Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Hush Falls Over the Crowd...

As the heavy velvet curtain draws upward, out steps the one...the only...U.L. Harper.

 (Sorry, I'm having one of my random dramatic episodes; it should be over soon, but in the meantime, just sit back and enjoy!)

The lights dim and a lone wolf croons its mournful lullaby somewhere in the distance. The air is thick with anticipation, (for the forthcoming interview and exciting subsequent giveaway), as a voice, melodious and clear, poses this, the opening question: (K...I'm done now).

LC: Hi U.L., and welcome to the blog! Can you tell us a bit about your book "In Blackness", and also about its genre?

UL: In a small nutshell, In Blackness is about three young adults who somehow have ties to something not of this world. It’s not a spiritual connection, and for most of the story it’s not a cognizant connection, but it’s a connection without question. These are really personal stories being pulled in a…direction. I thought it was literary fiction, but I was told by more than one beta reader that it’s science fiction bordering on horror.

LC: Ooo, sounds mysterious! So, how long have you been writing? Have you always known that you wanted to write?

UL: I’m like most writers. I’ve always seemed to have something related to writing about me. When I was young it just wasn’t so easily recognizable. I couldn’t make stories but I had the power of observation. I was the kid to ask questions and question authority, not because I was anti-authority. It’s just that I was actually curious. Once I started putting it down on paper, it was on.

LC: *Chuckles* It looks like someone's pretty passionate about his writing. If I asked you what your greatest triumph as an author has been, what would your passionate reply be?

UL: As an author I have at least one scene in every story that seems to touch me somewhat deeply because of some personal experience or a well-conceived moment. That I can share these moments with the reader is the only triumph I can think of. Everything else is probably contrived without looking contrived or lucky. For instance, being blurry-eyed tired at about four in the morning and getting a tweeted message about a possible interview is just lucky. Most of the publishing world is based on it.

LC: Hmm, I guess I never thought about it that way before...interesting. Alright, here's a random question for you. where is the most exotic or strange place you've ever traveled to?

UL: Exotic? Not applicable. Strange? Oddly enough, the small town I called Lowery from In Blackness. I visited there when I was a kid, while moving to Washington. My family had looked to purchase land there. When my mom told me were building a house, she really meant build a house. I mean, with a well and all that. We’d have to literally build the foundation. After visiting there, I was like, hell no. I wound up staying in California while my family moved to Seattle, Washington, not that astonishing little town. I can remember the post-office being someone’s house and the same for the doctor’s office. There was a clergyman walking around with a cigar, looking crazy depressed in a purple dress type outfit. Wow! Just kind of weird.

LC: Crazy! With a town like that as inspiration, you must have some pretty unique characters in your book, which brings me to my next question. If you happened to find yourself marooned on a desert island with one of your characters, who would you want it to be, and why?

UL: From In Blackness, it would be Shie. She has a lot of room for growth and to tell you honestly, she’s probably the one that will help you out the most on a daily basis. She’s not hung up in daily rigor morale and will call you out on you being lame, if you’re being lame. She has a hard time not being honest.

LC: Great choice! A willing helper who lets you know where you stand? I like it. So, what does U.L. Harper like to do when he's not writing?

UL: Get athletic. I’ll shoot some hoop, job something like that. I run an after-school program so if I’m not writing I’m a workaholic in a way too. And I read, read, read and read.

LC: And do you have any strange habits or rituals when you write?

UL: That’s a loaded question, you know that right? But no. Nothing strange here. It actually depends on how well the writing session is going. If I’m pumping it out, I mean really feeling it, I simply won’t sleep. Imagine going to sleep at about 6 a.m. and waking up at let’s say 8 a.m. You have breakfast as a break and then just keep going. It happens. It also matters how much I’ve been drinking.

LC: Hahaha! Of course! Alright. Let's talk movies. (I know...I know...this is supposed to be a book interview. Don't worry. We'll get back to that in a second.) What's your favorite movie of all time, and why?

