Episode 118: Don’t Quit Your Day Job — Interview with Todd Harra

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I’m delighted to welcome Todd Harra to the show. It seemed fitting to have Todd as our guest for our Halloween episode, since he is the author of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt and Over Our Dead Bodies: Undertakers Lift the Lid.

As writers’ we’re often advised not to quit our “day jobs,” usually because people think having a sensible, reliable profession is safer than trying to have a creative career. In this episode, I speak with an author who not only hasn’t quit his “day job” but his profession is part of the inspiration behind his books, and helped get his start as a writer. And for the record, no, his “day job” is not in publishing or a field related to writing. This author happens to be an undertaker.

In this interview we’re going to talk about drawing inspiration from our “day jobs,” using writing to process what we experience in our jobs, and–most important–how we as writers can use our words as a way to honor the lives of others.

In this episode Todd and I discuss:

  • How he got started in his “day job” and how he connected with his co-author.
  • The collaborative process of writing not one, but two books together.
  • Why persistence pays off, and why it’s so important for writers to be flexible and try different approaches.
  • How the structure of his day job affected the structure of these particular books.
  • How he uses writing to process his experiences in his “day job” and how his “day job” also fuels his writing.
  • How he learned the business of writing, and how writers can educate themselves about the industry.

Plus, Todd’s #1 tip for writers.


About the Authors

toddharra2Todd Harra has been working in the funeral profession since 2004. He is a fourth generation funeral director, working for his uncle at McCrery & Harra Funeral Homes and Crematory in Wilmington, DE. His great great great grandfather was a cabinet maker and tradesman undertaker in Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War.

Todd graduated from Elon University and the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service. He received certification in Advanced Post Mortem Reconstruction from the Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills, and is a Certified Crematory Operator.

Todd appeared on the cover of the 2008 “Men of Mortuaries” calendar, a fundraiser for the KAMM Cares breast cancer foundation, where he met Ken and they decided to collaborate on a non-fiction mortuary series. He is currently working on several fiction based projects. To learn more about him and his writing, visit his website, www.toddharra.com.

ken-author-photoKenneth McKenzie first became interested in the death care industry at the age of twelve, following his father’s suicide. He has been a funeral director for over 22 years and a funeral home owner for 14. In 2007 Ken created and published the well-received Men of Mortuaries calendar, also the inspiration for this book, to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness, and he received California's Outstanding Funeral Director of the Year Award. He resides in Long Beach, CA. For more information please visit www.MenOfMortuaries.org.


Links and Resources

If you want to check out both of Todd’s books, visit the book websites below. You can alsopurchase them via our Amazon affiliate links (where DIY MFA gets a small commission at no cost to you). As always thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 118

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!


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