Saturday, 3 March 2012
Author Interview: Kaje Harper
All pictures supplied by author.
Today, we have M/M romance author, Kaje Harper in the hot seat.
A Bit about You
I live in Minnesota (where the two seasons are snow removal and road-repair, and the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it is so beautiful you can't breathe for gazing at it). I have a biomedical real-life job, two teenage daughters, a very patient husband, and a crazy little white dog. I never planned on becoming a professional author, but the stories have always lived in my head. So in a way I have been writing for longer than I care to admit, just for fun. Then my husband suggested I should submit something.
My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. This was the first thing I had submitted anywhere and I was thrilled when it was accepted. And now I have other work in print, both free and professionally published. I write mainly M/M romance, but I also have Young Adult work out under the pen name Kira Harp. This writing thing is addictive. So I hope people will read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don't, and help me make the upcoming books even better.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I start with two characters, or sometimes even one character, and an opening scene, and see what happens. Sometimes I have a few plot points I know I want in there, but the rest evolves as I write. I admire those who plot and craft their stories, because I know doing that would make mine tighter. But for me, part of the pure pleasure of writing is watching the story unfold when I don't know where it's going yet.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
They run the darned thing, every time.
What is your favourite food?
Did someone say the word chocolate?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl, definitely. I can get up if I must and even be coherent, but I do my best work at night (like many of my characters, come to think of it.)
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I'd like to go to Australia, to meet online friends who have become dear to me but are a world away, and to Japan, to see a friend I still write to but haven't seen in person since 1983.
Do distant places feature in your books?
Not yet. I'm currently writing a WWII story for the Goodreads M/M group project, though, and some of that by necessity happens in the Pacific. I'll try hard to get it right – few things are more annoying to readers than to have a writer mess up the research about their home/language/occupation. Which is one of the reasons I've stuck to places I know until now.
Do you listen to music while writing?
No. When I write I am oblivious. Sometimes my daughter will have her music on and I couldn't tell you the genre she was playing, let alone the song. My guys' voices are too loud in my head.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
I have a contemporary m/m romance, The Rebuilding Year, coming out from Samhain on March 6th. It's the story of Ryan, who was a firefighter and lost his job to injury, and John, who was a husband and father, and lost that to divorce. They both need to rebuild, and somewhere along the way they turn to each other and find that losing a big chunk of their lives has left room for something new.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
OMG, do you have an hour and about six pages worth of time? When I self pubbed my first book 10 months ago, I was so ignorant I didn't even know you could ask (or pay) someone to beta read for you. Since then I've released 4 novels and 7 shorts or so (depending on how many of the freebies you count) and have 2 more novels releasing this month. I've learned something with each one. But the biggest thing is how essential other people are to producing the very best book I can write. Getting betas, having an editor who makes me cut and polish, listening to readers about what they like and don't, having an artist do covers, hooking up with great publishers who format and release and promote my books. Writing is a solitary occupation, but releasing a really good book takes a village. All those people make me better and I am grateful. I still have a long way to go, though, to become the writer I would like to be.
Is there anything you would do differently?
In the past, I wish I'd had someone beta my free writing, so there would have been fewer errors and a better product for readers. I wish I had realized sooner that once I was published, anything I said would be taken as coming from an “author” with extra weight and responsibility behind it. I unintentionally offended someone I admire and my only excuse is that I didn't feel like a real author, and that's no excuse at all. But right now, I like where I'm at and what I am doing. (Maybe a little less chat would get more writing done, but I'm feeling productive enough not to care. Online friends are a joy to an introvert like me.)
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
Every book I have read has been an influence. The authors I admire most (of those whom I read before I began publishing) include Lois McMaster Bujold and Jim Grimsley and Megan Whelan Turner and Tanya Huff and Michael Nava... the list is long and varied. But all of them write characters who become close friends before you get three chapters into the book. And all of them make you believe the story, even if it's fantasy. That's my goal too.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Write. Write lots. I got so much better from my first (unpublished story) through to the one I submitted. Get beta readers and listen to them, but don't take every criticism as gospel. Sometimes they are wrong. But use the input. Be prepared to need a thick skin. When you release your baby to the eyes of the world, some folks are going to look at her and tell you what an ugly, stupid child you have. If self-doubts will overwhelm you, release free stuff. People are less critical, and if someone doesn't like your work you can feel better knowing they lost nothing but time reading it. Plus you can release a new version, when you see where the flaws are. Free stuff is great fun.
What are three words that describe you?
Book-o-holic; completely-unable-to-stop-plot-bunnies-from-breeding-and-asking-to-be-written; (What? That's not one word?) Mom.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
In the M/M romance genre, I have a few auto-buy authors but the one who tops the list is Amy Lane. Her characters live in my heart, break it and then heal it with sweet love in the end. The Locker Room and Chase in Shadow are at the very top of my favorite books.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
Since I mentioned The Rebuilding Year above, this is the blurb for my second book in my M/M werewolf series, also releasing in March, from MLR Press:
Unexpected Demands – Hidden Wolves book 2
When Aaron took down a crazy dominant wolf and inherited half a pack, he knew the Alpha job wasn't going to be easy. A week later, he's finding out what an understatement that was. Having a gay wolf in his pack brings lethal threats from other werewolves. Then humans locate his wolves and move in to try to capture and exploit one of them. Aaron has enough pressure and demands without letting his long-suppressed sexuality escape his rigid control. But keeping his distance from a young man who appeals to all his senses could be Aaron's biggest challenge.
List of previous books:
Life Lessons, And to All a Good Night, Getting It Right, and Breaking Cover are my Life Lessons series. Unacceptable Risk, Interlude, and Unexpected Demands are the wolves. Stand-alones are Lies and Consequences, Like the Taste of Summer, Possibilities, Where the Heart Is, Ghosts and Flames, Full Circle and the upcoming The Rebuilding Year.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
On my website at http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/
On Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper
Thank you so much, Kaje and wishing you every success in the future.
Books and Tales will be closing in January 2018.