Indie or Traditionally published? - Tell us how this works for you...
* At this point, I’m all indie. I owe a lot to the publishers who gave me my first chance (I submitted my first story just to show my hubby the rejection letter. Surprise...) I’m not sure I would’ve ever published if I’d had to dive into all the aspects as indie on my very first book.But I’ve had 4 of my small presses now close or have major issues. So gradually I’ve moved the books to indie. I’m still doing the last batch of rereleases. I love the control over everything from release dates to covers to letting myself break obscure grammar rules, although not always all the procedural and promo details that need to be taken care of.
Plot or Pants? Do you pre-plot your books, use an outline, fly by the seat of your pants or some combination of things? How do you keep track of characters in a series? Do you keep a journal of your characters’ statistics, such as hair and eye color, relatives, hometown, etc.
* Total pantser. I’ve had books where I didn’t know who the killer was in one of my mysteries until the 75% mark. I start with a guy, a voice, a scene, and just write. I admire plotters, but part of the fun for me is the discovery as the story emerges from my fingertips.
Tell us about your first... published M/M fiction/romance
and then your most recent one..
Life Lessons for me. And now, I just rereleased the second edition indie, (with audio from JF Harding on the way.) Tony, the idealistic young teacher who stumbles across a murder, and Mac, the closeted Homicide detective and single father, are my readers favorite couple. I’m delighted to get this one back out.
Do you write full time or part-time?
* Part time. Luckily, I enjoy my day job, and I think having to get out there keeps me from holing up and being a hermit. Being around people helps my ear for dialog, and keeps me engaged with the world. Because I’m a big introvert, so I need the push of a job schedule.
Which character still pops into your mind to visit from time to time?
* One of my first series was Hidden Wolves - my take on realistic werewolves concealed from human society. The werewolf MC in the first book - Simon - is a guy who survived being on thin ice with his ruthless pack with a sense of humor and a willingness to fight. When he fell in love with a human veterinarian (in Unacceptable Risk - now a free novel), it changed his priorities, but not his attitude. Simon still talks to me now and then. In fact, the last novella for the series that I just released - Unplanned Coda - book 7 - was because Simon insisted on having the last word. I thought I was done with the new 6th novel, but apparently not according to Simon.
What made you decide M/M romance was the genre you wanted to write? Do you write other
* Back when I was 14 (O ye many years ago, ie. 1974), I read The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren. Both of those are gorgeous gay love stories that end in tragedy and loss. And they brought home to me how absent gay love was from public life, and how deeply unfair it was that people could be persecuted just for the gender of the person they loved. I wrote a fanfic happy ending for The Front Runner and then moved on to other slash and original fiction. I never showed it to anyone though, until I submitted Life Lessons in 2010. I also write some YA LGBTQ short fiction, and have a couple of collections out.
Where do you find inspiration?
* I have no problem being inspired - the plot bunnies are thick on the ground. Many of my most popular stories were inspired by reader prompts and photos - freebie books like Into Deep Waters or Nor Iron Bars a Cage or Like the Taste of Summer were all written for reader prompts. But just about anything, from an image, to an overheard conversation, to a complaint about “I never see X in a romance,” can make a plot-rabbit leap up and start some guy talking in my head.
What do you do if you hit a wall while writing? How do you combat writer’s block?
* This has rarely been an issue for me, but the few times it was, I found that writing short flash fiction from photo prompts, with no plan to publish or edit, helped shake loose the words. And as a bonus, I now have a FB group where I can post some of the unedited short fiction, just for fun. Win-win.
What do your friends and family think of what you write; do they know?
* My family is very supportive. I owe everything to my hubby for being willing to be flexible around deadlines and the hours I spend writing. My sons have both proofread and done covers for me, even though romance is not their thing.
I wish my mum had been able to know I was published - she was still alive when Life Lessons came out, but too far into her Alzheimers to even know who I was. Although... it may be just as well she couldn’t read the books. She would’ve had no problem with the LGBTQ content, but the 4-letter words would not have been to her taste at all.
My employer and coworkers also know what I write. I’m lucky enough to work in a time and place where my writing is supported and not a problem for them. (I have great coworkers.)
What is your favorite thing about writing M/M romance?
* As a writer, I love the ability to make my main characters come together as equals with strengths and weaknesses that are not bound by gender stereotypes. But the thing that keeps me publishing (rather than writing and putting away my books, as I did for 35 years) is the community, and the chance to push a little social justice.
The readers who say my books helped them in a tough time, or entertained or distracted them from pain, or showed them something they could connect to - those make it worthwhile. We have an amazing community of M/M readers and writers, who support each other. And the occasional review that says “I never really supported gay marriage before, but after reading about Daniel and Jacob, I think gay people should have the same rights we straight people do”?
Those are enough to balance out any amount of less-fun details of publishing, and make me love handing my stories over to readers to enjoy.
How can we connect with you?
Website: https://kajeharper.com/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KajeHarperFacebook Group: Kaje's Conversation Corner -Goodreads Author page:Or follow me on Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kaje-harper
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did... if you have more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or visit them on any of their social media!