Saturday, November 24, 2012

Guest Author Day with Scott Harper

Welcome to my Reading Nook, Scott Harper. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.

Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.

What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?

I celebrated with my fiancée, best-selling, critically-acclaimed paranormal author Desirée Lee.

Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it?

"Quintana Roo, Yucatan" is my eighth novel and is one of my rare non-paranormal projects.  Although the book does, technically, have some paranormal and science fiction elements in it. Originally, this book was thought of as pure paranormal thriller/horror. The more thought I gave it, though, the less happy I became with my initial concept. There were elements and key plot points that just didn't work. So, the book ended up being rethought and reworked into it what it became.

The initial inspiration for this book came several years ago while I was rereading the novel "The X-Files: Ruins", by Kevin J. Anderson. There is a brief scene very late in the book that triggered the chain of thought that led to my initial plan for "Quintana Roo, Yucatan".

If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as your characters?

This is one of those questions that I get asked on a semi-regular basis, but never know how to answer. There has been interest, from several fronts, about turning one of my earlier books into a live action film, a live action TV series, a live-action web-series and a half live-action/half animated web-series. Different potential producers have tossed names at me for potential cast members. None of them have ever truly fit perfectly. As it's turned out, none of those projects have come to pass due to lack of funding on the producers' ends or other matters.

Even before the release of "Quintana Roo, Yucatan", however, a producer approached me with interest in a film adaptation of this book. As yet, that hasn't gone beyond casual talk, but who knows? I haven't really devoted time to thinking about a "dream cast" for a "Quintana Roo, Yucatan" film yet. That's something I probably should do in the near future, though!

What genres would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?

Oddly, given my penchant for writing fantasy and the paranormal, I have a Western comedy in mind that I want to write.

My parents, especially Dad, are huge fans of the Western genre. Growing up, I was subjected to Western films and TV shows on a near-daily basis. Evidently something sank in! As yet, I don't have a whole plot in mind - only the broad strokes. A few of the characters have introduced themselves to me, but things are still coming together for that one.

Originally, I had thought of writing the Western comedy project as a screenplay. Screenplays are hard to sell and hard to get funding for, though - on-going experience in that arena over the past few years has made that lesson amply clear. Now, I'm starting to give thought to adapting the Western comedy project - if I ever do actually write it - as a novel or novella.

What is your normal writing day like? 

I like to start off with an e-mail check before doing anything else. I'm always juggling several projects at one time. I work in novels, screenplays and comic books now. Some days there's a message waiting that causes me to put aside whatever writing plans I had for the day and work on something that needs to be done for a producer, director or comic book publisher ASAP - if not sooner.

Barring anything of that sort, though, after that first e-mail check I tend to get caught up on social networking and do a bit of on-line promotion. Once that's done, I generally go back to whatever my main writing focus is at the moment - be it a new novel, novella, screenplay or comic book script. Breaks are taken from time to time for message checks.

Right now, with a new release just out, my workdays are different. For now, after that opening message check in the mornings, I'm spending the vast majority of my day contacting book reviewers and book blogs, trying to get as much buzz going for "Quintana Roo, Yucatan" as possible.

Where do you get most of the ideas for your stories? 

Ideas come from all over - books, TV, movies, music, daily conversations, dreams, comic books, etc. Anything can spark an idea.

What are some of your hobbies/favorite past times to indulge in? 

My hobbies have all become a form of work. I read a lot; I always have. For years, I've read and collected comic books. But, when I read a book, I'm not just reading; I'm studying someone else's work and using that study to, hopefully, become a better writer myself. When I read a comic book now, I'm studying that, too, since I now write comic books. Since I began writing film and TV scripts, watching movies and TV shows have become a form of work/study, too.

I have a metal detector and like taking it out, despite never having found anything to get excited about. Lack of time to do so keeps me from indulging in that hobby much, though. I don't even remember the last time I took time for that.

