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Julie Hutchings: Five Things I Learned Writing The Harpy 2: Evolution

Charity Blake became a nightmare. But there are far more dangerous monsters out there than her.

Train-wreck antihero Charity Blake thrives at being a winged avenger, but exacting vengeance takes as much from her as it gives. To retain the humanity she’s fought tooth and claw to keep, she tries to walk away from her monstrous side for good.

With no sense of purpose and a lifetime of failures haunting her, Charity struggles not to fall back into old, murderous habits. Until she meets a little girl who is more broken than herself. Rose presents a new direction for Charity. One where they can combine their carnal abilities to rewrite a horrendous history of wrongs that have impacted so many like themselves.

While Charity revels in the idea of following a new path, Rose drowns in her own power as she tries to piece together parts of her life her mind has buried deep. As Rose unearths hidden truths about her past, her catastrophic abilities spiral out of control, threatening everyone’s future. Overcome with debilitating grief and a world-altering rage, Rose becomes a danger beyond anyone’s control. A colossal threat that Charity must stop.


Go nuts, you’re an artist.

Not only is this book a sequel to some shit that a few pretty scary producers were afraid of, it’s even fucking weirder than the first one. There were *counts on fingers* 400 times that I thought who the hell do I think I am, writing this? It’s too much. Well, I’m too much. Henceforth, if my books aren’t too much then they’re not enough. I’m not the first person to write a book with Hell as one of its top 5 destinations—but I damn well had better be my own version of the best to do it. That means go bigger, go weirder, go the places nobody thinks of, and remember that the only boundary I need to know is the one I bust through like a hyena into a butcher shop. Or something.

Acquired Savant Syndrome is goddamn amazing.

You guys ever hear the story of Dr. Cicoria? He was an orthopedist, not like, an exciting doctor. He was in a phone booth when it was struck by lightning. Long story short, this foot doctor with no musical talent before the accident is suddenly waking in the night to write down the classical music he composed in his dreams. The guy goes on to become a pianist and composer in life. I read as many of these cases as I could find. To have unsurfaced abilities is pretty much the way of life—but many of these folks showed no glimpse of interest in the area during their pre-trauma lives. I fully subscribe to the old adage that we only use 10% of our brains. It accounts for all the glitches in our cranial Matrix(es). Like that time you dreamed of your aunt giving your cousin the same birthday present as you and then it happened, or déjà vu, or the ability to understand the new math. But I hadn’t ever wondered what else is in there. The brain is the depths of the ocean we can’t reach. Anything could be down there. The buried possibilities are endless.

The question becomes, Is there something hiding in me? Something I’m totally unaware of? What would I become?

Wendig’s right: Make it worse.

It’s a simple guideline: Whatever the crucial point, make it worse. If the character coughed, she hacked until her next breath was a question, not an expectation. If she’s freaked out by worms, she sees them everywhere—in the scrollwork on her bedposts, in every bowl of Ramen, they’re the eyelashes of the leering neighbor. Once this little girl, Rose, showed up in this sequel to The Harpy, she became worse in every way. It’s probably why I love her so much. Her secrets, once uncovered, don’t free her—they ruin her. She holds onto the worst and turns it on the monsters, the traitors, and the ones who tried to help but failed her alike. Her childhood wasn’t traumatic—it was good, healthy. Then destroyed. Then returned to her and destroyed again by her own hand.  I give you a special kid, with a tragic backstory which destroys her future, and she orchestrates part of her own doom. So, you’re welcome. *jazz hands* WRITING!

Pantster 4 lyfe.

I know HOW to write an outline. I’m actually pretty good at it, with college and all that. I try to start with an outline sometimes when writing a novel, but a chapter in I realize I’m still learning what the book is about. It’s like The Neverending Story that way, but without killing the horse. When it comes right down to it, I can’t create with boundaries. I have to construct the boundaries as I go because let’s face it—if I were good at following rules I probably wouldn’t be a writer to begin with. Not to mention that every book I write has a different process to it. I don’t have a formula. What the hell kind of response to our current world would it be if I wrote the same way all the time? The process has to change or the product remains the same. I can’t grow as a writer if I do the same thing every time. And it’s kind of a goal of mine to be able to stick to an outline someday. I wonder what that book will be like!

I can do it in the house. I can do it near my spouse. I can do it while I mom. I can do it when everything’s wrong.

I wrote Harpy 2: Evoloution during so much stuff. Both kids home 24 hours a day. The therapy and doctors’ appointments and filling of the prescriptions and trying to make sure they feel emotionally supported and get enough exercise and also eat. The over-the-top attempts at providing enriching experiences and celebrating the everyday things in life (I mean, at one point I even used the National Day Calendar to make up celebrations. There was a National Cake Day, that one was easy. But National One Cent Day?) I wrote this book while I worked my part-time medical supply warehouse job, which I loved—but going out every day during the pandemic because I was essential still scared me. And while I was there, my kids were in the same place they were every day, all day. That scared me too. I never want to see my kids complacent. The ability to bring them to all the fun places we go or even to play with their friends was erased, leaving only me to fill their social needs. And be their gym teacher. Yet, I loved it. To have them with me was all I’d ever wanted. Between March of 2020 and September I had not one moment alone in my own home. Not one, and I am a person who needs to be alone sometimes. My struggle wasn’t so different from so many others but what I’m getting at is this: I wrote a book in that time. Proving to myself that I don’t need the alone time, the special spot on the couch, the quiet, the right background, the clearest space in front of me, or any of the other things that make me comfy as a heated throw blanket. No. These are things I enjoy—but I didn’t always write under idea conditions, and truth be told, I was happier without the ideal conditions. I love the urgency of writing ideas on post-its. Nothing compares to the stolen feeling of typing a few paragraphs when no one needs anything and it’s just me and that laptop. The feeling that the book is always there, waiting for me to have a moment for it is intoxicating to me. A secret little world away from the chicken nuggets and bills. Writing isn’t an event, it’s a presence. That’s the kind of enveloping sensation that makes writing my home.


Julie’s a mythology-twisting, pizza-hoarding karate-kicker who left her ten-year panty peddling career to devote all her time to writing. She is the author of Running Home, Running Away, The Wind Between Worlds, and forthcoming The Harpy. Julie revels in all things Buffy, Marvel, robots, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband, two magnificent boys, and a reptile army.

Julie Hutchings: Website | Twitter

The Harpy (free until 1/20): Amazon

The Harpy 2: Amazon