Dr. Alan Harris is the author, illustrator, and literal voice behind the Tales of Larkin book/audio book series. In addition (and I’m sure much to his excitement and wonder of all wonders), he’s also the seventh author in my interview series, Pickin’ An Author’s Knows. He started the first book of his 3-book series while he was in veterinary school and, as he puts it,
I was walking in the woods and found a creek with a small three-step waterfall. As I sat there enjoying the view, I spotted a small hole in the rock that was only about an inch tall. I thought that if I were one-inch tall, I could explore it. Then I began to think about what it would be like to be one-inch tall and have to live in the woods. Pretty soon my imagination was running wild, and an idea for a story exploded…
With that whiz-bang event fresh in the shards of our minds, let’s pick some more of his writerly knows. (Oh I know, I know. In case you veered off the I think Darlene’s so clever path with my play on words, we’ll pause for a collective eyeball roll and assorted disgusted noisery.)
Dr. Harris, thank ye for your time, insight, and knowledge. And, thank ye for all of your books!
11. If you could step back in time, what would you tell yourself as a beginning writer?
I would tell myself that I could do this if I just stay focused and disciplined myself. I would tell myself that writing a book, even a long book, is easily accomplished if I just stick to it. I would also have tried to take the time to read more great books and study the authors’ techniques.
12. What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer today?
Read good books by authors who know how to tell a good story. I would tell them that, in my opinion, a good story is not plot-driven but is more character-driven, so work at developing good characters for your stories.
13. What is your favorite how-to book on the craft of writing?
I’m a little embarrassed to answer this. I haven’t read any books on how to write. It’s not that I’m against them or don’t see their value. Maybe I’m lazy or just prideful, but I was an avid reader when I was young, and I developed a sense for what makes a good story, at least in my mind. I have always tried to let those ideas guide my writing.
14. One of mine is “Story Craft” by “Hank the Cowdog” author, John R. Erickson, and in it he says, “Let artists return to the ancient notion that art and literature should nourish the human spirit, not poison it.” (p.106) Do you agree? Why?
I most hardily agree! Life is hard and discouraging enough without somebody writing books that are emotionally abusive, discouraging, or disheartening. If I’m going to take the time to read a book, then I want to be better for having read it. I most definitely want people to say that about my stories
It is very important for me that I understand the priorities in my life and make sure that I always keep them in their proper place: God first, then my wife, next my children, family, spiritual family, work. . . Writing comes somewhere below these. It is my goal not to let writing get in the way of my relationship with God, the important people in my life, or my work responsibilities. It takes longer to write something, but I don’t feel guilty about how I use my time, and I feel that I am keeping myself in a place so that God can bless me if that is what He wants to do.
16. Most authors utilize various online social media venues (i.e. websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to promote their books and, essentially, themselves. As both a child of God and an author, how do you balance the secular endorsement ideals (that are heavy with pride, vanity, and self-exaltation) with Christ’s traits (that exalt humility, holiness, and surrender)?
Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I have not been very good at promoting my work. Since pride is a big stumbling block for me, I have decided to accept my promotional ineptness as God’s gift and to just pray about those things, do what I can, and keep writing. I realize that pride is something that I can’t handle properly, so I have made Jesus my refuge for that. He has no problem with pride, so I have decided to let Him handle all of those circumstances for me. I choose to just rest in His humility and lowliness. I really think He wants us to do that for all of life.
17. What image or quote hangs on your office wall that helps orient your internal compass?
I don’t have a quote on my wall, but I keep God’s Word on my desk, and I read it daily. There seems to always be something in that book that keeps me pointed in the right direction. I look for that every day, and God always provides.
18. Please tell us about your current project.
I am in the middle of doing audio recordings of my third book, Tales of Larkin: The Great Gathering. Once I have completed the audio book then I will upload it to join my others on Audible.com. I do have a forth book that I am thinking about and writing some notes for, but my current project is not a book. My daughter Juliana wrote a play on the life of Corrie Ten Boom. She put together a drama group and was directing the production. The circumstances didn’t work out to do it as a play, so she and I decided to make it into a movie. For the past five months, we and the kids in her group have been focused on filming and editing it, and we have just finished it. The kids did phenomenally well, and the story is very powerful! It has taken an enormous amount of time and effort, but we are very grateful for and excited about the results. We will be having our “premier” this week to show it to the kids, their families and friends. God is amazing!
my PAAK interview with Dr. Harris: Part 1
Alan W. Harris:
Hawthorn’s Discovery – book 1
Larkin’s Journal – book 2
The Great Gathering – book 3
Connect with Dr. Harris here: