When I was little I had a pen-pal in the UK. We wrote every month or so about our friends and our schoolwork and our pets and so forth. Eventually we fell out of touch but that’s okay, because now I have Lily! That’s author Lily Harlem and I’m just getting to know her. But I already know we have a lot in common. We both write contemporary erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave and … our first names are plants. Bonus … she lives in the UK!
So here we go … my first pen-pal/fangirl conversation with Lily. And by the way, make sure to pop over to her blog because she's talking about me today. (Good things, I hope.)
Hiya, Lily! First of all, I know you live in Wales, but what’s it like there? I imagine lots of sheep and meadows and hot British guys. True?
Hey, Juniper, it really is awesome to be having a natter across the miles, and I have to say Alaska is somewhere I would absolutely love to visit. Shows like Northern Exposure, Men in Trees and that fabulous Ryan Reynolds/Sandra Bullock film, The Proposal, has given me the bug!I have lived in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and now Wales, so I am a definite anglophile. There is something wonderful and unique about each country, and every time I’ve moved on I’ve been both sad and excited. Scotland is just beautiful, the Irish people a joy to be around, and England always makes me feel warm and content, probably because that is where the majority of my family live. But for now I am in Wales and I have to say feeling very settled here. And yes, there are lots of sheep. Lots of sheep, horses, cattle and some amazing coastline which Mr. H and I spend many a happy hour exploring with our dogs.As for hot guys, then yeah, there’s plenty of them too, as long as you like them rough and ready. The Welsh men are hard working, rugged farmers, they play rugby like it is a religion and speak their minds. So if you like a man who is really a man, and don’t mind calloused hands and an occasional black eye, then Wales might just have to go on your to-visit-list.
Rough and ready – you’re talking my language, no matter what the accent. Okay, next question:
You often write in the first person. For instance, Cold Nights, Hot Bodies (which I loved!) is from the point of view of naughty virgin Ashley. What is it that draws you to that way of telling a story?
Yes, I do write in the first person a lot. I guess I like the intimacy of it. The way I can really get into a character’s head and share all of her thoughts and experiences with absolutely nothing in the way. I also love how the protagonist has to be in every scene and the reader gets to see through her eyes, the hunky object of her desires.Creating a hero whose thoughts you can’t write down on a page is a challenge I enjoy. His interest, disapproval, lust, foul mood, desperation has to be shown and not told. His dialogue, actions are what brings him to live. And I like that, because it is how we all go through life, reading other peoples body language and either believing or disbelieving what they say to form our opinion of them.Oh, and the other thing I like about the first person – the sex scenes. I love going into the head of my heroine while she is have hot, no-holds-barred sex with that sexy rock-star, big and tough hockey player or cute guy she has just persuaded to take her virginity!
Oh yes, there’s that naughty Ashley again! She might be a virgin, but she does read lots of erotic romance. Her reading habits make her very openminded once she gets involved with the uber-hot Shane Galloway. Do you think that’s true to life? In other words, can reading erotic romance improve your sex life?
Hah, fab question and something I actually did a little undercover research on before writing this book. I have a lovely friend who complained to me that bedroom antics with her fella were waning. There was no real reason for it they were in love, both hot etc.When I asked her what she was reading (in another conversation) she told me she only read murder mystery, always had and always would. Well me being a little bossy, I told her to get something raunchy to read and stop with the depressing stuff.When a week later, she was still reading some awful thing about people getting chopped up in tents and thrown into a lake to be eaten by crocs, I took matters into my own hands.I raided my secret shelf of sexy paperbacks. Plucked out a combination of blushing romances to down and dirty hotness, and marched down to her house. She was a little hesitant at first but once she started reading she couldn’t stop. She kept texting me – “OMG! You gave me a book that refers to his thing as a shaft!” and “They’ve only just met and they are shagging like rabbits!”. LOL! She was soon back for more, and has now just about depleted my stash.Has it helped? Hell, yeah, she’s ‘in the mood’ when the bedroom light goes off now and is planning a ‘sex for breakfast, lunch and dinner holiday’ with her man.Is he happy about the change? Abso-bloody-lutely!!So in answer to your question, Juniper, yes, I really do think erotic romance can help your sex life. It can make you feel like you are getting some if you’re not, and give you new ideas and put you in the mood if you are!
