…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
1. Starting from scratch: Tell us all about you. What do you want us to know?
I’m an optimist and a dreamer. Writing has always been my joy and my escape. Creating a story in my head is a way to take the harshness of the real world when it won’t bent to my wishes, and manufacture my own happy endings. I like to dream up good people, under stress and conflict and pressure, and help them turn adversity into triumph and pain into hope.
About three years ago, I decided to try publishing one of the many stories I’d written. I was delighted to find that readers also enjoyed meeting my men and watching them win against the odds. I’ve published several novels and short stories now, mostly adult M/M romance, but some Young Adult LGBT, including about 30 free short stories on the Goodreads YA LGBT group I moderate.
The actual writing is still the thing I love best, and I have a tendency to release free stories for the fun of it, but now I also have enough pro books out to mollify my husband and call myself a professional author.
2. 10 Questions about books:
How did you get interested in gay romance?
I read “The Persian Boy” by Mary Renault when I was about thirteen, and I really, really wanted to create a happy ending for the young man, Bagoas. So I wrote an alternate ending in my head, and then another story about two guys, and another one. I was drawn by the depth of adversity, the balance of the characters, and the potential for emotion in M/M romance. I’ve been writing it for over 40 years now.
Best book you’ve read in the last 3 months?
“Shaking the Sugar Tree” by Nick Wilgus is one that stands out. It’s unusual, more about the love of a father for his child than a romance. It has a refreshing, unique mix of the crazy, the honest, the wildly inappropriate and the deep sweetness of love. There are some vivid characters, and although it seems at first glance like a story that would be light and funny, underneath that there is real, deep pain about family and prejudice.
Best book you’ve written in the last 3 years?
“Into Deep Waters” is my personal favorite – it was written fast, in 45 days, for an M/M Romance Group summer writing event. There was a prompt asking for a story running from WWII to the legalization of gay marriage. How could I resist that challenge? With the time constraint, it’s shorter than it might otherwise have been. But I think it comes across as a testament to the endurance of love between two men, beginning in times when it was even more dangerous and difficult than it is now. It’s also meant to be a bit of a tribute to all the LGBT pioneers, who, by simply living lives of authentic unmistakable love in front of family and friends, gave rise to the changes we now enjoy.
What book would you recommend to someone who’s never read your work?
It depends, because I write different genres and readers don’t read across all of them. “Life Lessons” is my most popular series, if they enjoy mysteries. “Nor Iron Bars a Cage” for fantasy. “Into Deep Waters” if the WWII time frame works for them. And “Like the Taste of Summer” is a short (15K) free option, if someone doesn’t want to dive into a long novel.
What book would you recommend to someone who’s never read gay romance?
Of someone else’s? “Faith & Fidelity” by Tere Michaels. “Love Lessons” by Heidi Cullinan. “The Locker Room” by Amy Lane. All of them reflect my preference for some angst, character growth and change, in a story that has hot sex but is not overwhelmed by it, and with a sweet ending.
Your favorite character you’ve written?
Mac – Detective Jared MacLean from “Life Lessons”. Mac begins the series as a strong, honorable man doing the best he can to support his small child and be a great cop. He keeps so much of himself hidden and under wraps, because he thinks he can’t indulge himself and still get the important parts of his life done right. He also really does, down deep, think of himself as flawed, and he doesn’t believe in his right to real happiness or in his worth as a person. Then he meets Tony, who is out and proud and who won’t let Mac go on like that forever, being less than whole. It’s a long tough journey for Mac, to learn to love his man in the open light of day, and to accept himself. He loses some things along the way, but gains far more.
Your favorite character someone else has written?
Chase, from Amy Lane’s “Chase in Shadow”. He tries so damned hard to meet all the conflicting needs and responsibilities in his life, and screws it up so royally that something has to give. I wanted to just hug him and make sure he came through all right.
What plot bunny has been sitting in your head that you haven’t committed to writing?
I have a SciFi, about an ambassador to a newly rediscovered lost colony on a cold world. Also a fantasy about a man whose lover has been possessed by a demon. A contemporary about an ex-FBI agent with a missing leg who is now a PI…
What’s on the horizon/in the pipeline?
The third novel in the “Hidden Wolves” werewolf series, “Unjustified Claims”, is in editing with MLR and I’m hoping for a September release.
I have a free novel coming out from the M/M Romance group on Goodreads for their summer event, probably in August. “Laser Visions” is a near-future paranormal with a guy who might be a ghost, in an antebellum house, but it’s more mystery than spooky.
Then two 20,000 word short stories, one a WWII home-front historical and the other about two men trapped together to wait out a hurricane. The historical is for a charity anthology; the hurricane will be part of a “Storming Love” series with matching stories from 5 others of MLR Press’s top authors.
I also have a contemporary self-pub novel, “The Family We Make”, which is the sequel to “The Family We’re Born With”, my Christmas free novella. This one won’t be free, but it’s a long novel, and will be released as soon as it can be edited and formatted.
What’s the BEST thing about being an author?
The writing itself is always a joy. But the best thing about being a published author is knowing that the stories that lived only in my head have gone out and done some good for other people.
I love when I get reviews or letters that say my stories helped someone through their day or made them think, or touched their heart. I’ve had people say one of my stories made them decide to support gay marriage. I’ve had someone tell me they were a gay guy who, for the first time ever, read a story about someone like himself with a truly happy ending. (I do hope I launched that guy into the wonderful world of M/M, because there are many more stories out there for him.) I’ve had people say my books got them through a difficult time in their lives, or reminded them of loved ones, or gave them hope on a dark day. That’s really the best. To know that a story I created gave someone else hope
3. Would You Rather…
…Write a book that sells a ton or a book that generates a ton of discussion?
Discussion. I love when people treat my guys as real, and my ideas as worth talking about. I saw a little chat once about “Life Lessons”, readers arguing whether Mac was a coward for staying in the closet, or Tony was too pushy, for asking him to come out. The vote was about even, which was perfect, and I loved the way they talked about my men as if they really lived together here in Minneapolis
…Have a book with 100 4-star ratings or a book with 50 2-star and 50 5-star ratings?
5’s and 2’s – you’re never going to please everyone. Seeing the first 5-star reviews for any book is what affirms for me that it was worth publishing and not just keeping to myself. That for someone, my story made a difference in a way that not just any book could. I admit that 50 2-stars would have me reaching for the Swiss chocolate though. Ouch.
…Write fluff or angst?
Angst. I love emotion in my reading, and try to infuse it into my writing. Although interestingly, I seem to make people cry most with my happy scenes… “Into Deep Waters” ends happily, but many of the reviewers seem to have read the last scene in tears. Which is such a lovely compliment, I think, that I made them feel the sweet love as deeply as the pain.
…Have a book made into an indie-movie that told the exact story or into a long-running tv show that was only inspired by the story?
Don’t mess with my guys! Definitely the faithful movie. I’ve winced on behalf of authors whose novels turned into series with only a passing resemblance.
…Have written Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray?
Um. I’ll take Twilight, because BDSM doesn’t do a lot for me and I doubt I’d write it well, or even badly. My Twilight would be Jacob and Edward slash though. Jacob could lick the sparkles right off of Edward…
4. Two Truths and a Lie…
Tell us 3 things about you…2 of them are true, 1 is false.
* I spent a summer milking cows on a dairy farm
* I have a Master’s degree in biochemistry
* I based the social anxiety of Mike, in “Sole Support”, on my own ineptitude with crowds and strangers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 been writing for longer than I care to admit, and currently am focused on writing m/m romance.
This writing thing is addictive. So read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and help me make the upcoming books even better. I have a blog here on Goodreads, and a website with WordPress, (http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/ ) which includes a complete book list.