A. M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. She lives in London, a city not half as foggy as some seem to think.
I met Anna online years ago when we were both working on fiction web serials, so Above Ground was a familiar story to me. When I found out that Anna was publishing her book, I jumped at the chance to have a stop on her blog tour for an interview.
Read the interview below and enter to win Above Ground prizes in her contest, and please consider buying a copy of Above Ground for yourself. I purchased my ebook copy this week on Amazon, and I am really enjoying the story so far!
1.) You’ve been working on Above Ground for a while now. Tell us where Above Ground began as an idea, and how it’s evolved on its way to publication.
Above Ground started as a dream.
A nightmare, more specifically. I dreamt I was trapped in a theatre. The stage was dark and all I could hear was screaming and bones snapping, vague shadows moving on stage.
I woke up, wrote down that scene, and then the story unfolded from there.
I wrote the first five or so chapters, and began posting the novel online. Week by week, word by word, I somehow completed the first draft — with much encouragement from my awesome online readers.
The initial draft was about 50k and was told exclusively from Lilith’s perspective. Three years and two revisions later, it’s now a 75k novel interweaving three character threads.
2.) It’s challenging to find time every day to work on writing, especially if you have a day job. Tell us what your writing process is, and how you cope with distractions.
My most productive day is Monday. I set myself a deadline every Monday after I get home from work: to finish one chapter before going to bed, no matter what. This generally works out to about 1,500-3,000 words in an evening.
The rest of the week, I squeeze in writing when I can. I am very prone to getting distracted, so the best technique for me has always been to set a deadline. The pressure of a deadline forces me to focus and stops me from looking at cute cat videos on YouTube.
3.) Following that, how do you remain sane as a writer?
You’re assuming I’m sane… 🙂
Having a day job certainly helps keep me grounded, as does my boyfriend. I imagine I might be more prone to insanity if I were a full-time single writer — already now when I’m left alone I become very lazy about unnecessary things like breathing fresh air and cooking proper meals.
4.) Writing is a lonely business. How has being a writer affected your relationships with friends and family, and how do you deal with often having to say “no” to focus on your work?
I wouldn’t say writing is lonely. I not only like having alone time; I need it and get fairly irritable otherwise.
Monday evenings are my writing time, no exceptions allowed. Friends and family know not to bother me or else they’ll risk me turning into the Incredible Hulk.
I’m very lucky in that those close to me understand how important my writing is to me — and sometimes even tell me off and stop me from going out if they know I have a lot of work to do! Although they are probably acting out of self-interest to avoid having to deal with how stressed and frustrated I get if I don’t get enough writing done.
5.) Tell us a bit about 1889 Labs, which is publishing your book. Why did you decide to go this route rather than publish traditionally?
When I started writing Above Ground, I knew that it wouldn’t be the type of novel that would easily be published traditionally. It’s cross-genre, it’s dystopian, it’s got all sorts of weird critters… That’s why I began posting Above Ground online, and since it’s been posted online, even fewer traditional publishers would touch it now.
That’s why I turned to indie publishing.
1889 Labs is an indie publisher dedicated to bringing the best of web-based fiction to the wider reading public. I am now the editor-in-chief of 1889 Labs, and — after guiding my fellow 1889 authors on how to take their online story and turn it into a book — it made sense to release Above Ground through 1889 as well. I’m very proud to have my book stand beside theirs.
6.) Where do you get your ideas? (JUST KIDDING!) Tell us about it feels like to be finished with this project now that Above Ground is being published – are you excited to start work on something new, or do you feel like your puppy died?
Oh God, definitely the former. I am SO glad that Above Ground is finally done; after two rewrites I’ve developed a love/hate relationship for the damn novel and was starting to think it’d never be finished.
It certainly helps that I have a sequel to Above Ground planned, so I know I’ll be able to play with the characters again. I imagine I might feel differently if this was a stand-alone novel.
While a part of me is terrified to let go and see how Above Ground fares with reviewers, my muse is utterly relieved. I have 9 other novel ideas battling for space in my head and I can already feel that growing honeymoon excitement to get cracking on the next one.
7.) Finally, tell us what’s next for Anna Harte.
Well, as I said I’ve got a bunch of ideas! I do want to write a companion novella to Above Ground, but I’m considering working on something entirely unrelated first just to give myself a break.
I have two story ideas set in London that are battling for pole position; one is a horror story about demons, the other is a ghostly murder mystery/romance. We’ll have to wait and see what the muse decides!
When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.
Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.
Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:
Adapt. Or die trying.