Author, Luke T. Harrington, won three awards in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! His novel, Ophelia, Alive (A Ghost Story), took Gold in High School Horror/Paranormal, and Silver in both High School Mystery/Thriller and College Horror/Paranormal.
Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?
Probably before I could technically “write.” I think my mom still has some of the construction-paper-and-crayon “books” I “wrote” as a kid—which, if memory serves, were mostly about me defeating alien invasions. She promised to embarrass me in front of all my high school girlfriends with them, but I’m not sure she ever made good on that threat. As far as I’m concerned, they’re still a ticking time bomb—my mom could still blackmail me with them at any moment.
I really didn’t get serious about writing until a few years ago, though—right around the time my first child was born and I realized I’d probably never be a pop star. (There was a whole quarter-life crisis involving a failed American Idol audition, which…the less said about that, the better.)
What’s the target age group for your book?
In my mind, I was writing my book for an adult-ish audience, but despite that, my good friend best-selling author K.B. Hoyle (name drop!) encouraged me to submit it to Literary Classics, who gave it two votes for “high school” and one for “college.”
I’d personally recommend it for a college audience, since that’s the life stage my main character, Ophelia, is at, and the themes are pretty “adult.” Mature high school audiences could probably handle it, though—my mom (there she is again!) donated a few copies to some high school libraries, and no one’s shown up at my door with torches and pitchforks yet, so I guess that’s a good sign.
What inspired your award-winning book?
Ophelia, Alive is a novel about how “the killer” might be lurking within each of us, which is a question that’s been gnawing at me for a long time. I’ve long been fascinated by stories of “homicidal somnambulists”—people who go through their lives as normal, upstanding citizens, but then, one night, just get up and commit a murder or three in their sleep. Assuming the stories are true, are those people really different from conscious, deliberate killers? And are any of us? Or are we all just waiting to have that particular “switch” flipped?
What inspired me most directly, though, was an article I read about a stop-smoking pill called Chantix. It’s a psychoactive drug that, for most people, just prevents them from enjoying cigarettes; for a handful of people, though, it triggers symptoms analogous to paranoid schizophrenia. It kind of blew my mind—both that it exists and that it’s FDA-approved—and it seemed like way too good of an idea for a story to pass up.
Then I threw in some ghosts and Shakespeare. And poop jokes. Every good novel needs poop jokes.
Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.
“Poor Ophelia / Divided from herself and her fair judgment, / Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts.” —Gertrude, Hamlet Act IV Scene 5
Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?
That’s the sort of thing I’d love to do, but my publisher would have to give the greenlight to it. Actually, I’d love to just record the audiobook myself (“record an audiobook” is def on the ol’ bucket list), but my narrator is female, so…eh. No one wants to listen to twenty hours of me trying to sound convincingly female.
Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?
I’m going to say Kristen Stewart, mainly because I just watched Personal Shopper (another good ghost story), and her performance in that was beautifully understated. Also because I’m sure there’s a ton of money to be made off of Twilight fans.
Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?
Louis Sachar is the one who immediately comes to mind here. He was essentially the author I grew up with, and who grew up with me—he got me early as a kid with his wacky Wayside School books, but my jaw dropped when I read his thoughtful coming-of-age novel Holes as a high school student. Sachar taught me, indirectly, that it’s possible to be funny while still pursuing insight and depth.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I only type by smacking my laptop keyboard with a dead fish.
But for real, not really, I guess? I get up before sunrise to write every day, and I use my kitchen island as my desk. Are those things weird? They’re kind of weird.
How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?
I have no clue. I was hoping you’d tell me.
Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?
You all should buy a Nintendo Switch. Those things are more fun than an explosion of rainbows and puppies.
(Chess’s Ed. Note: Remember the line above about being funny while pursuing insight and depth? Yeah, me too. Pretty sure it applies here.)
In addition to three Literary Classics medals, Luke T. Harrington’s debut novel, OPHELIA, ALIVE (A GHOST STORY) also snagged itself an Independent Publisher Book Award for horror. Luke’s writing has also appeared in publications such as Cracked, BuzzFeed, Christianity Today, and also the back of a napkin once.
Luke lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and two young daughters, where he’s a stay-at-home dad, a freelance editor, and basically a pro at Nintendo Switch.
Trapped in the fifth circle of state university hell…
…and then the bodies start piling up.
I should have sensed something wrong when my mortician sister offered me a job. And I should have known something was up when she talked me into taking those pills. At the very least, the hallucinations should have been a red flag.
But now, here I am, standing over a half-eaten corpse.
I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming.
“Horror meets literary fiction in this unique novel in which Shakespeare, Poe, and the like join efforts to create a surreal montage of thoughtful introspection.” —Literary Classics Book Awards
This book is available on Amazon.