Kelly A. Harmon is the author of the Charm City Darkness series – A Baltimore horror story with a sexy twist.
JMW: Hello, this is Jean Marie Ward for BuzzyMag.com. With me today is Baltimore author Kelly A. Harmon. Welcome Kelly.
Kelly A. Harmon: Hi Jean, thanks for having me.
JMW: We’re so glad you’re here. Charm City, as we locals love to call Baltimore, is not well represented in fan fiction and fantasy. What prompted you to set your book series here?
Kelly A. Harmon: Oh, that’s an easy one. I grew up in Baltimore and so it was a prime choice.
JMW: Write what you know?
Kelly A. Harmon: Write what you know and what you love.
JMW: What do you love best about Baltimore?
Kelly A. Harmon: Oh, there’s so many things to choose from: downtown, Bykota, Eastern Avenue. Eastern Avenue is the best. That’s where I grew up.
JMW: Oh, and Little Italy?
Kelly A. Harmon: Little Italy is okay.
JMW: Which is a better section of Eastern Avenue?
Kelly A. Harmon: Oh, I don’t know, the Cashmere Pulaski monument right there at the park.
Kelly A. Harmon: Ice skating.
JMW: And a lot of things that would fit into a urban fantasy series.
Kelly A. Harmon: There are tons of things in Baltimore that’ll fit into a urban fantasy series.
Baltimore’s Shot Tower was the sight of a violent worker death and was built on top of a former church cemetery. Locals claim to hear orders still being yelled by phantom workers and even say that if you knock on the door, a man with a key will unlock it and let you in.
JMW: What’s your favorite of those?
Kelly A. Harmon: Oh, the Shot Tower.
JMW: The Shot Tower, what’s the Shot Tower?
Kelly A. Harmon: The Shot Tower is a historical monument that, in the times, I guess now you’re going to call me on my history. I don’t know my history. Okay. So when people still used musket balls and cannon shot, this is where they were produced in Baltimore.
JMW: Oh, cool.
Kelly A. Harmon: And it’s a wonderful monument because many times it was going to be destroyed and the citizens of Baltimore banded together to save it.
JMW: I bet it’s haunted, too.
Kelly A. Harmon: It is haunted.
JMW: And it figures in the books?
Kelly A. Harmon: Always, yes. It figures in the books. Actually, it first figured in the short stories and it will be prominent in the next couple of books.
JMW: Oh, great. Your heroine Assumpta is not your usual kick-ass, butt-kicking chick. What or who was the inspiration for her?
Kelly A. Harmon: Assumpta was born of a family story, if you will. A friend of the family was born on the feast of the Assumption, which a Catholic holiday, and she was born in a Catholic hospital in Baltimore. The nuns came to her mother and said, “She was born on the feast of the Assumption. You must name her Assumpta,” and our friend said, “No way.” But we laugh at the story today and we call her Assumpta when she’s not looking, and it just sounds over in your mind – Assumpta, Assumpta, Assumpta – and eventually this character was born. Nothing like our friend. And that’s where Assumpta came from.
Charm City Darkness-Book 1 Assumpta Mary-Margaret O’Connor and archeologist Greg LaSpina find something that sets demons free from Hell. As they search for a way to send them back, Assumpta is offered a deal by a sexy demon: sleep with him and learn how to rid the world of the escaped evil.
JMW: You mean the friend doesn’t say, “But that’s mean.”
Kelly A. Harmon: No. I’m not sure she’d want to be associated with poor Assumpta.
JMW: Oh dear. TheCharm City Darkness series was not your first published fiction. You published a novella that was a historical fantasy – which I’ve heard you read and enjoy – called Blood Soup. Blood Soup won the Fantasy Gazetteers award but I understand you wrote that in three days. How?
Kelly A. Harmon: Oh, good plotting helps, but so do pots and pots and pots of coffee. I literally stayed up for three days to write that for the contest.
JMW: Seventy-two hours straight.
Kelly A. Harmon: I took a little cat-nap about halfway through. But generally I was up at the typewriter.
