Interview with A.J. Harper


Where did you find the original impulse to write Night Biters?

Several years ago I thought I would surprise my teenage daughter (the R L Stine fanatic,) with a Goosebumps novel. Reflecting on her collection of novels at home I decided that I would purchase one with an African American character, to my dismay I learned that at the time the series featured none. When I inquired if any of the dozen or so young adult scary books featured any minorities or had stories that took place in an urban setting? The sympathetic book salesman sighed and gently shook his head. “There are very few scary books targeted toward children of diverse backgrounds,” he explained. “Maybe you should take on the challenge by writing one.” When I shared with my Latino and Asian friends that I was considering writing a young adult horror novel targeted toward African American teens, they chimed, “don’t leave us out!”

Who inspired the characters of your novel?

I think they are a combination of my childhood, watching my kids grow up, other families I`ve interacted with and finally that angry rap music

Looking at the book now, what surprises you?

My book takes place in the Bay Area, I know that it is a diverse place but it was not until I wrote Night Biters did I realize what a melting pot it truly is. When you say you  have an African American, Filipino, Mexican , Vietnamese and Gay characters  that are friend all in one book, it seems like the writer is going for clichés but in the Bay Area it truly can be the norm.

Many writers describe themselves as “character” or “plot” writers. Which are you?

I’m clearly a character writer and I grow with my characters

 What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

Coming to grips with the quote from Michael Crichton “that you don’t write a book as much as you constantly rewrite it.”

5. Who has influenced you in your writing?

At the top of my head, I would have to say Walter Mosley, Stephen King, Brian Azzarello, Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis

 6. What was the book that most influenced your life and why?  

The Bible, talk about a source for great stories

What are your 10 favorite books —and why?

My favorite tend to change, but if I had to list my current favorites it would be

  •  Devil in a Blue Dress
  • A Red Menace
  •  Always Outnumber Always Out Gunned

Walter Mosley has the ability to create complex characters struggling through complex issues during even more complex times.

  •   Salem’s Lot
  •  The Stand
  • The Shinning 

I ‘m not a big fiction reader, but one day I thumbed through Salem’s Lot , and noticed the pop cultural references and was hooked. Thanks Stephen.

  •  100 Bullets
  •  Planetary
  •  X-Men the Phoenix Saga

You will find the most imaginative writers today writing comic book and the three books I’ve listed are just the tip of the ice berg.

  •  Blink

Malcom Gladwell is able to think about the way we think, then put pen to paper like no one else

  What are you currently working on?

I’m wrapping up Werewolves the Mix tape, part 2 in the Tales of Urban Horror series it should be out June 2009.

Click here to order Night Biters a Tale of Urban Horror


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