Interview with Kaje Harper

My muse

 

Hi Kaje. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on the site. It’s such a pleasure to talk to you

You have many fans in this genre and I was wondering if you could tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I’m going to GayRomLit in October.  Okay, that’s not news to some of you, but it surprises the heck out of me.  I’m the quintessential introvert so the idea that I’m going to spend days around big groups of people, some of whom will want to talk to me, is startling. I had a moment of Carpe diem, and next thing I knew I was signed up. I am looking forward to it, if a bit nervously..

Is there a difference between Kaje the person and Kaje the author?

I don’t think there’s a big difference. Although with a computer screen between me and the world as the author, I’m able to seem more thoughtful (I love the edit function on comments) and I probably appear quite a bit more outgoing. Kaje the author also has a more, um, colorful vocabulary.

What’s the best part of being a published author and what’s the worst?

The best part is all the people I’ve come to know, mainly from having tracked down a review of my first book and ended up on Goodreads. A community of readers and writers was a revelation to me. I’ve loved finding people who share my interests, and hearing that I’ve entertained or touched readers with my work.

The worst part is that being published took writing from something that was just for fun to a profession where I have standards I feel I have to meet. There are times in the past year when I’ve doubted myself enough to stop writing for a while, and that didn’t happen before I was published. There are also times when I worry that I’m failing in some of the other expectations for a professional writer. It definitely adds pressure.

What is your biggest fear as a writer?

Producing a substandard book, and not recognizing the failure before my name is on it and people buy it.

You seem to have amassed a lot of books in your short writing career. There must be a technique in there somewhere, so how did you do it other than a lot of support from family and friends?

For one thing, I had several novels written before I ever tried to publish one. Some of those will never see the light of day, but of my seven released novels so far, three others were finished first drafts before Life Lessons was submitted. So that made my first year look more productive.

I can write fast at times – Into Deep Waters was researched, written and released in 45 days. I’m fortunate enough to have a part-time job, a self-motivated teen who was homeschooling without needing a lot of my time, and a writing style where I plow forward start to finish without pausing to edit until afterward.

Is your writing influenced by real people? In other words, do you draw some of your characters from people you know or are all of them based on your imagination?  Should your friends and family run in the opposite direction when they see you coming?  😆

Not for that reason :D. At most I’ve occasionally borrowed a habit or a particular phrase from someone real. Usually I don’t even realize that until after it’s done.

You have written a few series and since I follow a lot of series I have asked these questions of other authors. What’s the attraction to you as an author of writing a series? Is it mainly because a series has a built-in fan base after the first book? Or, is it because you want to see the characters evolve to the extent that’s not possible in a single novel? Did writing some of your series catch you unaware i.e. you never set out to write a series but some of the characters wanted more face time? All or none of the above?

I love series, both to read and to write. For me, characters are the essential ingredient that makes a good book, and once I get attached to them I always want more. Series allow for character development in slow believable ways that a single book often doesn’t.

I don’t plan my own stories very consciously, so I’m often not sure if there might be a sequel coming.  I thought Life Lessons was done with the second book, Breaking Cover. But the guys showed up in my head worrying about their son’s nightmares, and trying to figure out how to have a sex life when there were kids sleeping in the next room, and suddenly there are going to be two more.

What is the biggest misconception about Kaje Harper?

Maybe my age.  A lot of people seem to be surprised when they find out I’m in my fifties.  Perhaps because I’ve only been publishing for a year and a half they think I’m much younger.  This is not a problem for me  🙂

As you probably know I usually ask the fans to contribute questions whenever I’m interviewing their favourite author. So I’m starting with Sammy who I think is a stalker:

Sammy wants to know:

Why wolves–there are loads of paranormals out there in the world–why choose to write about wolves in Unacceptable Risk and the sequel and what I secretly hope and maybe even pray will be a third in the series??  ……and this is a naughty question–(ahem) Where is the favorite place for Mac to uhm…”do it” with Tony. And for Tony??

As incredible as it may sound, I wrote werewolves because I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of other gay werewolf books. *pauses for incredulous laughter* Until about two years ago I was almost never online and read very little published M/M.  I just didn’t know it was available. When I wanted some I wrote it.  I wanted to do a paranormal, I love wolves, and I didn’t realize how often and how well it had already been done until after I’d completed the first two. And yes, there will be at least two more Hidden Wolves books.

As for Mac and Tony, right now their favorite place to drive each other crazy is the shower, because they have two kids, and the bathroom has a lock and great noise-muffling properties. They feel just a bit freer to let go in the steam and noise and dimness of that shower stall.

The Rebuilding Year–you took some heat on the “out for you” scenario on this one–why did you think it worked? And would you write another “out for you” themed story again?

