Meet the Author: Harlan Graves
It’s been a long while since I’ve had an author interview on here. That’s why I’m so happy to welcome Harlan Graves to the fold today! Welcome, Harlan!
Harlan is an up and coming horror author, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of his great scary stories.
(You can check out my review of Fallow Pines here and Something in the Woods here)
Also, Harlan is currently celebrating a new release, The Darkness in the Pines. Congrats!
All right, let’s get to know Harlan better, shall we?
I’m Harlan Graves. I write horror and dark fantasy. My creative well is filled with 80s, 90s, and pulp-era horror-themed everything. I’m exploring that darkness without a flashlight.
Hi Harlan, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
It’s the apocalypse, and you only get to choose two items to take along into the devastation. What would you bring?
Harlan: A rifle and a water filter, definitely.
Jonny: Oh, that’s a great choice. I didn’t think of a water filter, darn! Looks like I’m not gonna make it very long. I’ll have to make do with the Glock and katana I chose to bring with me. Maybe I can find a water filter along the way. Here’s hoping!
Harlan and the Writing Process
Tell us a little bit about your writing.
Harlan: I think I take a punk rock style approach to writing, in the regard that what I write tends to be stripped down, fast-paced, and hard-edged. I really embrace the DIY side of indie publishing, by just writing and editing myself and putting it out there in that almost raw, pulpy form for people to read. I design all of my own covers as well, so far anyway.
I think the elements found in my writing are an amalgamation of 80s horror films, pulp-era horror stories and magazines, splatterpunk, and the dark and violent anime films of the 80s and 90s.
Jonny: Having read some of your works I agree with how you described your style. Your stories move quickly and have a certain kick to them that I really enjoy.
It’s pretty awesome that you also create your own covers and are a one-man powerhouse for your publishing as well. I’m always fearful that if I tried to create a cover for my own work that it would look awful, but then again I’ve never tried.
As far as your elements, I love that you’re so inspired by nostalgia from the past few decades. A lot of my ideas are rooted in classic horror movies as well.
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
Harlan: Alone in a room, usually listening to a lot of atmospheric New Retro Wave — the 80s horror-themed stuff like Midnight Danger, Dance with the Dead, Mega Drive, stuff like that. I absolutely have to be alone, though.
Jonny: We have a lot in common as far as setting goes. I always hole myself up in my room and use ambient music to write. These days I typically listen to either drone ambient or nature sounds. Though I haven’t used New Retro Wave specifically for writing, I do enjoy it and like listening to it in my spare time. Definitely reminds me of the 80’s, and I adore the nostalgia.
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
Harlan: Horror. I’ve always gravitated to all things dark and creepy. I love the atmosphere of horror and the struggle against supernatural or unusual forces. I like to explore the darkness.
And I must admit, I enjoy putting characters into horrible situations and seeing how they survive. Or don’t. Sometimes the monsters win.
Jonny: You’re preaching to the choir 100%! There’s something about that dark edge in the genre that is so alluring, and there’s unlimited possibilities. Even if an idea seems ‘been there, done that’ there’s always a new spin you can take on it that no one’s quite tackled before.
Oh, I agree! I pity my poor brave characters and the hell that I put them through, but honestly they wouldn’t be as amazing if we didn’t put them through a heaping serving of horrible, right? The good guys can’t always win, and even if they do, there’s gotta be some serious losses across the board.
If you could give advice to new writers, what would you say?
Harlan: Just write what you like. Write what comes naturally to you. To thine own self be true. Don’t struggle to write what you think other people will like, just write what you want to read. You’ll never know if you can do it or not unless you hammer the words out.
Jonny: Totally. Go with what you know, and let that bring people to you, not the other way around. Some writers try to follow trends in fiction, but I think that can be a dangerous strategy to have. Embracing your writing style and setting achievable goals is definitely the way to go.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Harlan: So far I’ve read every review I’ve ever gotten. I appreciate every single word someone writes about my stories, whether the review is good or bad. The good ones I cherish, and the bad ones… well, I just remind myself that not everyone will like or appreciate what I’m writing. I try to take something away from each one, regardless.
Jonny: I do too, so you’re not alone in that. Getting a written review regardless of how short or long it is is rare enough as it is, so it does mean something that someone cared enough to say something. The bad ones can be a struggle to look over sometimes, but I take the same route you do and try to see value in each opinion. And sometimes your writing just isn’t for some people. That’s just a fact of life in the writing world.
Fun Facts About Harlan
Pancakes or waffles?
Harlan: Pancakes all the way.
Jonny: I’m more of a waffle guy, but I have to say, with cooking you can get really creative. I don’t really like the traditional pancake or waffle smothered in maple syrup. I tend to favor things a bit outside the box like chicken and waffles, and I’m sure there are some savory twists on pancakes to be had that are addictive.
If you could choose to be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
Harlan: A werewolf. Aside from being incredibly badass, I’d only be afflicted on the full moon, so it would be much easier to balance a normal life.
Jonny: Great pick. You would be king of your territory. Instant top of the food chain!
Hmm, today I’d say I want to know what being a ghost would be like (definitely influenced by what I’m currently reading).
