|Author and Typewriter Aficionado, Harry Marks.|
I am thrilled to present an interview with my Twitter-friend, author Harry Marks (@HCMarks).
When I discovered Harry uses a typewriter for his writing, I was simultaneously skeptical and intrigued. Here, Harry kindly answers my questions about where the typewriter fits into his writing process. Thanks, Harry!
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing. What do you write? What are your favorite genres? Favorite formats?
A: My name is Harry Marks and I’m the host of the literary podcast, COVERED (http://hologramradio.org/covered ). I’ve been published in HelloHorror, The Coil, and have written for Baron Fig. Links to all my writing can be found at http://hcmarks.com.
My short fiction tends to be genre-focused. I really love experimenting with short horror stories and flash fiction. My novels (I’ve completed five and I’m finishing up a sixth) tend to skew more Literary.
Q: In 2019, what is the Brass Publishing Ring achievement you would love to unlock?
A: I would love for 2019 to be the year I finally sign with a literary agent. I think I might be nearing completion on the book that will get me where I want to go. Fingers crossed!
Q: How long have you used a typewriter for your writing? Do you have a preferred make or model? What was your first foray into the Wonderful World of Typewriters?
A: I’ve been using a typewriter since 2015. I’d always wanted one for the reason most writers want a typewriter—the romantic fantasy of clicking and clacking my way to a best-seller like Stephen King.
My mother used to let me mess around on an electric typewriter she had before we got a computer. This was in the early ‘90s when the hottest computer game around was Solitaire. It’s only recently that I’ve delved back into the analog world, having grown weary of the constant blinking and beeping and buzzing of my digital lifestyle. [I can SO relate... AH]
I actually sold my first generation iPad so I could buy my first typewriter: a teal 1950s Smith-Corona. I wrote the first short story I ever had published on that machine.
Q: What about the typewriter appeals to you?
A: The typewriter is a connection to the past, and I know how hipstery that sounds, but that’s what’s so appealing. I grew up in a house where vinyl was the primary source of music and paper books lined shelves in almost every room in the house.
I love the dichotomy between the simple act of typing and the incredibly complex network of levers and springs within. And most importantly, my typewriter is over 60 years old and still works as well today as the day it rolled off the assembly line. It’s a tank. I can’t say that about the iPad I sold.
Q: Can you walk me through a typical idea-to-draft-to-polished-piece project? How does the typewriter fit into the process?
A: I tend to go to the typewriter during the drafting phase. Everything must end up in my computer eventually, but first drafts are either handwritten or typed on my Smith-Corona.
Q: What drawbacks are inherent in using a typewriter? How do you combat them?
A: The typewriter has plenty of drawbacks that make the idea of using one to write a novel seem absurd.
I don’t have correcting tape, so I tend to go over typos with Xs until a word is blacked out. A lot of my first drafts look like redacted military files.
They’re also heavy, loud, and if you use them enough, you’ll find yourself replacing the ribbon pretty often.
Also, if it breaks and you don’t know how to fix it, you have to find someone who does. I work in New York City, so I tend to take my machines to a tiny shop in Midtown owned by a man who’s been fixing up typewriters for over 50 years.
Q: What advice would you give to a writer who is intrigued by the idea of using a typewriter and who wants to give it a try?
A: For anyone interested in writing on a typewriter, my biggest piece of advice is: try it in person. Don’t just buy a typewriter on eBay and hope for the best. Most of them are garbage anyway. If you can, go to a brick-and-mortar store where typewriters are sold (typewriter resellers, antique shops) and try them out. Choosing the right typewriter is like choosing the right guitar: you’ll know it when you feel it.
Any other typewriter-using authors out there? I'd love to hear your process. Me? I draft either in illegible handwriting OR on my AlphaSmart. Chime in below on what works best for you!