#AuthorIterview with DTM Harris, author of Mosscroft: Shadows Not Forgotten, Book One
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with DTM Harris, author of Mosscroft: Shadows Not Forgotten, Book One.
FQ: Mosscroft is described as the “thrilling kickoff to an action-packed sci-fi saga.” At this point, do you have a plan for how many books you anticipate writing to conclude this entire series? Do you have any of the future books written yet or are you in the planning stages?
HARRIS: I believe this first book is just the beginning of something bigger; this one alone has multiple territories that can be explored and it can evolve into a series of stories based on each territory and character.
FQ: When writing an entire series such as this, do you write the entire series first and then determine where to separate the story into books, or do you just write one book at a time, allowing your creativity to flow naturally and the story to develop at its own pace?
HARRIS: I have a clear idea of the themes I want to talk about, but the story truly develops as I go along. Working on a non-fiction book can allow authors to outline their books in a certain way, however, for me the story takes turns as I become more involved with the narrative and the character I am focused on.
FQ: The story of Mosscroft is so unique and well-developed, from the names of its lands and various jobs down to the animals that live there. Where would you credit the inspiration behind this truly distinctive sci-fi saga?
HARRIS: That’s a tough one. Everything is developed from my imagination and open to changing at any given time. Originally, I was at my daughter’s lake house in Canada drinking grappa. There was a picture of dogs playing poker and I instinctively wanted to give them all a story. As I began writing the story, I soon realized it was difficult to give them a life on earth as we know it, so I changed “earth” and then changed the character of the dogs. It’s funny to think about it since I just found the first few pages I had written and it evolved into something quite different.
FQ: The sheer number of characters in Mosscroft is staggering. First, how did you develop so many integral characters? Are any of them modeled after friends or family of yours? Second, during the writing process, did you have a method for keeping them organized, or were you able to simply commit them to memory once you introduced them in the story? I have to imagine it would be (at least for me!) overwhelming.
HARRIS: There were 3 generations within the story, so it was easy to add characters. I was very lucky to have grown up with a great deal of curiosity. My mother’s family is from Malta. Every Sunday we would all gather at one of her siblings' homes. I would hear so many stories of their parents, grandparents, cousins, etc. I could never listen to them enough. I loved the stories.
The Faremouth’s were developed by using my mother’s maiden name “Faremouth.” One of my dogs had gone blind, but she was always gentle and kind, so the Faremouth was a tribute to my mother and my pet at the time.
There are many parts of my life hidden within the book, and mostly for my enjoyment. The Arm Protection Headquarters (APH) is also the acronym for my high school, Allen Park High! I came from a wonderful city with only one high school and, to this day, many of us are still in touch. There are many more family “stories” within the book.
Even Jonas is reminiscent of my Uncle Joseph who also owned a restaurant. He was a very quiet man, but one of my many hero’s growing up.
For organization, I use good old fashion index cards, plus diagrams. I use the diagrams for both the lineages and the timeline. The hardest thing is to keep the time lines accurate so the diagram works perfectly.. We learned this as children to organize reports and it still works for me!
FQ: In your bio, you share that there was a pivotal moment in your life that prompted you to begin sharing your narratives with the world. Can you explain what this pivotal moment was and how it came about?
HARRIS: My third grade teacher was Mrs. Jones. I was terribly shy, but I could draw and write. She constantly gave me pictures to draw and would hang them up on the walls for decorations. She encouraged me to write stories of my drawings and asked me daily if I had written anything new! She, and she alone, established a confidence in me that has been my anchor ever since. She was a true friend, as well as a teacher. Without her encouragement, I’m not sure I would have discovered how much I enjoyed writing.
FQ: Can you share with your readers how your daughter was the driving force behind your decision to publish your first science fiction novel?
HARRIS: My daughter and I are very close, and thankfully share a wonderful friendship. Many times she would read the things I wrote, but Mosscroft was her favorite. It was her favorite from the very first draft. My daughter, my grandson and myself all live together and during Covid, there was plenty of time to write and read. It was at that time I found an editor. After at least 10 more revisions, Merideth said, ”This is it. Let’s get this published.”
FQ: You profess to be a self-claimed introvert, but even with this personality trait, it does not keep you from speaking up for causes that you care about. What types of causes have you publicly supported over the course of your life, despite your introverted disposition?
HARRIS: My first important one was in the early 1970’s. I had married my high school sweetheart after his return from Vietnam. I soon learned he had a drug-abuse and a violence problem. I wanted to get away from that, but discovered women were considered chattel in a marriage. A man was allowed to hit his wife without fear of prosecution. After that an attorney from Illinois contacted me because he had a client who was in the hospital with almost every bone in her face broken. I flew in and talked to her. She then moved forward with her own divorce.
I’ve done my best to help every woman I knew who was in my situation and helped make the public aware of women’s situations. It would not be until 1978 before Michigan took domestic violence seriously. I stood on the court steps with many other women the day the bill was passed. By then, attorneys were offering divorces for $100 and WITHOUT a matching check from their husbands! Illinois was soon to follow.
I was part of a lawsuit around 1978 against a “gym” that paid the men $125 per week and women $85, for the same work. We won. I was only one of many who worked hard for women’s rights; and I am proud that we did.
FQ: You share in your bio that you have penned a myriad of poems throughout your life. Are any of these poems available as a published collection? If not, do you have any plans to publish any of your poems?
HARRIS: No, they have never been published. I recently took them out and thought about using some of them embedded in my stories. I just never gave it too much thought. Most were written in my youth and we all know how emotional youth can be! Lol
FQ: Finally, and I realize this isn’t book-related, but I always enjoy getting to know authors through our interviews, and I have to say, I absolutely love the photo on your website of you and your dog. Would you tell us a bit about him/her? Name, personality, etc.
HARRIS: Yes, Masha. We dog sit Masha and we have a very special relationship. She is so sweet with a personality all her own. I just love her. We had just lost our dog of 18 years and Masha has helped fill a void. My family loves dogs and we’ve had them all our lives. Today, I am happy to say we have a new dog named Hollywood. My grandson named him after his father (who was dedicated in the book). Mark’s nickname was Hollywood. I refer to him as our personal Yeti! At 6 months old, over 40lbs, and pure white, he’s our family joy. He’s just a sweet gentle giant and a welcomed addition to our family.