I like that -- it’s nice to feel you’re doing a public service, isn’t it? We’re both members of the “When One is Not Enough” blog, featuring ten bestselling ménage romance authors. I always love your blog posts because they have such extensive information in them. (If you don’t believe me, check the archives, y’all!) Do you do a lot of research for your posts, or do you rely on information you’ve already gathered for your books?
I love being part of WOINE, such a great bunch of authors and readers to hang out and have fun with.Usually I start from scratch when researching a post. Sometimes I know exactly what I am going to do, other times I wander around the web until something grabs my attention and I realize I want to know more.I have a bit of an obsessive personality which effects lots of what I do, so once I start on something, whether it is writing a WOINE post, scrubbing the house, planning a trip. I tend not to get distracted until it’s done. This has advantages and disadvantages, for instance when a novel takes a month or so to write everything else goes to the wind. It’s good for the novel, but not so good for anyone who has a birthday I’m supposed to remember or for clearing up dog hairs from the corners!
I know what you mean – regular life tends to fall off the radar when you’re wrapped up in a story. I like the way you set Cold Nights, Hot Bodies in a very ordinary office world where the big events are the boss’s impending retirement and Ashley’s “employee of the year” prize. I was wondering if that’s why you write contemporary, so you can bring characters like that – people you might run into on the street – to life. Is that the case? Have you ever been drawn to historical or paranormal?
Thank you, I am pleased you liked Ashley’s big events and so pleased that they came across as important to her and brought her character to life.Bringing every day people and experiences to the page is most definitely why I am drawn to contemporary. I like to write about what I see around me, real experiences, real emotions. Not that a reader can’t lose themselves in my books, they most certainly can, its just stepping into someone else’s world for a little while and pretty much knowing what you will get. There are no other worlds to learn about, or vampire/shifter rules – though in some you will have to meet a team of hot hockey players. But of course you know all about that, Juniper, we share the same appreciation for the bad boys of the ice, don’t we?!Historical, paranormal, sci-fi, no. I don’t particularly read them and have never done more than dabble with writing them. (Though there is a free read/podcast on my website about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy’s wedding night which was a bit of saucy fun to write!)I have published a fairytale fantasy, Enchanted Submission, about Rapunzel and the newly divorced Beast getting it together. But I kind of made it contemporary, with Cinderella and the girls knocking back shots of vodka before going to a BDSM club. Prince Charming is a completely insatiable womanizer and Tinkerbell a little nymphomaniac!
OMG, that sounds hilarious, I have to check that out! One last question: when can I get the next Lily Harlem book?
Two in the pipeline!
At Total-E-Bound, my UK publisher, I have my first co-author due for release on 2nd of April. It is called That Filthy Book and is written with the amazingly talented Natalie Dae.It is again contemporary and is about a married couple going on a journey of sexual discovery, re-awakening what it once was that made them so crazy for one another. Then with the help of a very dirty book, they take their regained confidence and urge to experiment to a whole new level. It was enormous fun to write, and Nat and I completely bounced off one another, the scenes just got filthier and filthier and in the end, when it came to picking a title, we just called it what we’d called it all along – That Filthy Book!At Ellora’s Cave I have a free read called Stockholm Seduction. It was released eighteen months ago and I’ve had lots of reader comments to the tune of ‘We want more”, “Great start, where is the rest?”.The story of Penny Tipping, the British Foreign Secretary’s daughter, getting kidnapped down-under by the seriously sexy Ty, seemed to hit the right spot for many. So, I let the characters talk to me again and told the rest of their story. Stockholm Surrender is due out at Ellora’s Cave in the spring, and is a full-length novel with the original freebie as the prologue. Its hot and sexy and I loved the twists and turns that went with Penny falling for her captor and longing to be taken again.Thank so much for having me today, Juniper. I hope you will stop by my blog soon for a cup of tea and a chat. There is nothing better than being able to get together for a gossip about sexy novels.HugsLily x
Thanks for chatting with me, Lily! I'd love to do it again some time over at your place. In the meantime, for more about Lily's books, visit her website. You can also click on each cover to find out more about the book.