Interiew with Carrie Harris

Friday, October 9, 2009

Carrie Harris is represented by Kate schafer Testerman of kt literary, and her debut novel, No Pain, No Brain is being published by Delacorte in 2011 (It's about ZOMBIES. I can already tell it's going to be ten shades of awesome). Carrie blogs and tweets and likes Richard Simmons (have a look at her blog, and you'll see). In the last question here she mentions a demon-fighting rollergirl novel, and I want her to write this NOW, because it sounds wicked.

1. When and how did you start writing?

When I was in high school, I got an F on my first Honors Freshman English story. Mind you, I was NOT an F kind of girl. That F felt like the freaking Scarlet Letter, and it didn't stand for 'Fabulous' either. So I slaved over the next assignment, determined to write something so good that my English teacher would choke on it. I ended up with an A+. When the teacher read it to the class and complimented me on its awesomeness, I was totally hooked. So I owe a big debt of thanks to Mrs. Elrick. I'm glad she didn't literally choke on my story, because that would have been, you know, BAD.

I also found that my reaction to the F (revenge writing of awesome stuff) was really handy for querying agents. I'm a firm proponent of the revenge query.

2. No Pain, No Brain sounds awesome. Could you tell me a little bit about it?

Can I tell you that I still go all squealy fangirl every time someone says nice things about my book? Because I do. To an embarrassing extent, even.

A while back, after a SHAUN OF THE DEAD/RESIDENT EVIL marathon, I started thinking about how in zombie movies, people readily accept the idea that undead are rising from the graves even though it's so crazy. I wanted to know how someone uber logical would come to that conclusion. And I've always wanted to write a book about the zombie football players from the movie BEETLEJUICE, so I put those two ideas together for NO PAIN. The book follows Kate Grable, shoe-in valedictorian and huge science geek, as she discovers that her high school football team has been infected with a virus that turns them into zombies. She teams up with the uber sexy and super smart quarterback to try and develop a cure. There's lots of dismembered body parts and puking, but it's FUNNY dismembered body parts and puking. So I pretty much wrote a zom-rom-com.

3. What inspires your writing? Are there any authors who particularly influence your work?

Well, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the comedy greats like Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams. It's my goal to be at least 73.45% as funny as they are. But mostly, I'm a rabid people watcher. I'm not sure if people are funny in general, or I'm a freak magnet. Either way, I find that my best characters are inspired by strange people that I run across. I've found that a good character can make even the most mundane situation funny.

Right now, I'm trying to find a place in my books for the Speedo Guy that goes to my gym. Because I think speedoes are one of the funniest things on the planet.

4. Were there any parts of the writing process that you really struggled with?

For me, the struggle was figuring out what I ought to write. When I first decided that I was going to try my hand at a novel, I was writing these depressing, symbolic, snotty books. And don't get me wrong; some people enjoy those books. They read them and think about them and discuss them with friends, and I think that's just peachy. But it's not me. I'm the kind of person who can seriously discuss whether or not hobbits would make good ninjas.

The answer, of course, is yes. Except that they'd have a really hard time fitting into the tabi (ninja shoes that make you look like you have two huge turtle toes). I know these things. I'm married to a ninja.

Once I started writing the kind of thing that I actually enjoy reading, the actual writing became comparatively very easy.

5. Was the search for an agent difficult or easy for you? Did you have a dream agent in mind that you targeted, or did you query every agent you thought would suit your novel?

I guess that depends on your definition of "easy." I queried with an earlier novel about superheroes, and I had a lot of close calls. Unfortunately, there are a lot of superhero books out there, and writing a good book is only part of the equation. I got a lot of I-love-this-but-it's-too-similar-to-something-else-I-represent responses. So I sent a lot of queries and ended up with multiple offers of representation. But I had Kate Testerman at the top of my list; she represents Maureen Johnson and I actually compared my book to MJ's DEVILISH in my query. So while I would have been lucky to take any of those offers, I always felt a pull toward her. So I guess the answer is all of the above!

6. Complete this sentence: My teenage years were...

Boy crazy. Seriously, I don't know how I got a darned thing done. When I think about high school, I don't think, "Oh, that happened during my sophomore year." I think: "Oh, that happened when I was dating Jeff. And Shawn." Which is a story in and of itself, but probably not appropriate here. And honestly? I'd like to get a time machine so I can go back and smack some sense into myself. Moping around and eating nothing but sunflower seeds for a week because a boy dumps you is NOT SMART. It is stupid, even though sunflower seeds are really good. The boy in question turned out to be a complete blowtard too.

So please learn from my stupidity and don't do that.

7. Complete this sentence: Outside of writing, my life is...

A little loopy. I'm a mom now, but I think my house is the only place where you'll find five-year-olds running around and playing zombie tag. And lately, I've been struggling with the urge to dye my hair purple, which would really freak out the other mommies at the bus stop. But I think a little loopiness is good for you, and if there's one thing I've learned through this whole writing quest thing, it's that sparkles are kewl. Which isn't really applicable, is it? Um... I've also learned to embrace who I really am, even if other people think it's weird or silly. I wish I would have had the guts to do that when I was a teen, so it's something that I bring to my books.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now, I'm working on a sequel to NO PAIN, which is tentatively called HYDE AND GEEK. I've got a demon fighting rollergirl book sitting on the back burner, and I'm toying with some ideas about interdimensional travel. Carrie-style, of course, which means there will be lots of sparkles and Richard Simmons clones and people dressed up as giant bats.

The more I talk about this idea, the more that I like it.
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