Writing Superheroes: Matthew Harffy

A rock star superhero returns for a sequel! Read on and find out more…

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According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!

Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’.

All good superhero stories, have a sequel–something else happens after the first foe is vanquished. How does your sequel begin (after the publication of you first/most recent book….)

Once I had published The Serpent Sword, I cracked on with working on the next books in the Bernicia Chronicles series.

All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity. How has yours grown and changed since you started life as a superhero?Matthew_Harffy

The main change to my alter ego is that he no longer sings in a rock band. I was spending so much time writing and promoting the books, that something had to give. I need to have time with the family and also keep the day job bosses happy!

Do you have any side kicks or a new superhero team member? What are their superpowers?

Since the release of The Serpent Sword, I have found many new superheroes to aid me in my quest of writing: the numerous other historical fiction authors who have helped me to promote the book and have been generally encouraging and helpful. It is great that the writing community is so supportive.

Have your superpowers grown and changed since your last adventure?

I have become more adept at writing with very little time availability. I often only have forty-five minutes to write, so I manage to concentrate very quickly and get the words down as quickly as possible.

What new supervillain have you faced on your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

The supervillain that I now have to battle with is book marketing and promotion. I have now had to write at the same time as promoting the first book (not at exactly the same time, but you know what I mean!). It makes it much more difficult to focus on creating a new story when you also need to tweet, post on blogs, do interviews, set up promotions, and be active on Facebook.

What new lessons have you learned during this new adventure?

I have probably learnt many lessons, but I suppose the most important one is that I now know that I can write more than one novel. Writing The Serpent Sword was a huge milestone, writing The Cross and the Curse, felt like a reaffirmation that I can do this over and over (hopefully with quality results!). I’ve since written the first draft of a third novel, By Blood and Blade, so further proof I’m not a “one trick pony”!

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

People reading and enjoying my first book, The Serpent Sword and getting (mainly) positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The more reviews, the easier it is for prospective readers to be confident enough to buy a novel from an unknown author such as me!

Also, to receive endorsements from well-respected authors, such as Manda Scott, Angus Donald, Justin Hill, Giles Kristian, Steven A. McKay, and many others was a real thrill! A couple of years ago I could not have imagined such luminaries of the historical fiction world would spare me a moment. Now, not only have many great writers read my work, several of them have liked it enough to provide me wonderful quotes for the covers.

The latest thing that has been really exciting is for the Historical Novel Society to not only award The Serpent Sword Editor’s Choice, making it long-listed for the HNS Indie Award 2016, but also to have been invited to speak on a panel of Indie authors at the 2016 HNS Conference in Oxford next September. I feel like a real author now!

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

The only thing I think I would do differently is to publish sooner, rather than waiting for traditional publishers to reject my manuscript. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing! At the time, how was I to know publishers would reject it?

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

My new book, The Cross and the Curse, is the sequel of The Serpent Sword. If you enjoyed the first of the Bernicia Chronicles, you’ll love this one. You could read it as a standalone book, but it also continues Beobrand’s story.

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

I’ve just finished the first draft of book three of the Bernicia Chronicles, By Blood and Blade. Next will be test readers, editing, and then publication. I’ll start writing book four soon, and I may also write a prequel novella this year too.

I am also hoping to get The Serpent Sword recorded as an audio book in 2016. So it looks like it will be another busy year!

Thanks for the opportunity of answering your questions.


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