Storyteller, unconventional pastor's wife, and mother of two fierce girls.Born in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, but currently living aquasi-nomadic lifestyle roaming about Alabama.Outside of telling stories, J.K. Harrison is passionate about her family, rescue pets, and riding her horse.She has a particularly soft spot for Arabian horses and pit bulls.You can find J.K. Harrison via her social media sites:
Save the Date!!
Of Fire and Steel will be released on
August 16, 2016!
Same DiNamics Books: Writing can be a daunting prospect, what made you decide to share your story with the world?
J.K. Harrison: For as long as I’ve loved reading stories, I think I’ve wanted to share some of mine. I wanted to move others the same way my favorite stories moved me. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was five or six for a school project. It was a thrilling tale about a white cat named Snowy who got lost and had to find her way home. I never stopped telling stories after that. Most of them never make it out of my head, but there have been a few where I’ve thought ‘someone else might like this.’ Then it is probably all a matter of having supportive alpha readers who see the quality of the story through all the awful, novice mistakes. As soon as one person says they like your story—or better yet, they pester you to read more—you get a huge confidence boost and, at least for a little while, you feel like your story might really be all you hoped.
SDB: Who has influenced you as an author?
JKH: I have noticed that nothing influences me as much now that I’m an adult as things did when I was a child. I remember my mother reading the Little House books to me at bedtime and thinking about how Laura Ingalls grew up to write about her life, and wondering if I should do that. Then I remember reading The Outsiders in seventh grade and finding out S. E. Hinton was only a few years older than me when she wrote that. I think that was the moment the idea of being an author really hit home for me. It was something I could do at any time, not something I needed to wait for. I think everything a writer reads influences them on some level, but those are what stand out.
SDB: What is your writing method? Do you outline first or do you purge your brain on paper until your story is told?
JKH: I am an unabashed pantser. I write by the seat of my pants and I love it. I think it goes back to telling those stories in my head—I love the discovery of that first draft. My method is not very tidy and it probably isn’t the fastest way to get a story on paper, but I enjoy the process and I’m not sure what the point is if not to enjoy the story along the way.
SDB: How long does it take you to write your story, from getting it down on paper to publishing?
JKH: This is a funny question in my case. My first book, Of Fire and Steel, Book One of The Forging Legends, is coming out later this year. I wrote the first draft seven years ago. It took me two or three months to write the first draft. And then I didn’t know what to do. Going into it completely ignorant, I thought writing the story would be the hardest part, but that is actually the easiest. I got so overwhelmed with all the information about the querying process that I quickly gave up on that and kept writing the series and various other stories that would come to mind. Last year, whether you want to call it fate or serendipity, I caught the interest of a small press with an excerpt I shared in a writing group. It was an exciting, anxious time, and the process of me doing my research on the company and the industry, finding an intellectual property lawyer to help me negotiate the contract, and then actually negotiating took a few months. After going through editing and getting the cover art done (which the publisher has given me the freedom to find an artist and design the cover to my own tastes), the whole process will have taken about a year.
SDB: Can you tell me a little bit about your book(s) without giving away too much? Why should I read it?
JKH: I have always enjoyed reading fantasy, but too often major female characters are relegated to roles of healers or sorceresses or anything else that is not the sword-toting character in the story. So I wrote a story where Kat, my main character, is a sword-wielding, brawling member of an elite warrior class.
Of Fire and Steel is the story of a heroine as she grapples with entering adulthood to discover some things do not yield to the edge of a sword.
SDB: How much of yourself is in your character(s)?
JKH: I’m sure there is more of me slipped in than I am aware, but consciously, there is not much—at least not in my main character. I have a secondary character with a particularly antagonistic personality who I am starting to think has a bit more of me in him than the others because he is so fun and natural to write.
SDB: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
JKH: I don’t think I can say anything that isn’t cliché, but sometimes things are cliché for a reason. The most important thing really is to keep writing—and I don’t mean perfecting the same opening scene for months on end, but to keep getting more of the story out. You can always fix something later as long as it’s there, but it has to be there first. From my own experiences, I would say it’s helpful to start easing yourself into the publishing world before you’re ready to actually publish. Get familiar with the various outlets, processes, and terms, and work on setting realistic expectations.
SDB: Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
Here is an excerpt of the book, Of Fire and Steel:
My body screamed; everything hurt. I hadn’t slept in days. Or eaten.
I gritted my teeth against the pain and leaned forward to look into the pool before me. The windowless room had enough lamplight for me to see that my reflection was nearly beyond recognition. Bruises always showed starkly against my skin, but the myriad of purple and blue still surprised me.
I reached up to gingerly examine my right eye. The skin was strained and shiny with swelling, and there was blood crusted into the lashes and brow. I recognized the deep throb beneath it and probed my broken cheek carefully. I grinned and it hurt. Dried blood cracked over my lip and a tangy trickle spread across my tongue.
Gritting my teeth again, I forced my body into action once more, climbing into the water. Salts and herbs bit into cuts and gashes as the water lapped against my legs. I steeled myself as I lowered into the pool, cursing the relentlessness of the water swallowing up wounds over my back and ribs, my arms and knuckles. For a moment my body felt aflame, but as I eased a breath out and pulled another into my lungs the pain became bearable. I ignored the protest of broken ribs and continued to breathe.
Tendrils of restlessness crept through my chest despite my steady breathing. Even sheer exhaustion could not quell the anxiety. I was waiting for the results of my Mek-tel trials. Seventeen was the earliest anyone could attempt to become a member of the elite El-ketta, an Eshtu warrior. I’d done little but prepare for my seventeenth birthday for the last four years. I ought to be able to wait another hour or two for the results—at least feign patience.
I swallowed back a sour taste and grimaced at the way it made my jaw ache. Waiting for anything always seemed excruciating. Now, I worried it would drive me mad.