To kick off Lou Harper week, I’m talking with the author herself today and also reviewing her newest book (out today), Dead Man and the Restless Spirits. So, without delay, I welcome Lou Harper!
Hey Lou! Thank you so much for being here today 🙂 I’ve been looking forward to this interview and reading/reviewing your backlist!
It’s great to be here. You have comfy chairs.
I wanted to start out by talking about your new release, Dead Man and the Restless Spirits, telling Denton’s story, a secondary but pivotal character in Spirit Sanguine. What made you decide to tell his story?
I like having fun with my supporting characters, fleshing them out so you get the impression that they have lives outside of the story. With Denton I succeeded more than usual. He was too intriguing not to have his own story. Honestly, how often do you have a necromancer for a protagonist?
One of the best characters in Dead Man and the Restless Spirits is Murry, the cat 🙂 And reading about Murry and then quickly reading over your backlist made me realize that you seem to have a cat somewhere in most of your books. Are you just a cat person or what? (like me!)
I do? I hadn’t realized that. Those sneaky bastards! Yes, I’m a cat person—have lived with cats most of my life. I like dogs too, except the small yappy ones. Bad things happen to Chihuahuas in my books.
I can’t stand small yappy dogs either!
From what I can tell, it seems like most of your writing prior to this year has been contemporary. This year you’ve come out with Dead in LA, Spirit Sanguine, and now Dead Man and the Restless Spirits. Why the change and why now? Are there any other genres you’re looking to explore in the future?
Personally, I don’t see this as a huge shift. My paranormal stories are still contemporary; the protagonists still have jobs, have to pay rent, etc., even if they happen to be vampires or necromancers. I bet they even have to go to the dentist too. Well, maybe not the vamps.
I fell in love with magic realism as a child, reading the Mary Poppins books. The ordinary and extraordinary living side-by-side have fascinated me ever since. It was just a question of time before I slipped into paranormal.
Spirit Sanguine happened by accident. I became tired of the Byronic portrayal of vampires—you know, dark and brooding, woe is me. I wanted to slap them silly and tell them to snap the hell out of it. So I got the idea to write a story about vampires in the style of classic screwball comedies—Some Like it Hot, Bringing up Baby, that sort of stuff. I was aiming for a novelette, short novella at most, but things got out of hand. Suspense and mystery elements mixed in and the story got much longer then I’d planned. You know the rest.
I like science fiction too, but I don’t see myself getting into that genre in the near future.
You can blame Josephine Myles for that. We met years ago when we were both dabbling in fanfiction. Then she moved onto m/m and dragged me with her. To be honest, at first I didn’t think it was for me, but I stumbled across books by Jordan Castillo Price and Josh Lanyon early on and was hooked. I started writing Hanging Loose after reading a GFY story I didn’t find convincing. To me, the core of the story is that sexuality is complex and there are many shades between straight and gay. Following the character’s journey coming to terms with his own nature and desires was what I wanted to explore.
I know now that you’re also self-publishing. What made you make that decision and what was your first published work? Do you think you’ll mostly transition to self-publishing your work or do you still feel that the publishers you have a relationship have something to offer for your future books?
There are pros and cons to both. I like working with Samhain, I feel they treat their authors as partners and they are very professional. Being with a reputable publisher has many benefits. A couple of my books have been reviewed in Romance Times and The Library Journal, and I believe that has a lot to do with Samhain being the publisher.
I self-published Dead in L.A. out of necessity. It was the only way I could get another book out before the end of the year. Speed and more control are some of the upsides to self-publishing. I also get a perverse joy from doing the tedious stuff like formatting. Yes, I’m weird that way.
I plan to do both in the future. You know how the saying goes: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Now, I wanted to ask you about your art. In case you didn’t know, Lou Harper is a pretty well known cover artist for m/m books and I’ve seen a lot of your art online, on blogs and book tours. How did that start for you? Did you have a career in graphic design before you became an author and you merged your talents?
