Thanks to review requests we sometimes discover little gem of stories and new favourite authors and that’s what happened to me when I had the chance of crossing paths with Lily Harlem‘s first novel in her steamy hockey players series, Hired. I knew she was an author I should keep my eyes on and since then she has proven me right. I loved her latest release That Filthy Book so much that it became a favourite book of 2012 (you can read my detailed review here)! So I am very happy that I could sit down with Lily and get to know her and her novels better. Please join me in welcoming Lily Harlem to Book Lovers Inc! (and you could also grab a free hot story, read the details below)
Stella: Hi Lily, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Lily: Thanks so much for having me, it’s great to be here. A little about me, well I’m English and I live in a very rural part of the UK, not far from the beach, with my husband and a host of rescued pets. Before I took up writing I worked in a trauma unit in London, life was pretty fast and adrenaline soaked back then so now I’m enjoying a slower pace of life.
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Lily: I’ve never been a morning person, but now, with writing full time, I find that when I wake up I have a pile of ideas (dialogue, scenes, character’s emotions) all desperate to get out. So often I sit and write for a couple of hours, munching toast in my pajamas before the dogs start complaining that they wants their walk on the beach.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Lily: Mmm, maybe a real book lover is someone who will bypass real life to immerse themselves in their latest read, misses the characters when the book is finished and lives by the mantra ‘the best place in the world to be is in the middle of a good book’.
Stella: You have penned a few dozens of erotic romance/erotica stories, what attracted you to this genre? What makes it special?
Lily: The genre found me to be honest. I was doing a creative writing course and penning all sorts of stories, when I came across a competition for erotic fiction. I decided to have a go, thinking it would broaden my repertoire, and came up with Madam President (a raunchy short story about the first female president of the United States having an affair with the British Prime Minister – you can read it for FREE on my website). I was completely thrilled when I won first place and from then on I was completely hooked! So yes, the genre found me.
Why is the erotic romance/erotica genre special? Well because it deals with a part of all of our lives that isn’t always talked about openly and comfortably. We are all interested in sex and the sexual side of relationships and these books satisfy that need by describing and addressing not just the physical acts, but the emotional needs and wants that go with them.
Stella: You recently released an erotica novel co-written with Natalie Dae, called That Filthy Book (which I loved!), can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Lily: That Filthy Book is a wild ride about a couple re-discovering what it once was that had them ripping off each other’s clothes, panting for breath and crying out for more. It is honest, gritty and deals with all the emotional layers of this journey from the protagonist, Karen’s, point of view.
Stella: And speaking of co-authoring, how did the idea to co-write this book come to you? And how does it work in reality when two authors are writing a book together?
Lily: Natalie and I live a couple of hours from one another and when we met up for the first time, over an egg sandwich and a cup of tea, we soon started talking about a co-author. We were on the same wavelength with what we wanted out of our writing – fun, passion, characters that we could really connect with and get inside of. But it was several weeks later before we got going. Nat wrote a first chapter, sent it over to see what I thought, she wasn’t sure whether to carry on with it, but I loved it – ‘Please let me write the next bit’ I begged – and that was it, we were off!
The best way to describe how we write together is like that game you play as a kid with a bit of paper, one person draws the head, folds it over, the next the neck and so on until you have a crazy creation. That Filthy Book isn’t a crazy creation, but it is an intense and incredibly sexy read that pushes lots of boundaries within a safe, consensual relationship. I think we felt braver, writing together, and also bounced off one another, I know for one I was desperate to see how she had left the end of each of her sections for me to pick up from. So did it work us writing together – yes, very much so. Our next co-author, Anything For Him, will be published by Harper Collins later in the year, we have a full length ménage novel (Good Cop, Bad Cop) due out later this month on Amazon, and starting today, you can grab a copy of More, a short erotic story, for your Kindle, for FREE at Amazon.
Stella: The hero and heroine of That Filthy Book are a married couple. Did you find it a challenge to show that even couples who have been together for more than 10 years and have kids and live the family next door in the suburbs life can have a story as sexy as a man and a woman who are just discovering each other and their sexuality?
Lily: No, I don’t think it was a challenge for us, I think it was something we both felt compelled to shout about. We had it inside of us. We’ve both been married for over ten years, as have millions of other women, and this was something that needed to be said. Yes, the first flush of passion and getting to know a new partner is fun, but there is something so very soul baring and raw-boned about telling a life long lover about a dark or depraved desire. Surely that person’s disgust or revolt would hurt more than any physical hurt. There is so much more to lose if things go wrong, yet at the same time, it is so much safer to experiment with someone who knows you and loves you already.
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to That Filthy Book? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters that didn’t end up in the final version)
Lily: Mmm, okay, we had a wobble just before publication on Jacob’s name. Because of Twilight it has become a bit of a no-go in terms of a character name. We toyed with a couple of others, but in the end we just couldn’t do it. We had written him as Jacob and that was it. He couldn’t be anyone else, we had such a clear vision of him and his character, to change his name, for us, would have detracted from who he was.
