Friday, May 7, 2010

Today's Guest: Kelly A Harmon

1. Welcome Kelly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Do I have to? Oh, it’s so much easier when I’m asked something specific…I always wonder, “What should I say?” I find it difficult to just talk about myself.

How’s this?

I live on the East Coast, in a somewhat rural town, but close enough to the big city to have to trek there each day for work. I do work full time (to support my writing habit) and write every spare minute I can. I’m married.

When I’m not writing, I can be found walking, hiking or jogging, or now, occasionally knitting (as I am teaching myself to knit.) I love going to concerts, reading (of course) and working crossword puzzles.

My favorite food is homemade lasagna, and nothing beats a tall cold glass of brewed iced-tea with lemon, except (after a long, torturous day at work), when only a vodka martini will suffice.

2. I see from your website that you were a reporter. What made you want to dive into the non-fiction world of writing?

I didn’t really dive into non-fiction. I knew I would always be a writer, and somewhere along the line one of my parents said (and I’m paraphrasing here...) “You should write for newspapers. You’ll make more money at reporting.”

It sounded good at the time, so, I decided to be a journalist.

I worked for the high school paper and I became a stringer at a local weekly before I graduated from high school. I wrote for my college paper. I won awards. I’d found I really liked being a journalist. I graduated from collete, and continued to work as a reporter.

At first, it was exciting, there were murder trials and land development scandals and always an election to cover somewhere. I found I was juiced enough from work to go home and write fiction, too.

But the hours got longer and longer and the pay didn’t get any better. It turned out that when you took my salary and divided it by all the hours I worked, I could have done better at McDonald’s. So, I quit reporting and found a job in the tech industry…and still write fiction at night.

And yet, non-fiction still calls to me, so I freelance whenever I can.

3. Your latest book is Blood Soup. Tell us about this book and how it came about.

Blood Soup is a story about murder, betrayal and comeuppance.

The story opens with a heavily pregnant Queen Piacenza. Her husband, King Theodicar naturally hopes for a male heir. The Queen is from Omera, where the first born rules, no matter the sex of the child. This causes no end of friction between them.

The Queen’s nursemaid, Salvagia, casts runes about the birth. Over and over, they yield the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women are convinced the baby will be a girl.

When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised, and Theodicar is faced with a terrible choice. His decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?

The first draft of the book, about 20,000 words was written (and yes, completed) in 72 hours!

A friend asked me to participate in the 3-Day Novel contest and I agreed. I assumed, once the weekend was over, that I’d trunk the story and get back to my WIP. But as I wrote, I could feel how powerful the story is, so I set about re-writing and then looking for a publisher before getting back to my original work.

4. Would you share a bit about what you are working on now?

I’m working on two novels concurrently. The first is a story of an honorable man who falls into the company of a dishonorable woman: a thief. I force them to work together to complete a job. It’s not a love story, but they become strong friends. He unbends a little, and learns that there is a lot of gray between black and white. She loses a large chunk of the chip on her shoulder, and sees that a man can be honest and bending, too. It’s a fantasy, full of magic, corrupt politics, encroaching armies…

I’m in the final edit stages now.

The second is a dragon tale. Once again, there are politics involved—a sand kingdom—dragon burial grounds, mayhem, mischief, and death. There’s more to it, but to describe it I would have to know the ending….which yet confounds me. I’ve got a forked path to trod, and I don’t know which way to go. (This is what happens when you plan for something, and your characters decide you’re wrong.)

5. I hear you are a book collector with a large number of books. Do you think you will ever transfer your collection to ebook or do prefer print books?

I don’t see myself transferring my entire collection over to ebooks, but I will probably transfer my favorites. I war with myself over this, because transferring everything to ebooks would enable me to de-clutter the house in a single weekend. (And that’s HIGH on my priority list.)

But…I love traditional books. I like the heft of a good book in my hand, the smell of ink on paper, beautiful bindings, etc. I love sitting in my office with hundreds of books within easy reach. I like them surrounding me. It’s as if they emanate some pheromone which leaves me feeling pleased and satisfied. (Sad, I know.)

But on the other hand, I love the ebook experience. I’m always reading more than one book at a time…so being able to carry around five, or a gazillion, books at a time is the epitome of efficiency. I like being able to make notes while I’m reading and having a handy dictionary, too. And the search capability of ebooks far outstrips that of their paper brethren.

