I’m happy to welcome Kaje Harper to my blog today. She’s a relative newcomer to the m/m genre but has already made quite a name for herself with some fantastic reads. Kaje has a holiday story, Where the Heart Is, coming out from MLR Press on December 30.
Welcome, Kaje! Thank you for coming by. I hope you find my questions stimulating. J
1. How did you get started writing m/m romance? Did you always want to be a writer?
I've been writing since I learned how to put letters together, and I filled binders with stories as a teen. But life got busy, and I never intended to publish anyway, so I moved to just writing stuff in my head. I always had an ongoing story in progress. It was simply a pleasure and a way of
getting through slow moments, not a career. Then in about 2006 my husband gave me a computer and the kids were older and I began putting the words down on paper, or rather in pixels. By the time I had seven novels on my hard drive, my husband suggested I should see
if I could publish one. I think he figured if I was going to be obsessed with my keyboard, I should at least try to get paid for it.
I sent a story to MLR Press, because they promised a critique of every submission. And instead I got an acceptance letter. One of the high points of the last decade for me. That was Life Lessons. As for the M/M part, I wrote Starksy and Hutch slash fic in high school, back before I knew there was such a thing anywhere outside of my own binders (with fade-to-black sex scenes, of course, because back then I had no clue and there was no Internet in those days to do research – am I dating myself?) So M/M romance has always been part of what I wrote.
2. Did you have any early influences either in this genre or any other?
I didn't read very much M/M romance until after I was already writing it. I did read some classics, Mary Renault's The Persian Boy and Patricia Nell Warren's The Front Runner made an impression, as did Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books. But I read everything else too, including a lot of straight romance, mystery and fantasy. So many favorite authors. The one I wanted to be like the most was Lois McMaster Bujold. I love her work; her style and her characters are really wonderful.
3. What is the hardest part about writing for you? The benefits?
The hardest part technically is editing. I write in one fell swoop, beginning to end. I then have a hard time looking at the thing again, let alone working on it. I have a love-hate relationship with my work, especially right after I finish something. It's good that the turnaround time with an editor usually gives me a few weeks to gain a little perspective and look at the story fresh. The benefits of writing, however, are legion. It's a joy and a therapy to write. When life hands me lemons, I can write about two guys falling in happy-ever-after love over a pitcher of lemonade. The stories show up in my head anyway. Getting them written down is a satisfaction. When someone says that my work touched them in some way, that is a creative contribution I have made that can never be lost. And when I can't make the real world bend for the loved ones in my life, I can help my characters to climb out of any kind of hell and find a happy ending. So therapeutic, that.
4. Tell us a little about your holiday story, Where the Heart Is. It's a relatively simple and sweet story about figuring out what matters in life. This is the blurb: Dr. Trevor Carson had a good life as a city veterinarian, until his father died. Taking over his dad’s remote country practice was supposed to be temporary, but Trevor found himself loving the place. If only it didn’t mean separation from his partner, Michael. A Christmas visit from Michael gives each of them a chance to decide if home is a place or a person.
5. Do you have any writing quirks? (ie computer has to be facing a certain way, cup of coffee on the left, certain music playing, etc) I can write anywhere, in terms of getting the story done, because it happens in my head. My biggest problem is that it happens a lot while I'm driving, which occasionally has me distracted or pulling over to grab a pencil and jot down a particularly apt phrase before I forget it. Putting it into the computer is just the mechanics. No quirks there. I do often have my little dog in my lap as I type. He's sweet but has a tendency to lean his chin on my arm, which does slow my typing speed down.
6. Do you have any writing or reading squicks? Things you don’t like to read and can’t see yourself ever writing?
Not big ones. I don't usually go for BDSM with real hurt involved, although The Violet and The Tom is a favorite and that story does lay some significant pain on the MC. I don't think I could write that scene though. And I don't read and wouldn't write m/f/m where the two guys only pay attention to the woman in the bed and not each other. Too much of a waste. Beyond that, I'm pretty open. A good writer can make me believe in almost anything as a workable story. And who knows what plot bunnies may appear out of my subconscious next and demand to be written.
7. Sometimes I find writing cuts into all the reading I want to do. Do you read a lot or just don’t have the time? Any faves you wanna share with us? It does cut into reading, but for me it is a very similar pleasure (at least the first draft when I don't know what's going to happen yet.) But I still read a ton. Favorites recently included Carole Cummings' Dream, Amy Lane's The Locker Room, Josh Lanyon's Come Unto These Yellow Sands, Jordan Castillo Price's Hemovore, Harper Fox's Driftwood. And many more.
