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Sep 25, 2013

Chatting to AJ Harmon: Interview

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  8:00 AM

I am so thrilled to have AJ Harmon on my blog today as my first interview after the abuse I unleashed on writer serial killers who murder blogs with their often lack luster and unmemorable performances at interviews (post). This is one brave chic I must say. LOL. And let me just mention right now how thrilled I am she came onboad because she is totally badass as an interviwee. AJ you are a ROCKSTAR and welcome here anyday! 
I hope you guys enjoy the interview as much as I did preparing it. LET THE INQUISITION BEGIN!


What genres do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I am a Romance reader ALL. THE. TIME! Historical or contemporary works for me.

As a writer what do you learn from reading other people’s books?
Character development! Have you ever read a book and half way through you realize that you still don’t ‘get’ the hero or heroine? I love reading how other writers give you insights into the characters and have you fall in love with them. I was talking to another writer last week, actually, and after reading the first draft of her story I was talking to her about her lead female and I told her that unless the reader cares about that character in the first few pages of the book, they’re not going to care about the rest of the story, or perhaps not even finish it! I learn so much from reading other books by fantastic story-tellers…stuff that I totally missed before I started writing myself.

What is your favorite time in the history of romance writing?
Jane Austen, without a doubt. Men were men and women were ladies! Call me old-fashioned, I don’t care, but I love the way she created these eternal characters. They will live forever.

If you had to make improvements on the ultimate romance story of all time Pride and Prejudice, (for me anyway), what would those changes be?
Isn’t is sacrilege to change it? ;) BUT, I would have married off Mr. Collins to Mary Bennett. I was sad that Charlotte was saddled with him, even though Ms. Austen describes their pairing beautifully. And to be truthful, I was irritated that Mr. Wickham comes out relatively unscathed. I would like to see him roughed up a bit. ***wicked smile**

(let me interject here and say I agree completely. Mr Wickham was a complete and utter ass and Charllote had too much muchness for that stuffy religious toad, Mr Collin)


I imagine a musician will enjoy listening to their own product as much as possible after its final release; do you do this with your books, not listen but read I mean? 
I haven’t had time! As one book is finished I start the next one. When the series is completed I would like to take a week or two and read all of them from start to finish.

You have a series out made up of 8 volumes (The First Class Series) have you written any stand alone books?
No, not yet. I’m looking forward to it though. I have a million and one character

I love the story behind the start of your writing career. But I’m curious, what was happening at that particular moment when your friend dared you to write a book? Did she know what she was unleashing?
I doubt she knew. I didn’t know what she was unleashing! Lol It was an amazing thing for me to become an empty-nester a few years ago. With both my kids gone I had to rediscover myself and I think that I was struggling to do that. As women, sometimes we feel guilty and selfish if we take time or resources for ourselves and I know for me, I had always come last on the priority list, and I’m the one who put me there!! I believe that writing was the answer to some serious soul-searching, some prayer, a need to find out what I really wanted to be when I grew up! Once I began, the stories just poured out of me, like they’d been seeking release for years.

You have seven brothers in the First Class Series, how did you go about creating characters for 7 different children? How easy or difficult is that?
I come from a family of six kids, so seven children seemed pretty natural to write about. The Lathem brothers are all physically similar, tall dark and handsome, of course. But each brother has a distinct personality. I hope that they come across that way! They are real people to me so writing about them seems natural, and easy.

Buy First Class Hero

If you were asked to kill any of the brothers, which one would you absolutely refuse to?
Just one is safe? Lol Umm, probably Paul. He was a Navy Seal and served for 11 years and I couldn’t bear to have him survive bullet wounds and shrapnel and then die. It would break my heart.

You released volume one in November 2012 (First Class to New York) and since then you have produced 8 novels for the series within less than a year and you are busy with the 9th (First Class Farewell), it seems like a very short space of time for such a long series. What is your writing process for the series and each book?
I have it surprisingly easy to go from one story to the next. I think because they are brothers, and because the rest of the family pop up in each book, in some ways it is just a continuation of the story. With the exception of the first two books (NY and Portland) the books are stand-alone and one brother’s story comes to a close before the next one starts. I try not to think about the next book while writing but sometimes that’s hard. 

