And here’s our interview:
BMK: First of all congratulations on your debut novel being published. That’s a huge deal, and you should be proud. How are you planning to celebrate the release?
DH: Thanks. Yes, I am very proud. It’s been a long, hard journey with this novel and I’m glad I finally made it to my destination—publication. I don’t have a release party plan, but I do plan on celebrating. In fact, I have a cigar I’ve been saving for this particular occasion. Might pick up a bottle of my favorite bourbon as well.
BMK: You’ve had several short stories published in the past, so you know your way around a story… Were there any unexpected challenges that you found in writing a novel? Second part: how long did it take to write?
DH:Though I knew going in that writing novel was going to be a tough battle, there were many unexpected challenges. First of all, the story I started out with was nothing like what I ended up writing. The plot was different. Some minor characters were major characters and vise versa. Scenes were taken out and others added in. Settings were different, etc. It took a while for me to get the novel on stable footing, and it also took a lot of help from friends and fellow writers. They say that writing a novel is not a solo effort and it’s true. I couldn’t have made it over certain blocks without their insights and opinions.
How long did it take to write it? Three years. Why so long? Four reasons: 1) Because of many blocks I faced in the writing process and the changes I had to make in order to make it over those blocks. 2) I went back to school for a second BA degree (journalism), so schoolwork took up a lot of my spare time. 3) I was working on a novella for an anthology titled Twisted Tales from the Torchlight Inn. That was another adventure. 4) I wrote three short stories for three other anthologies to which I was invited to contribute. So to sum up, I was distracted, but busy and productive.
BMK: Horror writers have to have an understanding of real fear to be any good. So what kinds of things do you find terrifying?
DH:I know it’s cliché, but I am genuinely terrified of heights. Even when I’m watching a movie and a character finds himself, lets say, standing on the ledge of a tall building looking down, I feel myself getting jittery and weak in the knees. Another thing that makes me sick with dread is the thought of nuclear war, which seems to be an imminent threat these days.
BMK: Is there a worse flavor of ice cream than Possum Blood Crunch?
DH: Now there’s a random question, and it deserves a random response—Porcelain Mudslide.
BMK: How are you on vampires, zombies, and werewolves? Seen enough yet, or is there still some ground left to cover?
DH: I’ll start with werewolves—can’t get enough of them. I find that they have a lot in common with the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome, another of my favorites. I love the theme of man’s inner beast breaking free of its moral restraints, which is explored in my novel, but not in werewolf form. That’s for another story.
With zombies, I know I might be in the minority here, but I just don’t get the fascination. To me, there’s nothing interesting about them. I loved Night of the Living Dead, but beyond that I just get bored. What can you do with the zombie story that hasn’t already been done? I’m sure Brian Keene has already answered that question for me. I still need to read The Rising, and watch an episode of Walking Dead. Maybe one day I’ll jump aboard the zombie train. We’ll see.
Vampires. Now here is why I believe I might one day change my opinion about zombies—because I used to feel the same way about vampires. I thought they were boring and overdone. It wasn’t until I was asked to write a short story for the anthology Fem-Fangs that I changed my mind. There are always new twists you can put on old stories. That’s where the creative part of fiction writing comes in. You also need to have fun with it. Don’t go down the well-trodden path. As Richard Laymon once put it, “blaze your own trails.”
BMK: What kind of entity or being would you like to see enslave humanity? Mole people? Aliens? Robots? Something else?
DH: Dancing skeletons. That’s not enslavement, that’s a party.
BMK: If you could see any two literary characters in a fist fight, who would you pit against each other?
DH: The Frankenstein monster and Hannibal Lector. I think that would be a pretty interesting fight to watch.
BMK: I’m recycling this question because I love it: Many, many years from now, after I’ve passed away, I would like people to be able to summon me. I think a person alone by a campfire at midnight should be able to close their eyes, say my name eleven times, and have me appear. How will the children of the future summon Dean Harrison?
DH: After midnight, spill a bottle of Southern Comfort on the floor in the shape of a star. Next, blast Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” at full volume and turn off all the lights. Then, stand in the center of the star and scream my name until your voice gives out. As a result, I will manifest before your very eyes and scold you for wasting perfectly good liquor.
BMK: What’s something folks should know about These Unquiet Bones?
DH: It’s more than just a horror novel—it’s a mystery, a psychological suspense thriller, a family drama. I like to think of it as a Southern Gothic. I hope others agree.
BMK: What are you cooking up next?
DH: A novella inspired by some elements of Celtic mythology and vampire lore. It’s a quiet horror that reveals my spin on the vampire theme. Though the monster in this story is not a vampire, it has somewhat similar traits.
BMK: Those questions were so glorious, the voices tell me I can ask a bonus question… Gotta think… This has to be good… GOT IT! Who is a cartoon character that deserves to be tortured for weeks on end, and what should be the nature of said torture?
DH: Sponge Bob Square Pants. A few hours spent in the toaster.
Thanks to Dean Harrison for taking time out of celebrating his novel’s release to answer my super awesome questions! Everybody else, go buy These Unquiet Bones. Read it, review it, tell a friend. “But, Brent! I was saving that money to buy smack!” No, guys. No more smack. We talked about this, remember? You spend your money on top-quality, independently-published literature from now on.