8. What’s next on your plate? What are you working on?
I have the Christmas short from MLR coming out on the 30th. I've also just done the proofs for The Rebuilding Year, a stand-alone novel coming from Samhain in March. The second Hidden Wolves book has been accepted and is in first edits. And as soon as I have a moment to breathe, I'll do a last edit on the draft of Life Lessons 3 and submit it to my editor. Oh, and I have a YA short story Intervention coming out in January, under the pen name Kira Harp, as part of Featherweight Press's Helping Hands charity line of stories.
9. What’s your favorite part of Christmas Christmas Eve, putting up the tree and baking cookies with my kids. I love the family time, Christmas carols on the stereo with everyone in the mood, and that last echo of anticipation in the air.
10. Finally – a few quick choices:
a. Coffee or tea – tea, often , in large quantities.
b. Dog or cat – ouch, must I choose? Dog, because my husband is allergic to cats so I can't have one at the moment. My little white mutt is my avatar.
c. Beach or mountains – mountains (I sunburn)
d. Pecs or abs – abs
e. Smile or eyes – eyes
f. Cowboys or rockstars – cowboys (hot men in bluejeans – oh, yes.)
g. Who would win in a fight – vampires or werewolves? And why. Um, that depends on the pantheon, and I read a lot of them. If you take my own werewolves from Unacceptable Risk and the vampires from Ghosts and Flames then it would unfortunately be the vampires. I made the vamps very hard to kill, and my wolves are not very supernatural in strength and abilities, so one-on-one the vamp would win. However wolves always have the Pack at their backs, so if there was enough time to gather, then a pack of wolves could pull down a vampire.
Kaje has generously offered up a copy of one of the books on her backlist to one lucky commenter on my blog. BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR COMMENT.
CONTEST WILL BE OPEN UNTIL SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18.
If you don’t win, you can go to Kaje’s website for information on all her books, Kaje Harper, and be sure to mark December 30 on your calendar for her holiday story, Where the Heart Is, at MLR Press.
I started reading "Lies and Consequences" because I was able to find it on Ibooks. I loved this book, so then I went on your website and found the story you had written for the Hot Summer Days "Like the Taste of Summer" and let me tell you that I loved it and have read it many times. It's actually one of my faves. In your website, you had posted the link for the m/m romance group on GR, so I joined and read all the stories from the Hot Summer Days during my summer holidays. I also loved your short story "Intervention" and have all your books on my to read list. I cannot wait to read them.ReplyDelete
Thank you Kaje and K-lee for this interview.
Kaje...congratulations on all the great books you have out. I'll admit I haven't been able to read any of them yet, but I'm going to run out and get Ghosts and Flames...because I love the cover and it sounds really good.ReplyDelete
I don't read my own stuff once it's out. I'd drive myself crazy, seeing all the things I think I could have made better. :)
Great interview. :)
Thanks for stopping by girls. I have the same issue with reading stuff I've already written. After "Outfoxed" was out there I kept finding stuff I wanted to add or change, and when I posted an excerpt from "Finally Home" - I wanted to do the same. Ug.ReplyDelete
Great interview Kaje - glad you're here. :)
How funny-- that whole "writing in my head" thing is what I do too! It sounds like our writing processes are very similar! I look forward to reading your stuff sometime (I would rather sooner or later!) Like you, writing and reading are very similar processes for me, and I adore them both!ReplyDelete
Carnell, thank you! It's so cool that following up on me led you to other great authors and work - that Hot Summer Days series had some great free stories in it!ReplyDelete
T.A. - I love the cover for Ghosts, too. My favorite of all of them I think. I hope if you are looking for an introduction to my work you'll read Like the Taste of Summer. It's free, and it is my favorite literary child so far. And I love your books, although having just started reading m/m recently, I have a lot of your back list yet to sample (this is a good thing). Thanks for stopping by.
Hey, Amy Lane, wow. I love your work. I have The Locker Room in paperback on my bedside table, to pick up and reread when I want a little pure doubt-free sure-of-each-other love between two guys.ReplyDelete
Kaje...congratulations on all the great books you have out. have not read any yet :(ReplyDelete
Great interview. :)
I loved Lies and Consequences and before I was even half way through I bought Unacceptable Risk. Now I am itching to buy your backlist but I'm holding off in case I get an Amazon gift voucher for Christmas. How terrible would it be to get an Amazon gift voucher and to have already bought all the books I want.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the interview and the competition.
rebeccaclunes [at] sky [dot] com
Hi MS Harper,ReplyDelete
I am a big fan, I must gleefully admit it! I enjoyed the interview immensely. I was wondering...Have you ever given thought to any of our couples eventually adopting or having a surrogate birth. I am thinking specifically of the wolves now...have your thoughts ever wondered in that direction?
