First, let me take a moment to say welcome and thank you for being here today! It’s always a pleasure to have guests in the hot seat…erm, I mean interview chair.
Thank you for having me!
How long have you been writing?
My whole life. When I was a kid, when everyone else was outside playing soccer, I would be inside, hunched over a notebook. I had a giant box full of notebooks with short stories, outlines for novels, and blurbs for the 100+ books I intended to write someday. Then my family moved, and my parents threw the box away. That didn’t stop me. Look at me now, Ma!
What drew you to write M/M fiction?
In that box of stories I had when I was a child, I wrote a lot about alternative families – one parent households, stepfamilies, adoptive parents, friends who lived together and made families. I don’t think I ever wrote anything explicitly about gay couples, but looking back now that I’ve come out, it’s clear that the appeal of those stories for me was that they offered different ways of thinking about mom, dad, and kids. When I discovered that there was this stuff called m/m romance, I was like, Yes! This is what I’ve been waiting for! Probably a lot of writers and readers came to m/m for the same reason that I did – to see ourselves reflected on the page, but way hotter. Way, way hotter.
Is there an underlying theme in your stories?
Everyone is sexier than I am.
“They” tell us that writers should write what they know—do you think that’s true?
The older I get, the more I can appreciate how my life experiences inform what I write and how I write. Wisdom, insight, and personal experience definitely make a difference in writing. But I don’t think we have to limit ourselves to only writing what we’ve lived through. “What we know” might be about emotional truth, for example. If a writer does enough research and brings enough emotional truth to the story, then it doesn’t have to be a story about something the writer has personally encountered. If we only ever wrote what we know, we’d have a lot fewer stories about werewolves and vampires. (At least, I hope these stories aren’t written from personal experience!)
How much of your real life experiences go into your writing? Are you inspired by people you know or your own experiences?
All the time. Every character I write is an amalgamation of me, my ideal lover, and people I know. While plots aren’t typically taken from my real life, some minor incidents are. In fact, a few of my friends made me read part of The Hollywood Version (my first published novel) aloud to them, and there’s one moment where the protagonist, in the face of a break-up, does something that came right out of my last break-up. It was really hard to read that out loud.
But nothing I write is that literally pulled from my life. I find inspiration everywhere – people on the train, weird things I think about while I’m in line for coffee, little nooks and crannies in Chicago that I’ve never seen before, even though I’ve lived here a long time. I found this spot by the river the other day and thought, This would be the perfect place for a secret rendezvous. But who are these guys that they have to meet in secret by the river? And a story was born.
Do you have a favorite character (of your own creation)? What makes that character special to you?
Okay, totally narcissistic reveal here, but the characters I’m most in love with tend to resemble me the most. In terms of their thoughts and feelings, anyway. They’re always smarter and sexier than I am. But I can fall in love with characters pretty easily. Even people you wouldn’t necessarily like in real life, you can fall in love with on the page if a writer has done his work making the character’s hopes and dreams real.
What about your current book, who’s your favorite character in that one?
I’m currently working on a story about three men who meet a bisexual speed dating event. I’m in love with each of them, and I love the relationship any two of them have. I also love the dynamics of the three of them together. The guys are so different. Henry is older and more reserved, and he tries so desperately to figure out what he’s supposed to do now that he’s back in the dating scene, but he keeps failing miserably. He’s so loveable because he doesn’t get it. Drew, the second guy, is a chatterbox with a heart of gold and a very liberal attitude toward sex. I like that he’s willing to sleep with anyone, anytime – he’s very sex positive – but he does it in this way that doesn’t feel sleazy at all. He has this belief that you have to be in love with someone, even just for the few minutes you’re together, in order for sex to work. I’d sleep with him in a heartbeat. The third guy doesn’t have a name yet (although you can weigh in here). He’s young, hotheaded, and thinks he’s always right. He’s perceptive and wise, and understands everything about everyone – except himself. He’s adorable.
What are you reading now?
I’m working my way through Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop series. I was hesitant at first because although I like sci fi on television and in movies, I don’t generally read it. But I’m totally enamored with Vic, the protagonist. He’s an imperfect character, and I think those are often the easiest guys to fall in love with. The world of the series is also interesting. It’s our world, with some secrets exposed. And it’s set in Chicago. I’m a sucker for anything set in Chicago.
You can read an excerpt of Harry’s work in progress on his blog. Be sure to leave a comment there for a chance to win a short story written exclusively for you. You can also follow Harry on Twitter at @HarryKMalone.