Welcome to a new series on Another Hartman Author! I decided that it’s time to pay it forward but didn’t know how. I don’t have any free books to give away nor do I have editing skills someone would covet. So The Five Question Interview was born! Its mission: to give back to the writing community one interview at a time. We can be cutthroat and just plain mean, or we can support one another. I choose the latter. Without further adieu, let’s learn a little bit about KJ Harrowick.
K. J. Harrowick is a fantasy and science fiction writer, as well as a freelance web developer and graphic designer. Her professional portfolio includes digital book designs, email media, newsletters, role-play banners, and she sometimes blogs about the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.
As a child, she fell in love with fantasy worlds. She began to world build and create fantastical languages in 2004, toying around with ideas for stories, worlds, cultures, and magic systems. In 2014 it became a full-blown passion to write and publish her own books. Currently she resides in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she works with a broad range of client projects, plots how to destroy her characters’ lives, and occasionally falls down rabbit holes. K.J. has an Associates Degree in Independent Studies.
And Now The Interview
During my research for your interview I discovered that you also do an interview series called Winterviews. What inspired you to do this project?
The first inspiration is I wanted to do a series on my blog that helped other writers. With winter on the horizon, and since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I wanted a way to count down those cold weeks so the season didn’t feel quite so long. The idea for a winter-long interview series sort of blossomed as a way to combine both ideas together and to meet other creative folks.
As the concept came to life, I was surprised how many people wanted to be involved. Three years later, we’ve just wrapped up our third season and it’s become something of a tradition on my blog. Right now I’m excited for warmer weather and outdoor play, but next fall I’ll be ready to kick off another season and hang out with even more amazing writers and artists.
Reviewing books on a consistent basis isn’t an easy thing to do. Trust me, I’ve tried. And failed miserably. What’s behind the motivation for your Tuesday Reviews?
I’d never thought about reviewing books on a consistent basis until I had a lovely chat with #RevPit editor Katie McCoach, who encouraged me to use my blog for book reviews as a way to find like-minded readers who loved the same types of stories.
At first, I put up a couple reviews a week, but man that felt like work. So I scaled it back to one day a week I had nothing else going on—Tuesday Reviews.
So the original motivation was to meet readers who like similar stories to what I read and write. What happened though is I started to see writer craft on a whole new level—how a well-done book, no matter the genre, can have a strong impact.
I also learned that I love narrative voices like Gina Conkle who authors a Viking romance series, and the warm nostalgia that memoir author Lara Lillibridge brings in her stories.
Now, for something silly. Don’t be afraid to go into detail either! Would you rather have an endless winter or an endless summer?
Endless summer, hands down.
I’m all about heat and sunshine and things that bloom. I have a heart for gardens full of butterflies and bees with ripe fruits and veggies on the vine. In fact, my husband and I hope to move south one day and have summer-style climates year-round where we can fish and garden and never have to don a winter jacket again.
Though in reality he’ll tell you that it’s really so he can ride his motorcycle every day.
Your chosen genres are fantasy, science fiction and romance. Why these three? Why not history? Or supernatural? Or crime? Or…
When I was a child, we had a library near our house that had corners stuffed with hideous orange and yellow couches so soft and deep and someone could get totally lost inside. It was somewhere between those cushions that I first read Andre Norton’s Iron Cage and fell in love with all the weird beauty of a well-done science fiction world that gave me the creeps.
I continued my journey with exotic lands of Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, and found my way to Terry Brooks and Orson Scott Card. In fact, my first introduction to Card was Xenocide, the third in his Ender series, and the world building is so beautiful and bizarre it had my heart from the first page.
Fantasy and science fiction have been rooted in my heart and psyche from an early age.
But romance took a little bit longer. I grew up around women who read strictly regency romance, and every cover had these hideous dresses, boobs half hanging out, and bare-chested men with faces that made me want to gag. I tried to read one or two, but they were so . . . normal world that I couldn’t connect.
Then I read Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game. This book wove a story through the Alaskan Klondike in such a way that it felt like a different world, then dropped in a very dark and disturbing romance. I fell in love with the story and with the not-so-innocent characters. From there I jumped to V. C. Andrews for weird and began to form this idea of dark deeds set in mystical worlds I really wanted to read about.
As the years passed, I found more and more stories that pulled romances into fantasy worlds, or wrapped fantasy elements around romantic entanglements, and when I started writing serious RPG, I discovered that the best, most obnoxious characters were always feeling deep romantic emotions amid twisted, chaotic lives.
But I also found a space between fantasy, romance and science fiction that I really feel most at home in. Romance can be fine, but when it comes with a deeply immersive fantasy world I can get lost in, I’m in love. Or when a science fiction story uncovers an awe-inspiring terraform technique, I’m all in. I love how authors take really normal elements (like a billy goat) and turn it into a twisted part of a fantasy world that can pop up out of nowhere and cause some insane chaos.
I love the weird and the wonderful that connects me so thoroughly to a world I can make a home there.
So that’s where I live now, somewhere between the bizarre and fantastical, with romantic entanglements that often get in the way of plots that try to subvert their happily ever after.
Throw in grimdark elements and a devious villain, and you’ll have me at the first page.
What books or authors have most influenced your writing? Have you met or spoken with any of them?
I named quite a few inspiring authors in the previous question, but to this day I haven’t met any of them.
To be fair, there are other others who still hold a strong influence in how I write. C. J. Cherryh has a heartbeat that flows through my dragon fantasy series. And Ivan Cat wrote one of the best damn science fiction thrillers that keeps me constantly asking myself: how can I make this story a little crazier? And I can’t forget all the wonderful Indie Authors who write such beautiful stories where both fantasy plots and romantic entanglements share equal screen space. Keep forging ahead!
I’m desperately trying to get my latest manuscript whipped into shape so I can start the querying for the bazillionth time! It’s a Dark Contemporary Fantasy infused with elements of horror and everything that makes a good thriller…and mummies. Yes. Mummies. Once this bad boy is out in the world, I’m going to take a break. This manuscript was my ‘keep-your-mind-off-querying’ baby while querying my last manuscript, and I’m burned out. Two query-ready books in two and a half years can take its toll, especially when you work full-time, edit part-time, and have to care for a mini human.