I also would be remiss if I did not say how much I enjoy your work!
And Have a lovely holiday!
Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I love Mac & Tony and I just finished reading Lies & Consequences last week. heather kReplyDelete
sassycyclist at bak dot rr dot com
Loverly interview ^__^ I do not think I've read any of your books,I shall have to fix that! :DReplyDelete
I loved Lies and Consequences which is why I picked up other Kaje Harper titles. I'm so happy to see more books out.ReplyDelete
Hey everyone, thanks for reading and commenting.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, roro.
@Sammy - I don't think I'll give the wolves any extra kids at the moment; that world is a little darker and things are going to get hairy for Aaron and his pack in the next one. Not a time to be deliberately bringing kids into the mix. It does raise some interesting questions though...
@ Rebecca - can I just say I hope you get a LOT of Amazon gift money for the holidays :) But maybe you'll pick up a freebie here. Good luck.
@ Sassycyclist - thanks for the love for my guys - the third Mac & Tony book is almost ready to submit to my editor.
@maderr - I have some freebies out so you can sample my writing risk-free. Hope you enjoy it.
I haven't read anything by Kaje yet tho I've heard great things about her writing! I just picked up Unacceptable Risk and am looking forward to reading it :-)ReplyDelete
smaccall AT comcast.net
I really enjoyed "Lies and Consequences". I look forward to reading your other books soon.ReplyDelete
Thanks Lisa; that free novel was my first effort, and I've been so pleased with how many people enjoyed it.ReplyDelete
@ Bookwyrm - Hope you like my wolves. I'm in the middle of edits on the second book in the series right now.
When do you think the second werewolf novel will be available?ReplyDelete
I really liked the first one and Life Lessons.
I so hear you on the editing. I mean, I don't particularly hate the editing, but I'm currently reading the proof-read version of my upcoming novel (MLR here too, by the way ^.^) and I keep finding these things I want to change. I have no idea how my editor will feel about those tiny little changes I want to make in 100 places :/ReplyDelete
eripike at gmail dot com
I loved the first to Life Lessons books and can't wait for the third. I have to admit I bought Unacceptable Risk with some trepidation, because I have major hang ups with werewolves (well, not the wolves, but authors who invent pack structures/lupine body language and in some cases anatomy) as it more often than not jars me completely out the story, but not in this case - really loved it and again, waiting (impatiently) for the next book.ReplyDelete
And now I shall have to go pick up the others I've missed!
Loved Life lessons and looking forward to staring breaking cover very soon :-D
I loved Life Lessons and breaking cover and your other books are on my wish list. I'm really looking forward to reading Ghosts and flames!
Thanks for all the encouragement, everyone. The second werewolf book should be out in 2-3 months I hope. I'm doing editing now (first round).ReplyDelete
@ Erica - I hear you. I was like that the worst with Life Lessons - found dozens of changes I wanted to make on my proofs, and almost begged to do another edit. The formatting editor talked me down to half a dozen, pointing out that I would probably never run out of tweaks (and she was right.) At some point I had to let go of it and move on to the next one. (Samhain told me firmly NO TWEAKING on the proofs for The Rebuilding Year. MLR is more flexible, but they wince really hard if you overdo.) Good luck with your new book.
@ Kate - you sound like you have some background with real wolves? I'm glad you enjoyed mine.
And we have a winner!ReplyDelete
Bookwyrm369. smaccall @ comcast.net
Congrats and enjoy! Kale will be in touch.
And if you don't hear from the cabbage (Kale?) then let K-lee know and I'll try again. (I can tease her about typos because she is a friend of mine :)ReplyDelete
I haven't had a chance to read Kaje's work yet(forgive me, I'm new) but there seems to be a lot of hype in the comments. "Lies and Consequences" is definitely very much loved. I would loved to be entered in this contest.ReplyDelete
@ MiAnonymous - I think you missed the contest deadline, but just so you know, "Lies and Consequences" is a free novel. You can download it from Smashwords (all formats) or Barnes and Noble (epub) and some other sites like Ibooks. "Like the Taste of Summer" is free on All Romance eBooks. So if you haven't read anything of mine you can start with those at no cost, and see what you think.ReplyDelete