Today, I bring you an interview with author B.T. Harris. After self-publishing his first book in 2015, he inspires to be a full time writer and hopefully make a larger impact on the lives of his readers to help them follow their own dreams. Lets find out more.
Tell me about yourself
Unfortunately, I am still looking for the spark notes. Fortunately, I can be an open book. Well, puns aside I started writing from a very early age. Maybe Seven or Eight. I would be dishonest to say if any of the stories I wrote had a ‘lesson’ or a ‘moral’.
I was interested in the dramatic excitements: cliffhangers, plot twists, learning who had the embodiments of good and evil, but that is the American School System for you. My stories, however, were short, sweet, and downright awful, but they were a start to an amazing passion spread among many of us.
I started writing regularly again in college. After being diagnosed with schizophrenia I started to take the things I write a little more seriously. Instead of writing poems about the narrator trying to get rid of a mango sized zit on his nose, I wrote poetry about a man seeing the devil in the mirror begging the man to make a deal for their soul, but the narrator kept resisting the offer despite how much more tempting it became. I felt my muse went from Shel Silverstein to Edgar Allan Poe. When I first wrote a beginning of a myth, a fantasy religion, my first published story came from it afterwards. It is hard to express who I am or what I am. I was, am, and will be many things. The best way to make it simple is ‘My name is BT Harris and I write stories.
When did you first call yourself a writer?
I don’t think I ever stated it to be honest. I was a writer for a long time, but even before being published I always said either “I love to write,” or “I am working on a poem.” After self-publishing, it changed to more of a “I am like Stephen King except I am not famous, or rich, or was offered film adaptations…yet.” Being a writer is simply being me as much as it being anyone else. It’s like a blood type, I guess. I don’t need to express it publicly but it is me and I am proud to say it. I feel being an author is the goal in life. Being a writer is life itself.
What do you like to read?
Almost anything. If I were to go back in time and tell myself what I am about to state, I wouldn’t believe myself. Talk about a paradox! I found myself enjoying non-fiction more than fiction. When I develop an interest in an author long deceased, I go to a library so I can find a biography to learn much about their story as well the stories they published.
However, when it comes to fiction I am a typical nerd; fantasy, science fiction, adventure, even the older fables and stories. Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving are my revisited story tellers every Autumn.
The modern authors that are getting their stories out there I do my best to buy and review as well. I cannot say I have a favorite author overall, but I do try to nudge everyone getting out there like “Hey, hey, this character here, yes this one here! They were about to do something. I wished them to do something, but you had a cliffhanger. Don’t leave me hanging. Keep at it.”
What do you enjoy about writing your chosen genre?
So, I kind of feel like a troll when someone asks, ‘What do you enjoy most about writing fantasy?’ Because there is always that one reader who would have the most negative insight for saying something does not make sense in this story. If I had an editing issue or coined a word without explaining it, then I would understand. However, the best example is one of my friends asking me about werebears. He told me that when they change uncontrollably every new moon doesn’t make sense as much keeping to the full moon trope.
Here I am looking at my friend of nearly fifteen years who read my book that contained mythical creatures, cannibalistic blood magic, a made-up world with a made-up history and an evil entity from Ancient Egypt wanting to consume it all...and he had a problem with the moon phase that effects werebears? It is a highlight in my fictional writing despite how epic I make the battles, how juicy I make the storyline, and how much I try to make the readers ugly cry at tragic events in the story, none of it comes close to the laughter I make when critics point out a detail that contributes but not define the story I am trying to tell. I love writing every bit of it and I love researching to help build the lore, but the laughter I get from reviews like that is the best part!
Tell me about ‘The Heir of the Dark Lords’ series.
Do you love rich details about landscapes? Do you love lore mining in a high fantasy world? Do you love shape shifting creatures, magicians, dragons, mysteries, a sociopathic scientist that pisses everyone off, and a story that ends on cliffhangers? Well if you answered yes to all those questions, then you will hate this. Because this series has all of that but the antagonist has a tendency to steal the spot light and make you regret ever paying attention to him.
This particular dark lord is best defined as Chaotic Evil but it does not completely cover him all. By the time you read two or maybe three chapters with The Heir of the Dark Lords doing his thing, you want him gone. I am serious, you want him gone. You would rather get back to a possible shipping of two characters, a pair of magicians learning how to control the weather from a sphinx, or the most innocent teenager you would ever encounter in this series take on his demented father who happens to lead a community of werebears…anything but this moefoe. Or who knows, you might like it.
What inspired the series?
Therapy. Mental Illness is the analogy. Particularly me battling me. The first three characters introduced are based on different aspects of myself. The Dark Lord is based on a voice that tormented me growing up. While the story itself is purely creative and not based on anything that happened in my own life, the whole series so far made excellent therapy and helped me tackle a few things that proved quite difficult. In seriousness, therapy and medication are important and always will be, but I also find putting myself in a land battling the forces of evil with thermal spells, swords, and changing into a giant bear is just as therapeutic.
What comes first for you, the plot, or the characters?
Neither. The climax and the ending always comes first. The whole plot comes after I start writing and the main and minor characters are there for the ride, and I among them. This is not on purpose either. I know how it ends for the characters. I know how the climax of the overall story plays out. It’s when it starts and gets to the point where the final showdown occurs is what I do not know. I never do until it is written or about to be. There is only one thing about my endings that I never utter out loud or even write down, and that is if they’re happy endings or if they’re not.
Which one of your characters would you most get along with and why?
There are quite a few of them. A popular favorite among my readers is Igor Pottingpaw, and I think I should meet with him before anyone else gets their wish. Well, I guess in a way I already did. Igor is the main source of hope, a strong character when it comes to his physical strength, values, and perseverance. It is hard for me to imagine anyone not liking him, in his human form of course. He also has a very broad sense of humor and Igor would also be a terror among cross country competitors.
Are you working on anything new?
Yes. My first traditionally published book will be out soon with Tea With Coffee Media. 'Beyond Olympus' is set for younger readers. My recommendation are those with at least a third grade reading level. Unlike my darker work, 'Beyond Olympus' is a novella that sets place in New York State and is about a young scientist who will literally become a star, if an ambitious Greek goddess doesn’t stop her first.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you have ever been given?
There is never a best piece or a worst piece. Any advice given is advice worth trying. Even if you failed to learn something before and utilize it now, there are many more lessons waiting for you. Absorb what you can and keep writing.
What do you like to do when you are not writing.
I’m afraid I do not have a concrete answer. How can you say everything without lying? I haven’t done everything, but I love life more than I ever had in the past. I love to experience old and new things with the people I love or by myself if need be. I love to daydream of one day to see what is beyond the horizon despite every day I am a step closer to finding out. I love to live.
Thank you to B.T. Harris for sharing his inspiration with us. If you would like to check out his work, click on the links below.