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Interview with AJ Hard

It was never written in stone what AJ Hard wanted to do growing up. But after grabbing a pencil and a notebook, Hard knew what he wanted to share. And worked his way to succeed in his idea.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I have made cameo appearances on TV, in newspapers, and social media profiles.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
The next book: Lost in the Forgotten Library, will be ready to present this April.

Q.3 When did you decide to write The Shiver and Fears series?
Shiver and Fears was an idea back in 2012 as I was starting my dream of becoming a famous author.

Q.4 What is the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The biggest challenge is not stereotyping what a girl is like. Giving them all types of images and characteristics.

Q.5 How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
The shortest amount of time was 1 whole month. So on average, it takes about 3 months. This includes developing the story, including the number of characters, making an ending, and finishing it within 20 chapters!

Q.6 What was your first introduction to horror literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
I read Let’s Get Invisible around the age of 6. Yep, that’s right, I was introduced to Goosebumps at the age of 6! It wasn’t until watching Welcome to Horrorland that I made Goosebumps my #1 focus!

Q.7 What draws people to horror novels? Why do we, as a reader, like to be scared?
Horror books place us in a position of danger without being there. The imagination of a character facing the risk. We all root for a character; how will they survive? Look how brave they are! What will they do? This gives readers (us) the amazement in horror as we get closer to what ends up being a cliffhanger!

Q.8 What was the hardest part of writing this series?
For me, the hardest part is not bringing back a similar character. With Shiver and Fears, every character has to be different from the one in the last book; the look, the location, and the behavior. Especially the name. Sometimes, I end up making up a name just to be sure it wasn’t used in another book.

Q.9 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
It’s easy to reach out to people who know you most; friends, family, and co-workers. But it’s best when you’ve reached out to someone who’s never met or heard of you before. How I do it is I find others who have a similar passion and give them attention. 

Once I get their attention, I ask for some too. In order to receive your audience, you have to show them they are important too. It’s my reason for the contests; sharing an interest and helping each other out.

Q.10 What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I remember I saw the movie IT for the first time as a kid. I will never forget watching that clown attack that child from the gutters. I was afraid of street gutters ever since then. It didn’t last too long, but I will never forget that scene. (At the time, it was the only part of the movie I saw)

Q.11 Do you feel any competitive pressure from horror movies/series? If not, why not?
I do; I work mostly alone. Other authors work with a team, especially movie directors. I do try to match up my work with the others sometimes, just to be accomplished what works best. It’s all about catching up with what is popular and new.

Q.12 How do you select the name of your characters?
Some characters have been created by real people. Shiver and Fears give the opportunity for others to become a part of the book. Other times I will use a nickname based on some silly quirk the character has. Lastly, I use the unique talents America has given by spelling names with other letters. An example is: Cory becoming Korri.

Q.13 What was the first horror book/story you remember reading?
A. Goosebumps
is what got me into horror fiction, but I remember my first horror story being In a Dark, Dark Room. I can never forget that book because there was a story about a woman wearing a scarf, and it reminded me of The Haunted Cabbie from Hey Arnold.

Q.14 How do you select the title of your books?
That is a question with an imaging answer! Imagine watching a show, and you hear your annoying sister in the living room. So you go to see what she's doing and find out she was never there. You might start asking questions. What did I hear? Where is my sister? 

Then, you start changing the facts into fiction. I never had a sister. I’m an orphan. Afterward, you plot with a little fear. A boy got adopted by a ghost family. He doesn’t know it. In the end, the title is made: My Haunted Life. The power of imagination is powerful!

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
My family has mixed emotions about my work. Some question that while being a Christian, horror writing might not be the best idea. Others are fond of it but suggest trying a different genre. All my friends are psyched and enjoy the series. Either way, I have fans from both sides.

Q.16 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad ones?
I don’t have written reviews, but at times I do hear from fans about how the stories were good or the editing was bad. I appreciate both comments because it helps me know my ideas aren’t terrible and helps me know where I went wrong in writing. There’s always room for improvement.

Q.17 Who designed your book covers? How do you select him/her?
I am actually constantly going through a list of artists right now. I was the first creator of the cover drawings. About 3 years later, I met with a girl named Carson, who did tremendous work. Once I lost contact with her, I moved over to Randon, who made perfect drawings; I’d color myself. He soon decided to focus on school. 

Soon after, I met with a Canadian named Cameron; he lasted a while. Although we’re on great terms, he wants to draw his own fan art. Now I am working with Connor, who created the Shiver and Fears' first comic strip.

Q.18 What three things can a reader expect from your book?
A. 1.
Only 20 chapters: not too long, not too short.
2. New ideas: Even the most familiar story plot will come with something different.
3. Scary thrillers: I keep my stories safe for young ones to read. No adult jokes, no violence, and child-safe dialog.

Q.19 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
38 horror fiction, 4 fantasy fiction, 1 autobiography and 2 children’s books (one for children to illustrate themselves), and 2 published books made by young writers that I am included in. So together, that’s 47 books by 2023 (My next book will be finished in April).

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
Shiver and Fears started out as 1 simple manuscript. Over the summer of 2012, 2 books were made. But only one tiny voice could spread out the word. That tiny voice took a chance and searched the internet for answers. That was around the time social media grew for my books. About 21 people who knew the author knew about the series. But it kept growing.

After a year had passed, that’s when I created Shiver and Fears' 1st event, The Bookaversary! It grew attention; even Disney stars were grabbing attention from Shiver and Fears books. Next, the website was born, and this caught the attention of kids of all ages, and many bookstores were prompted to add Shiver and Fears books.

Now, with time keeps going, Shiver and Fears have impressed more than 500 viewers. This includes customized-merch store owners, elementary school kids, artists, fans of Goosebumps, and other book writers. I still have many miles to go on this journey as I continue to amaze more people, online and in person; it shows to every young dreamer I pass by that one simple work of art leads to a big adventure. You just have to find the right people to work with.

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