13 Questions with Elliot Harper


1. Introduce yourself. Include your full name. *
Hi, my name is Elliot Harper, and I’m a speculative fiction author and blogger.

2. When you write, do you start with a plan and move from there, or do you generally go where the writing takes you? *
If I’m writing a book I will always start with a brief plan and some research if necessary. I also vaguely plan chapters, but don’t always stick to it. With short stories, it’s more of a mixed bag. If it’s an open call story, I’ll spend some time planning, but other times I like to sit down and just see where I end up because I find that the most interesting (and weird) stories come from letting my imagination run wild.

3. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? *
I think it was Stephen King that said when you’ve written your book or story you should put it aside for as long as possible and come back to it with fresh eyes, and I’ve found this concept invaluable.

4. What advice can you give about revising and editing work? *
The same as question 3. Give yourself some time away from the story and come back to it later.

5. What advice can you give about navigating the world of publishing? *
Patience. It sounds like a cop out, but it’s the thing you need the most. Submissions can take months, and occasionally years. The writing itself is time-consuming and getting a book up to speed to send to agents/publishers or self-publishing is a brutally slow process.

6. Who are your influences? *
I’d like to think that my writing is heavily influenced by the New Weird, specifically China Mieville, Jeff Vandermeer, Steph Swainston, K.J. Bishop, Brian Catling and others. I’m constantly blown away by their innovation. I also love the themes and vocabulary of Clive Barker, M.John Harrison and Thomas Ligotti.

7. What was the inspiration for the piece(s) published in Coffin Bell? *
For ‘A Tale from the Terraced Ocean’ I had been reading many horror novels, including Clive Barkers Hellbound heart, which influenced the creature that dwells within the church in the graveyard, specifically the sacking flesh and lank hair.

For ‘Meme’ I had been reading a lot of Bret Easton Ellis, Less than Zero, Glamorama, and I wanted to create something darkly modern, but slightly experimental, which is why it has two distinct parts.

8. Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears. *
My fears are, or at least used to, centred around the existential, in that I was worried that I was wasting the scant amount of time I have, but more recently since I’ve made some positive changes in my life and found writing and creativity, I feel happier with how I spend my time now. Still, there is always that lingering doubt that I’m a fraud and that I’m still wasting my life, but I think those worries will always be there and it’s something I’ll have to get over or live with.

9. What draws you to dark literature? *
I’ve always leaned towards the darker side of not only literature, but all forms of fiction, including cinema and television. I think there’s a lot of innovation when it comes to probing the darker depths and I find it more alluring. Horror, grimdark, new weird, Lovecraft, all of this things pique me interest and then influences my work.

10. How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work? *
In a lot of my writing, especially when writing dark fiction, I try and bring it down to the base level, on the emotions and terror of life itself, and then I wrap it in the surreal or the weird. The novella I wrote and self-published is about a drug addict and follows a short period of time where he’s thrust on a strange adventure, but it’s his struggles with drugs I focus on firmly. I try and bring something identifiable to things I write.

11. How important are your surroundings when you write? Tell us about your workspace. *
I have a very particular workspace, and always arranged in the same way. This means that i can sit down and get to work, usually at the same time and in the same order, so that I can get myself into a routine. This means that I have a desk and my own equipment, solely used for writing. I also listen to ambient styles of music through my headphones so that I can fully immerse myself in whatever I’m working on.

12. If you had to summarize your philosophy of literary creation, what would that be? *
For me, finding creativity has saved me from a lifetime of questioning my very existence, so I thoroughly believe that not only does everyone have the capacity to be creative, but that it’s vitally important that people take the time to find their voice, be it writing, music, performing arts, painting etc, and allow themselves some space to explore it, as it’s infinitely rewarding.

13. Where can we find more of your work? *
You can find all my publications and self-published books on my website, http://www.elliotharper.com.