A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the web fiction community and found it was huge. Books, stories, all of it online, of various genres from dozens of authors. One of those authors was A.M. Harte. I had the chance to talk to her (or rather, she talked to me) about one of my works in the podcast Web Fiction World, where we talked about my serial series and fantasy fiction in general. Since then, she has gone on to publish one of her own serials called Above Ground.
First, a little about A.M. Harte. She writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. She lives in London, a city not half as foggy as some seem to think.
Her book is called Above Ground, which is a science fiction/fantasy story about a young woman who ventures out into the world above ground for the first time. The book blurb will explain it so much better than I can.
The first glimpse of sun may be her last.
When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.
Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.
Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:
Adapt. Or die trying.
I had a chance to talk with her through email and asked her a few questions about her upcoming book, and what some of the hurdles she encountered as she went through the writing process.
Above Ground is described as dark fiction. Can you reveal a little of the world that you’ve set your narrative in?
Above Ground is set in the future, hundreds of years after a genetic experiment gone wrong. Humans live underground; above ground there are only monsters.
The setting is one of contrasts. You have fantasy critters like werewolves, vampires, witches, reptilian creatures and more living above ground. Underground, the humans live in a scifi high-tech environment.
Your main character, Lilith Gray, is said to come up above ground for the first time. There must be a bit of curiosity to her and some sort of exploring nature to make her want to do this. What drives Lilith to go above ground?
Imagine growing up your whole life, locked underground, hearing about all the monsters living above ground. Some people would be happy to stay underground, but Lilith is the type of person who needs to see things for herself.
She’s impulsive and a little reckless, but what drives her above ground is mainly curiosity. The fact that her parents work in highly political roles means that she’s grown up hearing more about the world above ground than the average human; this also contributes to her curiosity.
Above Ground is your first full length novel release, and personally, I’ve seen it on web fiction sites for quite a while. This has been a lengthy process, hasn’t it?
Far too lengthy! I first started serialising Above Ground in mid-2009, so it’s been 3+ years in the making. I finished the first draft sometime in 2010, then suffered from burnout and pretty much ignored its existence for a year. In late 2011, I blew the dust of that horrible first draft and began the lengthy process of revising and re-serialising Above Ground. And now here I am, with it FINALLY done!
Are there any changes with the printed edition from what you’ve offered online?
What’s online now is the second draft, serialised from 2011-2012. (The first draft was far too horrible to leave online!) It’s fairly close to the finished product, but there’s been yet another round of edits and revisions to produce the book to fix those niggling plot holes, smooth scenes, tighten the language, and whatnot.
My favourite change in the final rewrite was changing an entire chapter in Emma’s storyline; the new version’s so much cooler. Not to mention that the print version has an added extra: a map!
Were you fully confident that you’d complete this story, or has there been a few hurdles to overcome along the way?
I always knew I would finish it; I just didn’t know how long it would take. Three years is a long time to be working on a project, and (especially during that burnout period after finishing the first draft) I did worry that it would take me even longer to revise the story properly. But with the support of my online readers, I’ve succeeded!
What forces did you encounter that drew you to write in this genre of fiction?
I’ve always been interested in speculative fiction, and since early childhood the two genres I’ve read the most are fantasy and science fiction. I suppose that I’ve unintentionally pulled it all together with Above Ground, because it straddles the science fantasy line.
Now that you’re seeing this in print, what other plans do you have?
To keep writing! I have 9 other story ideas battling for space in my head. A few might be serialised, and a few will go straight to print/ebook. For the moment, though, I’m happy to sit back and unplug from everything while my muse figures out what she wants to do next.
Let me finish off the interview by turning the question around: What do you think I should be working on?
To celebrate the release of Above Ground, there is a give away. Just hit this link and it’ll take you to Rafflecopter where you can sign up to have your very own copy of Above Ground. Alternatively, if you want to purchase a Kindle version of the book, there are UK and US versions available.
Pick up a copy, add on Goodreads and tell as many people about it as you can.