• Fred Charles

Writing Process Interview: J.W. Harkins



It's a snowy Wednesday at my castle in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and you know what that mean--it's time for another writing process interview. This week, I'm featuring my pal J.W. Harkins, former vet and fiction writer!


Who Are You?


J.W. Harkins, I am married with two kids. I live in Alabama and I am an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

What are three things that you absolutely need in order to write?


1. I must have the correct music. I try to get into what mood I want the reader to be in, so if I want them sad, I listen to sad music.

2. I must also have sticky notes. I know this sounds silly but I live by sticky notes so as I’m writing if something comes to me to add later or that needs to be added earlier I write it down to be done later.

3. Inspiration, I have tried writing about things I thought would be popular but didn’t inspire me, it doesn’t work.

Most writers have many ideas swimming around their heads competing for attention. How do you decide which idea is worth working on?


I try to focus on the one that is the most complete thought. As of right now I have about five ideas for different stories in my head but one specific is stronger than the others.

When you decide on a writing project, how much do you plan upfront?


My planning is mainly for authenticity. I research and study a topic to make sure I am very familiar with it, this can take several months or up to a year. Once I start writing its basically like driving with specific destination, I know how is in the story and I know what it’s about but I am as surprised as everyone else as to how it turns out.

All writers experience writer’s block from time to time. What you do to get unstuck?


Take a break. Read a book, play video games, listen to music and go outside. It doesn’t last long but there is no point in getting frustrated staring at a screen.


Tell me something about your writing process that is quirky and unique to you.


All of stories are tied to a song. Not an entire song but either the feeling the song gives me or a passage from a song.


When are you most productive? When are you least productive?


I am most productive when I’m not trying to be. I find if I try to get a lot done Murphy’s Law kicks in and I get nothing done.


It’s my birthday and you want to give me a book. Which book do you get me and why?


The Broken Empire Series by Mark Lawrence. It is one of the best series I have ever read, I admire a writer’s ability to create a whole new world and the way he did it was inspiring.

Now, the fun part: What is one question that you want me to ask the next interviewee, not knowing who it is?


If you only had one writer to read for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?


Bonus Question submitted by Fred Charles: I’m a huge fan of movies. What movies inspire your writing?


All kinds, the show Supernatural, the movie Venom. Both have given me glimpses to new ideas.

What are you working on and where can readers find you?

I have written The Guardian, which is book one of a three book series. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. I also have a blog (jwharkinsauthor.wordpress.com) where I am currently writing journal entries from a serial killer. Currently I am working on a book surrounding a man in a coma.

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