Zeb Haradon interview
A little introduction:
I grew up in Corning, NY, studied cognitive science at SUNY Buffalo, lived in Utah from 1999-2004, and have lived in Seattle since 2004. I’ve made two movies (one fictional and one documentary) and written four books.
When did your love of books begin?
Late, probably around age 14. My parents had boxes of books and their old college text books in the attic and I’d go up and look for reading material, fiction and non-fiction.
When did you start to have the wish to become an author & how have you found the process of becoming an author?
I’m not sure when it started. I remember writing short one or two page stories when I was in grade school but I’m not sure how serious I was about it. I know a turning point was when I was in 7th grade. I and two other students decided to publish an underground school newspaper. It was pornographic and libelous and we got two issues out before being suspended for a week. The principal (who incidentally died this year) took a particular disliking to me and even implied there might be a lawsuit. It was so much fun I decided I wanted to do this forever. I published another newspaper the next year and didn’t get caught that time, then when I was in high school we published a zine for a couple years that was not related to the school but sold nationally, about 50 copies per issue. After college I started writing screenplays, but I only shot one (and made one documentary) before I realized what an expensive hobby it was that I couldn’t really sustain. I had all these screenplays sitting around and decided maybe it was easier to just turn them into books. I started with The Orphans, which wasn’t based directly on a screenplay but on notes I’d made for various screenplays. I didn’t know about marketing, I just published it on Amazon and thought people would buy it, like browsing in a bookstore, but I only sold like five copies. The next book I tried to market a little, but I’m not so good at marketing because I don’t pay attention to things like covers, author photos.
What would you say to those wanting to become an author?
You’re not going to make any money, don’t think of it as a career.
Tell us about your book/books:
Each one is better than the last. The first is The Orphans, from 2013. It’s OK, it’s like a science fiction detective story where a private investigator on Mars is hired to find people who survived a cult suicide as children several years prior. I wrote The Usurper King in 2017, which is sort of an alternate history or alternate present where the serial killer Ted Bundy is running for president in 2016. It’s not about Bundy though, he’s just in the background on TV. The main character is a drunk who is a contestant on a game show where people competitively predict the future by reading omens in animal entrails. He starts seeing signs in the entrails that Bundy is going to win the election, and he teams up with another contestant to stop it. I like it and most people who read it like it, but I feel like some parts are a little clunky. I tried to follow the same structure as The Epic Of Gilgamesh and I think I stuck to that a little too rigorously. The next one, The Last Feast in 2018, is very compact and adapted directly from an unproduced screenplay. It’s less funny and much darker than other things I’ve written. One reviewer I sent it to died not long after receiving it. It’s about a space ship that gets stuck in a time dilation trap around a black hole and ends up so far in the future that all the stars have burned out, basically they’re at the end of time and have to find out how to survive there as their fuel slowly runs out.
My most recent book, Cousin Calls is sort of a novel and sort of a collection of five stories or novellas – it’s like The Decameron, a novel about people telling eachother stories but the stories can stand alone too. I’m not sure how to classify it, I’m calling it science fiction because I have to call it something, but some of the stories are contemporary with only fleeting science fiction elements, and one is a talking animal story. You could call it humor.
They’ve all gotten good reviews so I guess people like them.
What do you love about the writing/reading community?
I’m not sure I’m very aware of it. I don’t know many other writers very well.
If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?
To prospective readers, I’d say start with The Last Feast. It’s short and cheap so you’re taking very little risk, but be aware it’s very bleak. Most people will like it but some will find it exhaustingly hopeless. A small number of people will think it’s the best thing they’ve read this year. If you’re in the latter group, try Cousin Calls next, which has a somewhat similar tone but is much lighter, then The Usurper King. If you like that, try The Orphans, which is more standard science fiction.
Where can people connect with you?