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Harrison Passport Photo 2

Harrison Demchick, Author, Editor, Filmmaker, and Musician, will join us at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.

Harrison will facilitate 3 sessions.

Bad Math: How the Right and Left Brains Work Together

It’s the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine

The Blueprint, or Building the Perfect Draft



Raised on a steady diet of magical realism, literary fiction, science-fiction, and Spider-Man comics, Harrison Demchick spent most of his formative years inside his own head, working out strange thoughts and ideas that would eventually make their way into stories, screenplays, and songs.

He went to Oberlin College to attain one of modern day’s most notoriously useless degrees, a BA in English with a creative writing concentration, but then actually used it, working for over a decade as a developmental editor of fiction and memoir. Harrison is also an optioned screenwriter, winner of the 2011 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, and an inaugural fellow of the Johns Hopkins University/Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund. His first film, Ape Canyon, is currently in production.

The Listeners, his first novel, was published by Bancroft Press in 2012. Otherguy, his debut EP, launched in 2018. He currently lives in Washington, D.C. with his girlfriend and their two cats with a combined seven legs. He’s working on a series of short stories, a couple screenplays, a pair of musicals, a concept album, and whatever else keeps him distracted from the dark void that will one day consume us all.

** Click “Continue Reading” for Interview and Course Syllabus **


An Interview with Harrison Demchick

By Conference Chairman Charles Kiernan

Question: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from rejections?

Harrison: Somewhere in the general vicinity of April 2019, I received a rejection that stated—verbatim—“I’m rejecting you solely based on the fact that you are a middle-aged white man. I can’t publish any more of those.” And the funniest thing about it is that this—a rejection letter—turned out to be the first time in my life I was called middle-aged.

I kind of love that. But I also love what it means. Rejection is an inevitability, sure—in fact, an absolute certainty. If you’re putting your writing out into the world, no matter how good or how bad you happen to be, you’re going to hear a lot more no than yes. Sometimes it’s going to be completely arbitrary. Sometimes it’s going to be for good reason too, and if you get multiple rejections for the same reason it’s definitely something to which you need to pay attention.

But fundamentally, rejection is also a lot about the person or people at the other end of the submission process.

So it’s not personal. Even if nailing it to being a middle-age white man sounds personal. I had a short story rejected last year because its weirder aspects aren’t explained. That was dead-on—they weren’t. I prefer it that way. The publication in question favors more closure. It doesn’t mean I didn’t write a good story. (It also doesn’t mean I can’t write a better one.) It just means it wasn’t for them.

Rejection is going to come. And it’s going to sting, because it feels personal. But at heart, it’s not, and all you can do is keep learning and growing as a writer and keep on trying.

Q: Do you have a disciplined writing routine? If so, what does it include?

H: The best part of learning that the Write Stuff Writers Conference ends on Saturday is that I get to stick with my routine of devoting at least three hours to writing every Sunday.

It wasn’t always that way. I actually struggled a lot in the years after college making writing a discipline once it was no longer a requirement. I wasn’t unproductive, and I was actually doing a fair amount of creative writing for work, adapting published books into screenplays—but I wasn’t working on my stories.

Eventually a couple writer friends wanted to put together a weekly Write Club—to devote some time every week to sitting down and writing. I was skeptical. I’m an introvert. I write solo. If I’m spending time with my friends, I wanted to spend it actually talking to them.

But we tried it: at least three hours of writing on Sunday, every Sunday. And once we started it, and stuck with it, it took less than a year to finish a screenplay I’d been working on—barely—for several years. That screenplay, Ape Canyon, is now my first film. And it was only the first project.

One of my friends lives across the country now. Often Write Club is just two people, and sometimes it’s just me in the business center of my apartment building. But I stick with it every week—at least three hours in front of my computer, uninterrupted—and it keeps me productive and happy. I don’t know where my writing would be without that time and I have no intention of finding out.

Q: Share the strangest source of inspiration for your writing that you can remember.

H: I suppose that would have to be Spider-Man.

It would not be far off the mark to suggest that everything in my life eventually leads to a comic book reference. But Spider-Man actually does deserve a ton of credit for setting me on the path to writing. I still remember being in eighth grade, lying on the floor of my room and reading the letters page for an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, hearing the praise for writer John Marc DeMatteis. I think the reader said something about a DeMatteis comic always being an excellent read, or something to that effect.

I was already a writer—I’d been in love with writing since elementary school—but before that it hadn’t really occurred to me that creative writing is something you could do for a living. As a job. And get paid for it. And since then it’s been the only thing I wanted to do for a living. In time I discovered editing as well, which is actually what I do for living, but ultimately it’s Spider-Man who webbed to my brain the notion of turning this obsession with narrative into a career.

