Today, I bring you an interview with author M Anthony Harris. He is the author of the ‘Sleeper Agent Series’ and ‘Echoes of Memory. He lives in the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai China, and is chasing his dream of becoming the King of the Yetis. He's also a teacher and co-owner of an awesome Milk Tea shop with his wonderful wife Rachel. So, lets find out more.
Tell me about yourself
Where should I start?
Probably my name.
M. Anthony Harris is my pen name, and the ‘M’ stands for Michael. I’ve got five other siblings, all of which, including me, were homeschooled.
We’re scattered across the world and I currently live in the northwest of China in what everyone everywhere else in China considers the boonies, in Qinghai province. I’m only a handful of months away from having lived in China for a decade.
As far as day job, sadly I haven’t reached that point yet where it’s just writing, and I’m currently a teacher at an International School and also run a Boba Tea shop with my wife.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing not long before I moved to China nearly a decade ago.
I had a comic book I wanted to draw, and though I can draw pretty well, my skills weren’t up to par with what the story required so I decided to write the story in my head as a book.
I never finished that book, but in starting it, ideas began to flow for other novels, and somewhere in that time, two or three years and two or three first drafts down, I felt a calling from God for me to be a writer.
So, to shorten the long answer, I’ve been writing for about eleven years, but writing seriously for about eight or so years.
Tell me about your book titled ‘Echos of Memory’
'Echoes of Memory' is an Epic Fantasy standalone novel, that was written around the main idea of “if you can’t trust your memories, what can you trust?”
It centers around Aris Ravenscroft, one of Vealand’s leading generals, and Kestrel, a street rat, who get thrown into a world of intrigue when foreign memories from the leader of Vealand’s rebels, a group dedicated to overthrowing the emperor, invade their minds and throw them into a world where memory is manipulated by magic, and everything they thought they knew gets turned on its head.
What inspired the story?
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure if there is any one thing that directly inspired the story, but there are a few factors, such as, I just remember one day I was thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if there was a magic system that was entirely based off of different ways of manipulating peoples memories?” And the story just grew from there.
Some of the unconscious inspiration came from living in China and seeing just how effective the government propaganda is here, and how nearly everyone worships leaders like Mao, when literal tens of millions starved to death under his rule and he worked to destroy the 四旧 “the four olds” of culture, history, etc, to build a new loyal empire that literally knew nothing better, and seeing that mirrored in America in many ways with media manipulation, controlling entertainment, etc.
Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?
I would have to say it’s a mixture of Kestrel, who, physically, I based off of myself as a teen and who also shares a few personality traits with me, and Wallace, the old mentor character, who’s kind of the gruff teacher who opens up his closed off heart as he takes former students back under his wing, and finds a lost purpose in teaching Kestrel.
Would you and your main character get along?
Kestrel and I would be friends, and Aris and I would probably hate each other if we grew up with each other until we spent a long enough time apart to appreciate our differences…but we would be friends if we met later in life.
Tell me about your journey to publication
'Echoes of Memory' was the second book I started writing, and I think it was the fourth or fifth first draft that I finished. As I was writing it, I got inspiration and an urge to write the other stories, so even though they started later than Echoes, I published two other books, the first and second in my 'Sleeper Agent' series, before I published 'Echoes of Memory'.
As far as the actual publication, after waffling on traditional or self-publishing for far too long, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to self publish and do as much of the process as I could by myself, so, with the exception of some spot edits, and the cover illustration, literally everything else, such as typography, etc, was done by myself and it was a great learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?
I’m very much a pantser. I can’t plot to save my life. My stories, more often than not, come from either thinking of a title, such as my 'Sleeper Agent' novellas, or just a random thought, like “what if superpowers were too much for the body to handle and they killed everyone who has them?” Which is the basis of my next book, Terminal.
As far as the actual writing process, well after getting the most basic skeleton of a story lodged in my mind, or written somewhere on a note, I just start writing and the story, characters, etc, are all found out along the way as the story flows from my fingers.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
By eating or drinking something delicious. Sometimes its a steak, sometimes it’s an iced latte and a cake, but it’s almost always a delicious drink and meal.
I’m wanting to buy a nice new longboard, so that might be my next celebration for finishing a book if finances and my wife allow it. I’m crossing my fingers for it!
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, teaching or making tea, I like wasting time on the computer scrolling Twitter or reading Manga more than is good for me.
As far as hobbies go though, I love martial arts and any time I can spar with friends, I jump on the opportunity, and we also have an Ultimate Frisbee league in my city, Xining, in China and I love playing that when I get the opportunity.
When I’m not punching and kicking things, I like skateboarding, and enjoy long-boarding even more.
I also like drawing and painting. Every week or two I’ll bust out my sketchbook and draw or paint something.
I also do some graphic design that I sell online as a pastime.
Besides that…Taking walks and most importantly, spending time with my wife.
Thank you to M Anthony Harris for sharing his writing journey to date. If you would like to check out his work, click on the links below.