UL: I don’t know about favorite all time, but Fight Club changed things for me. To this day it’s probably the only movie that made me want to read the book. Yeah, the only one, so that counts for something. It was one of those movies that had a literary voice that I had to investigate. It was more than about the story; it was about the viewer too. Fight Club, in a large part, is about what the audience brings into it. I love that. That’s most stories, really, but Fight Club is cognizant of it.

LC: And speaking of movies, if a big-shot Hollywood producer offered to turn "In Blackness" into a motion picture, who would you want to play the lead roles? (See? Tied it back into books, as promised.)

UL: I would want someone unknown. That’s my thing with movies. It’s hard for me to buy a lot of big name actors because, well, I’ve seen them do too many roles. There’s always some point where I just don’t believe it. Books, it’s always a new actor. Always. At least in decent fiction.

LC: Good point, to be sure! Well, U.L., it's been delightful having you with us today! Just one last thing before you go, though. (*cue scary music & evil laughter*) The time has come for you to SELL IT! Tell us why we would enjoy reading your books.

UL: I’ve had one creative writing class in my life. And in that class I had a teacher who said the one element in some story I wrote that she liked was that everyone was surprised—the characters, the reader and it seemed even the author. I knew how I achieved that element, and it’s something you’ll get out of almost every story, long or short, that I write. You just won’t see it coming, whatever it is. If you didn’t read the back of the book for In Blackness, you’d never figure where it was going, but it would make perfect sense. That element keeps my stuff fresh.

Let's read more about "In Blackness":

As children, Lenny’s and Saline’s parents brought them to Southern California to escape the nightmares. But after their parents die in a horrible car accident, their adoption by longtime family friend, Busek, proves nightmarish in its own right. Busek is abusive to his son, Dustin, and does very little to hold the young family together. The trio of kids become friends and grow up as a family. Outwardly, they are unruffled by life’s events, yet as teens the emotional aftermath of Saline and Lenny’s parents’ deaths lingers and eventually catapults Lenny and Saline on individual journeys back to their old hometown.

Saline journeys with a small church group which has regular excursions to her old hometown in Lowery, Washington. She discovers the group is protecting a powerful secret that will change her life.

Lenny, on the other hand, becomes stranded in King City. There, he meets someone who unexpectedly and unknowingly guides him to a place in Washington where something might be waiting for him. Impulsively, he makes his way there and discovers that the simple world he has been living in is vastly different from what he could have ever imagined.

Meanwhile, Dustin remains in Southern California and meets a group of youth who stumble upon the city's plan to replace the local library with a jail. In the process of this discovery they learn of one of the largest secrets society has ever kept, a secret waiting for them underground, in blackness.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!! U.L Harper is giving away two--that's right--two SIGNED copies of "In Darkness"! Leave your comments for him here (along with an email address so we can contact you if you win), and, on or around September 1, Mr. Harper will pick two random commenters as winners! Entries must be posted no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on August 31 and--although you are welcome to comment to your heart's content--only one comment per person will be entered in the contest. Happy commenting and BEST OF LUCK!

     U.L. Harper is an after-school program site director in Long Beach, California. Over one hundred students attend his program. He previously worked as a corporate manager, and a journalist for a now defunct news agency in Los Alamitos, California. Newspapers are part of his writing background but he also dabbled in poetry. His poetry is published in The Body Politic chapbooks. He is the author of In Blackness, The Flesh Statue and the short story book Guidelines for Rejects. You can visit U.L. at http://ulharper.com/


  1. Sounds really good. Adding it to my list to read... I think this book 570 something to read. LOL laughingtwigirl@gmail.com

  2. Hey, (I guess I'll call you LaughingGirl) LaughingGirl, thanks for stopping by. Hope I can put this book in your hands.

  3. This sounds great ! can't wait to read it :)