Detective Audrey Vorkink looks like a soccer mom, but she’s good at her job. When a hit-and-run turns deadly, Audrey realizes something’s fishy about the missing driver, something…inhuman. She can run down any criminal, but what about an alien?
Carrie Harris has let me spend a little time with her today to chat about her novel ‘ Illegal Alien’. Carrie, thanks generously giving me a little time to discover more about you as an author. How did your journey as the author of this book start? Can you tell us a little more about the start of this journey?
Actually, it started from a couple of disjointed ideas. I wanted to write an alien book. I wanted to write a book with a middle-aged female protagonist, because I happen to be a middle-aged woman, and I want to see more of us in sci-fi and fantasy. And I love the idea of super rational people being forced to deal with weird beasties. I glommed them all together, and the book grew from there.
I love the idea of gluing some seemingly random ideas together to end up with an interesting starting premise. Was research required as the glue to stick these ideas together?
Absolutely! I don’t have any police experience, although I know quite a few police officers. I asked them questions, read up on police procedures, and spent a ridiculous amount of time on the Toledo police booking website. Audrey, the main character, also happens to be Jewish, so I pelted one of my friends with questions and read up on that too. A lot of the things I learned didn’t make it onto the page, but hopefully they make the book feel realistic. Plus, they were fun to write about.
How does your writing fun unfold? Do you use any specific processes or are you more fluid with your approach to writing?
I used to be a dedicated pantser–I knew the characters and had the first few scenes in my head, but nothing else. Then I sold my first book and had to rewrite everything from chapter 8 on (yeah, I cried). The editor was absolutely right, and I learned a lot about plotting. So now, I plot all my books. Using Excel spreadsheets, because I am a huge nerd. It takes me about two months to go through three stages of outlining, but once I get to the actual writing, I’ve got most of the problem bits ironed out, so it’s smooth sailing from there on.
Yes! I love the use of Excel for plotting. Excel is a seriously underrated piece of software, and it’s great to see if used to give you such a solid writing structure. How do you keep yourself motivate when working on your plot outline or story? Do you use music to get you in the zone?
So I do this silly thing where I often make playlists for my books, only I can’t write to music, so I end up listening to them in my car and coming up with these spectacular lines and phrases that I have to put into the book…only I forget them by the time I sit down at the computer again. I love music and really get inspired by it, but if I listen to it while I write, I end up singing loudly (and off-key), and sometimes I get so into it that I accidentally type the lyrics into my book.
Writing lyrics into your story must make editing challenging! Do you do much of your own editing, to at least hide where song lyrics have snuck in?
If I don’t have a publisher who will provide an editor, I always ALWAYS get one myself. I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to plotting and grammar, but there are always things you can’t see because you’re too close to it. I go through my manuscripts four or five times before they go to my editor, and they always end up finding a few typos, not to mention bigger questions about character motivation or plot clarity. Sometimes you think those things are on the page, only it turns out that you must have dreamed writing about them. Or maybe that’s just me.
I’m sure you’re not the only person who has found that there’s a strange disconnect from what you’ve through you’ve written as opposed to what’s on the page. Do you find that you professional occupation helps your transfer more of your information to the page more thoroughly?
I also work as the marketing director for a game company. Sometimes I make games or help give direction to other people who are making games, and I spend a lot of time thinking about why people want to play the games we produce. My game work and my fiction work cross-pollinate a lot. I use game stats to create my characters. I use a lot of story creation techniques from games. And, first and foremost, in both worlds, I make sure I’m having fun creating whatever I’m working on. Of course, every day can’t be happy fun time, but in general, I think you can tell when the author of a book or a game is having a blast and when they’re just phoning it in.
Now I’d like to change the focus of the interview today to see more of your personality outside of the realm of authorship, and I’ve found the best way to do this is to use my random question set. Let’s start with this question: what is your favourite quote?
Anything from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. That poem is one of the most awesome things to have ever been created. I named my computer “Frumious Bandersnatch” after that poem. Hey, I like to name things. I had a van named Helsing, but it died. Naturally, I blame the vampires.
The vampires do sound like a likely cause these. What is your favourite word?
I like made-up words. My favorite is not repeatable in polite company.
Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
Yes! Just don’t ask me questions about sports. I almost always answer “Chuck Norris,” because I honestly have no clue.
You can’t go wrong with the answer Chuck Norris. It’s always right! If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
A merpire! It’s a mix between a mermaid and a vampire, and it sloshes around in baby pools and sparkles. I really think this needs to be in a book.
Anything with sparkles is a marvellous choice! I think that you have the topic for your next book. What is your best tip for authors?
Read! Read all different kinds of books. Every book can teach you something, even if it’s what not to do.
Books are wonderful teachers. Finally, can you finish out today’s interview by providing us with your favourite line from your book that you feel will most tempt an reader to put your book at the top of their to-read list?
“Get your hands off me, soccer mom!” Demetrious White yelled as I closed the handcuffs over his wrists.
Never underestimate a soccer mom! Carrie thanks for joining me today and I hope that many new readers decide to pick up a new tale of alien life.
Want to find out more about Carrie Harris? Connect here!