A week has shot by once again - awesome! It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for many people’s favourite thing: Friday Feature. This week is a doozy! We meet and find out about a Proser that many are intrigued by. Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you @Harlequin
P: What is your given name and your Proser username?
H: It is difficult to imagine anybody seriously naming their child “Harlequin” without laughing. However I must admit, if I ever were to have a child, it’s likely they would be cursed with something just as strange if not worse, probably to their immense embarrassment growing up. But at least I’m consistent.
Endeavoring to bring more color into the literary world, as well as illuminate some philosophies that intertwine artist and creation, I renamed myself Harlequin Grim, and I prefer to keep that the mask behind my writing. The name illustrates a recurring motif in my life that intrigues me endlessly: the tricky dance of persisting within dualistic natures constantly affecting our lives. Inspired, empty, living, dying, etc.
On Prose, it is simply Harlequin.
P: Where do you live?
H: I reside in Portland, Oregon, where it doesn’t ever seem to stop raining, and the trees, consequently, are ever sprouting. Moving here was a hasty retreat from its antithesis: Southern California, where I grew up.
P: What is your occupation?
H: I wish I could say what pays for my expenses is a job related to literature, or at least a professional gig as a court jester, but the former is in development while the latter is outdated by a handful of centuries (I really missed the boat). Although I write as much as I attend my day job, currently I work at a quaint neighborhood café, pulling shots from an espresso machine that is nearly triple my age. At home, I push my sleep schedule to its edges, pursuing my writing after the daily rush.
Oh gods … I’m a cliché, aren’t I?
P: What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?
H: Devout. Multiple times since I started, I have attempted to distance myself from writing, only to be stunned by how it seemed integral to me living happily. It became a blessing as well as a curse, something positively affixed to me. Overtime, it has become more and more difficult to imagine a life without stories constantly evolving in the back of my head. Not giving them the time to express themselves feels torturous. This isn’t all that glamorous, but if I am being entirely honest, I am more temperamental when I haven’t written in a few days.
When I was first introduced to creative writing, it was purely for the sake of escapism. As years wore on and I grew into thicker skins, my stories became less about ‘venting’ and more about expressing, reflecting, and articulating my philosophies through the actions of my characters.
Somewhere in the middle of high school, I felt an incredible desire not only to connect but to inspire, and similarly, to illustrate characters growing beyond weaknesses so as to embrace deeper strengths, more enriching perspectives. Although I cannot foretell what writing will be to me in the future, currently, my aim is to depict as many intricacies of the human condition as possible, whether they be pleasant to look at or horrifying. I attempt to illustrate what it means to struggle, to grow, to love, live and die, searching for all those cascading layers of meaning bursting between beginning and end.
Ultimately, it is an attempt to show what opportunity dwells beneath the surface of suffering, that happiness is not only within joy, nor sadness in sorrow, and art not only in deliberate acts of creation, rather that all these things interweave in patterns of perception. I choose to perceive living as an art, an opportunity not to be squandered, and writing, my preferred medium for expressing as much.
I wish to tell tales which invigorate us to live as we would craft our characters, in a journey of actualization through conscious living.
P: What value does reading add to both your personal and professional life?
H: Since I see living as a kind of seamless art, it is all quite personal, and since I aim to make it my profession—quite professional. So, any answer will be one and the same.
More superficially, I find I am more articulate during sprees of reading. Typically, after I close a book, I feel more cognizant of subtle details around me. As a result, I challenge myself to be more meticulous with how I speak and act. It helps me envision myself as a protagonist instead of a lost soul.
Beyond that, I do not entertain any delusions of being particularly brilliant or innovative, so whenever I pick up a book, I am hoping to have my expectations pushed, my truths questioned. Simply, to learn. It would be something of a pity to pick up a book for the sake of reinforcing old patterns of thinking.
Perhaps most importantly, it helps me observe through another pair of eyes. It coaxes me from the dusty corners of my own head to instead indulge in another author’s interpretations of reality, making the world that much more dynamic. I suffer greatly from a lack of originality; the works of other artists are crucial to feeding imagination.
P: Can you describe your current literary ventures and what can we look forward to in future posts?
H: Last Halloween I published a fantasy novel, The Lupine Curse, through Amazon. Although I was incredibly excited to have a fully developed work prancing about on the internet for the first time, even before I was finished editing that piece, I was already working on another.