Stella: Can you summarize That Filthy Book for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Lily: Years ago that filthy book imprinted in my erotic subconscious. Now it’s reared its head to drag me along for the dirtiest ride of my life.
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read That Filthy Book?
Lily: If you like to read smokin’ hot, kinky sex with all the emotions that go with the acts before, during and after.
If you have a long term relationship, or hope to have one, and want inspiration for keeping your sex life buzzing and the chandeliers swinging!
If, like Karen, you’ve read erotica and wonder what it would be like to act out the scenes in real life.
Stella: Your novels range from sensual romances to scorching hot erotica, how do you decide what level of steaminess one story requires? Do you have a favourite level of raciness?
Lily: How do I decide? Mmm, well I suppose if the book is one of a set/series, like my HOT ICE novels, I keep them all a similar heat level. Though when starting a new book I go with the theme and the characters and how it develops for them. If the theme for example is ‘whore fantasy’ as in Dangerous to Know (out later this year at Ellora’s Cave) then there is no romance at all, that is what my character wants. But a book like Scored, about the English football captain and a very lucky sports journalist, whilst explicit, the characters are meeting and falling in love and I enjoyed their budding romance and their journey to the bedroom so that is a large focus of the book. It was also fun showing the heroes dominant side off the pitch as well as on it so I had a bit of extra fun there, but it’s definitely a romance with the bedroom door left open as opposed to erotica where the theme of the story is the sex.
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?
Lily: Gosh, still lots coming up this year. I mentioned my next co-authors Anything For Him and Good Cop, Bad Cop. I have two more novels in my HOT ICE series – a ménage called Teamwork and a m/m called High-Sticked. Dangerous to Know, a short erotic novella, and at Sweetmeats Press an illustrated erotic story that will be part of an anthology.
I am also working on my first paranormal, which was going to be a short story, but has now stretched into a full length novel and will probably have a sequel!
Stella: Wow, you sure are a very prolific author, how do you do it? Does inspiration come to you all the time or do you have a rigourous writing schedule? What is your secret?
Lily: Yes, I do write a lot, I have to, I’ve got bills to pay! But I love it, it really is a consuming addiction of mine and if I don’t write I get the shakes –LOL-. I try and look at it as a nine to five job, though the hours blur, especially if Mr H is away on business – because then I sit up really late writing.
I make myself a to-do list. I know roughly how fast I can hammer out 60,000 words so I can schedule with editors when I can get something to them. I also have to account for beta reading, that is give and take, so if someone has beta read a ms of mine, I have to make the time to return the favour. But I enjoy that too, so it’s not a chore. Working on promotion takes up a lot of time, but again, I enjoy it so it’s not an issue.
Inspiration, if I’m lacking inspiration, which isn’t often, the next two or three books are usually stacked up in my brain waiting their turn, then I just get on with real life for a bit. I find inspiration comes from all kinds of places, one of the best ones was for my ménage novel, Shared, I saw an advert in the letting section of the local paper ‘Room to let – wanted girl to share’ and that was it, I was off on a story of two hunky guys that really did want a girl to share in every sense of the word!
Stella: What advice would you give to readers who haven’t read any erotica stories yet, how, with what should they dip their toes in the steamy waters?
Lily: You could start with the classics like The Story of O or anything by Anais Nin, though they are a bit heavy. The other alternative is to head over to one of the big erotic romance retailers like Ellora’s Cave or Total-E-Bound and check out their FREE section. Most authors, including myself, offer short stories at no charge so readers can get a sense of voice before dipping into their wallets.
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Lily: Oh, okay, let me think. How about I used to be a competitive gymnast and my preferred apparatus was the balance beam. Not sure why because I hate heights, and I hate falling even more. But I loved that beam, had great balance and my father even made me one in the garden to practice on!
Thanks so much for inviting me over to chatter today, and don’t forget to go grab yourself a copy of MORE the short erotic story I have FREE on Amazon this week. It has a bonus extra of the first 2 chapters of That Filthy Book at the end.
Many years ago that filthy book imprinted itself in my erotic subconscious. Now it’s reared its head and is about to drag me along for the dirtiest ride of my life.
Out of sight, out of mind. Or so I thought, but it turns out an old, dog-eared book with contents so filthy and so depraved that I’d been forced to hide it after reading, has sank deeper into my erotic subconscious than I’d ever imagined. Luckily though, Jacob is up for exploring the new side of me that has risen to the surface after all these years.
In a whirlwind of wanton adventures that push us to the limits of our sexuality, we begin to re-discover what it once was that had us screaming with pleasure and how to accept that nothing will ever be the same again between us.
Reader Advisory: This book contains bondage, BDSM and an element of dubious consent within a consensually acted out rape scenario.
Find out more or connect with Lily at: