toes into the genre.
2. Neuromancer by William Gibson - I feel the first book in Gibson's sprawl trilogy is the best, and really drives home the future he imagines.
3. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein - What's not to love about the mobile infantry? If you've only seen the movie, read the book; it's more about politics and government, but it has lots of excellent sci-fi tech as well.
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - The book behind "Blade Runner," which would go in my list of five favorite movies. Exhibits all of Dick's mastery of language and psychology, making you question the reality and the characters each step of the way.
5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Beating out Shogun (barely) because I want to stick with the theme of science fiction, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" was thrust into my hands by my father when I was only a very young teenager, and it instilled in me a healthy fear of technology, government, and the future. I never could get behind 1984, but "Brave New World" terrifies me in how accurate a forecast I see it becoming.
Of course, there are so many good books, I could go on for a while, but these five fit well with my outlook and my work, giving insight into my inspiration.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing seriously only within the past year, but I've always dabbled off and on. "Jupiter Symphony" marks the first full novel I've ever completed, but growing up I loved the freedom that came with writing in school. I would always spin yarns that were too long and too complicated. Whenever the teacher would be giving out a writing assignment, it was always "minimum of 5 pages, except for Andrew, who is only allowed a maximum of 10." Yeah, they had to cut me off... But I kept writing on the side, short stories, started and abandoned novels, song lyrics, poems, until I finally decided that enough was enough and I was going to sit down and do the thing I was meant to do. The result is "Jupiter Symphony."
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My e-reading device of choice is my smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S5. Because I prefer printed books, I only read ebooks on what is most convenient, and for me that's the device I already have in my pocket. It's portable and small(-ish), and so I can slowly work my way through epics such as "Moby-Dick" while I look through other free and classic books in the book store. What can I say? For a science fiction writer, I cling to my old, musty books. Then again, Gibson wrote "Neuromancer" on a typewriter, so I think I'm keeping with the cyberpunk paranoia.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
As I'm only beginning my fledgling career as an independent author, I haven't really had a chance to gauge the results of my different ebook marketing techniques. I will say I have started to develop a decent Twitter following, and I find the pace and succinctness of the platform makes for good snippets of punchy conversation. I also have a Facebook page, but it needs an overhaul. My website, wwww.acharrison.com, has recently been redone, and I feel it gives people a good look at my books and what they offer. Outside of that, all I can say to anyone else who is thinking about marketing is that it's never too early to start. Build a network, get with other authors, and brainstorm. Heck, that's why I'm doing this interview. I want to connect with my readers on a personal level so that they feel involved in the process, because without them there isn't much point to it all, is there?
Published 2014-08-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jupiter Symphony
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 186,290. Language: English. Published: September 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(4.33)
In 2098, an EMP attack topples the United States overnight. By 2120, the government is a shell, the military is a mercenary force, and corporations act as sovereign entities. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are destitute, starving, or in servitude. Rising up against the oppression is a lone nomad named Ash, facing off against a rogue military unit and a secret weapon that silently orbits above.