Just five short days left before Halloween and today I get the pleasure of introducing all of you to A.M. Harte who wrote the delightfully funny yet creepy anthology of zombie love stories Hungry For You. Along with answering all my questions about reading, writing, and surviving the zombie apocalypse Ms. Harte has generously offered to provide one lucky reader with an eBook version of Hungry For You! Check out the details after the interview. (And if zombies aren't your thing, this could be a great chance to score an eBook for a friend as an All Hallows Read gift!) Please join me in a warm Her Book Self welcome to A.M. Harte!
I have to start with perhaps the most obvious question about your book - why zombies?
I hate horror. I can’t watch scary films, I can’t read scary books, and despite being somewhat grown-up, I’m still convinced there are monsters under my bed.
But a key aspect of being a writer – and of life in general – is pushing past your comfort zone and trying new things. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a rut, either because you’re afraid of what’s outside or you’ve grown too comfortable. Yes, there could be a giant scary monster out there, but there could also be a double rainbow waiting to be discovered.
Fear is a great motivator because it shows you where your comfort zone lies. And tackling my fears by writing about zombies – the epitome of horror – was a challenge I couldn’t turn down.
On your blog you mentioned that the zombies in your work "evolve from faceless, insatiable voids mindlessly destroying the world and become people, individuals with whom [you] can relate." How did you develop this concept? Was it difficult for you to write from such a different angle as compared to traditional zombie lore?
I’ve very little experience with traditional zombie lore, so I can’t say which version of zombies I would find easier to write.
Traditional zombies cater to two very human fears: the fear of the unknown, and the fear of disease and death. Since I’m a scaredy-cat, it came naturally to write about zombies from a different angle to make them less frightening. So I gave my zombies human emotions and desires, making the stories less about disease and death, and more about the darker sides of love and relationships.
I think my lack of experience with traditional zombie lore was a boon – it made it easy to come to the subject from a different angle.
It’s hard to say! I like each story for a different reason, so it’s difficult to compare.
The title piece, “Hungry For You”, is some of my best work and was the piece that most inspired the collection because of its tragic human/zombie love story. “Dead Man’s Rose” is another favourite: the creepy imagery and obsessive love really capture my imagination, and I put a lot of work into weaving subtle clues throughout the story.
I have a love/hate relationship with “The Perfect Song”. It’s about undying love and tea addiction, and sometimes I think the concept’s great, and other times I scoff at the faux-literary writing style.
And of the shorter pieces, it’s a toss up between “Alive”, which is about missing out on love and hits very close to home; and “Electricity”, because it lies somewhere between a very short story and a poem.
Have you always been a short story writer? Are there any pieces that you considered expanding to novel length?
I still struggle to think of myself a short story writer! I’ve always imagined myself to be a novelist – but I somehow ended up writing a short story collection instead. That’s life, I suppose, but I’m not going to complain. I’ve very much enjoyed the experience: writing short stories teaches you a lot about writing succinctly and writing well.
I don’t think I’d expand any of the shorts in Hungry For You into a novel, although if I had to pick one, it would probably be the title piece. I envisioned the short stories as just that – short – and so I’d be afraid of ruining them by trying to bulk them out into novels. Besides, I have thousands of other ideas waiting for their turn on the stage!
I’ve never wielded a gun, I’m hopeless at video games and my pain threshold is embarrassingly low. Also, I run away screaming from all kinds of creepy crawlies. Chances of survival: not looking good. That said, I was on the varsity cross country team and have stayed relatively fit, so perhaps I’d be able to outrun the zombies whilst you covered my back with that shotgun of yours!
My zombie survival plan has always involved a boat with a built-in greenhouse and salt water purifier. I’m banking on the fact that zombies don’t float and can’t swim (even though one of the zombies in Hungry For You does both).
Along with your work as a writer you're one of the editors at 1889 Labs. Do you prefer editing to writing or vice versa? Can you explain the significance behind the press's unique name?
Ooh, tough one. Writing is my first love, but it’s a very tempestuous relationship with extreme highs and lows. Editing is the steady, comfortable relationship (assuming I get along with the author).
What I like about editing is that I see it as midwifery: assisting an author in the birth of their book, without the actual strain of giving birth. When I’m helping an author, I’m also learning more about the process and craft – all lessons that help me as a writer. But I think I’ll always be a writer first.
As for the press’s name, you’ll have to ask MCM, the company founder. He picked the name and has been fairly tight-lipped about its meaning. Personally I think it’s his year of birth....
I’m serialising Above Ground, a post-apocalyptic science fantasy where humans live underground and the infected (werewolves, vampires, etc) roam the surface. It’s an action-packed novel following the adventures of Lilith Gray, a human girl who is unexpectedly trapped on the surface.
The Above Ground series ( http://amharte.com/abovegroundseries ) is my biggest project, actually. The main series will eventually become a trilogy, and I am tinkering away at accompanying side stories and novellas set in the same universe. For example, I recently published Belonging, an Above Ground short story which explores the origins of the human/infected divide.
Other than that... I’ve a lot of editing on my plate, and I’m still working on my master plan to try chocolate from every country in the world. I recently added Russia to the list!
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My main hub is http://amharte.com so that’s the best place to start. I’m also on twitter as @am_harte and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/annamharte
I love to chat and am always excited to hear from readers – so don’t be afraid to get in touch. Especially if you come bearing chocolate.
And now for the giveaway! To enter, leave a comment below with an email address or way to contact you (blog, Librarything/Goodreads, Twitter) and answer the question, "How do you imagine yourself surviving - or not surviving - a zombie apocalypse?" You can also gain up to two bonus entries by leaving comments on my review of Hungry For You and today's post on Anna Harte's blog. (Be sure to check out Anna's blog - there's an additional bonus for commenting over there!) Giveaway is open internationally and the winner will receive a code for a free download from Smashwords.com (to download the eBook in any format of your choosing). Winner will be drawn using Random.org on Monday, October 31st! Good Luck!