Recently, one of my short stories won a weekly contest through Prose about tyranny. The story was entitled The Remedy. Little did everyone know, it was not a short story at all, but the first chapter of my next novel: The Culling of Casimir! If you will be so polite, kindly imagine maniacal laughter behind that sentence, but ignore the ensuing, embarrassing fit of coughing. Consider yourself playfully deceived, and hopefully excited, since I will be posting the novel by chapters, every Saturday via Prose, starting February 25th. If you read The Remedy, you can imagine how the story has little room for slow expeditions. I must warn you: I am fully determined to shackle you to the pages if you give me the slightest chance.
Aside from The Culling of Casimir, I will be compiling recent works of poetry and short fiction into books that will also become available, not only electronically, but hopefully through prints. The more support I receive, the more I can do to get physical objects of whimsy into the hands of anybody avid enough to receive them.
As always, I will be posting frequently to Prose as well as my website, unless, of course, I am hit by a bus or dragged off into the skies by a gargoyle. You’ll know I’m dead when my words stop sprouting up.
P: What do you love about Prose?
H: There is an undeniable sense of enthusiasm that the creators have for it that has ignited the community to respond in a cyclical relationship of encouraging free expression. I also enjoy the more personal interactions between writer and reader, or rather writer to writer.
P: Is there one book that you would recommend everybody should read before they die?
H: The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone and Benjamin Zander, applicable not only to writers but anyone who wants to harvest as much as they can from living. For anyone going through a period of darkness or simply looking to add more edge to their vitality, this book is indispensable, something I will read multiple times before I die
P: Do you have an unsung hero who got you into reading and/or writing?
H: My oldest brother always had a way of coaxing out my most ridiculous fantasies, encouraging me to consider philosophies and lifestyles that were either challenging or seemingly impractical. Above all else, he encouraged me to flesh out my individuality, sacrificing conformity for personal expression.
P: Describe yourself in three words!
H: Foolish, ardent, introspective.
P: Is there one quote, from a writer or otherwise, that sums you up?
H: “Life is too short not to create something with every breath we draw.” - Maynard James Keenan
P: What is your favourite music, and do you write or read to it?
H: My crux is seeking specific tracks to suit my mood when I am writing, which can sometimes impede the process. Since different scenes desire different songs and genres to guide the mood, my tastes are incredibly broad, but when it comes to deciding my favorite music, it would have to be the bands Puscifer, Tool, and A Perfect Circle in that order. I’d rather not reveal how many t-shirts, posters, and concert tickets I’ve collected for these groups over the years.
Also, yes! The album ‘Lateralus’ by Tool inspired me to create Fenris, the protagonist of The Lupine Curse, so I had it playing in the background for much of the writing process.
P: You climb out of a time machine into a dystopian future with no books. What do you tell them?
H: “You really don’t have any books?”
“What is a book?”
“All right, everybody gather around the fire. This is going to take a while to explain. You see, it all began with …”
P: Do you have a favourite place to read and write?
H: That place where intuition, diction, imagination and reflection merge, to create a timeless location in which it feels as if there is no writer, only characters expressing themselves with zeal, and hands to record their actions. If there was a specific location that triggered that blissful state, I would seek it out daily. But I can’t honestly say I have a favorite place, in fact, I was a little sad to find my mind blank when thinking about the question. I had to settle for some wishy washy artsy answer, instead. See?
For reading, however, I do, in fact, have a specific place. I had one arm wrapped around someone who enjoys fantasy as much as I do, the other supporting the book. After she fell asleep, I continued reading to the sound of soft snores. I haven’t stumbled across a more perfect place to read since then.
P: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you/your work/social media accounts?
H: Ah, it is always so heart wrenching to say farewell! No, no. There are no need for tears. This is not the end.
One of the best ways for Prosers to keep track of my recent work is through my Murder of Crows, a newsletter feature on my website. It contains short stories, articles, and other outlandish artifacts. There, you can get more involved with me … I’ll tell you secrets and such. And for more frivolous following, I have a Twitter as well.
With that, there is little else to speak of besides the tremendous, heaping mountains of golden gratitude I have for Prose. Any dragon would be envious of them. Seeing more support than I ever have before is simply enchanting. Every day, I look forward to seeing what is stirring in the vivid minds of the community. And every day, I look forward to finding more ways to feed inspiration back into it. Thank you for listening, and thank you for your curiosity.
The coming months will be another chapter in a tale, another stride in a journey, and I do sincerely hope you join me.
Fantastic stuff from Harlequin, there; thank you sir, for your candour. Time to step up and like, follow and interact, you lovely Prosers – that is if you don’t already! We’ll be back next week with another delve into the world of someone else. In the meantime – happy reading and writing!