JMW: Oh my goodness. I can’t even imagine it. I would have crashed somewhere around hour 28.
Kelly A. Harmon: It was painful. It was very, very painful but I needed to get the work done.
Charm City Darkness-Book 2 Assumpta Mary-Margaret O’Connor’s demon mark makes her fair game for any passing demon—and an attractive bargaining chip in the political alliances of Hell.
JMW: How long did it take for you to recover?
Kelly A. Harmon: It was over a holiday weekend so I took the rest of the week off and the following weekend.
JMW: Oh cool, well, that helps. That does help. You recently expanded your fiction career to include editing. Could you tell our viewers a little bit about that?
Kelly A. Harmon: Editing is fun because you get to read a lot of different people’s work. You get to read a lot of bad work. You get to read a lot of work that gives you funny stories to tell at conventions. But you also get to meet a lot of wonderful people who write wonderful stories. My favorite story for the book we just finished doing which is called Hides the Dark Tower, we published a re-print actually from a young man who published the story himself, and the writing was not superior but the story was fabulous, fabulous. And so, I edited the story before I offered him a contract, and I said, “If you want to work with me,” – and I don’t do this, I don’t edit before the contract is signed – I said, “This is where I think the story needs to go,” and he was so wonderful to work with and he wanted to learn. It was fabulous. It’s my favorite story in the book.
Charm City Darkness-Book 3 The mark on her back, easily confused with a small tattoo between her shoulder blades, was her personal demon finder. But it also had bound her to the demon who’d owned it, and still if she died right now, she was going straight to Hell. For eternity.
JMW: So, what are these anthologies overall? Do they have a single theme? Are they put out by a single publisher?
Kelly A. Harmon: The publishers are Pole To Pole Publishing. They are a small Baltimore publisher and the theme…the book we just put out – Hides the Dark Tower – is tower-themed, so we’ll put out another anthology with a different theme. But all of them are going to be science-fiction, fantasy and horror.
JMW: Are they set in Baltimore or…?
Kelly A. Harmon: Some of the stories in the books are set in Baltimore. They’re set in other locations in the United States, but it’s not really a Baltimore book. It’s a themed anthology.
JMW: Oh, very, very cool. You were a reporter before you turned to writing fiction. How did your experiences in that field influence your science-fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy?
Kelly A. Harmon: I don’t know if it influenced the stories, the writing so much. I do know that when I first started being a reporter I found myself writing fiction more and more. I think it was escapism, so I would leave the job after writing a story about a murder or a story about something really terrible, and then I would escape into my fantasy world in writing. But I have to admit that some the grisly things that I saw as a police beat reporter wound up in those stories.
JMW: Police beat reporter is high burn-out territory.
Kelly A. Harmon: It is. I didn’t do it for long.
JMW: Well, better woman than I. What are you working on now?
Kelly A. Harmon: Well, I edited Hides the Dark Tower with Vonnie Winslow Crist, and she and I will be doing another anthology for Pole To Pole, so we’re going to set a call very soon and hopefully that will be out by the end of the year.
JMW: Oh, very cool. And any more books in the Charm City Darkness series coming out?
Kelly A. Harmon: Absolutely. That series is just so fun to write. Baltimore is such a wonderful place to set it in that I think that we will see quite a few stories there.
JMW: When do you think the next one will come out?
Kelly A. Harmon: I’m not sure. The third book just came out in May, and I was working on the fourth book when this one was being published and, in the middle of writing the fourth book, an idea for a novella came up. So, I started working on the novella and abandoned the fourth book, but I think I need to switch that back around again, get on the fourth book and then the novella. But I’m still wrestling with it. The ideas are so good I don’t know which to put in which.
JMW: Oh, cool. We’ll be looking forward to that. Okay, we’re coming up against the end of the interview. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Kelly A. Harmon: No, just thank you for having me. This has been wonderful.
JMW: Thank you for joining us, and thank you for BuzzyMag.com.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.