I’ve always joked with my friends that I’d prefer to stay on Earth when my body retires, but I really am curious what a high-functioning ghost’s existence would be like (not an imprint or loop ghost, leaning more towards poltergeist-level activity). Where do they go when we can’t see them? What darkness consumes them? I gotta know!
What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
Harlan: Horror and fantasy. I love the atmosphere and exploration of the darker side of the world we live in with horror. Fantasy because of the sense of adventure and epic struggles. And I really like swords.
Jonny: Great choices! There’s really something special about those genres that most people can get into. And also, I love swords as well!
Mine would be horror, apocalyptic, or dystopia. Pretty obvious reasons with horror, but I love the idea of warped parallel universes of ours with elements that are distinctly different, whether that means the world ‘ended’ or is simply different doesn’t really matter to me. I just love exploring the possibility.
What would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Harlan: A wolf or a crow.
Jonny: Oh wow, very cool animals to choose! I usually pick panther because I love cats, but today I’m gonna go with fox. They’re seen as clever tricksters and I’ve always been pretty mischievous and crafty.
Harlan and His Works
Tell us about your new book.
Harlan: I’ve just published the third Fallow Pines story (which in the scheme of the continuity is actually the first story in the timeline.) It’s called The Darkness in the Pines, and details the encounters that David’s (the POV of The Beast of Fallow Pines) father had with the beast prior to David’s story.
Jonny: I am so excited about this development! Through previous talks with you I knew there would be a third but I had no idea it would come out so soon. Also, a prequel situation sounds great and it lets you tackle a different era, which will be interesting.
How did you come up with the title for this book?
Harlan: I felt The Darkness in the Pines captured the atmosphere I wanted to convey for these stories, that there is a dark presence lurking in the woods. Something that exists outside of the light of the known world, on the fringes of human experience.
Jonny: Wow, that’s the perfect explanation, and it makes sense on multiple levels. Love the title.
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
Harlan: Initially, I wrote The Beast of Fallow Pines as a one-off short story, with no intention of writing more after I published it. I had been listening to a lot of podcasts and watching a lot of YouTube videos about cryptids. Sasquatch, the Beast of Bray Road, the dogman, and the various encounters surrounding these creatures.
When I finished The Beast of Fallow Pines, I almost immediately came up with the idea for Something in the Woods. So I wrote that. With that one I wanted to invoke more of an 80s slasher movie vibe, teenagers in the woods, but with the beast as the killer. I wanted the beast to have a body count in that one.
Then I started considering the possibility of going back before David’s encounter in Fallow Pines… what if David’s father also had an encounter with the beast? After Something in the Woods, I wanted to go back to the formula of one man in the woods, struggling for survival against a monster, and The Darkness in the Pines was born from that.
As it stands, I have ideas for one or two more stories set in Fallow Pines, including Something in the Woods Part 2. I’ll probably be publishing them in a compilation that includes all of the Fallow Pines short stories in one book.
Jonny: That’s really interesting. I had a similar situation with my Reaper series. Funny how the writing gods have us going down paths we didn’t imagine possible!
Thanks for explaining your journey behind all of your Fallow Pines stories. I’d love to see a compilation of them all one day so I could have a copy on my bookshelves at home. Can’t wait to see what happens in all of your stories!
What kind of research went into writing your book?
Harlan: A lot of time on YouTube, watching all the cryptid videos I could find. I researched a lot about Bigfoot and other cryptids, listened to a bunch of podcasts on the subject, and read all the firsthand encounters I could find.
In the story, Howard is a Vietnam Veteran, so I also put some research into the Vietnam war.
And of course, I kept a few survival guides handy as well.
Jonny: That honestly sounds like so much fun. I’ve never considered cryptids terribly much in the realm of monsters, but now I’m very curious. Looks like I have some serious YouTube watching to do!
I think Howard’s past will be a great touch to the story along with the trauma he’s been through. All about that character development!
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
Harlan: I have plenty of ideas I want to explore. I have concepts for slasher stories, haunted horror, other creature features, and of course the zombie apocalypse epic every horror writer wants to have under their belt.
I have plans for the Fallow Pines compilation I mentioned before and another short story compilation that will be a variety of unrelated stories.
The next project I plan to work on is going to be a splatterpunk slasher, a sort of blend of The Devil’s Rejects and The Strangers, mixed with a little Satanic panic and the occult. Stay tuned!
Jonny: Man, I can’t wait to see what you come up with! All of those ideas sound amazing, and I like your upcoming project idea. Slasher time and Satanic panic? Sign me up! You have a very bright (or dark, depending on how you look at it, haha) future ahead of you!
Alright Harlan, looks like our time is up. Before we go, do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
Harlan: I have a Twitter, https://twitter.com/harlan_graves
and I’ve just set up a mailing list, https://mailchi.mp/c71cc0ec4686/harlan-graves-horror
Jonny: Awesome, thanks so much for sharing, and again, thanks for doing this with me. I wish you all the best on your current and future publications!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Harlan Graves. I had an awesome time getting to know him, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Harlan and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
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