Read this to get a free copy of both my books
Who am I? Who are you? What’s the point of any of this? Read to find out:
UPDATE 2/23/23: I originally ran this FAQ back in November of 2021. I’ve decided to pin it to the top of the site to give readers an overview of who I am and what the blog’s about. Everything here is still basically accurate, except (1) My podcast has come to a close (but it’s still available on all the platforms, if you want to hear it), and (2) I’ve decided to make the deal where you get both my books (Ophelia, Alive and Murder-Bears, Moonshine, and Mayhem) for free, just for signing up for my email list, permanent! To start reading both now, just enter your email address below:
If you’re wondering who I am and why you’d want to subscribe, here’s a quick Q&A about me:
1. So, wait, who are you?
I’m a writer. I’ve published a couple of books. My name is Luke T. Harrington, and the “T” is important.
2. Wait, why is the “T” important?
Because of this guy.
3. Yeah, that makes sense.
4. Anyway, what would I know you from?
I’ve had a foot in a few different fields for a while now —
5. Wait, you have three feet?
Um — yes.
Yeah. So, anyway, I’ve been hanging out in humor, dark fiction, and Christian circles for a while —
7. That’s like telling me you sell toothpaste and orange juice.
Yeah, what’s wrong with that? People like toothpaste. People like orange juice.
8. Yeah, that’s a good point. I can’t remember what my objection was.
Good! Anyway, I’ve published two books — one was a psychological thriller called Ophelia, Alive: A Ghost Story, which came out from a small, now-defunct publisher back in 2016; the other was a humor book called Murder-Bears, Moonshine, and Mayhem: Strange Stories from the Bible to Leave You Amused, Bemused, and (Hopefully) Informed, which came out from HarperCollins Christian Publishing last year.
9. Why would you publish two totally different books to two totally different markets?
Because when someone says, “I’m going to pay you to write a book,” you don’t say no.
10. But I bet there’s more of a story here!
Sort of, yeah! Would you like to hear it?
11. Ugh, fine.
So, in 2013, my first child was born and I lost my teaching job for the umpteenth time, so I said, “Forget this teaching nonsense. Someone needs to stay home with the baby, and I’d rather be writing than in a classroom, anyway.”
12. But you didn’t know what you wanted to write, did you.
Ha, nah. I just shrugged and said, “I’ll start writing whatever, take whatever opportunities are in front of me, and see where I end up.”
13. Usually when you “see where you end up,” you end up dead in an alley.
True! But that didn’t happen this time. Within a year, I had finished a novel, published several pieces with Cracked, and inked a tentative deal to write a humor book about the Bible.
14. Wow! I bet all that finally convinced your wife and parents that you’re not a loser!
You’d think so, but no. Anyway, the most enduring thing that any of this led to was a longstanding relationship with a website called Christ and Pop Culture.
15. That is a terrible name for a website.
Yeah, I think a lot of the people there would agree with you about that. They’re good people, though — and they let me do pretty much whatever I wanted, which was cool. I wrote a dada-esque column on the internet for them called “LOL Interwebz” for a couple years, and then when that ended I wrote an iconic (do you get it? do you see what I did there?) series on the weirder parts of Christian history called “D-List Saints.” After that, I wrote a column called “Fads!Crazes!Panics!” but that one didn’t quite blow up the world as much, so we ended it after a year.
16. Ew, you’re a Cₕᵣᵢₛₜᵢaₙ wᵣᵢₜₑᵣ???
I dunno, I guess. I’m mostly just a philosophy/history nerd, and I write about Christianity mainly because it lets me nerd out about philosophy and history. I believe this stuff, but I’d probably still write about it even if I didn’t, y’know? That’s why I spent the last six months writing for Grunge.
17. Wait, what’s Grunge?
It’s sort of clickbait farm…which I say with the utmost affection. They’re great people. Their main thing is “wild and crazy facts you didn’t even know you didn’t know” or something like that, which in practice means they cover pop culture, history, serial killers…and religion.