Who are some of your favorite authors, and if we were to visit your home, what books would we find on your bookshelf, end table, floor or e-reader?

In the order of my having discovered their talents, my favorite authors are:

Terry Brooks
Michael Crichton
Jim Butcher
Terry Goodkind
Desirée Lee

I've been reading the Shannara novels by Terry Brooks since middle school.

If you could be any character of any book or movie, who would you be?

That's another question that I really don't know how to answer. Every memorable literary or film character has either a tragic past  who made them into the character we love, or they go through unpleasant events in the stories we love them in. I'm fine being myself!

Do you have a favorite TV show you can't miss?

I'm addicted to "Burn Notice", "Supernatural" and "Finding Bigfoot". If the latter selection sounds strange to you, cryptozoological investigations are a major interest of mine. I also dislike the term "bigfoot" and use the term "sasquatch" unless quoting a title or such.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

Outlining depends on what a project is. For a novel, I outline first. After letting the outline sit for awhile, I'll start on my rough draft. For a novella, short story or comic book script I just start writing my first draft.

For a screenplay, I do what's called a sentence outline. Basically, you use one sentence to describe each scene in a given act of the script. This keeps your screenplay moving along. Unlike a book, screenplays need to be kept as terse and tight as possible, limited to a set number of pages. Over those pages, you're both telling your story and giving some instruction on how to bring it to life. It's a whole different animal from start to finish.

Could you tell us about any work-in-progress, current projects, what we can expect from you in the future?

The next literary project you're apt to see from me is a novella called "Quagmire Fen". Yes, "Quintana Roo, Yucatan" followed by "Quagmire Fen". I guess I'm going through a "Q" phase. That wasn't intentional; it just happened, despite what my fiancée might say to the contrary! "Quintana Roo, Yucatan" is my longest project to date - over 105,000 words. "Quagmire Fen" slipped to the opposite end of the scale. The current draft of it is only a bit more than 18,000 words.

My Wendy Markland novels - "Predators or Prey?", "Necromancer" and "Vindicated" to date - are the basis of an upcoming, on-going comic book series called "Wendy Markland: Chronicles Nocturnum". I'm writing and lettering that series. Issue #1 is almost done - it's drawn inked and nearly colored. I have Issue #2 written and waiting in the wings. That series has been picked up by Timeless Comics and will be that publisher's flagship title. Timeless Comics also wants a second on-going, urban fantasy comic book series that I've created. That one is called "Ravenesque". An art team is being sought for it.

Also, Desirée and I have recently launched a web-comic titled "MoonWraith". "MoonWraith" is something I originally created several years ago as a TV series. The agent who was representing my work at the time had talked about pitching "MoonWraith" to the Starz TV network. Sadly, while I was working on the first draft of the pilot script, that agent closed up shop. Now, I have around 40 people interested in being cast or crew in the "MoonWraith" pilot, but have not yet been able to attract a producer/distributor to the project. We hope that the web-comic adaptation of "MoonWraith" will gain a following and that we can use that fan base to lure a producer/distributor to the "MoonWraith" TV series.

Desirée and I are also working together on a non-fiction book for writers and co-authoring a new tabletop role-playing game. It'll likely be a while before you see those, though - especially the RPG.

Who has been the most delightful character to write about? The most challenging to write about?

The most delightful would probably be Rikki Breitenberg. Rikki is the main character of my new release, "Quintana Roo, Yucatan". She came alive for me more, I think, than any other character I've ever written. Maybe that was due t the length of the book, and just having more time to work with her. I don't know.

The most challenging would, without a doubt, be Jacob Iverson. Jacob was Wendy Markland's boyfriend in "Predators or Prey?". I have never, before or since, had a character fight me the way he did. Most non-writers never seem to understand that. They'll say some variation of "But you're the writer! You control a character's every action and thought! How can a character fight you?" Jacob did. I created him to be an unpleasant individual. Apparently, I succeeded! That character became very independent. Writing "Predators or Prey?" was a struggle because of that.

What do you do to unwind and relax?  

Watch TV or read. Even though both have become work for me, I still enjoy both  - reading, especially. At the moment, I'm a bit over three-quarters of the way through "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin. My fiancée recommended that series to me.

What is the last line of your last WIP you worked on that you wrote?

That would be the final, ending, line of the current draft of "Quagmire Fen", my up-coming novella. If I give the line here, I'd be spoiling a major plot point for readers before that project is even out.

Anything you would like to add? 

I can be found all over the place on-line:

Also, because she's my fiancée and I love her more than anything, I'd like to add best-selling, critically-acclaimed paranormal author Desirée Lee's website to this list, too -

"Quintana Roo, Yucatan"

Heat Rating: 1

Book blurb: 
Rikki Breitenberg is an archeologist in charge of the first team of American documenters allowed by the Mexican government to explore newly discovered Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. However, shortly after their arrival in Mexico, things go awry. Treacherous jungle, inclement weather and dangerous wildlife are only the beginning.

When Rikki and her team run afoul of members of an ancient cult devoted to the worship of a bloodthirsty god, things take a terrifying turn for the worse. During their struggle for survival, the team makes a startling discovery that may rewrite the whole of human history. Will they survive to bring their amazing find back to civilization?


 Rikki Breitenberg roughly swiped her left arm across her face, blinking to remove perspiration from her eyes. Clearing the last micro-droplets of sweat away, her vision returned to normal and the green blur she previously saw sharpened into layers upon layers of leaves, fronds, vines and ferns once again.

Her right arm ached with deep fatigue as she hefted the machete and hacked at the crisp foliage. She had done it so many times, Rikki now barely even noticed how easily the well-honed edge of the blade scythed through the stems, branches and woody creepers.

She needed to stop and rest, but refused to give in to her exhaustion in front of her team, Sean especially. She knew any outward indication of her own unease would only serve to trigger another of his seemingly endless rounds of complaints.

Quickly glancing around, she took stock of the others, and tried to gauge how tired each of them was against how she herself was feeling.

Constance Tharpe plodded along, looking as bad as Rikki felt. She slowly lifted her blade and let gravity do most of the work to bring it back down. Like Rikki’s, sweat soaked Constance’s light tan clothing dark. Perspiration ran in steady rivulets down her slim face, and dripped constantly from her jaw and chin. Her long, dark ponytail was plastered down and matted. Constance’s mouth opened slightly as she tried to get more of the supersaturated, humidity-laden air into her lungs.

Rikki knew that her own light brown hair was as tangled and matted as Constance’s. Though excited to be there, as much as she wanted this, part of her couldn’t wait to get back to civilization, take a long, cool shower and then just relax in air conditioned comfort.

Sweat equally drenched Sean Rowden. His short, wiry frame moved very slowly as his brown eyes squinted and blinked against the steady dripping of perspiration into them from his furrowed brow. By the set of his jaw and the frown tugging at the corners of his mouth, Rikki suspected that the man was on the verge of another bout of griping.

Hank Keesee, though as sodden as any of them, still hammered away at the jungle growth with such vigor that Rikki did a double-take. She had to forcibly tear her gaze away from the extremely well-defined musculature that his clothing revealed. Even dripping with sweat, his short, wavy black hair looked perfect to her.

No. Now is not the time. It’s too soon after Walton.

Forcing her focus to Oscar Wiltshire, Rikki saw the tall, thin man’s orange-red hair, tinted dark with moisture. He gasped for breath in the steamy air, even more than Constance. Yet he swung his machete almost as hard as Hank.

Peter Stokely, the final member of the team, looked almost happy as he hacked through the incredibly dense vegetation. Although short, Peter was stocky and in good physical shape; his fitness served him well in the adverse conditions.

Buy links: At the moment, "Quintana Roo, Yucatan" is available in paperback and on Kindle. Other formats will be released in the (hopefully near!) future.

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