Interview with R. G. Harrison

When did you first start writing?
In my head, when I first started breathing. The head is involved with breathing too. On paper, when I could first handle a pen without jabbing it into my head. At least, hard enough to bleed.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Latest books available here are my Coin of the Realm series. I wanted to write a fun fantasy trilogy - one that includes plenty of action, magic, and flirty romance stuff, but also one that takes some of the received fantasy tropes and turns them on their head. I wanted dark moments as well as comedy, and the Realm was the result.

Now I'm finishing the first draft of a much darker work. It's a posthuman gothic novel, more or less. Be on Smashwords after the editing process is through!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to connect directly with readers. And I wanted to write books that I would like reading myself, which can sometimes be hard to find in the mainstream publishing world (I have weird tastes). Put those two together, and you get 1) me, the author, writing stuff he likes, connecting with 2) readers who like the same stuff, leading to 3) new friends and fellow travellers to geek out with over the stuff we like together. <3
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Very easy distribution and publishing tools that let me focus on, duh, WRITING. Smashwords is supreme!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Huh, two joys: 1) being absorbed in the work itself, which is when all sorts of surprises can crop up for you (as Robert Frost said, "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."); 2) connecting with another human being through that writing. Bringing them into a shared space of wonder and pleasure, which is the wonder and pleasure of reading, that pure transport.

I feel GRATEFUL, enormously and intensely grateful to all the fine writers who have transported me in this way. They have shaped my life profoundly, and inspired me to write in turn. I want to try to offer that kind of experience to others; it can be a life-saving one.
What do your fans mean to you?
E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Social media lets us connect with fans directly and have meaningful exchanges with them - or, y'know, chats. Fun l'il digichats. Writers are nothing without readers; they co-create the worlds we find in literature. So, co-creators, thank you for bringing my worlds to life!
What are you working on next?
Finishing the first draft of a posthuman gothic (it involves a lot of fungus and myths) and redrafting a longish short story that takes place in the near future. Might make the latter a series. After that, a trilogy about a teen girl, an ancient lineage, dragons and climate change, and probably a trilogy about the end of the universe and how a super-badass lady can stop it.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ursula LeGuin, Kim Stanley Robinson, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, Russell Hoban, Octavia Butler, Frank Herbert, Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, Iain Banks (and Iain M. Banks), Michael Swanwick, Gary Snyder, T.S. Eliot, Haryette Mullen, Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, James Joyce, Herman Melville, W.B. Yeats, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Neal Gaiman, A.R. Ammons, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, H.G. Wells, uhh that's a good start. Yes? Yes.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing. I do it first thing (after making coffee). In the dark, listening to the same album over and over (the album depends on the book I'm writing). Also, my beautiful family. Also, my beautiful world. The endless, incomprehensible, heartbreaking complexity and wonder of the world itself.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a full-time job, sooooo... that. And raising a family. Taking care of pets. Studying languages. Reading. Watching every stupid thing ever made on Adult Swim. Hiking. Practicing for when I finally grow up, you know, REALLY become an adult.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Recommendations, mostly. EVERYONE goes for the cover, but man. You can't judge a book etc. You guys don't READ COVERS, do you? Nah, you read BOOKS!
What is your writing process?
Skeletally organic. I start with an outlineish thang, work up changes as I go. Again, no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. The trick here is to learn to trust your own imagination. You don't need to worldbuild for months before you start following the lives of characters.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Ahhhhhrrrmmm, no. Read too much at this point. Bradbury was an early love as far as short stories go!
How do you approach cover design?
So far, doing it myself. I'm ready to hire someone to do this, however. Not a graphic designer by trade.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban: Singular in English literature. Read it. The language barrier drops after 30 pages or so. Stick with it.
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (via his son Christopher): All the myths I need, in the lyrical mode of the King James Bible.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin: Perhaps the most nakedly human book in all of sf.
Dune by Frank Herbert: The sheer scope of his imagination, his knowledge, his sense of the dynamics of political machination... utterly masterful.
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson: A striking vision of the trammels of human progress. It winnows the heart out of the vast wreckage of human history.
What do you read for pleasure?
Various stuff. Mostly sf.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Mah phone.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Let you know when there's an effect!
Describe your desk
Treadmill with a board thrown over the arms. Sometimes I walk, sometimes just stand. BEAUTIFUL.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I moved all over my home country (the U.S.) as well as the world. It's mixed in so many other perspectives that I don't quite feel at home anywhere now, and I think this mixed background is reflected in the broad range of genres that I read and write.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
YES. What writer couldn't? It was an ecohorror story about mysterious disappearances of loggers in the Amazonian rainforest. Some British big game huntery guy is hired to get to the bottom of it so work can get on. Turns out it's... feathered serpent dragon thingies that are defending their home! dun-dun-DUNNNNNNNNN!

(Spoiler alert: they win.)
What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?
People. Come on, now.
Published 2015-01-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.