An interesting one for you today; I speak to Roy Harper, who has been incarcerated in Mississippi since 1981 for armed robbery. He talks to me about how he uses writing to overcome his difficulties.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and darker writing?
My style? I think that came from Louis L’Amour and his flair for grabbing your attention and holding it. For taking an otherwise unsavory character and molding him into someone you admire and root for. They say you should write what you know. The darker side of life? Consider my record. It’s all I’ve ever known.
What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past and your current situation when writing fiction?
I’m sorry, but my background is criminal- Well, maybe I’m not sorry. My background is what brings my stories alive and gives you a sense of being there. I ‘was’ there. Although names and places have been renamed, many parts of my stories are based on real life events.
How did you come to publish your fiction? Were there any issues you found arising from your current situation?
It is extremely difficult to get published, especially for a convict. I’ve been very fortunate in this regard. Jenny Evans produced a documentary about my 2000 escape for National Geographic called “Breakout”. My literary agent, Chris Roy, took the story to publishers Tom Vater and Hans Kemp. Tom said I have great ‘credentials’ and he liked my story and writing. Issues from my current situation? You bet. When I began writing I was being moved once a week from cell to cell and shook down after each move. That is only icing on the cake. Writing? Challenging, extremely challenging.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
So here we are, back to Mr. L’Amour again. I hope to write a western about my great grandfather and I can think of no greater mentor than Mr. L’Amour. I’m sure the man could bring great grandfather to life. But other than Mr. L’Amour, John Dillinger would be my next pick, for obvious reasons.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
In fact I do. I’m polishing up a prequel right now. Dusty, or “Dustball” from Heist, had a life before he met the protagonist. I figured people might want to hear about it.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?
Sure. My agent, Chris, has two novels coming out that I haven’t yet read. Sharp As A Razor and Shocking Circumstances are novels I look forward to.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
There is one thing I would love to put on readers’ minds. Never believe or trust the hype an authority figure puts out there for you. I write to avoid desperation and I continue to write!
Thank you for your time and please: Read.
Thanks to Roy for taking the time. Check out more about his books HERE.