Adam Christopher | Steampunk and dark fantasy author. Now with added superheroes!

Adam Christopher is a New Zealand-born SF writer living in the sunny north of England.

Writing Habits #4 – Seth Harwood

California-based crime novelist Seth Harwood is another podcasting success story. Having introduced his high-octane detective thriller stylee to the podsphere in 2006, in May 2009, the first volume of the Jack Palms series, Jack Wakes Up, was released by Three Rivers Press. Good crime fiction is hard to write, but Seth is on top of the game. I can’t really beat Scott Sigler’s summary of the book, when he said: “Jack Wakes Up is like a Tarantino film pulled off the screen, rolled in a John Woo zig-zag wrapper and sparked up with a vintage Miami Vice lighter. Buy it now and thank me later.”

Wise words. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Seth Harwood.

Seth Harwood, aka the Palms Father of Soul, The James Brown of Podcasting

California, USA – the Berkeley Hills

What do you write?
I write crime novels in the Jack Palms series and literary short stories… so far. Who knows what I’ll get into next? More crime, definitely more crime!

What are your writing habits?
I write first thing or as close to first thing in the morning as possible. The sooner I can get from bed to keys, the better it seems to flow. I’ll go through periods where, honestly, all I do is work on promotion of my work. That can take the form of podcasting, blogging, interacting with fans online, and building in new media. Fortunately there are times I get excited about this so it’s not a grind.

Then there are the writing drafting times. When I’m in this mode, I’ll avoid the internet altogether until I’ve done my word count for the day. I usually set a goal of however many words (1,000 when I’m starting out and then 1,500 and 2,000 or above when I’m really into a project.) But I try not to overdo it. I’m a big believer in feeling out your limits and not going beyond. That’s how I think people get “blocked.” I’ll try to write as many days a week as I can, but usually not more than 6. Every day I make sure to stop at a point where I know what’s going to happen next; this makes starting up the next day a lot easier.

I don’t write with an outline. I like getting to know the characters and their situations as I go. If I’m getting surprised, it usually amounts to good writing, exciting for the reader. I believe in writing each sentence as best I can, and letting that one lead me on to the next. Then in revision I try to find out what I learned about the story along the way, then try to build that in from the start.

What software or tools do you use?
I use Scrivener for writing my novels and a MacBook. I used to use Word, but literally I can’t imagine how I’d write a novel without Scrivener now. I guess that’d make me do outlines – outline as I go. There’s nothing that can match Scrivener’s chapter view for seeing where the book has gone and is going. I title my chapters so I know a bit about what happens in each one and just look back at that list as my outline. I can also jump right to the parts I need to see with it, instead of massive scrolling and reading movements like I had to do in Word. Blech!

If you’ve got a Mac and want to write a novel, you’ve got to get Scrivener!

I also use 3″ x 5″ notecards. I jot stuff down on them all the time, like crazy. Stick them wherever I can.

Seth Harwood, thank-you very much! Seth can be found online at his website,, and also on Facebook at and twitter as @sethharwood. The Jack Palms series of podcast novels can be downloaded for free from Seth’s website, and the original podcast novel version of Jack Wakes Up is also available for free from iTunes, while the print version can be found at and your local bookstore.

Take Scott’s advice and buy several copies today.


  Jeffrey wrote @

Don’t you think the thriller is a second-rate literary form? It’s only rationale is entertainment. I’m just getting into Julius Falconer, who is developing the whodunnit as an intellectual challenge. The reader is given exactly the same information as the detective and is challenged to solve the mystery before he does – if he or she is clever enough!

  Adam Christopher wrote @

Hi Jeffrey,

Well, I guess we approach books and writing in different ways. I read books for entertainment, enjoyment, and education. Jack Wakes Up fulfills all three functions for me – it’s an entertaining book, I enjoyed reading it, and as a writer I found it educational to see how another writer crafted and constructed the novel. Second-rate literary form? I don’t think such rankings are important. Is it a good book? Yes. Is Shakespeare a good writer? Yes. Is there any point in comparing the two? No.

If you think that the thriller genre is a second-rate literary form, what must you make of superhero fiction (which happens to be my own current project)?

  Chris Warren wrote @

Great to hear that someone of Seth’s standard uses almost identical disciplines in his writing to those I employ. And that he also has period of getting into on-line marketing with enthusiasm.

Hopefully, the approach will also rub off on the success of my book, Randolph’s Challenge Book One – The Pendulum Swings which was published a couple of months ago.

Keep up the good work Seth.

Chris Warren
Author and Freelance Writer
Randolph’s Challenge Book One – The Pendulum Swings

  Jeffrey wrote @

Thanks for your comment! The trouble is, since I have limited time for reading, I want to concentrate on the best! Thrillers just kill time – they don’t feed the mind (in my experience).

  Seth wrote @

Thanks for the comments here!
Chris: I hope it will work for your book! If you’d like to talk about any ways I can help, let me know–you can feel free to email me off-list at seth @ sethharwood . com
(without spaces)

Jeffrey: I think your comments are interesting. Personally, I do feel a little odd about the category “thriller” as a literary form. One reason is because it doesn’t seem to me to have much history beyond the past 30 (or so) years. Whenever you’re talking about a form that’s only been around that long, I get a concern.
On the other hand, if Adam wants to call my book “a thriller” it doesn’t bother me, because most people don’t consider themselves with genre distinctions. On the other hand, there are some who really do, who could spend hours debating what is a noir novel, hard-boiled, or thriller.

Personally, I prefer to call my work “crime fiction” and consider that a genre that dates back to (in America) Poe, Hammett, Chandler. Before that it goes back to Conan Doyle and beyond. Lots of the genre concerns itself with PI’s/detectives, but in today’s world, I think a guy trying to find his role (like Jack Palms) fits/works better.

I hope that if you’d read JACK WAKES UP, you’ll find enough character, humanity, and soul to feed your mind (and heart).

Why not give it a try and find out. You can find the first three chapters free on my site at

All best,

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