NEW RELEASE FROM ZHARME PUBLISHING
In the ruins of society, orphaned children pick through the rubble and form sword-wielding gangs. In place of culture, they make fearful offerings to an omnipotent sun-god. But in their midst appears a stranger: the young scientist Lucky, stranded far from his home and about to change the city forever.
Nearby, Laura seethes to escape a commune controlled by the warlike Elders. These two seekers must meet and travel together, for their destinies converge towards the fabled city of the Prince, a place where miracles happen.
With this startling debut novel, The Prince with One Hundred Brothers trilogy begins. Jesse Sterling Harrison has created a vividly-imagined world populated with unforgettable characters. Both a gripping adventure and a series of tantalizing concentric puzzles, Exile of the Prince follows its two heroes as they unravel their own identities and the enigmatic history of their world.
Jesse Sterling Harrison is a Massachusetts author, songwriter and recording artist. He has recorded a number of albums, most recently 2010’s “Take the Demons Out.” This May he released his first novel, The Prince With One Hundred Brothers, which is now available on Amazon!
Harrison grew up in Upstate New York and attended Hampshire College, attaining a B.A. in Music Recording and Composition. He is married to the well-known poet, Mari Nichols-Haining, and the pair have seven children.
When not writing music or prose, Harrison pursues other interests such as birdwatching, sports, performance motoring, and homesteading.
Jesse Sterling Harrison Interview:
F.W. Fife’s Andy Kubai sits down with Jesse Sterling Harrison, whose book, Exile of the Prince, comes out in June.
FWF: Exile of the Prince takes place in a dystopian vision of Earth. What aspects of post-disaster fiction are most appealing to you as a writer and as a reader?
JSH: A couple of things leap out at me when I read this question. I think that good science fiction sets a scene in which there are many possibilities, but there are still conventions and rules. I find the discovery of those rules to be really appealing and I often like the reader to achieve those insights along with the characters. I think that’s part of the appeal of Harry Potter, for instance. And of course, for decades we humans have been sort of aware of our species mortality, first with the threat of mass destruction in war, and now with climate change. So the apocalyptic genre allows us to work through that and envision ways we can survive a disaster, continue our race. The last thing is that a good apocalyptic story is like a good frontier or survival story: there’s no infrastructure and the characters are going to have to invent a survival methodology and restart a culture…some better than others. We find out who people really are under duress. Regular people can acquire nobility, while people you thought were alright turn out to be total douchebags.
FWF: If it doesn’t act as a spoiler, how does your world come to such a sorry state (ignore if too revelatory)?
JSH: Ahh, there’s only so far I can go on this one without ruining anything. But I can say that the calamity was personal; it wasn’t an asteroid strike or a pandemic. This was done on purpose. A single Big Bad was responsible, and Big Bad had several reasons for wreaking havoc, in particular seeking to harvest a very special resource. Of course, this set into motion a lot of consequences, expected and otherwise. We don’t meet the main adversary in Exile of the Prince, just some of the lesser minions. But believe me, they cause plenty of trouble themselves.
FWF: In additional to being a writer, you’re also a musician. How would you say this has influenced your writing and conversely, your music?
JSH: Specifically being a songwriter and recording artist, I think I’ve been trained to accept a level of self-editing and critique that would be really hard to take coming from anyone else. My edits in music are brutal. Tons of songs are casualties in the great editing wars. And many have their formats changed several times. I have a song called “Walnut Street” on my new record (Corson Overlord, self-titled, available on Bandcamp.com) that has gone from a folker with a hip-hop beat, to a Bauhaus-style piece of morose electronica, and now it’s a rocker with a lot of keyboards and a Satriani-style guitar solo. I think that process of trimming out the fat and trying to hone in on my best ideas has been really helpful in authoring. By the time my editor gets his hands on the manuscript, it’s been in a sort of Advanced Infantry Training for months, so the worst of it, hopefully, has already been sent home.
FWF: What is your favorite place/state of mind to write in?
JSH: I wrote the overarching story of The Prince with One Hundred Brothers primarily at the mall food court, surrounded by crying children and the people at the Chinese place yelling “free sample”. I’m telling you, writing a novel when you have a family and a day job is a crucible. If you don’t love it, it isn’t going to get done.
That having been said, I would prefer to write in an office with a nice natural view, some instrumental music, and maybe some quiet pets, like geckos or snakes. But I haven’t gotten such an office set up yet. Instead I have a home full of kids, a crazy dog, and a yard that is rapidly turning into a duck and chicken farm. Not restful or quiet. Yet the work gets done. I suppose this is like swearing that tall blondes are your type but falling ass-over-elbow in love with a four-foot-nine redhead.
FWF: Who are some of your favorite/most influential authors?
JSH: Wolfe, Wolfe, Wolfe. Gene Wolfe is my biggest inspiration in writing. I picked up his Book of the New Sun as an airport novel, only to realize I had bought the volume with books three and four instead of the first two. I bet money I am the only sci-fi author on the planet who read New Sun backward the first time. By paragraph three I could see that I had discovered my Dark Side of the Moon, my Porsche 911, or possibly my Being John Malkovitch. Soon I was starting to see the structural members beneath the narrative. It was like a primer for writing an ambitious work. I couldn’t wait to get going on mine. I read when I’m eating, and my various volumes of New Sun are totally pockmarked with ketchup spots and soy sauce stains.
But I’ve been compared more often to some more widely-read authors. Douglas Adams. Cormac McCarthy (because of The Road, I think, although that’s rather a bleak meditation compared with my book, which is very optimistic). And Stephen King’s The Stand. I think if you have written an apocalyptic novel in the last twenty years, you’ve been influenced by Uncle Steve. And if you say you haven’t, it’s because you’ve been influenced by his influences. All of us read The Stand in high school…it’s a perfect late-teen novel, full of moral crises and the intoxicating freedom of having all authority cease to exist.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my wife, whose pen name is Mari Nichols-Haining. She is quite a successful poet and professional technical writer. She is one of my best critics. She is a fan. She won’t let me see her novel. I’m going to check out that room in the attic and see if I can find it because I know it’s great.
FWF: When writing, do you carefully construct your world and plan everything out in advance or write as it comes to you and revise as your ideas congeal?
JSH: Honestly I don’t know that yet. I haven’t written enough to be sure what my consistent process is going to look like. I can say that Prince evolved over a quite a few years, almost like an oral tradition or a fairy tale. I think I have developed some more technique since then, but I’ll try not to let it mess things up. To use a music metaphor, Yngwie Malmsteen has a piece called Arpeggios from Hell, which is a lot more impressive technically than say, anything by Neil Young. But at the end of the day Neil’s getting more plays, because he tells a good story.
FWF: What is your favorite thing about writing science fiction and about writing novels in general (so far)?
JSH: Well, I can remake the world into something I’d like better, so that’s always good. I also enjoy being married to another writer so we can watch television and just totally cut the scripts to pieces. Why haven’t all these rogue cops been fired yet? They literally never do what the sergeant orders them to do. Is the sidekick about to say “we’ve got company!” again?
What’s really fun is the craft. Something I sit there and stare at the laptop screen with my Cro-Magnon stupid expression, and I write a sentence like “Tim felt very awkward standing naked in front of the entire chess team.” Then it’s time to go walk the dog or watch baseball or something.
But other times everything just works; the sun comes out and the wind rallies and the sails snap; the boat hikes up and the salt waves break across the bow, and I’m like Well Damn! That’s the best part.
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