Darby Harn is the author of the SPSFC quarterfinalist Ever The Hero, which Publisher's Weekly called "an entertaining debut that uses superpowers as a metaphor to delve into class politics in an alternate America." His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, and other venues. Visit www.darbyharn.com for more.
1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
I had a disastrous first experience with traditional publishing. I sold my first book in 2006. It was supposed to come out in 2008. It was 2011 before I realized I was being gaslit and lied to and the book was never coming out. That paralyzed my writing for years - I didn’t write another book between 2007 and 2015 - and it made me very hesitant about traditional publishing. I did seek agents and publishers for Stargun Messenger, but I think I was relieved when the final rejection came in. I really wanted to make my own way.
2.- How did the idea for Stargun Messenger series appear?
The original idea dates back to the late 1990s. It was a very simple one: Indiana Jones meets Star Wars. I think if I’d been a better writer then, if I had a better understanding of myself, the idea might have worked just fine. I don’t think in the end I would have been happy with it. I struggled for years to realize this story, knowing the characters had value, and I think I’ve been rewarded with something unique and for me personally rewarding.
3.- Without spoiling, what would you say inspired you the idea of the origin of Filamentium?
Filamentium is a core idea that appears in the earliest version from the 90s. I remember thinking a lot about the ivory trade and the fact that oil is basically decayed dinosaurs. What if starship fuel was literally someone’s blood?
4.- Let’s talk about Astra Idari. How would you say this character appeared in your mind? Did it change much from the first version to the published one?
Idari changed and didn’t change over the years. She was always sort of a gunslinger type. But I didn’t understand that she was an avatar for being autistic, mostly because I didn’t know I was autistic. Once I realized that about six years ago, then Idari really opened up for me. She is an android who is linked to her starship’s navigational AI. As a result, she is inundated by sensory information all the time. It’s overwhelming for her and she mitigates it by drinking. Idari’s journey is self-discovery and self-acceptance, and it wasn’t until I was on my own journey that I could really do her character and the story justice.
5.- The universe of Stargun Messenger is certainly interesting, especially with the coexistence of multiple forms of life. What would you say kickstarted this idea?
I love big secondary worlds. I love space opera. I love sounds and language, so I was motivated to be as original as I could with the diversity in the universe. That’s one reason that the Kib are untranslated in the text, though Idari understands them a little.
6.- Could you tell us more about the Eververse, your other series? Iirc, Ever the Hero, placed quarterfinalist in the SPSFC, how did you feel about it?
Ever The Hero is basically what happens when you don’t pay your superhero bill. In the Eververse, superhero protection is like car insurance - it costs money and if you can’t afford it, you don’t get it. Kit Baldwin, the hero, tries to help people for free. That leads to a battle over who owes what and to whom. I was thrilled to be included in SPSFC, which is a great boon to indie authors, and to make it to the Quarterfinals.
7.- What does Darby Harn like to do in his free time?
I love to travel. It’s been hard to the last few years, but this year I’ve been to San Francisco and Costa Rica. I also love to bike, though I don’t think my knees do anymore.
8.- What can we expect from Darby Harn in the future?
My next novel is Eververse Book 4 - Black Market Heart. I will be running my first Kickstarter campaign for that later this fall. I just completed the first draft of Stargun Messenger 2. I’m excited to share that with people and complete the trilogy!