I have to give myself deadlines because I’m naturally lazy! :) But I don’t worry about word count or the number of chapters. I just let the story tell itself. I don’t like authors who drag out a story for the sole purpose of lengthening the book – it drives me crazy. I would prefer to read a shorter novel that is perfect, than a long boring one with glimpses of perfection. 
Once I sit down at the computer and the story begins, I do little else until it is complete, usually 3-5 weeks per book. (That includes house work, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.! It’s a great excuse to say “I’m writing so get your own dinner!”** that wicked smile again**)

I suppose by now you have an established fan base, what would you say your readers have come to expect from your books?

By First Class to Portland
Romance and emotion. I cannot tell you how many times a reader has told me how emotional they become while reading my stories. I want the reader to feel the story, not just read it. And there needs to be a little humor in there too. If you don’t laugh out loud then I’ve failed! :-)  I mean I want this family to be real to you when you read their stories and from the reaction I’ve had, I think it’s working! 

Just out of curiosity, what kind of schedule do you keep to get all this done considering that you self publish?
As I said, it takes me anywhere from 3-5 weeks to write a story. Then the editing begins and that takes a few weeks as well. I like to have a book wrapped up in 6-10 weeks total, and while I am working, my team works as well (marketing, graphics, cover design, etc.)

Who, in your support team has made the most contributions in your story telling and the finished product?
Well, that would be my son, Christopher. He is an amazing individual and an incredibly talented young man and he wears many hats for me. He is an editor, a proof-reader, my graphic designer, and takes my word document and turns it into a Kindle book for publishing. He has also created the paperbacks and formatted all the digital files for other e-book platforms (iTunes, Nook, Google Play) and built my website and maintains it. He is currently working on my new website ajharmon.com that will be up shortly. 
Secondly, would be my husband who is a marketing strategist, so he has been the one who plans and implements all of the marketing we do for the books. He is also the one I go to when I need to talk out a scene or have writer’s block. I am incredibly blessed to have these two men in my life.

What the best writing mistake you've ever, made something that you never planned to have happen but worked out great for your writing?
Um, giving Matt six brothers while writing New York! Lol It wasn’t the plan to write a series when I wrote the first book. I knew there’d be two books but then viola! A series was born.

Buy First Class Stamp

What do you think is the key to the success that your books are enjoying now?
I think readers really connect with the women in my stories. Yes, the books are about the Lathem brothers, but the women they fall for are women I want to be friends with…women we may already know…women who are flawed and yet we don’t mind…we come to love them right along with the men. 

So I heard through the grapevine that on your wish list to Santa is a desire for a Hollywood director to pick up your books and love them. If that were to happen, which movie company would you like to make them into film and would they be theatre movies or television drama series? 
(Oh btw HERE's the grapevine)
Well, they’d be considered chick flicks (the best kind of movies, right?) and I can totally see them on the big screen! :-) Touchstone, Mirimax, any film company would be fine :-) But I think I’d like to see a woman director. The books are for women and the movies would be for women and a woman director would perhaps give the films the emotional touch I would require. ***smiles***

The same grapevine also gave word that you have a short story awaiting release. Can you tell us what to expect and would you grace my blog with a preview sometime.
Absolutely! It is difficult to give away free stories on Amazon, so my short stories will end up on my new website. I want to give readers the opportunity to sample my work and then decide if they want to spend money on my books. 

I am an aspiring writer who hopes to get the self publishing process right too. What piece of advice do you have for me?
I have two pieces of advice. 
  1. Write! Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it when you’re done, write! And finish it! And 
  2.  Get yourself a couple of people whom you trust completely and let them critique your work. I would never have published New York if I hadn’t let several people read it and tell me they loved it. But they also told me what was wrong with it and that I needed to fix it first, which I did. I am grateful that they were honest with me. Every writer needs a brutally honest opinion.
End of Interview
AJ, it was absolutely wonderful having you over today, thank you. I loved every minute.


Reader:

Get some more AJ tomorrow because I will  posting a sneak peak from her upcoming short story edition and...(drum roll)....putting up a giveaway for a chance to win a beautiful package containing: A tote bag, a book and a mug. Fabulous!!!! The draw will be this coming Sunday.

Remember you can buy all of AJ's book through my new book store: 
Fabulosity Reads Book Shoppe.
I appreciate your support, it helps me do what I love best which is blogging about writers and getting their work out there. 

About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...

2 comments:

  1. I see what you mean by interesting interview Wendy. I hate boring blogs, but this was interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awww. what a compliment Eve. Thank you from the both of us.

    ReplyDelete

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