In Unacceptable Risk, Paul is also basically Out-for-you, and yes, I would do it again.  I firmly believe that it’s plausible for a teen guy who is bi to bury and deny his awareness of his same-sex attraction, until he convinces himself that he is straight. It’s easier, safer, socially acceptable and allows the possibility of children. I believe that a guy like that might feel settled in a straight-guy persona.

I don’t think you can change your basic sexual orientation. Otherwise in the past a lot of gay men who tried so hard to be straight would have succeeded. But research shows many of us fit somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale, with attraction to both genders. To me Gay-for-you is really Bi-for-you, and I do think it can come as a surprise to the man. That’s the part some readers disagree with, but how many people deeply suppress other desires, motivations, memories? I like a story where a man who has buried his same-sex attraction completely out of his awareness, is brought back to it by a guy he just can’t resist.

Lastly (and a subject dear to my heart – (sorry Wave) – [I like YA most of the time, depending ….]  😆 You have written some YA under a pen name–first off why the pen name and secondly, when do you anticipate releasing more YA stories?

I use the pen name Kira Harp for my Young Adult stories and Kaje Harper for the M/M to help readers know what kind of prose to expect from me. Most of my adult M/M romance is pretty explicit. I don’t advocate censorship (and find it pretty futile for teenagers) but I don’t want teen readers looking for backlist to pick up my adult stuff without being aware of the difference.   I don’t try to keep the two identities separate though – they are both mine and some readers may choose to read both. 

As for new YA writing, I do put up a short story on the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group every month, but the two YA novels I have in progress are behind some adult books in my WIP queue. I don’t have
a specific release anticipated, although I hope to finish one within the year.

Sunne

Hi, I’m more than grateful for Kaje Harper’s books. She not only writes wonderful stories but she is more than gracious with her gift.

My question:

You have released several free books, not only short stories or novellas, but real books and damn good ones, too. This is very generous. Why do you do it?

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the freebies. Writing has always been something I’ve done mainly for the fun of creating two guys and their lives. Sometimes when I’ve enjoyed writing a story I just want to share it, without the process of going through pro publishing.  With a self-pub freebie there is no delay in putting the story out, so I can move on to the next one. That suits me when I’m feeling impatient. 

Free stories are also the only kind of publicity I feel really comfortable doing, so I can justify releasing free stuff on the grounds that it attracts more readers. And I like the lower pressure of work that I don’t charge for.  If a reader doesn’t like the book, I’ve cost them nothing but a bit of time.  I rationalize charging money for some of my books by balancing it out with the free stuff. That way overall I’m a good bargain LOL.

You do not shy away from bittersweet endings, for example Full Circle. It has left me emotionally drained. What about you as the writer, are you even worse or can you keep your distance better? And why?

I like emotional stories as a reader, and that may be why I tend to write them.  It’s odd though – as deep as I am in the characters when I write, I don’t think I feel the emotions in the same way.  Perhaps because I’m busy finding words to convey the character’s feelings effectively, I’m a little insulated from it.  I’m occasionally caught by surprise when readers talk about crying as they read a passage I wrote.  I’m pleased, because I want to create characters the reader cares about and empathizes with, but the process of creation is just a different state.  Sometimes afterward when I reread something of mine the emotion hits me more than when I wrote it.

Jeayci

I saw that you’re planning at least a couple more Hidden Wolves stories. Will they each feature new pairings, or might one of those sequels have Simon and Paul as the MCs again? And what are the chances they might have children

I don’t have plans to give Simon and Paul kids, although Simon would be a great dad, wouldn’t he?  There is a child in book 4 but as a minor character. Book 3 isn’t written yet.  My initial intention with the Hidden Wolves was to do different pairings for each book.  I have one free short story with Simon and Paul so far, Interlude, which I’ve been thinking about expanding and making available for download, and I may well do other shorts.  Another novel with those characters is less likely. On the other hand, I’ve only been publishing for a year or so. If I keep at it, there’s time for quite a few more books 🙂

Any chance we might see that sequel to Full Circle any time soon? (And I love Sunne’s question about it, too)

I really want to write this – I think it would have to be a full novel, to give us a lot of Toller’s life between the two time-periods covered in the novella. And then to move on past Full Circle and find someone for Jamie. It’s not next, but hopefully soon.

Speaking of sequels, during NaNoWriMo you were working on a sequel to The Benefit of Ductwork. Is that something we might see any time soon?

The sequel, Life – Some Assembly Required, is at 60K and about 3/4 done.  Within the year I’d like to get it finished and submitted to Featherweight.

How do you decide which story to write next, or which project to work on at any given moment?

