Interview with YA author Michael Harmon

Today I have a treat for you–an interview with YA author Michael Harmon–author of SKATE, LAST EXIT TO NORMAL, BRUTAL, THE CHAMBER OF FIVE, A KID FROM SOUTHIE, and UNDER THE BRIDGE.

Author Michael Harmon and his dog Hank

Q: Why do you write?

A: I’d have to sell pencils at the airport if I didn’t, but there’s a passion and love for writing that pencil selling doesn’t give me.

Q: I hear you.

What do you love about writing?

A: I love writing because it is absolute freedom.

Q: What don’t you like about the publishing business? (Or about writing.)

A: What I occasionally have difficulty with about the business side of writing is that the essential premise of money is necessarily contrary to the foundation of the freedom writing gives me. I do, however, find that the compromises I need to make for the sake of our society’s sometimes odd boundaries and political systems are miniscule compared to the blessing of reaching my readers in a positive way. I will add that most publishers do a fantastic job of juggling the ethos of expression with the realities of business. With the occasional controversies surrounding the first three novels I have on the shelves, my agent and publisher have been incredibly stalwart, courageous and supportive of my principles, which sometimes go against the business ethic of making money. They have my absolute respect, and I return their loyalty with trust.

Q: What would you want in your ideal writing studio? What does your writing space look like now?

A: I’ve no desire for a writing studio. It would remind me of an office, and I’m not an office kind of person. My writing space looks like a queen-sized bed with my English Mastiff, Hank, snoring next to me as I grind out chapters on my laptop.

Q: (laughing) I’m not an office kind of person, either. Writing with your dog beside you sounds lovely.

Where do you write most often?

A: On my bed.

Q: What do you think is the most important thing (or things) that makes a good book work?

A: Truth. Every horrible passage I’ve ever vomited out can be traced to me not being true to the story, characters, and my craft.

Q: I like what you said, Michael; I think truth woven into fiction makes it powerful.

What is your favorite type of book to read?

A: Anything that bleeds honesty, and anything that makes me forget I’m reading by making me feel it. Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD did that to me.

Q: I love that in books, too.

What are some of your favorite YA books? How about picture books?

A: I’ve only read three YA books in my life. I’m weird that way. Does Maxim count as a picture book?

Q: Ahem. No. (smiling)

How much of yourself or your own experiences and emotions do you put in your books?

A: I put my entire being into every novel I write, though I never portray specific circumstances….just the emotions and perspectives I think are universal to being human. I believe that a writer who fears their feelings, whether they be moral, immoral, angelic, or evil, will find it difficult to portray their characters as honest and real.

Q: I agree, Michael. I think the most powerful fiction has our emotional experience in it.

What is your favorite book that you wrote? Why?

A: I’ve written twenty-four novels, so it’s hard to pin a definition on ‘favorite’. My favorite, symbolically, is the first I ever completed, unpublished, and will never be published because the writing sucks. But it’s what hooked me.

Q: Wow! You are a really prolific writer. And I get what you’re saying; my first book is my favorite, too.

What do you want to tell readers?

A: Buy my books. They make great doorstops. I do enjoy speaking with students about motivation, success, and how to use mistakes as stepping stones on the path to value in this world.

Q: Where can readers find you online?


Chamber of Five

Q: What are you working on now? Or what’s your next book that we can look for?

A: A Kid From Southie, The Chamber Of Five, and Under The Bridge should be hitting the shelves from now until next fall, I’ve just submitted a new novel, and I’m currently working on two YA novels. Since I have some time on my hands, I’m also writing an adult contemporary novel.

A Kid From Southie

Thank you, Michael, for a great interview! I really enjoyed your answers.

Folks, I hope you’ll check out Michael’s site.

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