AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: LILY HARLEM
Author Lily Harlem has agreed to let the bunnies pester her with questions.
What is your most current work out?
First of all thanks so much for inviting me to join you at Joyfully Reviewed, it’s great to be here. My latest release is a sequel to Shared which was my debut Ellora’s Cave novel last year. Shared Too features the same three characters – Ariane, arguably the luckiest woman on earth, the delectable Liam and workaholic neurosurgeon, Quinn.
Blurb for Shared Too–
Ten years on I’m still convinced I’m the luckiest woman on earth. Two devastatingly gorgeous husbands committed to my satisfaction—phew!—life doesn’t get much better or much sexier.
But as though the mere concept of a perfect existence was created to be shattered, one day Quinn turned to me and said, “Shared too. I want to be shared too.” Add in the monster that haunted my nightmares and I was struggling to keep a grip on my sanity.
I soon realized that the path Quinn wanted us to travel would stretch not only his experience of giving and taking but also mine and Liam’s. In a whirlwind of desperate emotions, dark desires and erotic fantasy, we were all so distant but also so sublimely close. Sharing had never been as sweet as it was bitter, or as depraved as it was heavenly.
What inspired you to write Shared Too?
Because Shared Too is a sequel I already had the characters rattling around in my head. Inspiration for the first book, Shared, came from a single line in the letting section of a local newspaper – Room to Let, Wanted Girl to Share – I kept thinking what if the gorgeous male tenants in this apartment wanted a girl to share in a very literal sense? – Phew! – It turned out to be hot stuff. So the happy ever after in Shared led me to questions about a polygamous relationship and all that it would mean over a lifetime. Shared Too is set ten years later, domestic bliss reigns, Ariane is more than satisfied with every aspect of her life – until…
Well, if there wasn’t an ‘until’ it would be a pretty dull story.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I pretty much have the plot in my head, scenes that I’ve imagined in detail and an ending which wraps everything up. The smaller details slot into place as I go. In Shared Too the Gilbert-Rosser’s live on a farm in Wales and many of the animals and descriptions of their home built as I wrote. Characters were easy in this one because they were like old friends; however, if I am creating new characters, although I have a good idea of their nature when I start writing, smaller personality traits develop as I go, particularly when I’m writing dialogue.
What inspired you to write in your genre?
I’m probably unusual in this one. I was doing a creative writing course, part time, had finished my assignments and was trawling the internet for competitions to enter. I came across the Love Honey Award for Erotic Fiction and feeling incredibly naughty and blushing fiercely, tapped out Madam President. After hitting send I completely forgot about it, after all it was my first go at an erotic short story and I didn’t stand a chance. Well what do you know – I won first place! YAY! I was over joyed not to mention inspired.
After that, steamy, sexy stories flowed from my fingertips and before I knew it more were contracted including one in Violet Blue’s Best Women’s Erotica 2010 and a story in Coming Together, which is a charity anthology where all proceeds go to ONE. ONE is a charity headed by U2’s Bono and aims to end global poverty.
You can read Madam President for free on my website and there’s a link to buy the Coming Together anthology or just my individual story.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I’m in love and lust with all my heroes. They each have elements to their character which I find a total turn on, physically and mentally. An absolute favourite is possibly Logan ‘Phoenix’ Taylor, the bad boy of The Vipers hockey team and the star of Hired. He’s sullen and grumpy and oh, so bad he turns out to be deliciously good!
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
Mmm, good question. Well there are a few ‘baddies’ lurking in some of my stories. I’ve just completed the third in my “Hot Ice” series and there’s a crazy stalker lady in that one, so they are obvious ones to dislike.
As for protagonist characters, then maybe Meredith in a Devilish Incantation, she becomes obsessed with the Devil, who in this story is tall, blond and totally divine; eventually she kills her husbands to please her devilish lover. I guess she isn’t very nice, but she is crazy!
Oh, and in Unhealthy Obsession – a free read on my website – Amy is so obsessed with her boyfriend she goes to extreme lengths to trap him. She isn’t the nicest of characters but that was how I intended her to be.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life?
I worked as a nurse for many years in an Accident and Emergency department in London. I came across all walks of life and both patients and staff have been brilliant fodder in my writing. But there is no-one close to me I’ve ever used as direct inspiration, well, not enough for them to pin point themselves anyway!
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The blurb. Every time. I find it impossible to condense a whole novel into a few hundred words. I write, eat chocolate, drink wine, hit delete, write, drink wine, hit delete, eat chocolate – you get the idea, not fun!
