Friday 19 February 2016

Q&A: Brent A Harris, Tales From The Universe author, on his work and science fiction

Author Brent A. Harris will be familiar to regular readers here at Altered Instinct and those of Inklings Press books. He joins us for a chat to discuss the latest anthology. 

Hi Brent, and welcome back to the blog - delighted to see you featuring again in the latest anthology. Give us a quick update for starters on your latest work. 

The Ellian Convergence marks my third published piece through Inklings Press and I’m striving for publication through other outlets. Specifically, I’m aiming to get that first book agented and sold. Obviously, when that happens, I’ll announce it with cries and screams of joy so loud that you all will hear them coming through the holes between the pixels on your computer/mobile screen.

Your story in the anthology is very much full of love. Love between two main characters, of course - but also a love for the genre of sci-fi itself. What were your specific influences with regard to this story from that genre?

I've always felt science fiction stories should be about hope. We've lost that lately, with the emphasis on post apocalyptic futures. But, if the future is truly going to be that dark, what is there to inspire us to move forward and change to something better? I tried to channel that vision of a brighter future Gene Roddenberry left us and I challenge other sci-fi writers to bring back hope.

You took on the role of first reader for submissions in this anthology - did that change your outlook on your own work?

From the beginning, I wanted to do the classic crew in crisis story, complete with spaceship battle. Because who doesn't love it when an X-Wing zips down the Death Star trench, or the Enterprise faces off against a Bird of Prey? I also wanted to fill my story with allusions to what has come before. It is full of Easter eggs, from DC Brackett's name being an algamation of female Sci fi writers DC Fontana and Leigh Brackett, to a mention about a little maneuver at Tanaab. But, being the submissions editor meant that I had to stay away from stories I'd already seen. For example, my ship was originally going to be alive, as a nod to Farscape. A ship with an AI was already common element in many stories, so I realized that the death of my ship's AI worked better for the story and separated it from the other submissions.

You mentioned your favourite sci-fi characters being some of the classics - such as Ripley or the Firefly crew... but what makes a character stand out most for you, what draws you to them?

Sci Fi stories are about strength. What unites Lt Ripley and Sarah Connor and Malcolm Reynolds is the inner strength they must find within themselves to overcome the big bad. It's what I hoped to do with my main character, DC Brackett. Should she succumb to her own desires for love, for protection of her crew, or should she risk it all on a gamble? She has to find the strength to make that choice. Hopefully, I've written to that intent.

Where can readers can follow your work?

I steal this blog! It’s helpful because I don’t have the time nor the material to always blog myself. And, I’d rather put the words and energy into crafting my next book. Occasionally, I’ll have a far-fetched theory or a tingling thought tickling my skull that won’t go away. Altered Instinct is an amazing platform for those rare times. I have an impossibly true theory about R2-D2, the Imperial Astromech droid, up on the blog and I’ve got an itch about Han’s role in Episode 8 I’d love to scratch. (Editor's note: You can read a free story by Brent here)

I’m also on Wattpad, but quite new. I’ll have a couple of pieces of flash fiction up there soon: The Intruder, a horror story about a break-in with a haunting twist, and A Crown for Two, in which the crowning achievement of this Roman Emperor is murder. Lastly, I’m fresh on where I’m soon be posting my first academic paper: A Gendered Approach to Submission in Armed Combat: The British Surrender at the Siege of Yorktown. Thoughts on all are welcome.

Are you on social media?

If I have any fans of my writing out there, or you just need to know where I’m at so you can launch your next physical or paper tomato assault at me, I’m on Facebook at and Twitter @BrentAHarris1. I can’t promise to hold still though, while your throw your fruit, unless I’m running low on ketchup.

What are you working on next for readers to look forward to?

First, is my book, A Time of Need, which will be published one way or another within the next 15 months (sooner if I self-publish) and I also hope to do my own collected anthology of short stories, launching November. Our next Inklings Press anthology will be Alternate History, so I have a story to write for that, plus I’m continuing to enter short story competitions. Finally, I’m working feverishly on my next book. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it all as I am in writing it. Thank you for your continued support of this indie author!

Lastly, we always like to round up by asking this, what book are you reading at present?

As a father of 2 and a writer, I am quickly losing the time I once had for reading. I've not lost the passion and I've managed to finish the Hunger Game Trilogy. I'm also beta-reading and reviewing a few indy books, including fellow Universe contributor, Daniel M. Bensen's Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen, which, regretfully is not the dinosaur porn I thought the title suggested, but it is still enjoyable, nonetheless.

Many thanks, Brent - and best of luck with the novel! 

Tales From The Universe is available now on Amazon here: 

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