I know the market is still volatile, and pricing is being worked out, but one of the best things going for ebooks right now is how inexpensive they are. I’m trying out all kinds of authors I wouldn’t have even looked at before: just because the price is right.

6. Can you tell us about your fascination with spiders? Do you a have book planned using them as a major character?

I’ve always been fascinated by creepy, crawly things: spiders, snakes, insects. I might have made a career out of that if I hadn’t caught the writing bug. Of all the creepy-crawlies, I find spiders the most fascinating.

Is it because some are so deliberate: you can watch them for an hour as they step gingerly—One. Foot. After. The. Other—in a sedate waltz across the floor? Maybe it’s because I wonder where those large, hairy spiders are racing off to as they zoom across the carpet. Some spin beautiful webs, resplendent in dew drops on a summer morning. I love the sight of a spider web prism casting tiny rainbows on the sidewalk. Others are deadly.

I think I like that dichotomy. It’s clever. And sinister. I’d be willing to write a story like that.

I haven’t planned a book using spiders as a major character yet. They do turn up in several short stories I’ve written.

7. I’ve enjoyed having you on my blog today. Thank you so much for stopping. Is there anything else you would like to say our guests before you go?

If folks want to learn more about me or my writing, they can always check out my website/blog:

I’m also on Twitter: @kellyaharmon. I love hooking up with folks there.

Thank you so much for having me!

Blood Soup Blurb:

A tale of murder, betrayal and comeuppance.

King Theodicar of Borgund needed an heir. When his wife, Queen Piacenza, became pregnant, he’d hoped for a boy. His wife, along with her nurse, Salvagia, knew it wouldn’t be so: with each cast of the runes, Salvagia’s trusted divination tools yielded the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women were convinced that the child would be a girl.

When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised. The king is faced with a terrible choice, and his decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?


Theodicar looked down at the mewling infant in his arms, and felt the anger rise up. Even in death his wife defied him, the nurse ensuring her success. Women did not rule. He would not allow it. They had created a male child, and that child would take the throne upon his death.

“You can save the boy,” he said to Salvagia.

She slitted her eyes at him, her stare mutinous. Her words were loud and hard in the wake of Pia’s death. “I have the power to save one at the expense of the other, Sire. The girl is stronger. And eldest. She was born to rule.”

Theodicar watched the girl curl up in his arms, her birth fluids staining a brown patch on the dyed-yellow wool of his tunic. She burrowed into the crook of his elbow, trying to achieve the comfort of the womb.

“I will not hear those words again,” he said. “That absurd idea died with my wife. My son will rule.” He reached for the boy, thrusting the girl child back into the nurse’s hands. “There’s no need for a daughter. And no need for anyone to know of her.”

“So be it,” Salvagia said, wrapping the weary girl in a square of wool, covering her face. She reached for her basket.

“Kill her now,” said Theodicar. Salvagia looked stricken.

“Sire, if we kill her now, she will be of no use to her brother. Once dead, the blood won’t flow, and we need her blood to strengthen his.

“Then drain her now,” he snapped. “I will not have her crying out when we call the witnesses back to cut the boy’s cord.”


  1. Hi KJ

    Thanks for having me here today! I look forward to the conversation.

  2. Morning Kelly, thanks for stopping by. The book looks really good and what a tough spot to be in. Such conflict.

  3. Hi KJ!

    Ah, conflict...without it, there'd be no story. (Or, at least not a good one, IMHO) :)

  4. Ohh- Iam intrigued and hope the baby girl gets to live!
    Your description of the spiders is wonderful. Maybe a good prototype for a villain?
    Thanks for a good interview KJ and Kelly!
    "Happy writing"... or perhaps in your case it should be "Intense Writing"?

  5. Sounds like a spooky fairy tail.I hope like all fairy tails that it has a happy ending.

  6. It does sound intriguing. I've put it on my TBR list as I want to know if the baby girl lived or not too.

  7. Hi Martha!

    You'll have to read Blood Soup to find out if the infant lives or not.... (!) ;)

    Thank you for the lovely words about my spider descriptions. I do find them fascinating...

  8. Hi Stacey! to answer without giving it away? Dear Amalric does get his comeuppance...does that qualify as happy? I'm not talking about his lips are sealed.

  9. Hi KJ!

    Thanks for putting me on your TBR pile...and thanks again for hosting me here. It's nice to see messages even days later...