I first met Sara Harvey at a science fiction convention in 2006. She was a flurry of color and flowing skirts and even though at the time I had no idea who she was I knew she was going to be big news. She had that air about her that said “you want to know me.” It wasn’t just her charm or keen fashion sense though that drew people to her. The halls were abuzz with word of her talents as a writer. And sure enough her fanbase has been steadily growing. Sara was kind enough to grant me an interview with her which I happily share with you.
OBS: How would you classify your writing? Speculative fiction? Supernatural romance? Fantasy?
SMH: I have found it very difficult to classify my writing as I like to blend and cross genres quite a bit. So, I think if one were to label me, it’d be as “speculative fiction” because that covers a whole bunch of bases! Fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, horror. It’s all good!
OBS: How do you incorporate your writing into your everyday life? For example do you set aside x amount of hours for writing a day?
SMH: I really *should* put down that I need to write X hours a week or X words a week, but thus far I have done okay without doing so. I tend to write most at night and I have a hard time sitting down to it if I know I have less than an hour available, but I have written a lot in under an hour so I don’t know why I get such a block about it.
Basically, I am always working on SOMETHING- short story, a novel in progress, something silly and fun to get an idea out of my head, whatever.
OBS: How did you get into writing? What are your first memories of it?
SMH: I couldn’t say how exactly I got into writing, just that I have been doing it for as long as I remember. My “official” entry was in the 5th grade when my teacher started to give me these little notebooks to put my stories in and then she’d collect them when they were full and critique them for me. She was a great teacher and we are still in contact to this day.
OBS: Who were some of your biggest influences and who do you currently read?
SMH: Francesca Lia Block was very influential on me through high school and helped shape my love of magic-reality. I also read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice early on. I am a big fan of Jacqueline Carey whose beautiful prose also influences my work.
Currently reading: Catherynne Valente, Naomi Novik, Cherie Priest, and more Jacqueline of course!
OBS: Can you tell us about your most recent publication and what you are working on next?
SMH: My current publication is the novella, The Convent of the Pure, put out by Apex Book Company. This book is the story of Portia, a half-angel demon hunter, and is set in a Steampunk universe. The cast of characters include Imogen- Portia’s lover (now deceased but still haunting!), Nigel- a protege’ necromancer, and a slew of demons and other supernatural creatures. The follow up to the Convent and the second book in the trilogy- The Labyrinth of the Dead- will be out in Spring 2010.
Besides the paranormal Steampunk dark stuff, I am also working on a follow-up to my debut novel from 2006 A Year and a Day. This book is set here in Nashville, TN and tells the story of a banshee looking for a record contract. I am trying to recapture that love-of-the-place I found in New York City when I wrote A Year and a Day. So far it’s been an awful lot of fun being a tourist in my own town!
OBS: You recently took a trip to Ireland. Did you come back with any ideas/inspirations or was it a totally writing free trip?
SMH: There is nothing that is writing-free in my world. I gave into that artist thing long ago- all is inspiration for me. Ireland was particularly fun for the current work in progress about the banshees! Plus it was just full beautiful scenery, wonderful food, and amazing people! And it’s true the Guinness IS better there! Ireland was, in a word, GORGEOUS! (Which is how the Irish describe just about everything!)
OBS: Do you have any advice for the spouses/partners of writers?
SMH: I am lucky that my husband is a writer too, so he understands what’s in my head- the process, the time commitment, the joy, the heartbreak. For non-writing spouses, you just have to remember that the writing comes from within and you cannot try and compete with it, cannot try and make it go away- because it won’t. To try and push the art away, you’ll push your partner away too. I haven’t always been so lucky as to have an understanding partner and there is nothing worse than a lover that forces you to chose him/her or my writing. My writing won out each time.
OBS: I know that costuming is also a big part of your life. Can you tell me about that and how your writing affects that/works with that if at all?
SMH: I am a costume nut. My editors often have to tone down my lavish descriptions because I can get carried away. I also write costume history textbooks for Greenwood Publishing. So the two loves do intersect on a regular basis. And I find myself uniquely classified to appreciate and write excellent costume-porn!
OBS: Do you find that the internet helps and/or hurts you as an author and in what ways?
SMH: I have no idea what I did before the internet! Need to look up abandoned subway tunnels under Boston? No problem, ask Google! Have a question about how the Charlie-Card works? There’s a Boston local on IM! There is a website for everything and some are actually accurate! Not to mention being able to be very accessible to my fans! That is a great deal of fun- Livejournal, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These can also be a collossal time-sink. Want to know what level my SuperPoke Pet is?
OBS: Is your writing style very strict or fluid? Meaning do you create an outline and stick with it or do you jump around depending on what ideas hit you at the moment?
SMH: I am a big fan of the spagetti method. I usually have a basic outline to help me plot out the basic events, but everything else is fast and loose and I throw it against the wall to see what sticks!
I try to stay in chronological order, but if I get stuck I will bounce around to another scene to move around that roadblock and go back to it later. A lot of times, working backwards is easier than going the right way around.
OBS: How do you get your ideas?
SMH: #1 Dreams. #2 Everything else- The History Channel, music, books, clothes, travel, people I know, conventions, images, etc etc etc.
OBS: Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what kind/who?
SMH: Sometimes I listen to music- depends on what I am working on but usually Loreena McKennitt or Celtic or Classical- I am especially fond of Beethoven and Mozart, I have a thing for E Nomine too. But 90% I have the TV on so I can keep track of the time- I tend to zone out when I write and if I didn’t have the occasional annoying commerical to remind me what time it was, I’d forget to eat, pee, or go to work. Most of the time I have on the Discovery or History channel.
OBS: And last but not least what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
SMH: Know your stuff- find out what you want to write about and do that- no sense in chasing trends, you’ll never catch up!
And while small presses can be great places to start out- be wary- many writers have been burned by those unscrupulous enough to try and make a buck at the expense of your dreams. Don’t want it so badly that you are willing to bury your dream trying to make it come true. Be smart, writing is a BUSINESS! Treat it like one.
You can learn more about Sara and her work at her website here