I have with me author and friend, Margaret Harmon, who just published her latest book, The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own.
Welcome, Margaret, and thank you for being here. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi. I live in Pacific Beach (San Diego), California. I’m married, my husband is a retired college professor and dean, our daughter is a voice actor and our son is a professional photographer.
I assume you’ve been writing a while, when did you start to write?
Just before my fifth birthday, I decided to become an author (kids don’t care about newspapers)—and was expelled from Kindergarten for reading during naptime! But school got better, and a superb high school journalism teacher showed me the appeal of writing feature journalism.
What type of writing do you normally do?
Over the years, everything—novels, humor, essays, short stories, poetry. I was Books Editor for HERSELF MAGAZINE and over 200 of my short pieces have been published. But fables are the perfect form for me. First, I’m an idea writer. My favorite thing is discovering a Truth about life, and I love short, tight, bizarre writing. There is another thrill to writing fables: I figure out what’s holding me back in my life—and create a character who helps me free myself—and then hear someone say she is that character! The character has freed her. Readers take fables personally. That’s the whole point, really.
Give us a brief synopsis of The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own.
Twenty-two brand new heroes, villains, and earnest strivers seek health, fulfillment, and love in our world that’s scorched by greed but trembling with opportunity. These are fables we read when the children are asleep.
· Health food expert Myrna decides to rescue her husband from a nutritional wasteland. But Stanley’s a big man who likes ice cream.
· The Second-best Juggler in the World buys a magic lamp and frees a genie we’ve never seen before.
What prompted you to write this book?
These are tough times with challenges humans have never faced before—on top of the need we always have for creating a self and a family. Our options are fascinating; our choices are crucial. A fable is a tool for testing life strategies. It works by creating a character who lives by one strategy 100% so we see what happens to her. If she succeeds, we consider using the idea. If she fails, she warns us away from her disastrous idea.
How long did it take you to write Genie?
Eight years, but a few of these fables have been germinating for twenty years. Fables take forever to write because they’re surreal, yet must be 100% true psychologically. They entertain, but have to deliver a truth we can use. And the sound and rhythm have to work for reading aloud. I also illustrate my own books, which takes time. But I love it.
Do you have a favorite line from the book?
Yes. "A woman named Nina knew exactly what she wanted."
Is your book published and, if so, when and by whom?
It was published on August 20, 2013, by Plowshare Media of La Jolla, California.
How can my readers get a copy of the book?
Any bookstore can order it. Amazon and Barnes & Noble carry it as a trade paperback and e-book. Visit Plowshare’s web site www.Plowsharemedia.com or mine www.margaretharmon.com for more information and for Questions for Discussion for book clubs.
What do you do besides write?
Ballet and beach-walking. Acting in La Jolla Playreaders. We see a lot of theater. My cello is fun. I love languages and accents—and who we become when speaking a different language! I taught French and lived in France for a while. I taught college English composition, and we lived in England on a Fulbright Cultural Exchange. In the Yucatan, learning Maya was fascinating. It’s too long a story, but “Tennemit tana Maya” is “I do not speak Maya” in Maya. (The word “Mayan” annoys Maya people. It’s an English adjective form, not the correct spelling of their language or people.)
What’s next for you?
Another book of fables—this one with illustrated maxims. It will probably be for the “eighteen percent.” If you’ve read The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own, you know who they are. A lot of people are identifying themselves as members of the “eighteen percent,” so we probably need that book.
What is your advice to would-be writers?
Write what you love best—for three reasons.
· Focusing on our favorite form helps us master our favorite form instead of scattering off. Life is short.
· Very few writers make a living at it, so write what you believe in and what enriches your life.
I wish I’d had the self-confidence to play the literary game full on. There are two games—literary and bestseller. We have to play the one that fits us.
Thank you, Margaret. It’s been a pleasure to have you here today. I wish you the best in your writing future.
Today's Quote: We don’t live as we wish, but as we can. Terence