Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m somewhat odd, but because I’m a writer I’m allowed to say eccentric. I have some kind of mild agoraphobia/social phobia thing, which can be quite a drawback, but means I usually have plenty of time to write! Or do you want something more relevant to the writing…
I don’t remember when I started writing, but it was quite young. Probably around nine or ten. The first stories I wrote were, naturally, very short and very bad. There was a definite transition to slightly more properly written stories, but these early ones were still fairly nonsensical and are embarrassing to re-read now.
In 2001 I moved from England to Ireland. There was a blissful period where a school couldn’t be found for me (probably about three or four weeks, but it felt like months), but my computer was in storage and I didn’t really write much. Then came school, and thus depression, and I wrote nothing at all. Eventually I resigned to my doom and when we moved into a proper home (instead of staying with family) and I got my computer back, I started writing again.
The first thing I started writing was a thriller of some kind. I don’t know if I recognised it then, but it was the first ‘proper’ thing I’d written. It had a proper story, deeper characters, twists and some mystery. Then the file was somehow corrupted and I lost it. The most intelligent and well thought out development I’d ever written was completely gone, and to this day I have no clue what it was. Luckily, I’d been sending updates to my grandfather, and although I hadn’t sent anything for some time, I still have a good chunk of it that he printed out. Some day I’ll go back to it.
After allowing that loss to prevent any writing for a while, I eventually went back to something I’d started just before I left England. It was a story about humans leaving Earth to find a new home. Then I decided that was boring. So I deleted the whole thing and started again, and it eventually became Shadow of the Wraith.
Also, I have a wisdom tooth cutting into my cheek a bit, but I’m not sure that’s relevant.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I mainly write science fiction. More specifically, science fantasy. Science fantasy is where the science part is really just a veneer. Where the impossible is made to look probable. It generally asks the reader to suspend disbelief a little more than hard sci fi. In much the same way you’d find it in yourself to not take issue with a tiny man taking a sentient ring that makes him invisible into the middle of a volcano before a giant floating eyeball sees it.
Mostly, I like to say to people that my writing is whatever I want it to be about, and it just happens to be set in space, in the future.
As for titles, I have two novels of my science fantasy series, NEXUS, published. They are ‘Shadow of the Wraith’ and ‘Temple of the Sixth’. Yes, I somehow seem to have made the unconscious decision to call all the books in the series something of the something. No, I don’t know why. It could become complicated.
I also published a steampunk short story, Kira.
Where can readers find your book? They are all available on Amazon (UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Harrison/e/B007ZSUY06/ and US – http://www.amazon.com/Ross-Harrison/e/B007ZSUY06/) and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ShadowOfOsiris).
Shadow of the Wraith https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210824?ref=ALB123
The e-books can be found in various other places, like Barnes & Noble, Sony’s bookstore, iTunes, and so on.
How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write? As I said, I think I must have started around nine or ten. Although I think I made up some very short things before that. I don’t think anything made me choose sci fi particularly. I just like the freedom and the possibilities.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? I have no idea. I write like me, and I write my own stuff. I have no desire to write like anyone else, and I never think ‘I like that, I’ll use it’ when I read or watch something. But we’re all naturally influenced by everything around us.
Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? The first positive thing that comes to mind at the moment is when I got my first review for my first novel. It was very nerve-wracking waiting for the result. But then came a five-star rating and favourable review. Then the next was another five-star review, in which the reviewer actually referred to herself as a fan-girl (having never previously liked sci fi). More positive ones followed soon after, and it made me feel very good about my writing.
A stand-out negative experience would be when I paid a considerable amount of money for a science fiction author to read and assess my novel. It was quite a disaster. He wrote a pretty long assessment, but seemed to completely miss the fact that it was science fantasy, not hard sci fi like his own writing. He brought up literally one or two relevant and useful points, and the rest was completely non-relevant. So that was an unpleasant experience.
Of course, you’ve got to be aware of the line between someone ‘not getting’ your work and it just being plain bad, and they see that but you don’t. It’s a hard line to spot, but a writer has to keep their eye on it.
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? Yes, both novels are available in paperback (and a special edition hardback in the case of Shadow of the Wraith). I can’t imagine having a novel in only digital form. I’ve bought a few e-books, but I’d much rather read a proper paper book, and so I’d never neglect a printed edition of my own.
I’m not sure I could really put my finger on why it’s an important medium, but I certainly dislike the idea of everything going digital. There’s a definite difference between holding an e-reader and holding a book, flicking through real pages. It would be a shame to lose that.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? I used to listen to music while I was writing (mostly Queen), but I found it was influencing my writing too much. If it was a fast song or piece of music that I could envision playing during an action sequence in a film, or the end credits, I found myself writing my scene faster and in a more cinematic way. Which doesn’t really work. So these days, I don’t listen to anything. I certainly don’t watch TV – I’d just forget to write.
Books are important, why is this the case? What can a book provide that say a video game cannot? As someone who plays games, this isn’t an easy question. I suppose on a more technical, ‘boring’ level, there’s the fact that you always come across a new word when reading a book. Or a word you’ve heard used, but now you see it you’ll take the time to look it up.
Reading a book gives your imagination some exercise, too. You only have the words, so you have to let them paint a picture in your head. You have to take the description of a character, and decide just how to put that together into something you like the look of (or don’t, perhaps). Of course, the drawback of this is if the writer hasn’t described something particularly well or thoroughly, your mind is blank. Then it’s just words.
The kind of thing that most people think of when they think ‘video game’ is something like Call of Duty. That’s a title that even your grandparents are likely to have heard at some point. Those who know nothing about games seem to assume that they’re all like that one: shoot everything that moves for five or six hours.
What they don’t realise is that there are plenty (though not enough) of games that are completely story-driven, and extremely well written. I’ve played games that have had a story that equals any book I’ve read in terms of depth, intrigue, emotion, etc.
What these games have that books don’t is interaction. The ability to mould the character, and affect other characters, and the story itself. Of course there are those old role playing adventure books: ‘An arrow bites into the wall beside you. Go to page 16 if you want to chase them. Go to page 8 if you want to run screaming like a little girl. Oh dear, you have an arrow in your eye and are rather dead.’ I’m sure these still exist, but it’s not quite the same thing.
So it’s a difficult question. I wrote a blog post about how games need to move towards this kind of writing and storytelling in the next generation (Playstation 4, etc), but unless they do, then books will always hold the crown for meaningful, moving storytelling.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? If someone put me in a helicopter with the engine running, I can fly it. But I don’t know how to start it.