They were fun to write for, particularly because they let me write about religion from a neutral point of view. I’d much rather write about this stuff for a universal audience than for a specifically religious one.
18. Is that what your Murder-Bears book is about?
You get it! Yeah, it was one of those books that spent years bouncing back and forth between secular and Christian publishers. I wanted to take the material seriously, but I also didn’t want to preach at people, which a lot of publishers had trouble wrapping their heads around. Finally, though, I found some good people at HarperCollins’s Christian arm who understood what I was doing.
19. And then it came out and was #1 New York Times Bestseller™️???
It did okay. It got a glowing review in Publishers Weekly and won a few minor awards.
20. Wait, shouldn’t it be spelled “Publishers’ Weekly,” with an apostrophe?
Yes. But good luck making the book industry care about punctuation. They don’t even care about punishing Dan Brown for his many crimes against the written word.
21. All right, well, tell me about your other book.
What, Ophelia, Alive? It’s a weird little literary thriller that started as a dream I had. Then I mixed in some stuff I read about Chantix in New York Magazine, some probably-apocryphal stuff about a nineteenth-century French detective, and some stuff about Hamlet, because that’s how we English majors do it. According to one Goodreads reviewer, “It’s dark, trippy, gory, and depressing, and — no spoilers — the end had me crying.” That’s a pretty good summary of what it is. (The fact that this was a five-star review was, of course, gravy.)
22. Where else would I know you from?
Besides all that? I once wrote for BuzzFeed, back when BuzzFeed was still fun. Also, I do this podcast called Changed My Mind with Luke T. Harrington—it’s sort of a philosophy/interview podcast where I talk to people who have changed their minds about big, important things.
23. Oh! Tell me about that.
Okay, so I started it back in the summer of 2019, back when it felt like Trump had poisoned any sort of potential for good faith interactions and that no one was willing to seriously examine their own thinking. So I created a show devoted to the question of “Why do people change their minds about things?”
24. Oh good, you’re not one of those Tᵣᵤₘₚy Cₕᵣᵢₛₜᵢaₙₛ.
I’m not (if you have to know, my political convictions are somewhere in the neighborhood of Catholic social teaching, which puts me pretty far to the left of the Democratic Party on most of the issues I care about), but I’m also utterly bored of that question. I think Trump was/is a serious threat to American democracy, but I also think that if the Democratic Party (or anyone else, for that matter) wants to end that threat, they’ll have to give people a reason to vote for them other than “We’re not Trump,” and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I have very little hope in our political system to solve any real problems in my lifetime, and I’d much rather spend my energy talking about things that matter, like what truth is or what it means to be human, than engaging in the sort of brain-dead posturing that’s consumed American political discourse in the last couple of decades.
25. So that’s what your show is about?
Yeah, pretty much. I talk to people who’ve changed their minds about everything from politics and religion to pop culture and punctuation. The focus, though, rather than the issues themselves, is on why people change their minds. After all, if you want to change the world, you have to do the hard work of winning people to your side—not just preening about stuff on Twitter.
26. What sorts of things do you talk about?
Welllll, some recent episodes have included a conversation with author Cynthia Pelayo on why she no longer believes in ghosts, a talk with literary critic Walter Benn Michaels on why he’s a socialist, and a chat with film writer Rachel Welch-Larson about moving from Seattle to Chicago.
27. Sounds delightful. Where can I find this invaluable gift to podcasting?
It’s available on the major podcasting platforms. Here it is on Apple, on Spotify, and on Overcast. And here’s the Patreon, which features bonus episodes for supporters.
28. All right, so you do pretty much everything? You do dark fiction, humor, Christian stuff, philosophy, podcasting…what don’t you do?
Make up my mind about stuff.
29. You’re never going to choose something?
Eh. I sort of have. That might be a big long story all by itself, though.
30. Oh come onnnnnnn. I love stories!
All right, fine, you twisted my arm. Like I said, I’ve sort of just been doing whatever and taking whatever opportunities were in front of me for eight years. And now I’m exhausted, with very little to show for it.
