Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Harper Jewel – Harper Jewel lives in northeast New Jersey with her husband and college-age daughter. She has two cats, enjoys reading, and taking trips to Walt Disney World. With her outgoing personality and vivid imagination, she can create characters and plots that are believable as well as memorable.
Thanks so much, Harper, for joining me!
Harper is giving away a $5.00 Amazon gift card and one e-book copy (.mobi, .epub, .pdf) of any of her previous M/M titles: MIRROR OF OBSESSION, HEAD GAME, SANTA’S NAUGHTY ELF.
For a chance to win, comment on this post below.
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Harper Jewel: A friend and multi-published author once suggested I try to use more dialogue rather than narrative. When I did, the benefits of doing so jumped off the page at me. I felt that the dialogue pulled the reader in more than narrative did and engaged them far more. I discovered a conversation between two characters could be used to convey the tone/message/setting/emotional condition of the characters just as effectively, if not more, than straight narrative. I’ve stuck with that style ever since.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
HJ: My first published work, VIRGIN PREY, was a paranormal tale about bird-of-prey shifters and their species hidden in plain sight here on Earth. My main characters were a male/female couple, and I labeled it paranormal erotica due to the heavy emphasis on sex. When I read it today, I can easily see how much I have expanded and grown as a writer. My style back then was very different from today’s style.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
HJ: I have several fantasy realms I could easily picture myself living in: the realm of the Shadowhunters created by author Cassandra Clare in the YA series THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS had me hooked from the first book. I loved the paranormal elements with the touch of science fiction and now record every TV episode on the DVR.
The world created by author Lev Grossman in THE MAGICIANS is another of my favorites, and the television series has not disappointed me. Being magical has been a recurring theme in my sleeping dreams. This might be due to the fact that two of my aunts and a niece are Wiccan.
Put me in any of the Marvel Universe’s innumerable settings and I’ll be happier than a pig in sh**. I never read any of the comic books, but I devour every movie and television show based on ANY of Stan Lee’s creations.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
HJ: Without a doubt, my Kryptonite is my lack of self-confidence where my writing is concerned. I hem and haw over my final manuscript, and before I know it, time has flown by and I have nothing ready to publish. I need to get to the stage where I tell myself, “It’s time to turn this over to the editor. No more procrastinating.” I’m hoping this will happen with my current WIP. Fingers crossed!
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
HJ: I do use a pen name/pseudonym. The main reason behind this decision: my mother, an avid reader, and her circle of friends. While Mom doesn’t read erotica, her friends do—I heard all about their discussions of Fifty Shades! Because Mom didn’t wish to have folks find out that her then 48-year-old daughter wrote “smut.” Her words, NOT mine. 🙂 🙂 🙂
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names?
HJ: Our cat Squiggles, a.k.a. Pippy loved sitting on my closed laptop. Sadly, she has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Midnight, aptly named after my daughter’s 2005 black Webkinz cat, feels it necessary to walk across the keyboard if I’m not giving him the attention he thinks he needs at that precise moment. Princess Dustie, on the other hand, like Pippy before her, loves to sit on the closed laptop. I may get aggravated at Midnight, but it never lasts for long if he gives me that “I’m sorry, mommy” look. Anyone with pets will certainly know that look. 🙂
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
HJ: Yes, I do read my book reviews, even those on Goodreads. The reviews that offer constructive criticism, I take to heart and use them to improve my writing. Those reviews that lean toward simple criticism, I ignore and chalk them up to a person who’s unable to say anything nice or constructive about anything. Thanking those reviewers who leave a glowing review is something I always do.
JSC: How long have you been writing?
HJ: I always wrote stories, even as a child. In fact, my mom has saved a few. I wrote about my stuffed animals and their lives. LOL In 2010, I discovered the world of Role Play and joined several groups, where I played both female and male characters. In 2012, at the suggestion of my all-time favorite author, Kate Douglas, I gave serious writing a try. There have been quite a few setbacks (i.e., publishers going out of business), but I write for my pleasure as well as the pleasure of my readers and will continue until I conk out. 😉
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
HJ: That’s a tough one. I think I’m a little of both. I start with a main idea; write down my thoughts and sometimes an outline. Once I start writing, all bets are off the table. Regardless of what I’ve written down, my characters have other ideas sometimes. If I don’t listen to them, I hear them in my sleep. They don’t stop until I make the necessary changes that they demand.
JSC: How did you deal with rejection letters?
HJ: I deal with rejection letters the same way I deal with negative reviews. The only difference: rejection letters sometimes do come with constructive criticism on ways to improve. Regardless of the tone of the rejection letter, I put it in a file and submit the manuscript to the next publisher on my list. Unfortunately, with the closure of so many publishing houses, I am leaning heavily on self-publishing all future books. My goal: to finally have one of my books in print as well as e-book format.
JSC: What are you working on now?
HJ: Back in 2016, I wrote down a few ideas for a Science Fiction story that takes place in another Stellar System with humanoid aliens and their fight against extinction. I pulled that quasi-outline out and made several changes to it—a grudge between two distinctly different species, two main male characters, and a plot filled with plenty of angst. Still untitled, I have close to 10,000 words done. So far, my characters are leading the way, thus making the writing go very smoothly. Due to some health issues with a member of my family, I’ve had to pause this story’s progress, but I will be able to pick it up very soon. The Plumarians and Jadelings anxiously await. 🙂
Thank you to Scott for having me today!
And now for Harper’s new book: Ripping Off the Mask:
Thirteen years after high schooler Cooper Brandt suffered a life-altering tragedy, Newark Police Sergeant Cooper Brandt suffers yet another earthshaking misfortune while on duty. As a result, he lets the mask he donned because of his first grief-filled setback slip. When overwhelming guilt consumes him for a second time, an unexpected, and oftentimes unwanted, helping hand tries to force him into making a choice: face his demons and rip the mask off, or continue living a lie while his facade stays put.
Upon his move to New Jersey, aqua therapist Dr. Westley James meets his toughest patient yet when a snarly police sergeant accuses him of duplicity at the start of their first session. When he discovers the reason for Cooper’s ornery attitude, an odd, empty feeling he’s lived with for as long as he can remember begins to fill in like missing pieces of a puzzle.
As a fragile relationship between Cooper and Westley grows, an unhinged sociopath threatens to ruin everything. Will fate force the emotionally bruised sergeant to fasten his mask on even more tightly or will the couple’s blooming love and partnership be strong enough to help Cooper rip his mask off for good?
They made their first stop at Dunkin’, and as promised, Silvio ran inside while Coop remained in the police vehicle. A few minutes later, with coffees in hand, he returned to the squad car and handed Cooper his iced coffee—black, no milk, no sugar.
“Thanks, Sil. Did you get your regular?”
“Sure did. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Because you might surprise me and forgo the coffee-milk you favor and go with something different for a change.”
Silvio stared blankly at his partner. “Coffee-milk?”
“Come on, you can’t possibly call what you have in your hand coffee. You tell the baristas to give you a medium but put it in a large cup and then ask them to add at least a full cup of milk to it. Seriously, man, how hot can it be after that? And why would you want to drink something even remotely warm when it’s already close to eighty degrees outside?”
“I don’t like my coffee too hot, but I don’t like it iced either. Besides, haven’t you heard that milk does a body good?” Silvio shrugged and gave his partner a smug, tooth-baring grin.
Coop burst into laughter. “You’re such a dork.”
“At the risk of sounding too dorky, suck it up, buttercup. You’re stuck with me. So you keep your end of the bargain and drive since I did the buying.”
Cooper laughed. “Real food’s a priority. My stomach’s sick and tired of turkey bacon and turkey burgers. Your offer doesn’t sound half bad. I’d like the company and the food. I’m sure Fernando’s Steak House delivers. We can talk about the case while we eat.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll get your bags from the car and be right back.”
“Hey! I’m not a fucking invalid, ya know. I still have one arm that can do the heavy lifting. I’ll have to find places for all those damn plants the folks at Kessler wouldn’t let me leave behind.”
Dan’s laughter rang out as he headed back out of Cooper’s apartment. “Come on, Coop. Admit it, you enjoyed the attention.”
“I’d much rather enjoy the attention of a woman with curves in all the right places.” Cooper made curving motions with his hands as he joked and followed Cole out to the car.
“You’re laying it on a bit thick, Coop.”
“Shut up, Sil!”
Dan looked over his shoulder at Cooper. “You and me both, man. I have a serious case of blue balls from lack of use.”
“No hot women falling all over you?”
“Not lately, no. I haven’t been really looking, though.”
“Hmm… Maybe you simply need to get out more.”
Harper Jewel lives in northeast New Jersey with her husband and college-age daughter. She has two cats, enjoys reading, and taking trips to Walt Disney World. With her outgoing personality and vivid imagination, she can create characters and plots that are believable as well as memorable.
Although she began writing male/female romance/erotica, she has finally found her niche in Gay Romance. She thoroughly enjoys her male characters as they speak to her quite loudly while proving love is love. She is proud to have the honor of being the first M/M author accepted at the now-closed Lush Publishing.
In addition to her writing, she’s expanded her skills to include formatting for Smashwords Premium Catalog, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, & Amazon.
In September 2015, she created Slippery Fingers Press & Publishing Services. She uses the company name for self-publishing as well as her formatting jobs and occasional editing jobs.
Ripping Off the Mask, her first full-length novel, published by Loose Id is now available at most e-book retailers.
To find out more about Harper Jewel, visit her website at www.harperjewel.com.