The speaker, who grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, told the group, “Before I wrote books, I told stories .... One day, a publisher came up to me and asked if I wanted to turn my stories into books.” That’s where it all began.
“I have a rule that I follow: Every day I don’t do a show, I have to write in the morning for at least an hour .... It’s really hard for me to sit still, so if I want to write books or songs, I have to sit there. I can write about 1,000 words in an hour. My Charlie Bunker books are about 20,000 words, so it takes me about a month to write a book.
“The Sheldon story is based on a folk tale. I borrowed the structure of the story to tell it my own way.”
He added, “A story is about wanting something. The first thing you have to do is show who somebody is. It also starts and ends someplace.
“Usually, if you watch a movie, you see how a story works. The first five or 10 minutes will tell you who the person is. Then something happens, and that person’s life is going to change.
It is a long process to get a book published. “My first draft usually stinks. It’s OK that it’s horrible. Most of my books get written about six or seven times.” After he wrote his first Charlie Bunker book, it took six years to get published. “Now I have one every six months.”
As Harley writes a book, it goes back and forth to editors and the publisher “until one day I go out, and I have a box of books (delivered). It’s amazing.”
The author encouraged the students, “There’s a book in the library for you to read .... Once you find it, there will be another one.