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.