I have degrees in Photography and Fine Art, and worked in graphic designed for over a decade. Writing came much later. The thing is, I have a constant urge to make stuff; if I have nothing to work on I get restless. Fortunately, design and writing complement each other well. When I’m stuck with one, I can turn to the other.
I’m also curious which of your covers were yours and which were from another artist? Are there any that you particularly love or are unhappy with?
The covers of Last Stop, Dead in L.A., Dead Man, Spirit Sanguine, Tomfoolery, Seduction, Late Night Snack, and the new one for Hanging Loose are mine. My current favorite is Dead Man, although I wonder how readers looking for romance will react to it. I have suspicion that Dead in L.A.‘s cover might have been too strong on the mystery element for the average m/m reader. When I do covers for my self-published books I have the freedom to create something different then the usual m/m fare, but from the perspective of sales it might not be the best thing to do. I’ll have to keep experimenting with this.
My next book with Samhain is Secrets and Ink, the cover of which was designed by Angie Waters. It’s very sexy.
I really enjoyed Dead in LA and along with Spirit Sanguine, you used the multiple case/mystery format to move the story along. Will you talk about where you were inspired by that style and why you wanted to try it out? Or was it specific to these sets of characters?
Spirit Sanguine was the first book I wrote that way. Originally it was going to be one novella but I soon realized that my protagonists had too much backstory to wrap it all up so quickly.
I’m a big fan of Marshall Thornton’s Boystown mysteries and they gave me the idea to use the episodic story structure. Some readers compared them to TV shows, and I’m cool with that.
The great advantage of this format for me is that I can have a longer book by stringing several individual but related stories together. I tend to write lean and having a 50,000 word story for me is an achievement.
I’m working on it right now and plan to publish it in September. Yay!
Also, let us know what you have in the works for the rest of the year, and if possible, 2014.
I’ll possibly have a short story in an anthology this summer. The book will be—if everything goes according to plan—a follow up to Winter Warmers from 2011. Secrets and Ink is coming out in December. A sequel to Spirit Sanguine is tentatively scheduled for next summer, and at some point I’d like to write a sequel to Dead Man. So far, I have the title: Dead Man and the Army of Frogs. I’d also like to do a free short story with Denton and Bran this fall. Unfortunately, I’m a terribly slow writer with a tendency to procrastinate. Hell yeah, I get that! I love that title for Dead Man 2 🙂
Give us some links to where we can buy Dead Man and the Restless Spirits.
Buy at All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-deadmanandtherestlessspirits-1224987-145.html
Where can we find you?
Thank you Lou for visiting today and answering my questions 🙂
Glad to be here! Can I curl up and take a nap in this chair? Just pretend I’m a cat.
Cats are ALWAYS welcome… authors, only sometimes. But you make the cut, considering you’re interesting to talk to 😉
ahhhh, but that’s not all. Lou had a question for me.
Since we are at Q&A, let me give you a question I’m itching to ask all my male readers: What’s your take on women writing gay sex?
It’s become commonplace to me now. You know, I did find it a little strange at first because no one introduced me to m/m romance, I happened to find it all on my own. And that was also when the majority of the pseudonyms were still either neutral, initials, or very obviously male-named. I just assumed that the majority of authors were men. I can’t remember when I found out that wasn’t the case, probably when I started reading blogs. But I remember being totally thrown at the time! But, I will say that for the most part it was because of my assumption, which meant that I had to face up to the fact that it really didn’t matter one way or another! Plus, back when I read primarily literary fiction, I always really loved it when a male author could so deeply, emotionally make me connect with a female protagonist. The leap to gay sex wasn’t that far 😉
And now… let me ask you, readers — Do you have a particular favorite book from Lou Harper? Is there any review in particular you’re looking forward to this week?
Note: My review of Dead Man and the Restless Spirits will be up later today.
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Dead Man and the Restless Spirits. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Friday, June 28. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck!