If you’re into writing about spooky subjects, from horror to fantasy, you’ll want to check out Writing the Paranormal Novel by Steven Harper (coming Feb 2011). Harper knows his stuff; he’s penned several novels including In the Company Mind, Corporate Mentality, and books based on Battle Star Galactica and The Ghost Whisperer, among others.
I had a chance to ask Harper a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
What are your five favorite books and why?
Jumper by Steven Gould: A great adventure story with an entirely empathetic, hugely likeable main character. You’ll want to be Davy’s best friend from the first page.
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler: Best. Book. Ever. Everyone raves about Kindred, but this one is much better. Octavia Butler is the master at yanking you into her story and never letting go, and then when you start noticing the themes and symbols, the story becomes more breathtaking.
The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley: The best character novel I’ve ever read. It made me laugh and cry and ache and want to go into the book to live with these people. I slipped references to this into my book Trickster after Marion died.
From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain by Minister Faust: Most creative way to write a book in all history. How the heck did Faust come up with the idea of doing a self-help book for super-heroes? And how did he manage to work an intricate, character-driven plot into it? I stand in awe. You have to read this one, even if you’re not a super-hero fan.
Watership Down by Richard Adams: If you haven’t heard of this one, you spent your life in a cave on Mars. Go get it. Right now.
What do you think is the main thing that sets writing a paranormal or supernatural novel apart from writing other kinds of fiction?
The need to explain the magic. It’s the biggest challenge, really. It’s so easy to use big expository lumps, but that bores the reader. On the other hand, you can explore fantastic themes and ideas that other kinds of fiction don’t get to touch.
Do you have any advice for new writers on building an audience?
Write the most enjoyable stories you can, and keep going! If you land a series, remember that most people read multiple books because they care about the characters and want to know what’s going on in their lives.
Also, don’t miss the Writer’s Digest Writer’s Conference… there’s still time to register!