Joining us today is U.L. Harper, author of Young Adult/Sci-fi-thriller novel In Blackness.
Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Harper. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Well, I’d like to consider myself having a great sense of humor. I run an after-school program and I’m working on a stand-up routine aimed at probably 4th and 5th graders. We’ll see how that goes. I skateboarded for about twelve years and played in a band for about ten. That almost sounds interesting, but I’ve been authoring for a while now too. And, oh, yeah, I’m a baseball fan. That about covers it.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I’ve been sick with writing since I was about, I don’t know, twelve or something. I started out with one-page stories, what we’d call flash fiction nowadays, and then one page turned into two pages, and then three pages. Before I knew it I was writing chapters. At twenty something I had a book written…by hand. I learned to type and never stopped.
Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?
I didn’t. It just happened that the characters are young when they get started, about nine and ten years old. All the conflict just kind of happens to them and they need to deal with it. It was only by chance that basically all the adult characters die off. It’s not something I tried to do. It just kind of happened that way, which I can appreciate.
What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?
I’ll be honest, the challenge is staying relevant to the times because the times seem to change pretty quickly. The other challenge is writing about home life. I don’t normally find it too interesting. What’s very cool about writing for the group is that so many things are new and fresh still. The readers just want someone to relate to and to make it fun. They want creativity. In some other genres, readers are looking for things to ground them in the story, something absolutely normal, and then they want a twist. YA says to just be cool the whole time and we’ll go with your creativity.
I’m going to make this as easy as possible. Years after two kids’ parents are killed, they individually feel an urge to head back to their hometown. They don’t know that they’ve been summoned there and will be captured and tested like nobody has ever been tested before, because those doing the testing have basically nothing to do with this planet. And they’re tall and ugly.
What inspired you to write it?
I had been writing this story for a very long time. What I mean by that is, the town they have to get back to is mentioned in a few other stories of mine. This is a place I visited as a kid and it was just such a wild place that I have to get it out of my system. Then a bunch of it came out of research. It was originally a thriller story but after doing all the research, well, I switched from looking for the perfect chemical weapon to finding out about aliens instead.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
You get this book basically anywhere. Go online and you’ll find it. If you go into a bookstore and it’s not there then they can order it for you.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
What is up next for you?
Of course, I have the sequels to In Blackness coming up but I’m also writing something with the working title of The Miracles of Arthur Lowe. Arthur can legitimately perform miracles but it’s for a specific reason and the reader is following him not too long after he figures out why. Right now it seems fairly interesting. We’ll see.
Do you have anything else to add?
Yeah, I’ve got something to add. Buy my books. The ebooks are pretty cheap. I’m talking like .99 cents. Who can’t afford .99 cents?
Thank you for spending time with us today, U.L. We wish you much success.