Q: The age old question for authors everywhere—>Why do you write?/Why writing?

H: I still ask this of myself sometimes, especially in those more frustrating times where either the writing isn’t coming out quite right or no one seems to be discovering it. I find myself thinking: Why do I put myself through this? Why can’t I be content just living my life with my wife and my cats and the friends who love me? Shouldn’t that be enough?

Maybe it should be. It isn’t though. Because whether or not I put in the time, I still think the strange things I think. Ideas lodge their way into my skull, or songs into my brain, or whatever it happens to be at any moment. Those things don’t go away if I don’t write. They just make me feel worse for not embracing something that, though difficult, and though trying at times, I really do love to do.

Writing is my balance. Writing brings contentment. I write because it’s the best way I know to find these things. Ultimately that doesn’t answer one way or another whether the rest of my life should be enough without it, but my life is certainly happy with it, so why would I ever give it up?

Q: What projects are coming up next for you?

H: Oh man. So many. First, as far as what projects are coming up for others, my first film Ape Canyon will make its way to general release sometime this year once it’s completed its run of film festivals. I also have a batch of short stories I’ve been working on, and I expect to see a couple more of those make their way to publication, leading hopefully to a published collection.

As for other new projects, I’m working on my first middle grade horror novel—in fact, the first novel I’ve attempted since The Listeners came out in 2012—called Dylan and the Nighttime Things. I have a couple screen projects in the pipeline somewhere or another. I’m working on a couple horror comedy stage musicals with a friend of mine, and on my own I’ve been writing a concept album.

In the course of all of that, of course, I’m always working on a number of projects as a developmental editor of fiction and memoir. So if you find yourself on the hunt for one of those, and I’ve not collapsed under the weight of too many projects, let me know!


Saturday March 14, 2020

Bad Math: How the Right and Left Brains Work Together

Most fiction writers are right-brained people, filled with creative ideas they’re outright compelled to bring to the written page. The inventiveness of the creative mind is a remarkable and romantic thing, but a novel is a big and complex entity, and it doesn’t work on creativity alone. For many would-be authors, even genuinely brilliant ones, managing and understanding story logic is a difficult task to achieve and the greatest obstacle to overcome. This talk will address various types of logic issues, including some writers rarely hear about. We’ll explore exactly why logic is so important in a field founded in the magic of creative invention.


 It’s the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine

Everyone knows a good novel requires conflict and tension, but where does conflict come from? It’s not the seriousness of the situation, not even a nuclear apocalypse generates conflict on its own—not if the protagonist has a fully stocked fallout shelter he planned to spend the rest of his life in. Conflict only works if it acts upon the protagonist in a negative way. This talk will show you the true origins of conflict and tension, and how they emerge specifically from a character’s reaction and the consequences they face.

1.) Conflict is defined by the obstacles standing in the way of a particular character achieving her wants and needs. A character whose wants and needs have not been defined cannot experience genuine conflict.

2.) That tension is a lot like an acrobat on a tightrope. Walking one foot above the ground takes no less skill than walking one hundred feet above the ground, but the latter is a lot more exciting. Tension emerges when your character has a long way to fall.

3.) Why readers need to see a character’s reaction to negative events in order genuinely to feel it themselves. Character reaction signals the severity of the conflict.


The Blueprint, or Building the Perfect Draft

Writing a novel is an enormous undertaking, not unlike building a house. If you’re going to gather the materials and do the work, it’s good to have a plan. But what makes an effective outline? What elements of plot, character, conflict, and even logic are worth considering before you write the first page? How can outlines go wrong? And what if you’re more pantser than plotter to begin with? This talk explores all the benefits, pitfalls, and ideas a writer should consider in utilizing an outline as the blueprint for a well-constructed novel.


Harrison Demchick Bookcover

The Listeners, by Harrison Demchick

Before the plague, and the quarantine, fourteen-year-old Daniel Raymond had only heard of the Listeners. They were a gang, maybe even a cult, or at least that’s what his best friend Katie’s police officer father had said. They were criminals, thieves, monsters—deadly men clearly identifiable by the removal of their right ears.

A harrowing work of literary horror, The Listeners, Harrison Demchick’s electrifying debut, is a dark and terrifying journey into loneliness, desperation, and the devastating experience of one young boy in a world gone mad.

Harrison’s short story, Magicland, is published in the January 2019 literary magazine: Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism. He also has a short story in the literary journal, The Hunger, titled The Bead.

Coming Soon: Magicland: Short Stories and Novellas

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You can find Harrison at his website: https://www.harrisondemchick.com/ , and social media links:





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