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I once swam with sharks. Argh! That makes me sound brave – I’m not. Friends persuaded me when we were on holiday and throwing caution and common sense to the wind I agreed. I was only snorkelling but I could see the sharks at the bottom of the reef, slinking around, lurking in shadows. My heart was in my mouth, I could hardly breathe.
When it was over I was on a total high for the rest of the day, but I think that was more to do with the fact I hadn’t been eaten rather than the thrill of seeing sharks!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Oh, yes, True Blood. I love it, oh and Cougar Town. Also I am a bit of a bird spotter – there’s loads of different species in the meadows near where I live and I adore walking the dog and seeing what’s out there and what they’re up to.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I like to be organised before I start a new project; washing and housework up to date, food in the fridge etc. Because once I start it all goes to hell, which is a nightmare if it’s a long project! It can take me weeks to get straight again after I’ve finished, and if anyone has their birthday when I’m in the middle of writing something I’m really involved in then I’m afraid its 50/50 if I remember.
I need peace and quiet too. I can’t stand music or chatter when I’m writing. Because I’m busy visualising scenes or listening to characters talking it’s simply too off putting to have sound distraction.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Oh, yes. Check out my Mattress Music series. Although I like quiet when I write I became totally inspired by my three favourite bands – Kings of Leon, The Script, and Snow Patrol – and wrote three Quickies for Ellora’s Cave all about The Manic Machines what they get up to in their naughty rock and roll world.
This is what Joyfully Reviewed’s Miranda said about Mattress Music –
Nina’s been having problems achieving satisfaction lately. Her weekend one night stands aren’t fulfilling her anymore. She can’t seem to keep her mind in the game. When she picks up Ian for her weekly ritual, Nina never thought he’d be staying for breakfast but this guy has one goal in mind: her satisfaction. Ian knows exactly what she needs and is going to give it to her, if she can let him in.
Mattress Music had me laughing hysterically at the very first. Nina cannot orgasm for many reasons but the most prominent is her iPod’s shuffling playlist. The music it keeps spitting out does not incite pleasure and she can’t stop thinking about it. I love Ian’s tenacity. This man is going to please this woman if it’s the last thing he does, and he’s so darn adorable about it. I was definitely not expecting the little twist at the end but it made me love Ian even more when he explains why he kept his secret. Mattress Music is a hit and it will leave you smiling.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh, yum, what a nice thought. Okay. Shared Too, bearing in mind they are all a bit older than in Shared. Ariane would have to be someone like Catherine Zeta Jones (which fits as they are both Welsh). Liam, possibly Brad Pitt but when he had that blond surfer look going on. Quinn, he’s a bit harder to choose, it’s his volatile personality and medical genius that’s his charm. Perhaps Patrick Dempsey but a bit more beefed up.
Gosh, actors for characters is hard to think about, but it would be sooo much fun at the auditions wouldn’t it, anyone volunteering to help me out. Hee, hee!
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at home alone when I got the telephone call to say I’d won the Love Honey Award for Erotic Fiction and had to wait until hubby got home to tell anyone. When I received news from Violet Blue to say she wanted to use Stable Manners in BWE 2010 it was actually my birthday. I had a garden party planned and so it was great to be able to share that good news with all my family and friends.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Let me think? Probably early teens I read The Thorn Birds. A wonderful story which was later made into a TV drama, or was is a film, I can’t remember. But the angst between Maggie and Father Ralph has always stayed with me.
If you still have one of those pesky day jobs what is it?
I still work a few hours a week as a nurse, luckily it’s not as intense as Accident and Emergency these days. I enjoy it and it’s not a chore, more of a social occasion as I know my regular patients well and am always keen to see how they are doing.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
You’ve caught me on the hop here. I have several manuscripts waiting for consideration, namely in my Hot Ice series with Ellora’s Cave. Hockey players are just sooo hot and once I wrote Logan and Brooke’s story in Hired I dove straight into the next, Cross-Checked, which is due for release later this year. It didn’t stop there and the third in the series is with my editor right now and the 4th is rattling around my brain waiting to spill onto the page – I guess I better get tidying so I can settle down and write.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
Aren’t all the great stories romance? Look at Romeo and Juliet, the wonderful Atonement and Birdsong, The Memory Keepers Daughter and The Time Travellers Wife to name just a few; fabulous, critically acclaimed novels which at the very heart contain a beautiful love story. Most people have read some of these books and if they haven’t I think they are missing out on reading about the emotion which is the single most important thing in all of our lives – love.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I’m British so I grew up on Cadbury. I like just about every bar in their range but Flakes are my very favourite, they are just so sexily messy.
Thanks so much for having me here today, it’s been fun. I’ll be hanging around to answer any questions but I may be in a different time zone to many of you so forgive me if bed calls later in the day!!