Name, Age, About
My name is Christopher Harlan. I’m 35 years old (36 in about a month!), and I’m originally from Queens, New York, but currently live in Nassau County, Long Island, with my wife of 11 years and our two small children (2 and 6 years old, respectively). I’ve been a high school teacher for over a decade, and I’m currently pursuing my doctorate in addition to my writing career.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m releasing my first contemporary romance novel, Impressions of You, on November 1st of this year (about two weeks).
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve literally written the majority of my life. I’m the son of an essayist and avid reader, and those values were passed onto me at a very young age. So I’ve been some sort of storyteller since I was a kid, and while I’ve always dreamed to publication, I only decided to seriously pursue it as the world of self-publishing and e-books became a more legitimate means of making a living as an author.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I consider myself a storyteller, if anything, but really my entire life. I don’t love labels, in general, but if I had to ascribe myself one it would be that I’m now an author. It’s a minor distinction (like cook vs. chef), but an important one. To me, anyone who writes is a writer, no matter how serious or how formally, but an author is someone who decides to pursue that act of writing further than most people. So, while I’ve always been a writer, I would say the last year is when I started to think of myself as an author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My wife is a voracious reader of romance, and when she first started reading romance novels on her iPad several years ago I unfortunately suffered from the same bias a lot of people have of the genre – namely that it’s just poorly written and nothing but one sex scene after another. But as I started reading some of the works myself I not only started to respect and enjoy the genre, but also decided to challenge myself to write a book within that genre. Impressions of You (as well as the other books to follow) is the fruit of that personal challenge I set for myself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Painfully! I’m really exaggerating to say I did ‘market research’, but in a non-formal way I did simply take note of the types of titles I felt were more/less successful for romance – I noticed that they’re relatively short, to the point, and had a nice flow to them, so I went with one I felt met those criteria.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d hesitate to call anything in this book a ‘message’, because I don’t want readers to think that they’re being preached to, or taught a lesson. But if there are themes that I consciously wanted to explore I would say those of the struggles of special needs teachers (which the main character, Mia, is), as well as the struggles of social anxiety. But, more importantly than simply describing the challenges of things people already know are challenging, I wanted to use the genre of romance to frame a positive outcome for people struggling with issues.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
When I was in my mid-twenties I worked in the exact type of school that Mia works in, as both a TA and 1:1 assistant for several severely autistic, non-verbal children. I’ve also had to deal with social anxiety my entire life. I wanted to work those two things into a story without the story being about those things, per say.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I didn’t have a mentor except the influence of my mom, as I described earlier. In terms of the writing of Impressions of You, I read many contemporary romance novels from Kristen Proby, Laurelin Page, and many others
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
No new authors that I can name immediately.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Since I’ve started this process the online romance community has been incredibly supportive – my pre-order sales are going very well considering I’m a first time author. That I’m being well received as an author from those who have read the first chapter of my book, or bloggers who have read ARC’s, has been an incredible experience.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do, but it’s a transitional process. How long that transition takes is yet to manifest, but I’m prepared to treat this as a journey.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d honestly say no, but not because I believe I have the perfect story, but really because there was so much beta reading, and editing, and proofreading prior to putting the book for sale, that I feel confident that I there are no glaring problems with the book. If it was a standalone novel I might have reimagined the arch of the plot line, but that this book (like most in romance) is part of a series, I had the luxury of developing certain characters later in the series.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Excerpt from Impressions of You, by Christopher Harlan:
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just getting it done with all of the other responsibilities in my life (children, work, etc).
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at all.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The image itself was by Shauna Kruse of Kruse photography, and the design of the cover was done by Kari Ayasha.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Being that it was a first time effort, following through with the process to the end. I have many, many unfinished stories or partial ideas in files on my computer, but never have a made such an attempt to follow the entire process through – which includes weeks of edits, hiring professional services (editing, book formatting, cover designer, etc.).
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I can write and publish a book. Sounds simple, but it’s a milestone that I had to actually reach to believe that I could.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I have no idea! But it’s a problem I’d love to have.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Only to pursue any dreams you have as an author, no matter what else you have going on, and to not make excuses for not doing what you’ve always dreamed of.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only ‘thank you’, and that there’s much more to come.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t, but the first book I remember having read to me was an animated Grimm’s Fairy Tale collection.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m not much of a crier, but I love to hear the sound of my little ones laughing. There’s something so sincere about baby laughter that it never ceases to make me smile.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I’m a lifelong martial artist, tattoo enthusiast, avid reader, and I love to listen to podcasts.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The movies are too numerous to list here individually, but in terms of contemporary shows I love Narcos, Billions, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and almost any original HBO programming. I’m also a huge fan of well-made documentaries.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Too many have a favorite – no favorite color – and I love all the sub genres of rock, particularly punk rock.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
What I’m currently doing, which is education and academia. But if I were to start from scratch I always wanted to work in epidemiology or criminal law as well.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Facebook Author Page
Amazon Central Author Page
Amazon Pre-Order Page
Good Reads (with 4 reviews at 4.75)