For this sixth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Harlow West – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know over the past year. Her quirky charm and sense of humor shine through in her writing.
Give us a short introduction to you.
My name is Harlow. I live in NYC with my wonderfully nerdy husband and our two geriatric, codependent cats. I’m a Capricorn, I like long walks on the beach and piña coladas … wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah! I am a writer and artist, and I love anything nerdy.
How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I’ve been writing professionally if you can call it that, for close to a year, but I stared writing as a hobby in my early teens. So if my calculations are correct, it was somewhere around the time that man discovered fire. A girl needs light to write by, am I right?
In what genre(s) do you write?
I love to write in all sorts of genres. I’ve tried my hand at horror, paranormal, romance, science-fiction, and fantasy. However, more often than not, I usually start out writing general fiction and without fail it always turns into something in the fantasy or science-fiction genre.
Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
This is the fun part. When it comes to short stories I like to just put pen to paper and see what happens. It’s sort of like giving a toddler a lb. of sugar and watching the chaos ensue. Then I take in the aftermath and apply tweaks wherever they are needed. When writing long-form things like novellas and novels I like to use a hybrid method. I take a day or two to create a bare bones outline. I flesh out the major plot points and try to decipher my themes and then I promptly crumple it up, throw it across the room, and hope for the best.
Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
There have been so many authors that have inspired me along the way. Some of the usual suspects are J.K. Rowling, P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast, King, Tolkien. However, the first book that ever made me want to be an artist and writer was Trouble for Trumpets by Peter Cross and Peter Dallas-Smith. My grandmother would read it to me over and over again, ad nauseum. I was a relentless child and she was a very forgiving woman. The illustrations in that book were breath-taking and the story was just wonderful.
Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I used to write poetry, though it’s been longer than I’d like to admit since I’ve written any.
How has your life experiences affected your writing?
No one has an easy life. We all struggle with one thing or another. My struggles have taught me about my own inner strength and my ability to keep pushing through, no matter what problem arises.
What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
Death scenes are the hardest for me in general, not so much because of the death involved, but because of the effect they have on the characters/people that were left behind.
Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Beta readers, yes, but I’m constantly working to find those beta reader unicorns. They exist! I am always on the look out for people who are able and willing to give usable critiques and constructive criticism. I may not use them for everything that I write, but their help can sometimes point out story aspects that I may have missed while writing my first drafts.
What inspires your story ideas?
I find inspiration in everyday life. Often I try to keep my mouth closed and my mind open and just take in everything around me. Every once in a while I will read something, or hear something that will sprinkle my cookies, so to speak. It may be a song lyric, the graceful movements of a stranger, or just a single word, but it will strike me in such a way that I have to stop and write down my thoughts. After a while, I will go through my notes, and if I’m lucky, a story idea or two will come out of the jumbled mess that is my writer’s notebook.
Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I am currently a proud member of The Scribes’ Circle. I’d love to be a member of more writing associations in the future, but I currently have the concentration of a squirrel on meth so it will have to wait until a later date.
Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
I am currently working on a few different projects. One project is about a girl who visits by a spectral carnival and realizes that the fun house isn’t nearly as fun as she thought it would be. Another project will be exploring the power and magic of words. A third project is a fun little romp through a post-apocalyptic world.
My favorite snipping from my post-apocalyptic story is:
When Adelinde first stepped off of the train platform and into the subway car she almost ran directly into them. A couple. The same couple that she had taken the train with into the city at least a dozen and a half times by now. They were cute together, the sort of couple that stood a little too close together in public. The ones whose hands would accidentally graze each other every chance they had. A coy glance here, a stolen kiss there. She could tell it was new love for the both of them. As time passed and they became braver with their public displays of affection she could tell… this was either going to be one for the ages or yet another dramatic shit show to watch on her way into the city.
At first, it looked like just another pre-work make out session for the couple. She sat next to him, her legs draped over his and her arms hanging from his neck. His hand slid slowly up her thigh until it gripped her firmly about the hips. His other hand tangling in her hair, pulling her face to his in a passionate embrace. It wasn’t until she heard the muffled screaming and felt the spray of blood land squarely across her freshly pressed pencil skirt that Adelinde realized that there was something terribly wrong.
Have you been published?
Aside from a poem or two that was published at the tender age of 16, I don’t have many publishing notches on my belt. However, I may or may not have had a little somethin’ – somethin’ to do with the Unbound anthology by The Scribes’ Circle. *Dim the lights and cue the sexy-time music.*
[Note from J.M. – you can check out Unbound here.]
How can readers follow you?
Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I speak several languages including English, sarcasm, inappropriate humor, movie and television quotes, and memes. If you understand these then we will get along well.
Thanks, Harlow, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!