An interview with Windsor Harries

Windsor-Harries

I reviewed Moon and Other Novellas on Tuesday. Windsor had some time between running from paparazzi to answer a few of my questions:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written – from terrible comics in grade school to equally terrible plays and short stories in university to a few semi-terrible full-length novels and even several slightly-terrible screenplays. What eventually convinced me to publish was the proliferation of short-form novels, especially in the sci-fi genre – that’s now an accepted format. Twenty thousand words seems to be my sweet spot – any less than that doesn’t allow me to build a connection with the characters, while any longer and I get bored.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m naturally scatterbrained, so I generally have five or six novellas on the go. I’ll get captivated with one story and work on it madly for weeks, and then forget about it for months. When I eventually pick it up again, I might see it in a different light, and need to completely rework it. It’s a very inefficient process, but I embrace it. Another quirk is I rarely write a story from start to finish. I generally write key scenes and then build the story around them, linking them together. For example, Prime began with the single scene of the Spidon leader demanding the child, and Rumble with Chandra staring up at the mountain growing before her eyes.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Hiking, travelling, scuba diving, photography, painting, messing around with technology. I enjoy the visual arts. I’ve recently been experimenting with digital art. I wish I could play a musical instrument, but I have a tin ear. And stage fright. Oh yeah, I’ve also been known to read once in a while.

What inspired you to collect these specific novellas into a single volume?
Great question. When I decided to compile the anthology, I had about a dozen novellas that could have qualified. I chose these five because I made the conscious decision to include a variety of storylines in the volume – I didn’t want a book of only first contact stories, for example. So I tried to choose one of each: first contact (ok, there are two of those), dystopian, speculative end-of-the-world and full-out space opera. It’s funny, because some of these stories aren’t even my personal favourites.

Were the individual novellas written concurrently?
Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the stories influenced each other as they were being written. I need variety – I don’t think I could just sit down and write a story from start to finish. You have to read and re-read a story so many times during the editing process, I really get sick of them by the end of it all. So mixing them up alleviates a bit of that story fatigue.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while preparing this collection for publication?
How little time is spent actually writing a story. When you look at all the editing, revisions, beta readers, cover design, typesetting and promotion, the actual writing is probably only about 5% of the overall process. But it makes up for the other 95%.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
How much they love my work, of course!! No, but seriously, I have had some very kind comments from people. I think the nicest thing anyone had said to me is that they can’t wait for me to publish more. I don’t want this to sound insincere, but hearing something like that brightens my day. Heck, my whole month!

Is there a message in each of the five novellas that you want readers to grasp?
Hmm, I don’t think so. I try not to be heavy-handed and fill my stories with subtext. I think my stories have one common thread – putting ‘average’ people in extraordinary circumstances, and seeing how they react. I hope my stories entertain, and that readers can connect to a character or two. If so, my work here is done.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
Honestly? I think I would have included some of my personal favourites in the volume. Only two made it into this collection (I’ll leave it up to you to guess which ones). I think that would have made the editing process a bit more enjoyable. Or I would have grown sick of them, too.

What are the three coolest things that have happened to you since becoming a published author?
One. Kind people like you asking to interview me. (Honest – I feel like a movie star.) Two. The look of shock on my family’s faces when I told them I’m published. Three. Running from the paparazzi. (Ok, maybe just the first two.)

Tell us about other projects you’re working on.
Now that Moon and other novellas is out of the way, I’m beginning to comb through my other stories to compile the next collection. And, of course, I’m always writing new material. There’s one more serious book that has been inside me for over twenty years now, and has never properly come out. Yet. Who knows?

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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