I always used to write one story at a time straight through, as they came to me, without much deciding involved.  I’m not sure how I ended up with several WIPs, which is where I am right now.  I still mostly work on one novel at a time, but lately I’ve been distracted by a bunch of free short stuff.  Stories tend to come to me when I’m doing something else – driving or mowing the lawn or taking a shower – and what I sit down to write is whatever just came to mind.

You’re wonderfully prolific, but is there anything we can do to help you write faster so we can get more of your stories sooner

Considering that you’ve generously been beta reading for me at a moment’s notice, including the free stuff, I’d say you’re doing more than your share. My readers are great – I can’t imagine better, so no, any slowness is entirely on me.

Sirius

I actually have a question about Hidden Wolves series too. If it is a spoiler, feel free to ignore me… or not  At the end of the series, will we see significant changes in the wolves’ societal structure? And what is the reason (genetic or otherwise) that there are no women werewolves? Thanks.

The reason there are no women werewolves is because the shifter DNA is Y-chromosome-linked.  And the werewolf sperm develop so that only Y-carrying gametes are viable.  Even then, getting a live baby from the merger of human and shifter DNA is not reliable, which is why the kids are few and prized, and all boys.

There are a lot of changes that will have to happen to werewolf society as the pressures of the modern world come to bear.   Pack rules that were fine two hundred years ago are now frayed to the breaking point in the 21st century. Some of it will definitely change. For instance, wives like Megan aren’t going to put up with being kept out of the decision-making process forever.

ISA

I love Kaje Harper books. I want to know if she will ever write another story with Chris and Ian from Lies and Consequences?

I’ve thought about it.  I do get attached to all my characters, and I have a particular fondness for Chris. So maybe, but not among the next few books.

Rdafan7

I too loved Lies and Consequences  and would like more Chris and Ian!

I love Mac and Tony, the characters are written so well and believable, how do you get your inspiration for them? What does your family (husband) think about your characters? Do you ever get advice from them?

I’m not sure where Mac and Tony, or any of my characters, come from.  My writing is a very instinctive process.  The guys talk to me and I write.

My husband is not a fan of genre fiction in general – he loves Thomas Pynchon and the Booker Prize winners.  He considers my books very fluffy with way too much dialogue. He’s a good source for synonyms though (and bad puns, if I need a distraction.) We don’t discuss my stories and he has no interest in reading them, but is very supportive in every other way, including doing a lot of the cooking and then making me put the laptop away to come eat.

 Kim

My questions:
Were Mac and Tony from Life Lessons based on real people?

I wish, but no.  I’m really an introvert and so most of my friends are imaginary.

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

Often it seems as though something very simple will trigger a story – a picture, or a single line that pops into my head, or something I see as I’m driving will get me started.  My books almost all begin with an image of a guy, or two guys, and a few lines. Like Chris looking in the mirror as he turns into Robin, in Lies and Consequences.  Or Mac watching Tony strip in a high-school bathroom in Life Lessons. From that starting point, I put my fingers on the keyboard and begin typing.

Before I let you go Kaje I read somewhere that the sequel to Breaking Cover, (Home Work) was due to be released in August. I should know this but I don’t remember seeing it on the MLR website. Is there a new release date? I noticed that you have a story called Tumbling Dreams in the just released MLR anthology Going for Gold. What else do you have forthcoming  over the next 3 – 6 months?

Home Work, the third Life Lessons book, will release from MLR Press on October 5th.  I have a fantasy short story called Gift of the Goddess in the anthology Carved in Flesh that was just released from Storm Moon Press.  Then I’ll have a freebie holiday story coming in December. 

Last question: What are you most proud of as a writer?

I’m always glad when my books entertain people.  It’s even better when someone says my books touched them emotionally, or even distracted or consoled them in a difficult moment in their lives.  But I think the best affirmation has come from a couple of people who’ve told me that one of my stories was the first M/M they’d read and that my book made them see that love really is the same whether it’s between a man and a woman or two guys.   The men I wrote helped convince them that a gay relationship can be as real and deep and valuable as any straight one. That’s the best reward I’ve had as a writer.

 Thank you Kaje. I appreciate the time.

 Kaje Harper’s Contact Information

email
website
Goodreads author page

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

26 comments

  • Thanks for a great interview and answering our questions!
    Your husband sounds like a big help…(but he doesn’t know what he is missing by not reading the stories 🙂 )
    I find it interesting that he thinks there is too much dialog…

    Reply
    • He thinks there is too much dialog in most genre fiction. I tend to drop a book if the characters haven’t started talking by the fifth page; he prefers narrative. We’ve pretty much stopped recommending books to each other. But he is very helpful in other ways 🙂

      Reply

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