About the Author:
Carrie Harris is a geek-of-all-trades and proud of it. Brains are her specialty; she used to work in a lab where they were delivered daily by FedEx. After that, it seemed only natural to write a zombie book–BAD TASTE IN BOYS. She followed that up with BAD HAIR DAY and BAD YETI. Coming up are two new books: SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE and DEMON DERBY. Carrie lives in Michigan with her ninja-doctor husband and three monster-obsessed children. She is an organizer of WriteOnCon, an online kidlit writers conference, the president of the Class of 2k11, a marketing group for young adult and middle grade writers, and marketing manager for Evil Hat Productions, an RPG and book company. In her spare time, she mainlines caffeine like whoa.
MF: What made you choose to write in the Young Adult genre? Was it instinctive or deliberate?
CH: It just happened on accident. I’d been writing on and off, mostly freelance stuff, and I decided I wanted to write a book about high school superheroes (probably a result of watching too much Buffy). And really, my sense of humor hasn’t matured since high school. My voice is pretty much YA…so much so that telemarketers ask if my parents are home. (I tell them no. I should be ashamed, yeah?)
MF: Is there an adult novel in you dying to get out? If so, into which genre would it fit?
CH: Funny you should ask that, because I’m writing one right now! It’s a game tie-in book set in the world of War of Ashes. It’s funny fantasy, kind of like Terry Prachett meets Tim Burton, and it’s about a bunch of cute Muppet-esque creatures…with pointy objects. It’s very strange being able to swear, and I think I might be going a little overboard with it in this first draft. But otherwise, it’s just as awesome.
MF: Joss Whedon once said, “…apparently I can’t ever write anything without an adolescent girl with super powers…” You write about supernatural creatures and it’s evident you are passionate about them. Is there a particular type of character you feel more comfortable writing than others?
CH: Any interview that quotes Joss is officially my favorite. ☺ My thing is nerds. I’m a total collectible-card-carrying nerd, and I love stories in which the nerd saves the day, or comes out with some completely unexpected heroism. It’s cool when the big macho guy comes to the rescue, but when it’s a scrawny underdog who knows he or she will probably get pounded, but they’re going to stand up for what’s right anyway? I love that with the fire of a thousand suns!
MF: You’ve written for roleplaying games. How does that differ from writing a novel?
CH: They’re both a tremendous amount of fun, but really different. With a novel, everything has to contribute to the story somehow, and you’ve got to tie up all the loose ends in the telling (or if you’re leaving things unresolved, you’re doing so on purpose). Whereas with an RPG, you’re trying to inspire other people to tell stories, so you want to dangle lots of tantalizing loose ends in the book and resist the urge to resolve them yourself! It’s a really good thing for people like me who have more ideas for books than she will ever ever have time to write.
MF: Tell us about Monster Prom.
CH: My awesomely awesome web designer, Manning Krull, was getting ready to work on my site, and we needed a theme. We bounced around a lot of things like carnivals and yearbooks and ultimately decided on the monster prom. I loved the idea so much that I wrote some stories set there, and it’s now my life’s goal to be a monster prom chaperone. I actually did a zombie prom at a book festival a while ago, and it was SO MUCH FUN. I didn’t expect that when we started the website; let me tell you!
MF: Is working on a novel now, with several publications under your belt, different than when you wrote your first?
CH: Absolutely! Before, I was writing for this imaginary audience that lived in my head and would miraculously love EVERYTHING I ever wrote. I never really knew if those books would go any further than my hard drive, so I just tried to make myself laugh. But now the audience is real. Like REALLY REAL. And yes, there are people who just don’t connect with my books, and that was very hard at first. But there are books that I haven’t connected with, so that’s okay. And there are so many people who wrote to tell me that they liked them. All those people are now my best friends. I think they’re awesome. And they have great hair. Really, I can’t say enough good things about them.
But seriously, those emails have kept me writing.
MF: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer? What has been the best compliment?
CH: The toughest criticism probably came from my editor, who bought my first book and promptly told me that I had to rewrite everything from chapter 8 onward. I honestly started to wonder what she’d seen in the book in the first place! But she was so right about it, and I learned so much about writing during that revision, so it turned out okay. As for the best compliment? I heard from someone who was very sick and said that Bad Taste in Boys made her laugh while she was stuck in the hospital. I still think about that girl sometimes, and I hope she’s still laughing.
MF: Aside from polished and engaging writing, what three things do you think every new writer must do in order to succeed in this highly competitive and ever-changing industry?
CH: I think you need to stick to what’s fun. There are so many pressures to promote—school visits and social media and marketing materials and so on. And I think you can tell when an author isn’t really into those things. I’m on social media because it’s a blast, and I feel like it works for me because it’s not a chore. Pick what you enjoy and let the rest go, that’s what I think. And instead of comparing yourself to everyone else, just be you. No one else can write your books, so rather than chasing trends, write the book that only you can write.
MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
CH: I’m a big fantasy/sci-fi person—I don’t care what age it’s written for; I’ll read it anyway. I dabble into other things like contemps and historicals and so on, but that’s where I gravitate when I go to the bookstore. As for what I reread, I have a shelf of comfort reads at home for whenever I’m feeling down. It includes comedy greats like Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams as well as young adult authors like Maureen Johnson and Robin LaFevers.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
CH: I want to live on the Discworld so bad. I could hang with Granny Weatherwax and maybe play some chess with DEATH. Seriously, if you haven’t read those books, you are missing out on the awesome.