To say Hydra author T. Lee Harris is an accomplished writer is an understatement. From Hydra to the Southern Indiana Writers to Per Bastet Publishing (a fine group of writers and close Hydra friends) she runs the gamut of writing styles and efforts. Here is a quick interview fans both old and new will enjoy.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
The biggest pitfall I can think of is trying to write like someone else. It’s fine to admire another writer and the way he/she does things. It’s the same in writing as in painting or drawing: that’s how we learn — but don’t try to duplicate what someone else has done. What they did or hw they did it is a product of their writing voice. Look at what they did and how they did it, then let it simmer for a bit. Assimilate it and let it become a part of your own voice.
What’s your favorite line from any movie?
“You’re no daisy.”
What is your writing Kryptonite?
A lot of noise or people talking to me while I’m trying to concentrate. When I’m working, I tend to submerge into my own world. Things that pull me out of that zone are irritating beyond words and it’s hard to get back on track afterward.
Oh yeah. Lest I forget: cats sitting on my keyboard, chewing the pages of my notebooks and washing their butts directly in front of my monitor don’t help much, either.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
In a way, I already do. T. Lee Harris is a form of my real name, but it’s been altered just a tad. It started waaaaaay back when I was trying to get into comic book writing and art. At the time that field was a veritable boy’s club. It was amazing how much more positive feedback I got when people were unaware of my gender. It was even more amazing how that feedback got reversed when they discovered said gender — but that’s a whole ‘nother story for another time.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with many other authors, but first thing out of the chute, I would have to mention my critique group, the Southern Indiana Writers’ Group.
SIW is and always has been an eclectic group with members all at different stages in the craft and all focused on different genres and types of writing. It helps immeasurably to have someone not familiar with the genre I’m writing point out something that bumped for them. The group’s comments help to make me take a look at things from different angles and to be aware of habitual grammar mistakes.
What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
It’s okay. I know what I’m doing.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Never give up, never veer from the goal.
When others give advice or a critique, listen, chew it over, but don’t let anyone else tell you what your vision should be. Don’t let other people set your goals for you.
Oh, and hang in there. POD and digital books are coming. They’re going to change the whole game.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Ooooooh! Research! I do all sort of research for my work. I use Internet resources, physical books and I often clip or copy news and magazine articles.
How long I spend on research varies per my subject, though. Some things take more in-depth than others. With my historical mysteries, it can be an exercise in futility to try to discover some detail of daily life, so there are times I have to wing it. Thrillers and modern-day mysteries are a completely different thing. These take place in a version of our own world and if I get something wrong, it can blow the reader’s suspension of disbelief out of the water. Still, I can stall out on minutiae if I’m not careful. I have to recognize when I’ve spent a couple hours on a detail and force myself out of research mode and get back to putting words down. Some of my research might have gotten me on a few watch lists, but such are the perils of the modern thriller writer.
How do you select the names of your characters?
For most of my work, I get character names from my family tree. Past generations of my family have been very creative in that department.
My historical stories are different, though. The farther back in time you go, the less likely a Marshall or an Itaska are to fit in. That’s when I either dive back into research looking for names collected from inscriptions from the correct time period or culture. Failing that, I find a glossary of known words from the language and build a name that fits the character or an aspect of the character.
Do you Google yourself?
Never. That can be as bad as stressing out over reviews. Worrying about what someone else is saying only gets in the way.
About T. Lee Harris:
T. Lee Harris is a scribbler of the lowest order. Not only does she pen lies about people who don’t exist, but she draws pictures of them as well. Harris has also been known to aid and abet others by putting their scribblings into book form and even going so far as to devise covers for these publications. She claims she went to school to learn these things, but that shouldn’t be held against anyone.
Harris is, in turn, aided and abetted by others in her assaults against literature. Among these accomplices are Per Bastet Publications, who have shamelessly published her untruths about an ancient Egyptian scribe and a magic temple cat and most recently spread her prevarications about a former football player and a 200 year-old vampire turned international law enforcement agents. Also implicated are Untreed Reads, who have promulgated her lies about a retired spy who keeps getting mixed up in other people’s business, and the Southern Indiana Writers’ Group — possibly the worst offenders of all — who have repeatedly permitted her to commit her acts of literary vandalism with their Indian Creek Anthology Series.
There are suspicions that Harris is committing another novel or two, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Former military intelligence operative, Josh Katzen, had been enjoying retirement. New name, new job, new friends . . . he should have known it couldn’t last.
When a skeleton, wearing an expensive wristwatch, is uncovered in an ancient Peruvian ruin, it sparks a chain of events that threaten to topple Katzen’s new life like so many dominoes. The situation gets worse when the remains are identified as those of a notorious antiquities dealer who disappeared decades before, taking with him the location of an item he’d stolen from the US government.
Against his will, Katzen finds himself drawn back into the shadow-world of espionage and is forced to use his skills and wits to survive and perhaps save the day one more time.