That depends on the project. Eidolons started as a blog that I’d update each week and the nature of that made me do very little planning. I’d have a week or two to think about the chapter and write it so I couldn’t quibble on story points and I also couldn’t go back to edit major events. I published and moved on, maybe fixing typos if new readers pointed them out.
But when left to myself, no deadline or pressure, I’ll spend weeks talking into a voice recorder before starting the chapter. Sometimes I never start. It’s a problem, but chapters are typically better written and more insightful into characters than early drafts of Eidolons.
Where did you get the inspiration for Eidolons?
I was studying abroad in Wales with 30 other Americans and I had started boxing with the university’s club and every weekend we traveled to a new city or landmark and it was amazing. One night, after boxing practice where this Londoner with a few fights marked in his crooked nose asked me to spar with him and I was too scared to hit him with any real force till yelled at me to hit him, didn’t even have his hands up or anything, then he eventually hit back and I teared up—after that weirdly happy night, I realized I’d been unhappy for the first three years of college.
I went to a college five hours from where I grew up, didn’t know anyone at my school except my freshman roommate who dropped out the next year and a few professors who failed me for the first time in my academic career because when you’re book smart, high school is just something you show up for to get good grades. I existed online and in books I read or wrote, but I didn’t really have any friends. Two or three back home, five around the world (who I still talk to), and the girl working at the cafe who was too short to reach the cookies they stored on the fridge. I ordered them every time she was working as a way of teasing her, like it was our friendly routine, but I’m sure I was just another customer to her.
TK came out of that. This kid who learned to entertain himself as a form of coping with his own shit, a lot his own fault but not everything. Through patience and old friends and introspection that he really doesn’t want to have, much the same as me, he starts looking at the future as more than just something to get through till it’s all over.
Is this book part of a series?
No. Originally it was a blog that was designed to “never” end, inspired by a web comic called Questionable Content and my own theories at the time called Literary Drift. I had a general road map for how it’d escalate from ghost, resurrection, poltergeists, psychics, demons, etc and how to make each of those grounded and important in this slice-of-life style, but about halfway through what would’ve been the second book I stopped the blog, temporarily at the time but ultimately never picked it up again. It was a mix of busyness with work, new projects being more exciting, and my main advertising disappearing due to a website shutting down.
What is your daily page count or word count records?
After college but before I had a full-time job teaching English to cute Korean kids and one old Korean man, I was on Twitter just for an account called like Friday Night Writes where they’d do 30-minute sprints, 15-minute breaks, and so on for a few hours and I think I got to 20,000 words once. It was a lot of crap, but the overall story turned into a digital epistolary novel written in blog entries like a 14-year-olds at the supermarket with his mom to buy toothpaste and he realizes it's the same aisle as the condoms.(http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/the-grouch) That got a lot of laughs at a writers reading I started my first time in Korea.
But I don’t care much about word count or page count records. It’s a lot of gushing and I’m more of a chiseler. I'm happy if I get 50 good words before the break.
Please tell us a little about your book.
When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper offers him a second chance at life but he says he’d rather be dead. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead—which is straight from the back of the book, but it’s also an exploration of a college kid who was getting close enough to graduation that everyone’s bugging him about the future and he doesn’t know.
Who is your favorite author of all time?
Do I really have to pick one? I guess JD Salinger was the biggest influence on me. I named my website Orange Peals, both as a bad pun that shows up on Eidolons’s cover, and also as tribute to his short story Teddy. He talks about looking out the porthole of a cruise ship and seeing a waiter dump orange peels into the ocean and that if he hadn’t seen them, he couldn’t even really say they existed. I like that a lot better than Schrodinger’s Cat.
Author: Harrison Fountain
Genre: Literary Fantasy
When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper gives him a second chance at life, but he says it’s more fun being a ghost. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead.
These author bios are generally in third person, right? That’s a little weird for me so--
Harrison Fountain said, “In Kindergarten, Mrs. Augustson sent me to Special Ed because of my speech impediment, the result of a 4-year-long ear infection that garbled the input and so a few letters needed the pronunciation corrected. I had to work on my Ss, Cs, Ks, Ws, Rs, Bs, Ps, Ts, Qs, Ds, Xs, Ls, and Ns.
Every year in elementary school, Scholastic gave students a hardback book with empty cream pages for us to scribble in as part of a school-wide contest. I never won. The kid in my grade who did plagiarized If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and those biased, paid-off judges didn’t even mention my amalgamation of the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch.
Still, I kept writing, finishing my first novel in my 7th grade Physical Science spiral notebook where the narrator’s best friend was an orange alien with green hair named Carrot. My next novel about a boxer, I started in high school before I’d ever even watched boxing, and fighters called out their moves (“The Double Rocket Upper—no, wait! It’s a TRIPLE ROCKET UPPERCUT!!!”) like they were Pokemon.
No one taught me to write until my second year at college when Mr. Johnson called me to his office as he did with all his creative writing students and then he bloodied my first draft of a character sketch claiming his marks were “just ink.” I almost cried. A few visits later, I’d written a character sketch about my sister’s divorce and the family dog. He crossed out a lot like usual. Told me why. Then he scrawled an A at the top. It’d be my first published short story (http://www.orangepeals.com/short-stories/loving-a-mutt/).
The pride felt earned for once.
While studying in Wales without satellite TV or an Xbox, I started a blog called Nothing Fazes a Ghost, where I posted weekly chapters. Those 10,000 views with ad revenue earned enough for a pizza. After a few years and a few drafts, it became Eidolons.
I also teach English to adorable Korean kids who, in turn, teach me cutie poses.”
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