31. Uh-huh. So?
Well, I finally realized that most of my passion is for writing dark fiction, and I finally landed an agent for my dark fiction (Stacey Kondla at The Rights Factory, look her up, she’s great). So with that in mind, I sort of decided I’d quit everything else and focus on writing spoopy stuff for the foreseeable future.
32. I hope you hate money!
I do! I also realized I had the perfect opportunity to do this. My kids are in school. My wife has a job that pays very well. I’ve got an agent and everything. And it’s not like I was making bank writing fun facts and Christian humor. So I might as well take the chance to do what I want.
33. Dude, check your privilege.
*checks privilege* Yep, still there. *sighs in relief*
34. So now you’re just…?
Yeah, I’ve pulled away from almost everything I was doing. Now I’m just writing novels, doing my podcast, and writing on this Substack. Come by every month for my thoughts on stuff like horror novels, musicals, and the publishing industry. Also maybe some short fiction.
35. Sounds great! But is there a way to get it delivered directly to my email inbox?
Haha, yes, friend, there is! All you have to do is click the button below!
And as a special, limited-time offer, I’m going to send both my books (Ophelia, Alive and Murder-Bears, Moonshine, and Mayhem), in ebook format, for free, to everyone who signs up. I’m also going to do a drawing for a signed hard copy of each!
36. Whoa, what a deal! Can I hear it again?
So, to be clear: If you sign up for my Substack now, I’ll send you a free ebook copy of both of my books, plus I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a signed hard copy of one of them. And I’ll be sure to get the signed copies in the mail by Dec. 10, just in time for Christmas/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Yule/Festivus/Toyotathon.
37. This is the most incredible deal I’ve ever encountered! Bards will sing of it for generations to come!
Yes, I know. Was there a question?
38. Just…um…what can I give you in return, you generous soul?
Tell your friends about the deal. As a writer, my lifeblood is having an audience. As more people sign up for this newsletter, I’ll be able to build my army of fans who will ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶t̶u̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ show up for book signings, buy my books, pass on the word, etc. If you make me famous, we all benefit! It’s called “trickle-down fame,” and it’s definitely a real thing and not something I just made up.
39. How many millions of dollars will it cost me to subscribe???
Nothing. It’s free! At the moment, I have no plans to implement monetization on Substack. (And, if I ever do, I’ll continue to offer free content on top of the paid stuff.)
40. Show me that “subscribe” button again!
Stuff I’ve been enjoying lately
I’m not sure there’s an algorithm alive better than YouTube’s, which is both an endorsement and a criticism, I suppose. Sure, it pulls people down the rabbit hole to Neo-Nazism, but it also helps me find all sorts of cool stuff that I’d be unaware of otherwise.
Lately I’ve really been enjoying the videos of J.J. McCullough, who might be best known for writing Serious Conservative Commentary about Canadian issues for The Washington Post, but who on YouTube is sort of a quirky, pop culture–obsessed hipster who acts mainly as an ambassador of all things Canadian to those of us who know embarrassingly little about the Great White North. This is particularly important for me, since my new literary agent is Canadian, so I should probably make an effort to learn something about her mysterious culture.
I don’t know if J.J. edits his own videos and/or does his own graphics, but one way or another, they’re a delight. They’re punchy, funny, engaging, and full of SNES sound effects — pretty much everything I want to be. Also, I’m jealous of his hair — and I don’t say that about many people.
Anyway, there are plenty of topics he covers, from flags of the world to The Simpsons, but if you’re looking to get in on the ground floor of his Canada stuff, here’s a good place to start.
I’ve been doing a “me, elsewhere” section (where I put links to stuff I’ve written recently for other outlets) since I started this Substack, but I’m not sure what I’m going to put here going forward. Like I said, I’ve quit writing anything elsewhere (at least until the urge strikes me or whatever). Here, let me remind you how to get free copies of both my books:
That should hold you for a while, right?
Thanks for your support!