The Story Behind the Book welcomes the author for today, U.L. Harper, author of The Flesh Statue. U.L. is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion promoting his debut novel. You can find U.L. at www.ulharper.com and watch the book video here;
Q: U.L., how did you come up with the idea for his book and where did you get your inspiration for his book?
A: Getting this book started took years of inspiration. Very tricky, how this one came about. Before I wrote meaningful short stories I wrote poetry. As a matter of fact I was really into poetry. So much into it in that I had a chapbook I put out called The Body Politic. We took submissions from the public and had readings to celebrate each issue. Now, the crowd who submitted was young and angry youth, like myself, focused on social issues and politics. Actually I was out of my youth at about 23 years old but that’s not the point. The ideas floating around me at that time in my life moved me to action, is the point. Because I’m a writer, my actions turned into a novel.
At one time I had issues with billboards. They seemed so intrusive to me. This led to a conversation I had with a friend. He pointed out that society always took the most useless things and made them huge. So if society crumbled, future archaeologists or alien archaeologists would find a 15-foot high doughnut or a 20-foot high picture of a beer can. They’d find a vehicle shaped like a hot dog. So I remember saying to that friend of mine, “The revolution will have to be televised. Actually it will have to be advertised too. How else will we know about it?” Or I’m sure I said something like that. This concept helped fuel a short story called The Resurrection of Greenwell. In the story, Greenwell is a small town that invites people from around the country to their revolution, through advertisements. The problem with the story was it didn’t have any actual characters. It had cool moments and interesting writing but no story, just a situation. I wanted full characters or none at all. So I gave my main character something wonderful to deal with, something I had to deal with in my life—the death of his and my grandfather. Now I had a revolution about to happen and a grandfather dying to deal with. Perfect.
Now I had a different problem. The story moved too slowly. So I added great supporting characters to head up several subplots. Then came the real challenge. No way was this a short story any longer. So there you had it. My novel idea, no pun intended.
At the time, however, it was still called The Resurrection of Greenwell. The title wound up being inappropriate because now the story focused on the emotions of the characters and the whole revolution thing had become a mere subplot.
After letting a bunch of friends read it, one of them said they had read it to someone I had never met and that this person had tears from listening to a certain scene. In that scene the protagonist discovers that his grandfather is dead. It’s a poignant moment but in rereading it, it’s the analogy this character has about his dead grandfather that I liked. This is the one part in the story that I said to myself, this will work. Not because it was in print but because it had touched me so much, maybe not when I wrote it but it did now. In the scene, Langley Jackson thinks his grandfather, sitting there dead in his wheelchair, looks like a flesh statue, hence the story really being about his grandfather.
So there you have it. Researching Alzheimer’s was a jolly good time too. I’ll tell you what. If you can’t have fun with Alzheimer’s you can’t have fun with anything. Thanks for reading.
About the Author:
U.L. Harper was born in Los Angeles California. However, he was raised in the public school system in Long Beach California. He attended Lincoln and Madison Elementary and moved to San Pedro where he attended Richard Henry Dana Junior High School. For the last few months of junior high he moved back to Long Beach where he attended Franklin Junior High School. He then went to Long Beach Poly where they told him he wouldn’t be anything when he grew up and that he wasn’t allowed to take a creative writing class. The teachers called him stupid. At least before 1993.
U.L. originally went to college for journalism. He got his feet wet at UCLA (University of Cypress Lincoln Avenue). But his writing started as a part time slam poet, moving around different cities cursing at the audience in the name of art and style. His writing continued as writer and Editor in Chief for the Cypress Chronicle.