Skip to content

An Interview with Harker Jones

harker jones

Harker Jones is the author of the best-selling love story Until September and nine screenplays, revealing truths through humor and horror. His short thrillers Cole & Colette and One-Hit Wonder have been accepted into more than 60 film festivals combined, garnering several awards. Managing editor of Out magazine for seven years, he is a member of both the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Mensa.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I was painfully shy as a child, so I read a lot, more than your average kid, and while we all love stories—at any age—I really found escape in them. That led to an understanding of the rules of story and grammar and spelling and how and when it was OK to break or bend those rules. Around age 13, I started writing very angsty poetry, as one does at 13, and that led to fan fiction and then to original stories, books and plays and screenplays. I went through a couple of boxes recently and was gobsmacked at how much writing I had done. I remembered all the projects but seeing so many of them at once really gave me perspective on how much I had created.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I hadn’t really been thinking of a title while I was writing it, but one night I was at my friend Katie’s place and she asked me to tell her what it was about, so I was saying how my protagonist Kyle meets a boy he falls in love with the summer between high school and university and how they have only until September to sort out their future. And I stopped myself mid-sentence, saying something like, “Oh, my GOD, that’s it!” And Katie turned to me and said, “What’s it?” And I knew: That was the title. Until September. I wasn’t even thinking about it and there it was. It was that simple!

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I found the cover image myself and worked with the designer to get the right tone and the right font, and in the end, I think she, the graphic designer, absolutely nailed it. It’s got the ideal summer-yet-autumnal tone. It’s romantic but also bittersweet. Exactly what the book is.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My book takes place in 1966 but they’re on an island where they get only two radio stations: one that broadcasts news and another that plays songs from the ’40s, so my characters are caught in a nebulous musical period, outside their own pop culture. So I think some standards from the ’40s would be on the soundtrack in addition to “Moon River” by Jerry Butler or maybe Andy Williams as that song is referenced in the book. Mostly, though, I think it would be a haunting score with lots of rushing strings, setting a melancholy tone with variations on a theme that plays behind the two young lovers.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers come away from Until September with the spirit of their first great love, that it reminds them of those thrilling, terrifying feelings of passion and intensity, where everything meant everything and they were ready to swear undying love and meant it. My perfect reader is anyone who is looking for a sweeping love story with actual stakes and who is ready to embark on that journey OK with not knowing where it will end.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I knew going in that it was going to be an uphill battle with Until September, because it’s challenging, it doesn’t pander. Some readers are spiky because they think they’re owed something—which they’re not—so it’s very meaningful and rewarding that by and large the vast majority of readers and reviewers have understood and embraced it for what it is versus what they think it should be.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have just submitted the second draft of my new book, a thriller called Never Have I Ever, to my editor. I’m hoping to have that available by early fall. It’s dramatically different from Until September, so I don’t know there will be that much cross-pollination of readers. The concept is: “When eight teenagers find themselves caught up in a deadly game of Never Have I Ever, the school bully sets out to find out who’s playing the prank in hopes of redeeming his past…and staying alive.”

I also have a children’s book called Violet’s Pretty Purple Playground due this year by Gold Dust Publishing. We’re in pre-production on a wedding-comedy short that we’re aiming to shoot this fall. And I’ll be polishing and pitching my scripts!

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.