author interview,  Books,  writing a novel,  writing fiction

Author Interview: Levi Harris

I’m so excited to welcome author Levi Harris to my blog. Levi is a super creative writer and filmmaker who has recently released his book, Stories from Anotherworld, which is a compilation of short stories. Levi is also a strong supporter of inclusion for people with disabilities and has included actors on the Autism Spectrum in his films. The proceeds from this book will be used to further help actors diagnosed with Autism.

Levi was kind enough to answer some questions. You’ll want to read the whole interview because his answers are pure gold! Lots of great information about his book as well as writing.

Interview with Levi Harris

What inspired you to write this book?-

Well, I had a few rough years actually, and my writing suffered tremendously. I knew I was meant to write but couldn’t seem to finish any story. The idea of a novel felt right but seemed impossible. I honestly almost gave up. but before doing so I decided I may as well write something, so I tried out a short story. I realized I had just enough energy and concentration to do something short form, and the boost it gave me to finally finish something inspired me to write another. Each day I discovered that I had just enough in me to make something small. It became clear during that time that I was temporarily unable to write an entire novel, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from writing. After about six months the stories surprised me and became a book all on their own.

Is this your first book?-

Technically, yes, this is my first officially published book. Not the first one I’ve written but certainly the first I’ve put out there.

What is the theme of Anotherworld?-

It’s a world slightly to the left of ours. Or possibly to the right (experts are still divided on that). It has its own myths and legends and fairy tales that may remind you of ours, but are different. The stories are diverse. One might find you in the middle of an enchanted jungle whereas the next one will take you to a man in a mechanical elephant. All the stories, however, have elements of adventure. and a friendly kind of strangeness.

Who is John Cornish?-

John is the original investigator/discoverer of Anotherworld – or at least as far as I can tell. My investigations are ongoing and hopefully more clues will be forthcoming in future volumes.

What was your favorite thing about writing this book-

I think finding a way to introduce Anotherworld. It was a tricky thing to work with. I toyed with a lot of ideas before settling on an Anthology, but that’s the one that fit.

What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?-

I have to say getting it from a collection of files on my computer to an actual published version on Amazon was a challenge I’m glad I only had to learn to do once. The next book will hopefully have a much smoother transition.

Do you have a favorite character in Anotherworld?-

That’s a hard one. It seems to always change. The Ogre, who makes an appearance in “Runner and Proudy,” will get his own story in Book 3 or 4. He’s one of my absolute favorites. Also in Book 2 we’ll meet The Inside-out Girl and she’s pretty cool.

How can readers purchase your book?-

They can either find it on Amazon by typing “Anotherworld” with quotation marks, but an easier way is probably

What About Writing?

Have you always wanted to write? –

I suppose if I think back as far as I’m able… I did want to write. I read so much as a kid and stories just fascinated me. I remember the idea for my first book came probably when I was eight years old. I went right home and made a little writing studio under our stairs and started creating.

Where did you learn to write?-

I mean it runs in the family. My ancestors on my mother’s side seemed to have a knack for being artistic, and my dad possibly passed down some of his poetry skills. But of course it took a combination of reading, taking classes, and a lot of practice. Also watching movies (which sounds weird but that’s where I got my best lessons on dialogue).

Did you take writing classes?-

I did yeah, a few in high school and college and then independently. I took a course from Brandon Sanderson at BYU which was quite good. Masterclass was also a great source. I was able to learn from people like Neil Gaiman, James Patterson and Aaron Sorkin. I highly, highly recommend getting a hold of as much resources as possible. Stand on the shoulders of giants.

Why do you want write?-

I suppose I want to write for a lot of reasons. I want to get the stories in my head out into the world before I die. I want to raise money for causes I believe in. I want to make a living in a way that’s sustainable and compatible with how my brain works. Most of all though I want to write because I can’t not. <<<< (It’s like he’s in my head).

What is your writing process? Do you outline or just sit down and write?-

I guess each story is different. Some of them require quite a bit of workshopping beforehand. I have to spend an entire day in my brain (and usually going on long walks) figuring it all out before I even begin an outline. Others seem to leap from my mind as if they were already written and I’m just along for the ride. I see value in both approaches (especially because they seem to produce different kinds of stories) but I love when an ending surprises me. “The Man in the Mechanical Elephant,” for example, didn’t have an ending until the day before I published it. It wrote itself just in time.

What motivates you to write?-

I think mostly the people I love. They believe in me so why not believe in myself every once in a while.

Where do you find your ideas?-

Everywhere! A leaf on the side of the road or the bugs in the grass. Maybe it’s the way my friend messes up a word they are trying to say, or the light hitting the windshield of my car just right. It can also be a park after it rains or the way something looks in a movie I’m watching. It might be that a certain character just explodes into my mind fully formed, or even it’s just a snapshot of a scene or a particular vibe that a place gives me. A piece of art of texture of cloth or old photograph – there are stories everywhere. Also… Pinterest haha.

What is a writing day like for you?

I guess it’s more like… writing nights, or writing afternoons, or writing lunch breaks. Pretty much squeezed into whatever else I’ve got going on. Someday I’d love to have a whole day devoted to writing! But for now I just make the conscious choice that’s it’s important enough to make time, even if that time is half an hour a day.

Do you have a favorite book?-

I have about twenty books that I call my ‘top 5’ haha. Included are The Hobbit of course, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, The Crystal City by Orson Scott Card and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

Future Projects

Are you writing another book?-

I am currently at work on Stories from Anotherworld: Volume 2

Do you have other projects?-

I actually do. Some of the stories from Anotherworld have been adapted into short films. These films feature actors on the autism spectrum. All proceeds from Stories from Anotherworld: Volume 1 will go to the production of these films and to support the actors.

Why are you so passionate about actors with autism?-

I’m not sure exactly why but I guess I’ve always felt a little different from the people around me, and people with autism feel different too. Of course, I don’t know what it’s like to have autism, but I do know what it’s like to be looked at as weird or out of place. I wanted to give people a chance to tell their versions of that story. I felt like I could help other people to understand.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

What advice would you give aspiring writers?-

Probably… just write every day – I know it’s been said a million times. And read too. Read voraciously. If you are constantly creating, things like finding your voice and success will come to you.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?-

I just really, truly appreciate people taking the chance to look at my book. It means a lot. And if someday they ever create anything I could read, I would feel honored to do so!

Where can people find you online?

You can purchase Stories from Anotherworld here.

Back Cover Copy:

This book is a fundraising project. All proceeds will go to support actors on the autism spectrum.

Now, you should know this book doesn’t make much sense to me.

In fact all I can say is that it’s the very true story of me weirdly getting a mysterious package from an unknown, long-dead ancestor (who was named John Cornish) and inside were ‘clues’ to some kind of other (supposed) dimension.

What follows is the first collection of characters, incidents, locales, and other random, strange little parts of what John Cornish called Anotherworld. I turned his notes into stories – trees that walk, homemade pirate ships, homunculi, robots, cowboy knights… It seems his imagination was boundless…

Unless of course… there’s some kind of impossible truth to it all?

I don’t know.

I guess I’ll try to figure it out.

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