On Friday’s we ask our visiting authors to write about the fun things or laugh about it later things that happen during the writing and publishing of their novel. Today, U.L. Harper shares with us his funny moments.
About U.L. Harper
Bio: 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/
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.
Monsters and Things that Go Bump in the Night
A couple of things happened during the process of writing In Blackness. For instance, I wasn’t with the novel when I finished it, but I was done, nonetheless. When I say done, I mean I wrote the end and it was somewhere on my computer and I had the first half finished for sure, and the middle, well, that was in tatters, scattered in emails, lost or written down at different times in my life, but I knew the story was done. As I’m pondering putting everything together in a linear fashion, I realize there is something this slightly dark literary novel is missing—a fifteen foot tall cannibal. How did I overlook that? So I rewrote all the characters and included a fifteen foot tall cannibal that hides behind trees. It sounds silly, and obviously, it’s not how the final draft ended up, but with that said, there’s only one way to find out how it did end.
Finding a Title
But as you might figure, different little hurdles popped up along the way. Here’s an example. I originally named the novel In Darkness because it sounded ominous without saying too much, and it represented the story darned well. But before I could confirm the name was worth keeping I did a Google search for it, just to make sure there wasn’t a bunch of books with that title. Sure enough two books in the last five years or so had that same title. With that in mind, I changed the title to In Blackness, which I like even better. It just happens that I’m a Black guy so when I tell people my book is called In Blackness, they first think it’s some kind of social commentary. They’re like, yeah, in blackness, that’s pretty deep. So I usually just put my fist in the air and nod.
Book Signings and Art Exhibits
To many this next little bit wouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but it makes things a little more fun, not to mention helps with marketing. I hired someone to produce the book cover. After seeing the cover, I asked the designer to make pictures for the captions I made for the book. She agreed and now I have an In Blackness line of art work. Now I call local artists to join me at my signings. It doesn’t hurt to have signings double as art exhibits for local artists, right? Right.