Hi folks. It’s time for another interview! Today’s guest is Seth Harwood, whose debut action novel JACK WAKES UP is now available pretty much everywhere from Three Rivers Press. Having read the book myself, I can honestly say it’s an action packed thrill ride from start to finish. It’s really just an amazing book, and I’m thrilled to have Seth as a guest of McAfee Land.
Hi Seth, thanks for agreeing to do this. Before we begin I wanted to say I bought JACK WAKES UP at Barnes and Noble and read it in a handful of days. Loved it! Very, very hard to put down. Jack Palms is friggin’ awesome! All right, all right, I know that’s all fanboy stuff. But still, great book!
OK, down to business.
1) How long have you been writing? Is JACK WAKES UP your first book?
I’ve been writing hardcore for about 14 years now, since the fall of 1995. That’s when I graduated from college and started on my first novel. No, Jack Wakes Up was about the 5th novel that I wrote. The others before that are mostly shelved.
2) Give us a little info about what goes on in the book, for those who haven’t read it.
JACK WAKES UP is basically an action movie between two covers. It’s about what happens when Jack Palms, a one-hit-wonder action movie star tries to broker a drug deal in San Francisco. As he meets a crazy cast of compelling, dangerous characters, he gets pulled further and further into a wild, dangerous ride. The biggest problem though, is that he’s enjoying himself!
3) Is there another Jack Palms book in the works?
Yes. I’ve actually written two more Jack Palms books: This Is Life and Czechmate. They’re out as free audio podcasts on my website, sethharwood.com, Podiobooks, and iTunes. I actually just completed a prequel called “Young Junius” which I’ve podcasted as well.
4) Initially, it was released through Breakneck Books, an imprint of Variance Publishing. How did it find its way to Three Rivers Press?
The Palms Daddies and Palms Mommas, that’s what I call my fans, stormed Amazon on March 16th, 2008–Palms Sunday– and bought the book up to #1 in Crime and mystery. From there, I had an agent the next morning and when he submitted the book to editors, Three Rivers Press loved the book right away. It wasn’t long until they bought it.
5) You started out by podcasting JACK WAKES UP, right? Tell us a little about that; how did you get started podcasting?
Basically I wanted to get my crime novel online to generate a fan base and it seemed like audio was a great solution for how to do that. I didn’t think I would get as much traction with text-only, so when I found out about Scott Sigler and the other podcast authors I knew doing a podcast was for me. I created my own website, learned from Scott about how to make my MP3s, and started uploading my episodes to the Web. With a little help from the other podcasters playing my promos, my audience started to grow right in the first book. then we were both hooked and I knew I had to do a second book, which led to a third, and then a fourth.
6) You and Scott Sigler are podcasters extraordinaire, and I hear you have set up courses to help people learn how to do it, right? Can you tell us a little about that?
Sure, Scott and I run a class called author boot camp (http://authorbootcamp.com) where we teach other writers to use the tools that we’ve found successful in building an online author audience. We talk about social networking, new media and particularly how to create a serialized free audio book podcast. Basically we’re dying to show other authors the strategy that has made our writing careers. We taught the class twice in San Francisco, will be presenting it at a writers digest conference in New York in September and will be teaching it at Stanford in November. Our goal is to create a full online version of the class this winter.
7) How does it feel to walk into a book store and see your book on the shelf? Do you ever sign them when you find them?
That feels awesome! There’s kind of nothing like it, that walking in and seeing it on the shelf, particularly in a store when I didn’t know it was going to be there. The other day I was in a store with my wife and bang there it was faced out on the new mystery shelf. Now I have a hard time not going into stores to look for it. I always sign them! Actually, signing the books has been my favorite part of having it out in print. It’s the truth: when someone buys a book and I can make it out directly to them, that’s the best feeling.
8 ) Do you have any favorite authors? I know that’s a hard question because there are so many great ones out there, but who really inspires you?
Over my years as a writer, it’s these inspirations that have kept me going many times. People like Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, Junot Diaz, Richard Ford, Ernest Hemmingway, Flannery O’Connor, and a lot of others brought me up along the way. Now I’m influenced by crime writers like Jim Thompson, Michael Connelly, Richard Price, Megan Abbott and so many others. Have a look at my CrimeWAV site for a lot of the contemporary authors whose work I love.
9) What has been your favorite aspect of being a published writer to date? Is there a downside?
Wow! THat’s a tough one. For the most part, this has been a goal I’ve worked toward for a very long time, so reaching it feels nothing but good. But I’d say that really getting to see what the world of mainstream publishing is like right now has been just a little bit rough. We’ve all heard that the newspaper and book publishing businesses are in a bit of a rough patch right now, most industries are at this point, but seeing it up close and getting to find some of the hard realities–things I’d like to change and find difficult to effect–these have taken my emotions on a ride. On the other hand, the upside of this has been that I’ve learned a great deal and can benefit others with the advice I’ve gathered. I also see a lot of options and opportunities for all of us to do some new things and do things differently that I think will really make a difference. So I’m excited about that.
10) What is a typical day for Seth Harwood?
When I’m working on a new novel, I get up and write right away for a few hours. That’s the best. Getting into that zone, that mode, that’s the best of the work for me. I’ll write for a few hours, then get to some emails and usually deal with my teaching in the afternoon or at night. I usually teach night classes at City College SF or online for Stanford now. Those drafting times are the best sections of this life. Lately, I’ve been getting up and just focusing on the web outreach for my book online for big chunks of the day. That’s a bit less fun, but largely still fulfilling. Still, I’m ready to get back to the writing work.
11) Do you have any hobbies? How does Seth Harwood relax after a long day?
Man, I get in the Hot Tub! And I podcast from there now, too. Check out my Hot Tub Cast™ on my site.
Nah, actually I hang out with my wife and my dog. I love reading, watching movies, playing basketball, cooking, long walks on the beach. You know…
12) So what’s next for Seth Harwood? What can we expect to see from you in the coming years?
You can expect me to blast out some serious heavy awesomeness this year on Palms Sunday 2010, which is March 28th. In fact, I’m making it a goal to knock out something big every Palms Sunday from now on, preferably in the form of a new print novel. On the podcast end, I’m doing my Celebrity Hot Tub Cast™ pretty much weekly now and I’m gearing up for a new novel podcast — Hub Heartbreak– and a new season of CrimeWAV for the fall.
13) OK, last question: give us one line from your book. Don’t put it in context, just give us the line.
Jack Palms! Let us share with you some blow!
Ha! The Czechs! Man, I love those guys!
And there you have it, folks. Seth Harwood. Seriously, if you like action-packed crime novels, then this is a must read. Go out and get it right now. Or, if you prefer, here’s the link to the Jack Wakes Up Amazon page. There, click it. Buy it. Read it. You’ll love it.
Now it’s time for me to mention my contest again. There’s still plenty of time to enter. I am giving away some cool stuff that’s gonna be worth major dough after I’m dead, so you’ll want to leave it to your kids to help with your grandkids’ educations.
OK, that might be a bit much, but it’s still some cool stuff. All ya gotta do is Name My Website. Details are here.
You can read more about it in yesterday’s post, but you know I’ll be posting about it again soon, too. Heh heh.
And make sure you come back for more interviews, giveaways, news, and more. There’s lots more coming up, so stay tuned!