Author Interview: SL Harby

  1. Name, please!

SL Harby but you can call me Sean!

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Right now, I am working on writing Shadows of the Heart, the sequel to my debut novel. Shadows of a Dream. I hope to have the first draft written by mid-summer. Shadows of the Heart and its prequel, Shadows of a Dream are labours of love for me, a lifetime in the making.

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Shadows of a Dream follows Stephen, a tabletop gamer whose life has not gone the way he had planned. He is trapped in a marriage that neither party wants to be in and a job that kills a little more of his soul every day. I know people like Stephen; at points in my life, I have been a person like Stephen. When a seemingly random tragedy strikes, he finds himself caught between his life and the world that he thought was only a figment of his imagination.

Within that world lives a reflection of Stephen that is everything that he always thought he wanted to be. Stephen and his reflection, Hollis, must solve the mystery of his friends’ deaths before he joins them in the grave.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

As far as the writing process goes, my least favorite part is the point between inspiration and getting words onto the page. That blank page can be very intimidating. I find that once I get some momentum and the words begin to flow, I can ride the wave and move pretty quickly through the story that is in my mind.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love when the mood takes you and words flow from brain to page without seeming to pass through your fingers. It is such a rush to allow the story to take over and witness as it unfolds before you. I try my best to remain in this state as often and long as possible as it is when I truly feel alive. I make liberal use of art, music as well as other media to maintain it.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I would steal Steven Brust’s ability to make a character that is at the same time fallible enough to make them relatable to reader on a vicarial level but still heroic enough to make their actions seem eminently plausible. I find that characterization like that pulls the reader into their story in a way that few other things can. The world and plot draw me to a novel, the characters keep me there.

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

That would be a hard sell for sure! Stephen is fairly pragmatic, but there are limits for sure. I would need to explain that the deaths of his friends will stop a greater amount of folk coming to harm. As Hollis likes to say: ‘For the good of the many, the few must make sacrifices.’ My fear is that Hollis has had enough influence on him that his gentle demeanour may be put aside in the name of vengeance.

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

A poker table seating Hollis, Stephen, Aristoi, Wade Watts and myself would be interesting indeed. I would imagine that the stakes would be some sort of lore. It would have to be the right to ask ‘the cosmos’ one question, honestly answered. Stephen, Wade and I would be eliminated early as none of us have either Hollis’s gift for deception or Aristoi’s self-control. In the end, Aristoi would walk away with the prize as she would want it more. I could not swear to the fact that knowing that, Hollis would not throw the final hand for his closest friend.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

When it comes to Fantasy, it is so very tempting to make your protagonist a hero in the purest sense of the word: able to dispatch legions of foes with naught but his wits and a dull butter knife. As a reader, the ‘Perfect Hero’ can be thrilling but often erodes their relatability in my opinion. As I have said about Steven Brust, I feel that a fantasy author has to thread the needle of fallibility and heroism so that the reader can see themselves within the characters.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I would love folks to head over to my website: I have background materials on the world that I have built as well as prequel short stories available there to help ‘set the mood’. In addition, I have reviewed some recent books and done a couple of creator interviews with Steven Brust and James Ward.

As far as a recipe, my father made something that we always termed ‘Garbage’ as its origin lies in whatever you had in the refrigerator at the time. It is super simple and super yummy.

Sweat a whole onion and a few cloves of garlic in a wok or frying pan. In the onions, brown 1 lb of ground meat of your choice (Turkey, Chicken, Beef or Meatloaf Mix). Season as you like. I prefer: basil, oregano, salt, pepper and marsala wine. Add a half bag of peas and carrots, 1 cup of instant rice (brown or white) and a cup of water. Cove and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

It is delicious and only gets better the longer it is left overs