This is the second of a series of interviews with like-minded writers about their writing process, new works and advice for other writers. Today, I’m interviewing Devin Harnois, my good writing buddy, National Novel Writing Month co-conspirator, and beta reader. She’s the author of three published novels and stories: Darkness at Dawn, Through the Fire, and Chained, with more brainchildren on the way. (Part 1, One Writer’s Story, is here. For snippets from all of the works discussed, see Devin’s Six Sentence Sunday blog entries.)
E. P. Beaumont: If you had to choose a favorite among all the novels you’ve written, which one is it? and why?
Devin Harnois: Which of my children do I love the most? That’s a mean question. 😉
E. P. Beaumont: I know. Interviewers are evil.
Of course, you could have different favorites for different reasons, and talk about them all.
Devin Harnois: Yes. I have two favorites right now.
Erik’s Tale is the book of my heart. I put a lot of love into it and writing it was a wonderful experience. it might have been the best time I ever had writing.
E. P. Beaumont: I remember talking with you about it at the time and you said it scared you. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Devin Harnois: The idea of tackling something like that, a derivative work and a historical setting, scared me a lot.
Also because the story struck me in a deep way, and I knew I’d be putting a lot of my heart on the page. That’s not easy, but it’s an important part of my job as a writer.
E. P. Beaumont: What’s the setup for Erik’s Tale?
Devin Harnois: The short description is Phantom of the Opera with a happy ending. But I didn’t just want to tack something on, I wanted to play with the ideas of what needed to happen to get to that happy ending. Both characters had to change and grow to have things progress in a realistic way.
E. P. Beaumont: Oh wow. Playing in somebody else’s toy box.
What historical research did you do? What’s enough for you to feel comfortable writing?
Devin Harnois: I did some research on the Paris Opera House and a bit on the time period (the actual date is a little fuzzy in the original, so I left it fuzzy in mine). I looked up weird things that were mentioned once, and some things that I ended up not using at all. I also did a little research into what performers’ lives were like back then. Oh, and opera! I listened to a lot of opera.
My other favorite is Not My Apocalypse, because of the awesome viewpoint character and the crazy action. Alex Holden is the Antichrist, but he wants nothing to do with Satan’s plans. Along with some friends he saves the world, not once, but three times.
I’ve got giant mythical wolves and a fight with Satan on the moon. Holy crap was that fun to write!
E. P. Beaumont: Wow. So tell me how you came up with that.
Devin Harnois: For years, I had the idea floating around that I wanted to write a story about the Antichrist not wanting to be evil. I got the idea while watching The Omen. I wondered “just because his dad is the devil, why does that mean he’s automatically evil? What if he didn’t want to be?”
I thought maybe I’d write a short story. But then I was talking to my good buddy eKate 😉 about a few different story ideas, including that one. I had planned to write something totally different for NaNo 11, but the next day I woke up with Alex chatting in my head, and boy did he have a story to tell.
E. P. Beaumont: So when will these novels be available to the Great Public?
Devin Harnois: I’m working hard to get Not My Apocalypse out by 12/12/12 and Erik’s Tale some time in 2013.
E. P. Beaumont: Which of your novels are available now?
Devin Harnois: Through The Fire is out now.
E. P. Beaumont: Are there any shorter pieces available?
Devin Harnois: oh, yeah. I have Darkness at Dawn out through Samhain Publishing (post apocalyptic with romance and monsters)
And I also put out a short story. I call it my Sekrit Story because I didn’t tell anyone about it for months. I wanted to see what would happen. It sells copies, and I have no idea how people are finding it. That one is Chained sort of erotic, sort of romantic with a vampire and magic user.
E. P. Beaumont: You’re writing in several different worlds. Tell me about how you do world-building.
Devin Harnois: Most of the time I build the world around the characters and story. I figure out what needs to be there to make it work.
E. P. Beaumont: I am intrigued by the idea of a story that features ‘monsters and romance’.
Devin Harnois: Yes. It’s like a survival horror video game where you win by falling in love. 😉
E. P. Beaumont: That description, may I say it, wins the internets.
Devin Harnois: I just came up with it, and it sounded so perfect. I’m totally using that from now on.
E. P. Beaumont: What are you working on right now?
Devin Harnois: The sequel to Not My Apocalypse, called Saint of Sinners. Alex goes to high school 😉
E. P. Beaumont: The antichrist goes to high school. OK. Is it funny, or horrific, or both?
Devin Harnois: Both. Putting Alex in that situation lends itself to a lot of humor. He’s never been to school with other kids, and he’s got these awesome powers and it’s an interesting contrast. He sort of lives a double life, like a super hero. Except he’s not exactly a fluffy bunny, so some rather dark stuff happens too.
E. P. Beaumont: You write a lot of cross-genre stuff. What’s your favorite mash-up genre?
Devin Harnois: I like anything as long as it’s fun and/or interesting. I like playing with different stuff, so you’ll see me jump from paranormal romance to steampunk to post-apocalyptic romance to urban fantasy to whatever.
E. P. Beaumont: What do you like best about each of your published pieces?
Devin Harnois: In Darkness at Dawn, I love the world. The grittiness and the horror, but with a spark of hope. In Chained I like the sexiness that still manages to be a little sweet. In Through The Fire I like that the main characters’ love makes them stronger and that they’ll fight through anything to be together.