Joel Mark Harris is one busy guy!  If writing novels doesn’t keep our lives busy enough, this man has made a film as well.  I found Joel through his wonderful book ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ but have since discovered he is an award winning producer and writer of ‘Neutral Territory’, a show that I would love to watch.  Actually, I must ask him if he can send it to me – Joel, are you reading this??

In his spare time, he is a journalist.  Man, where do you find the time?  He was also a fast friend for me, and we have had some wonderful virtual chats already.  That only reminds me that we haven’t had a chat for a while.  My bad, Joel!!

Here are the wonderful words of Joel Mark Harris.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

I would like to try my hand in horror. I don’t go out of my way to read horror or to watch horror movies, but I’m a great admirer of Stephen King and would like to write a story with him in mind. I’ve been struggling with a screenplay I’ve been writing called Witches of Whitewater which I hope one day will be produced.

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

I get a lot of my ideas from newspaper articles I have read and the story sort of springboards from there. Every day newspapers are filled with fascinating and interesting people and events.  I think it’s an under utilized source. They are very helpful for writer’s block, for sure.  The characters I create are usually based, a least partly, on people I have met or know.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

I generally have a story title in mind. Sometimes that title changes as the story changes and sometimes it stays the same. For example my last novel was originally called The World is A Fine Place. It is a quote from Hemmingway, but my publisher thought it was a little too literary for a thriller so I changed it to A Thousand Bayonets, which at least sounds like it has some action.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

Oh definitely. Game of Thrones has totally revitalized the genre. I don’t think fantasy or science fiction have ever gone out of style but they were never mainstream. I think Game of Thrones has made them mainstream now and the HBO series is one of the most popular television shows out there.

What themes are being overused?

Oh. That’s a hard one. I think apocalyptic themes in sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong there are some good apocalyptic books and movies out there but it would be nice to see the genre take a new direction.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

I don’t think so. Even if a movie doesn’t live up to a book’s expectations, I wouldn’t say the movie ruined the book. I guess part of that is I never expect a movie version to be as good as a book so I’m never disappointed.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Yes, definitely, although I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I see it as evening the playing field so books that would never have been looked at publishers before now have a chance to become great success. Fifty Shades of Grey is a great example of this. It’s a book that most publishers would have not even considered publishing because of the content, but because it was so popular as a self-published book it has gotten mainstream distribution and a movie deal.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I like both. I definitely have my favourite authors that I return to but I always like to keep tabs on new authors.  It’s exciting to see up-and-coming authors be successful.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

I grew up with Lord of the Rings and I think the fact it is a totally different world than the one we live in. I love studying the maps and learning about the history of the place. I have to say, I read Game of Thrones years before it became popular.  Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

You already have one, but if anybody wants to join my fanpage on Facebook and they message they read this blog I will make sure to give them a great deal they won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

I think my family is especially important to me and they are the ones who read my novels first. My sister, Stephanie, read numerous drafts of a Thousand Bayonets and for that I’m very grateful. She didn’t pull any punches either. If something sucked she wasn’t afraid to say so.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

I usually aim for 100,000 words but I don’t necessarily hold myself to that. The book will end when it feels right.

Do you have a target each day?

I try and write a thousand words a day but it doesn’t always happen. The trick I learned is not to be too hard on myself if I don’t meet that goal. Some days just aren’t good writing days and some days the words just flow out and I will exceed my goal. Of course if I’m writing a screenplay then I usually go for ten pages.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

I usually write several books at once. Right now I’m working on a sequel of sorts to my novel A Thousand Bayonets called Shame the Devil. I’m also writing the screenplay for A Thousand Bayonets as well as a True Crime novel about a drug dealer.

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Yes, I definitely start out with a character first and figure out the dilemma in the novel or screenplay first. Although my stories are fast-paced thrillers, I wouldn’t be interested in writing them if interesting characters didn’t populate them.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

It’s all about keeping the characters fresh and interesting. If you have interesting characters, no matter what happens to them, the book will always be unique.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

I try to illuminate most time wasting. Of course Facebook can be a time waster if you let it, but it’s also a fantastic marketing tool. For me, the hardest part is deciding what to focus my limited resources in (both time and money). How much time should I spend marketing? It’s a tough question. I usually spend about fifty percent of my time marketing and fifty percent actually writing. Am I wasting time marketing in the wrong areas when I can be focused on other areas? It’s tough to say and I learn from trial and error.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

I’ve never actually stumbled on my book in a bookstore but when A Thousand Bayonets got into Blackberry Bookstore I was very proud.

Do you read other people’s writing?

Yes, of course. It’s the only way to learn and improve the craft.

Would you read mine?

Of course. Any time. I would be honoured.

Joel Mark Harris can be found down many dingy back streets, or in the follwoing cyber spots:

Website: Joel Mark Harris

Twitter:  @JoelMarkHarris

Amazon Author Page: