Recently, I had the chance to spend a few minutes conducting and author interview with S. L. Harpel. S. L. recently released her novel, Contained, which is a dystopian, young adult tale about a girl name Ella that is struggling to find her place between two societies. You can read the review of Contained by clicking this line.
About the Author
Wolfe: Hello, and welcome to WolfeButler.com.
S. L. Harpel: Thank you for allowing me be a part of your amazing website.
Wolfe: Let’s start by learning a little about you. Please tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.
S. L. Harpel: I was born and raised in Northern California, and I defiantly hold that area near and dear to my heart. I went away to College in Idaho where I met my husband. From there we joined the U.S. Navy, and the world has really been our home for the past ten years.
Wolfe: When did you start writing? How did you decide to become an author?
S. L. Harpel: I have wanted to be an author since I was about seven years old. My best friend and I sat down to write the greatest fiction novel in the world one summer, and I have had a passion for writing ever since.
Wolfe: That’s awesome. How far did you get?
S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say we got about halfway through and then I moved.
Wolfe: That’s too bad. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you write as it comes, or do you prefer to outline the book first?
S. L. Harpel: I do a lot of outlining and reorganizing and character plotting…sometimes I think its a little bit of an avoidance tactic, but for the most part it is all a part of my writing process. Once I have the main outline to my novel, I do like to just write as it comes, and sometimes that means big twists and turns or new characters that I didn’t see coming.
About the Book
Wolfe: Now let’s switch over to your intriguing book, Contained. How did you come up with the story idea?
S. L. Harpel: I am a big fan of dystopian and apocalyptic type novels to begin with. The idea actually came to me as I was researching and writing Regency Romance. I found all the social rules, classes, etc. kind of comical and just thought, “What would happen if we brought that back and judged everyone based on the society they were born into?”
Wolfe: That’s a scary thought. Your main character, Ella, is a little complicated. Does she mirror anyone in real life?
S. L. Harpel: I feel like for a character to be good, you have to draw from several different inspirations whether they are in real life or inspiration from other books/media. My biggest focus for Ella is that I wanted her to be relatable for my target audience which is Young Adult readers. She struggles with several different forces being thrown into her life all at once and mixing with her own personality. I feel like so often characters will be portrayed on a single line of thought or emotion but that isn’t real life. You have to juggle several different connections and societies all at once and figure out which one fits you best or maybe even none of them.
Wolfe: That is very true. While writing Contained, what were your biggest challenges?
S. L. Harpel: I would have to say my biggest challenge is not allowing myself to write too much! I have these characters in my head as real living people, and I don’t want to leave anything out for any of them. Even the simplest side character seems just as important to me, and I feel like they want their story to be heard too. Remembering to keep my focus on Ella, because she is the one telling us her life story, has been the biggest struggle for me.
Wolfe: What are the plans for Book Two in the series?
S. L. Harpel: Book Two should be ready for Pre-Order Sept 2018. Ella is going to find herself traveling deeper down the rabbit hole that makes up her world and may even finally find the one person she has been looking for all along but in the worst possible place!
Wolfe: What do you like most about writing?
S. L. Harpel: Getting down the voices in my head. 😉
Wolfe: (Laughing) That I understand far too well. Tell us, what advice would you give to new writers?
S. L. Harpel: Write all day every day. Don’t be afraid to use someone as your inspiration, hurt someone’s feelings, or write what has already been done. You will do all of that, but in your own way, and that is what will make it amazing!
Wolfe: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
S. L. Harpel: I would say the best writing advice was from Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it.”
Wolfe: What are your three favorite books of all time?
S. L. Harpel: Three is a hard number…So I guess I will say the three authors that I have read all their books over and over again! Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood, and for YA Fiction, I have really been falling in love with Bella Forrest lately, though I don’t think I could ever hammer down that genre to one favorite author.
Wolfe: If you could go on a six-month writer’s retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say all of the UK! I love, LOVE the classic romances such as Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, etc. I would want to visit all their landmarks. Then I would go up to Scotland to see all the Outlander spots, because I really am a nerdy Obsess-ssanach. I love mythology and folklore, so I would go all over Scotland and Ireland just soaking up every castle, fairy hill, and standing stone that I could manage
Wolfe: You sound just like my wife. Now, let’s do a rapid fire round. Try to answer these questions as fast as you can. What is the last movie you watched?
S. L. Harpel: I never go to the movie theater, but I just went to see The Darkest Mind.
Wolfe: What’s your favorite music when writing?
S. L. Harpel: I love listening to classical stations, or my recent favorite has been shuffling through Piano Guys songs.
Wolfe: What are three things you can’t live without?
S. L. Harpel: My planner notebook, my computer, and the three little rugrats and one large man child that I call my own.
Wolfe: What’s the last book you read and/or what are you reading right now?
Wolfe: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Connect with S. L. on social media: