Q&A With Kev Harrison
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Q&A With Kev Harrison
Mickey Mikkelson the publicist to New York Times Bestselling author Tosca Lee, was kind enough to connect me to many more authors he also represents one of them being Kev Harrison. Kev Harrison is the author of dark fiction and he is an English language teacher from the UK and is living and working in Portugal. Kev enjoys traveling and on top of being an author he is the staff writer for This is Horror and has had short fiction published in many magazines and anthologies.
Q: So Kev can you explain what dark fiction is and why you enjoy writing in that genre? When I think of dark fiction I think of horror or a mystery with horror elements.
A: Well, I always say dark fiction because some people have a really specific and quite narrow view of what constitutes horror. I definitely like to slather my stories with horrific elements, but I’m not one who likes to splash crimson all over the page unless I feel the scene really warrants it. The point you made about mystery is also so intrinsic to what I like to write. I love giving my characters puzzles to solve, so I’m doubling down on the dark fiction brand now, thank you!
Q: What is living and teaching in Portugal like? From the pictures I’ve seen, Portugal is beautiful.
A: Portugal is an amazingly beautiful place. I came here for a year or three, met my other half and now I’ve been here for eight and a half years and recently submitted my citizenship application. What makes it unique is that it’s such a tiny country – you can drive north to south in about 6 hours, from east to west in about two – and yet there is so much variety. We have the beaches it’s known for, of course, but also mountains, plains, waterfalls, a desert (no, really), big cities, colossal rivers. I could go on.
Teaching here is also really excellent, because the average language level is very high, so you end up being able to work with really advanced students on language which is a challenge even for us teachers. You can be more creative and encourage more creativity from the learners, too.
Q: Out of all the places you’ve traveled to, can you pick a favorite? Where in the UK do you come from and what was living there like? I would love to see the world someday.
A: My favourite city I’ve visited to date is Istanbul. I’d wanted to go for more than twenty years when I finally went. It’s a genuine fusion of east and west. You can be in one district and feel like you’re somewhere wholly culturally eastern at one minute and then a few minutes later you’re in a wide boulevard full of shops and restaurants and you could be in Berlin, or something. The history there is staggering, too. As someone who majored in classical civilisations in my undergraduate degree, seeing that byzantine history in person was mind blowing.
In the UK, I come from a town called Woking. It’s actually one of the most depressing towns on the planet. It was originally expanded from a village in the nineteenth century as a place for London’s excess dead to be buried. There was a train called The Necropolis Train which literally just shifted dead bodies the thirty or so miles out of the capital so they could be laid to rest (I wonder why I became interested in the macabre!). It’s also famously the hometown of legendary Sci-fi horror writer H. G. Wells, and he once said in an interview he started The War of the Worlds purely to have an excuse to raze Woking to the ground. I can’t argue with that perspective.
Q: If you were to explore writing in another genre, which genre would that be and why?
A: I had a dream a couple years back which has become a catalyst for an eventual Grimdark fantasy I’d love to write. I have some other projects in the queue first, but I will get there eventually.
Q: What’s your advice to anyone wanting to write great dark fiction? If you deal with writer’s block, what would your advice be to aspiring authors on how to deal with it?
A: I was thinking about this recently as I was evaluating my latest manuscript. I think what works for me – and as always, your mileage may vary – is to think about things which are incongruous with the scenario you’re writing about in real life. For example, in my novelette, Warding, there’s a witch’s familiar which is a house fly. What makes it unsettling is that when it lands or collides with objects, the sounds it makes are huge rumbling crashes.
As for writer’s block, the closest I get to it is fearing the page. It sounds absolutely crazy, but there are times when I’m feeling the pressure, or struggling with a story and I will do literally anything: laundry, vacuuming, whatever, to avoid it. The way I get myself back on track is to dial back the pressure. Word count targets go in the trash, standards go in the trash (temporarily, of course). Taking that pressure off means I can go back into the manuscript and if I only get 100 average words down in an hour, so be it. At least I’m back in the chair.
Q: What’s your advice to anyone on submitting stories to anthologies and other publications? What’s it like being a staff writer for This is Horror, and how would anyone go about wanting to be a staff writer for something like This is Horror?
A: I think the number one piece of advice is to try to develop a thick skin for rejection early on. It’s such an intrinsic part of the process. Even my writing heroes share on their social media feeds that they get rejected for projects. It’s a certainty. And, if you believe in a story, always get it right back out there once the sting of the rejection has died down a little.
Working with This is Horror has been great. I’ve been friends with Michael David Wilson for about fifteen years now and he helped me a great deal when I started trying to improve my craft. Bob Pastorella who runs the website is also a great guy and a great writer in his own right.
This is Horror as enabled me to connect with a lot of creative people I might otherwise not have, which I’m grateful for. And, maybe it’s the teenage metal head in me talking here, but I love helping spread the word about new and up and coming writers and help them sell more books when I can. I very much believe we’re all beneficiaries of people buying and consuming more good dark fiction.
I believe This is Horror are always on the lookout for people to join the reviewing team, so they should reach out to Bob if they have the time.
Thanks so much Bianca, for this interview. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. All the best