John G. Hartness is a teller of tales, righter of wrongs, and some call him the Pompetus of Love. Okay, maybe he’s an urban fantasy and horror author from Charlotte with a background in theatre and a love for fried pickles and loud music. John is the author of The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books, available wherever books or e-books are sold. He’s also the creator of the comedic horror icon Bubba the Monster Hunter, and the short stories that bear his name. John is an award-winning poet, lighting designer, and theatre producer, whose work has been translated into over twenty-five languages and read worldwide. He’s been published in several online literary journals including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, cc&d, Deuce Coupe, and Truckin’. His poem “Dancing with Fireflies” was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. John is also the host of the YouTube series Literate Liquors, where he pairs fantasy and science fiction novels with the appropriate alcohol. He can be found online at www.johnhartness.com and spends too much time on Twitter (@johnhartness), especially after a few drinks.
At the 2014 North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, John will join the panel discussion, "The Many Paths to Publication," with Kim Boykin and Karon Luddy. Traditional or Indie, Big 5 or Small Press, Digital or Print: writers have never had more possible, viable paths to publication to choose from, which can make choosing harder than ever before. This panel discussion will feature three authors who have followed more than one of those paths, and can tell you what they discovered along the way.
What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Don't Quit Your Day Job.
Did you have a teacher or mentor who had a big, positive impact on you?
I had a ton of great teachers who took an interest in my writing over the years, particularly in high school. But the biggest was Deborah Hobbs, my English teacher for 9th - 11th grade. She made sure to push me to excel and never let up.
Who is your literary hero?
Probably Pat Conroy.
If you could live in any literary world for the rest of your life, where would you find yourself?
I'm good where I am. Literary worlds are generally pretty f'd up places, since writers love to torture their characters.
If you could have written one book that someone else wrote, which book would it be?
I couldn't. No interest.
Many writers are solitary creatures. Coming to an event like Fall Conference can be a little intimidating, navigating the exhibit hall and ballroom events. Any advice for working the room?
Get over yourself. The days of writers as these brilliant fragile creatures working in solitude in some ivory tower are long over. Get your head out of your ass and network. I have zero sympathy or patience for people who are unwilling to put in the work networking to make their own success. If you're really that much of a wilting lily, get drunk first. It'll take the edge off.
Who gave the best reading or talk you've ever been to? What made it so good?
Ann Bogart and Ben Cameron can give me goosebumps with their passion for the arts. James Earl Jones made me weep with his honesty.
Any advice for attendees who sign up for the Open Mic?
Practice. Work that is performed is a PERFORMANCE, the interaction with the audience is much more important than the words on the page. Watch videos of slam poetry performers and steal from them. Be a mf'in rock star. We can all read, now ENGAGE me. Thrill me, make me live in your words.
The city of Charlotte was founded on two established Native American trading routes. Now, of course, it's the 2nd biggest banking center in the country. Fall Conference will boast an exhibit hall packed with vendors. How do you approach an exhibit hall at a conference such as this? To shop, to chat, or both?
I'm usually selling books, and will be at this event as well. But if I'm there just attending, then I'm networking. I'm looking for publishers that publish my kind of work and trying to make connections with decision-makers. I'm not there to chat, this is a business. That said, I'll happily chat at the bar later.
They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but of course most of us do. What is one—or some—of your favorite book cover(s)?
I'm a genre fiction guy, so give me a genre fiction cover. Tell me what the book is about, and evoke a feeling. Thieftaker by DB Jackson is an excellent example of this. It sets the tone, the location and hints at a magical element, all without hitting me over the head with it.
What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
That this should be fun, and funny, and it's not all so bloody serious all the time. For god's sake, if you can't laugh at yourself, everyone else certainly will do it for you. Writing is hard, it's a difficult business to break into and almost impossible to make any money at, so do anything you can to have a good time in the process.
What is your guilty pleasure read?
I have no guilt, so I'll read anything. I love YA SF and Fantasy, I write comic horror and urban fantasy, I write poetry, I read alternate history and thrillers, and I'm a huge fan of graphic novels. Read what you love, screw anybody who judges you for it.
What makes you cringe when you see it on the page?
Passive voice, purple prose and stories that don't go anywhere.
Caffeine of choice? (English Breakfast, Caramel macchiato, etc.)
Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference is now open.