ED- The Eerie digest is interviewing Harry Shannon, who is probably the most versatile person that we have interviewed to date. Harry, you have been a Songwriter, Entertainer, and Novelist that has a career that simply awes me. Tell us about your music from your High School days.
HS I used to listen to my father’s old Big Band records, and had a terrible crush on Ella Fitzgerald in the 1950’s, but it was really folk music that lit my fire. I ate up early Bob Dylan, started learning guitar and listening to bluesmen like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee. It seemed natural to write songs, and of course the first were heavily influenced by folk artists. Two friends of mine joined me in forming a group dubiously dubbed The Laymen, and we played around town, bar mitzvahs, weddings. After high school I went on the road with The Kids Next Door.
ED- Tell us the other groups that you’ve been in, and about your advertising commercials for Ford.
HS-Well, from the Kids I went to The Back Porch Majority and did commercials for Ford with The Going Thing. Think that was 1972, when it stopped. I played bars for a few years before signing with ATV Music Group as a staff songwriter at 25.
ED- You have also been a Songwriter for such notables as Eddy Arnold, Reba McIntire, Englebert Humperdinck, and Glen Campbell. Tell us about your career during this time.
HS-The first couple of years at ATV I was just a lyricist, and several of those songs were recorded. Then I got interested in music publishing. The company gave me a job. I worked myself up to Executive Director, and along the way wrote a number of songs for television and films with my friend Billy Goldenberg.
ED- You then turned your talent towards motion pictures, and became the Vice President for Music for Carolco Pictures, Inc.. You can claim such well known pictures such as ‘Terminator 2’, ‘Judgment Day’, ‘Rambo III’, and ‘Red Heat’ to your credits. Tell us about your work for these films and how you became involved.
HS- Carolco was the largest independent film company around in 1988, I started in their music department, then got promoted. By the time I left I’d started working on my Master’s in Psychology as well.
ED- You were also the Music Supervisor for ‘Basic Instinct’ and ‘Universal Soldier’. Please tell us about your work with these films.
HS- “Basic Instinct” was with an old friend, the late composer Jerry Goldsmith. We’d know each other since the 1970’s. It was a blast, recorded in London, nominated for an Oscar. “Universal Soldier” was Roland Emmerich’s first or second film. Wrote a lot of songs for that one with my wife Wendy. Nice people, good experience.
ED- Harry, once again you changed fields and rose to meet the challenges of writing Short Stories and Novels. Tell us about your earlier work in this venue.
HS- I’d always wanted to write, but the real motivator was the birth of my daughter, Paige. I’d been working as a counselor for several years, not really involved in creative stuff but wanting to be. When Paige was born, I thought “What the hell am I waiting for?” I published some (not very good) short fiction online, and a small press novel I still regret called “Night of the Beast.” NOTB was intended to me homage to the cheese fiction of the 80’s, but the company didn’t proof or produce it well, and frankly my writing left a lot to be desired. “Night of the Werewolf” is far better, and then came the Mick Callahan mysteries “Memorial Day,” “Eye of the Burning Man,” and “One of the Wicked.” Also a thriller called “The Pressure of Darkness,” and the horror novels “Daemon” and “Dead and Gone.”
ED- Can you tell us about your latest novel and the Publisher for this?
HS- Next up is a collection of short fiction for Dark Regions Press called “A Host of Shadows.” I’m very proud of it, the material goes back several years, stuff from Cemetery Dance, Horror Garage, Horror World, Horror Drive-In and elsewhere. I have a novel in the works but can’t talk about it yet.
ED- Where can our readers find your publications?
HS- Oh, Amazon.com for sure, they have an author page that is easy to find, and the small press stuff is available directly from Dark Regions Press (the new collection) Delirium Books and elsewhere.
ED- Last but not least we have learned that you have also written screenplays, of which one of them, ‘Dead and Gone’, had been produced as a film in 2008 by Lions Gate Entertainment. Tell us about this and the other screenplays that you have written.
HS-Yossi Sasson, who is a talented artist as well as a director, made “Dead and Gone” on his own dime and sold it to Lionsgate. I’ve written some other things that have been optioned, but this is Hollywood, so being unproduced is the norm and not the exception. Yossi and I are cooking up a new one as we speak, just finished the treatment.
ED- Harry, I am in awe of your many achievements, and I am sure that our readers are too. I must say that you will be ‘One of the Greats’ to be interviewed by us. I thank you for your time with us, and truly hope that you will stay in contact to give us updates in your amazing career.
HS- Thanks a bunch.