Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview: Anna Harte and Above Ground

I'm happy to host the first interview ever here on The Bathroom Monologues. In the next month I hope to host a number of authors (and possibly other artists) to discuss what they're working on, why, and how it gets out into the world. Our first guest ever is Anna Harte of #fridayflash and 1889 Labs fame. She's brought a great raffle which is available to everyone at the bottom of the interview!

John: Welcome to the Bathroom Monologues, Anna! For our audience here, what is Above Ground about?

In very few words, Above Ground is a dark science fantasy about a human girl who is trapped above ground, where werewolves and witches roam. The story follows her as she tries desperately to return home, to the safety of the human establishment underground.
Anna Harte: Author, editor,
werewolf (unconfirmed)

John: So we’re dealing with a post-apocalyptic world, especially up on the surface. What befell the planet?

A genetic experiment gone wrong. Although this isn't explained in the novel, I will spoil it for you here: many years earlier, a company conducting genetic experiments thought they'd stumbled across the next step in human evolution. They turned it into a virus and leaked it to see what would happen, without realising how quickly things would spiral out of control. As a result, all uninfected humans were taken into quarantine underground.

John: What are your favorite apocalypses in fiction? I’m partial to giant monsters leveling all our cities, personally, but that fad hasn’t caught on yet.

As a fearful person with an overactive imagination, I try not to think about apocalypses too much; I value my sleep highly. Whenever I watch an apocalypse film it gives me the creeps.

However, it's the human-caused apocalypses that intrigue me the most, as they are the most likely to happen. Huge natural disasters or asteroids seem silly, and giant monsters improbable, but epidemics, overpopulation, and pollution? All too real.

John: What do you want to do in Above Ground’s fiction that other post-apocalyptic stories and werewolf stories don’t? What are the big ideas?

I feel silly even suggesting I have big ideas. Ultimately what I want to do is to tell a good story, that's all!

Generally, with post-apocalyptic fiction there's a defined us vs. them. Giant monster levelling the city = bad; humans trying to blow up the monster = good. With Above Ground, I wanted to straddle that line. The humans see themselves as the good guys and the werewolves (and other critters) as the monsters. The werewolves see themselves as normal people and the humans as cowardly scum. Is less apocalypse and more intense culture clash.

For that reason, what the main character Lilith is more stunned by is that werewolves have a human side. Seeing their humanity (as opposed to seeing their bestiality) is what shakes up her prejudices.

John: Does Above Ground set up a world for more books? Maybe a series? And if so, do you have a planned arc?

I have always intended to write more stories set in the Above Ground universe; I've already published Belonging, which is a short story set right about the time the apocalypse began.

The main story is intended to be a trilogy; I think it'll take me two more books to reach that final grand ending I've had in mind for years. But lately I've also been tempted by the idea of writing more accompanying pieces; stand-alone novellas exploring the lives of secondary characters. We'll see!

John: Now in addition to writing all this, you’re also Editor-in-Chief for 1889 Labs. How did that relationship start?

Anna: It all started through Eli James of Novelr, who roped me into an insane live-blogging project, which was intended to track MCM's progress as he wrote an entire novel in three days, publishing a new chapter every hour or so. The lack of sleep got to us all and made us very silly, and the hours of google chat conversations formed a fairly enduring friendship.

MCM (the founder of 1889 Labs) and I stayed in touch after that, and he helped me organise the Other Sides anthology, which I put together to promote the excellent online fiction authors out there.

I think at one point I made a pointed remark about how 1889 Labs would benefit from new voices, and how I had a better social circle than he. MCM capitulated gracefully and had me join the team, and he has been stuck with me ever since.

John: For our audience, Anna is the first author to agree to come back post-launch in 2013 and let us know how it worked. How these early months go is one of the most mysterious and interesting parts of publishing. At this phase, just having released the book, what do you envision as success? Is it a sales goal? That first five-star review? Kindling a fandom for the characters or world?

Anna: I'm already lucky to have a small, tiny little fandom; my readers mean the world to me. Although if one day in the distant future I inspired people to write fanfiction, my life would be complete!

For now, reviews are my main focus. If I garner sufficient positive reviews, I will know that there is an audience for this world and that my time spent writing hasn't been wasted. Sales will for the moment remain a secondary measure of success.

John: You’ve got Above Ground in the Kindle Lending Library. Are you seeing much traffic or feedback through there?

Not yet, although Amazon is often a bit slow on reporting these things and I wasn't expecting much given that Above Ground has yet to be reviewed. I have a few free download days lined up for the end of this month, so we'll have to see how it goes.

John: I can’t let you go without asking this. You’re addicted to chocolate. Above Ground’s world is pretty messed up. Is there still chocolate, and if so, who is making it?

There has to be chocolate, however it won't be anywhere near where Lilith, the main character, is trapped. The area where Lilith goes above ground is cut off from the rest of the empire, but further north they certainly have luxuries like hot cocoa.
John: Thanks for joining us. I look forward to having you back in early 2013. For now, where can people find you and Above Ground?

The easiest place to find out more about Above Ground is its official site. It’s on sale at both Amazon US and UK (will hotlink here). You can also enter for eleven mystery prizes in the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful questions, John :-)

    1. It was a pleasure! Thanks for coming by. I look forward to our follow-up.

  2. I like that you've already set up the follow-up to see how things are going in the New Year. I imagine that numbers appear to be the easiest mark of success, but wonder if they are less fulfilling than some of those other markers. All I know is that I expect to have purchased it by the time Anna reports back!


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