Peter Harmon is a life long creative. Wanting to be a writer since a young age, he has built a career writing screenplays and Young Adult novels. Recently, Harmon has decided to dive into the world of frights by producing a horror anthology. Titled Horror From The High Dive, which is a Horror Anthology Book (IndieGoGo), this collection has Harmon being joined by K. C. Dunford, Andrew Adams, Beck Medina, Malcolm Badewitz, Daniel Lee, Sean Cameron, Ben Greene, Joe Cabello, Matthew Hartwell, Graham Stone Johnson, Christopher Malone, and Katherine Forrister. This book is to be published by his company High Dive Publishing. Wanting to learn more about Harmon’s career and his latest project, I was able to interview him for ScifiPulse.
You can learn more about Harmon by checking out his homepage, and following him on Twitter at @PeterLHarmon.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up what were stories you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Peter Harmon: I was a big reader growing up.
I loved C.S. Lewis books and Calvin & Hobbes comics and any little ratty paperback I could find at the local library. At a book fair or something like that I was introduced to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and I was hooked. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was passed around my 5th grade class from kid to kid and we’d gape and gawk at the illustrations.
At one point, in my early tweens, I had a “scary story collection” that I dragged around with me in a big white box with a Velcro clasp… very 90s of me.
I read all of the Fear Street and Christopher Pike books that I could get my hands on and then I graduated to Michael Crichton and Stephen King, with some Tales From The Crypt comics in the mix every now and then.
I still read The Chronicles Of Narnia to my kids and we almost always have one in rotation. At the beginning of this year when everything shut down I read some Stephen King books as comfort food in an unsure time.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as a professional creative? Was there a moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Harmon: I think I somehow always knew I would work in a creative field. In a third grade “About Me” assignment that my mom uncovered recently I even said that I wanted to be an author or an NBA player and since I wasn’t blessed with spectacular basketball talent, here we are.
I am an author, a publisher, and a TV producer now (guess which actually pays the bills!). My elementary school had a televised morning show where they said the pledge of allegiance and announced what the cafeteria lunch was going to be (with your choice of potato) and I was a cameraperson on that, so I had inklings early on that I wanted to work in TV/Film, writing, etc.
I went on to study TV production in high school and Electronic Media/Film/ and Creative Writing in college, so I’ve always been interesting and engaged in pursuing this kind of stuff.
Yanes: Your company, High Dive Publishing, first published your Young Adult books The Happenstances…. What motivated you to create your own company to publish your books?
Harmon: My Happenstances… books were originally published by a very cool publisher and I had a great experience working with them. I got the opportunity to buy the rights to my books a couple of years ago and I took it. I had watched as my publisher made a little money off of my books and me not so much. So, I bought the rights, created an imprint, and here we are. My first official project with High Dive Publishing was releasing a Hardcover edition of the first book in The Happenstances… series. I did a crowdfunding campaign for that as well and it was successful!
Yanes: High Dive Publishing’s recent project is a horror anthology. When did you want to dive into horror?
Harmon: When I created High Dive I began brainstorming about the projects that I would like to do and the FIRST thing that jumped into my mind was a collection of scary stories since that’s what I loved so much as a kid (and still do!) I am still a big fan of anthology books and movies and TV series. Black Mirror is incredible, I dig the V/H/S movies, and right now I’m reading a thick anthology of 101 “Great” Horror stories that all seem like public domain stuff from 100 years ago, haha, but there are some good ones in there.
Yanes: Who do your favorite horror storytellers?
Harmon: I’m loving what Jordan Peele is adding to the conversation. I have a nostalgic love of Stephen King. I think Bret Easton Ellis books are horrific at times. I recently read We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin and that was probably more sci-fi than horror, but it was a scary and relevant story, especially with this year happening as it happened.
Yanes: Horror, as a genre, is fairly broad. How do you define horror when compared to the genres of thriller, suspense, and mystery?
Harmon: I think horror can be thrilling, suspenseful, and mysterious for sure, but to truly be categorized as horror I want something that goes bump in the night or something gory or some kind of psychological terror going on. If I’m turning on a horror movie or opening up a spooky book, I don’t want to simply be thrilled, I want my little neck hairs to stick up and say ‘maybe we should get another light on in here.’
Yanes: I have edited academic collections. So, I understand the pros and cons of editing multiple contributors. What was your experience like? Specifically, how do you think this project made you a better editor?
Harmon: Wow, so editing was a fun part of the process. I was dealing with 13 different personalities (I’m including myself in there as well) and trying to cater to their writing style as well as their communication style. I do have some practice in this as a husband and father, but also as a producer. I am sometimes working with several video editors at once to create a streamlined episode of television and it takes delicate dancing.
I also wanted the book overall to have a bit of my voice in it and I wanted there to be references that showed up in multiple stories to draw all of the stories into the same universe to some extent.
I became a better editor by ‘diving in’ to the process without specific experience and hoping I wouldn’t belly flop. That’s kind of the whole idea behind High Dive, doing something that scares you, that you ultimately learn from and feel good about doing.
Yanes: Also, editing any collection is a challenge. When did you know that this project was going to work?
Harmon: I knew the project would work when the stories started rolling in. Honestly these are incredible stories by incredible writers. I’m lucky to have locked down so many talented authors into one collection.
Yanes: One of your contributors is Matthew Hartwell. If you could sell his soul to the Devil for anything you want, what would you want from the Devil in exchange for Matt’s soul?
Harmon: Well I think we all learned from that one Simpsons episode not to dabble in dealing souls… also I think Matt’s soul is too pure, that guy is a great fella! His story is one of my favorites in the book, not that I’m playing favorites! He wrote a fun story with a Stranger Things vibe called Greenteeth.
But so, I certainly wouldn’t sell my soul to the devil to reach the Indiegogo campaign crowdfunding goal (hint hint, plug plug!) but me and 12 other incredible writers would certainly be excited about that feat.
Yanes: When people finish reading Horror From The High Dive: Volume 1, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Harmon: Wow, a lofty question… I would hope that while they were reading it they had a couple frights, maybe a couple chuckles.
And I would hope that maybe a detail or two would stick with them and late one night, when they’re going to pee or get a drink of water, that they would remember the gal in the pond from Greenteeth or the actress entering The Void and what she had to do there, or some of the kids from the School For The Sleepless. Or something else from one of the tales and that they would have to quicken their step to the bathroom or wherever because they got a little bit of that scary story feeling from back in the day.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that fans can look forward to?
Harmon: I’ve always got a couple things going!
You can check out the first two books in The Happenstances… young adult book series, the third in the series is coming out at some point.
My wife and I do a podcast about the TV show The Vampire Diaries where she is a superfan of the show and I’m watching the series for the first time. We watch an episode of the show then have a sometimes serious, mostly silly discussion about each episode, it’s called The VamPetey Diaries.
High Dive Publishing has a Ko-Fi page where I post short stories and such: https://ko-fi.com/highdivepublishing
And I would say please check out the work of other authors from the anthology. A couple of them have previously published novels and short stories and comics. They’re a talented group and I am so happy to have worked with them!
Remember, you can learn more about Harmon by checking out his homepage, and following him on Twitter at @PeterLHarmon.