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Interview with Molly Harper

by Michele Lee

 

Molly Harper is the author of How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf and The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf, as well as several other paranormal and contemporary romances.

 

ML: Our site primarily focuses on a librarian/educator audience. In the spirit of that, could you start by telling us if there have been any important librarians or teachers that have inspired you?

MH: I probably wouldnít be a published author without the English teachers I had throughout high school.  My English teachers helped me polish my style and develop my voice. My freshman year, Mr. Werner asked us to write a personal essay. He compared my entry to an Erma Bombeck column.  After I looked up Erma Bombeck and realized that was a compliment, I became interested in newspapers and feature writing. I eventually majored in journalism in college and worked as a newspaper reporter for years before I started writing novels. 

And bless the librarians.  I spent more lunch breaks in the library than I did in the cafeteria.  Mrs. Metzger, my high school librarian, always had a kind word and a new title for me.  And she never judged my obsession with Barbara Michaels.

 

ML: Vampires and werewolves are traditionally the realm of horror tales, what made you want to write about them?

MH: I have always been interested in the paranormal.  And as I became interested in scifi/monster movies and TV (of varying degrees of quality), I always loved the stuff that mixed humor and horror.  I loved Buffy and Angel, because the dialogue was sharp and hilarious, even in the super-dark episodes.  So when Buffy went off the air, I went into mourning, of sorts. I needed a snarky vampire presence in my life.  And I was at a point where every time I walked into a bookstore, I was unhappy because I didnít have any titles on the shelf.  I wasnít going to be happy until I did.  And we were living in apartment where something exploded or disintegrated every night, so I was going nuts. Those three needs merged and the Jane books were born.

 

And it was natural that my vampire character was a librarian. The local public library was right next door to my office, so I spent a lot of time at the branch and got to know the librarians well.  They were a funny, snarky bunch.

 

ML: There's a slice of horror fandom that really resents romance "intruding" on their tropes. What do you think the difference, if any, is between those who grew up on Dracula and Wolfman versus those growing up on Edward Cullen and more benevolent werewolves like Cooper and Maggie from your books?

MH: I think thereís room in the genre for everybody. The monsters of old were a little more black and white in terms of their evil tendencies.  Modern readers are more accustomed to characters that are dark, but redeemable.  Professor Snape, Batman, Angel, Spike, even Dexter.   We want to believe thereís a little bit of good in everybody, that anyone can love and be loved.  But ultimately, I think we all just love a good story.

ML: So then, why Alaska?

MH: In 2009, a thrashing, bashing ice storm landed on western Kentucky with both feet.  I slept on a mattress in my in-laws' living room with my infant and five-year-old, while my husband supervised 12-hour emergency shifts down at the police department.  We had no power, no heat, and by the end of the week, we were getting desperate. (And stinky.) I needed to focus on something else, so I wrote notes for a werewolf story.  The dark, cold claustrophobic feelings made me wonder how someone who was used to warm, Southern weather would feel living in the Great North. This led to 20 pages of (long-hand) notes, which led to How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf.

ML: What's your favorite werewolf book?

MH: Dead and Loving It by Mary Janice Davidson.

ML: What is harder to get "right" in your books, the romantic tension, the humor or the mystery?

MH: The mystery.  Humor comes very naturally to me.  And I always enjoy building romance into a story.  My mystery-plotting skills on the other hand, wellÖ  I am fortunate to have a very patient editor.

ML: Is there any other genre or "monster" you'd like to try your hand at?

MH: Ghosts.  I really want to try a ghost/haunted house story.  But Iím working on creating a backstory thatís scary enough.  Sometimes when I read/see a ghost story, I end up underwhelmed by the reasons behind the haunting.  Iím picky and I wouldnít want to disappoint my readers.

ML: Is there any kind of book you could never write?

MH: Zombies.  Even the TV-edited versions of funny zombie movies give me horrible nightmares. That Walking Dead show on AMC makes channel surfing a very sketchy proposition.  I thought reading about them would be easier, so I read Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesÖ and picturing the scenes in my head made it ten times worse.  So I would probably write the cleanest, softest, lamest zombie book ever.  

ML: You say the 2009 ice storm if not inspired your Grundy books, definitely motivated you when it came to writing them. Is there anything else about Kentucky that has inspired you?

MH: The people.  Obviously, the characters in my books are slightly exaggerated, but a good portion of the human weirdness can actually be found in my hometown.  The school bus crash derbies.  The men who go to the grocery store wearing overalls, but no shirt.  The bizarre combination of foods that constitute funeral casseroles. (Hot Dog Bake is a real thing.)

One day, I was sitting at a stop light and a truck pulled up next to me. It was covered in a camouflage motif of hand-spraypainted stenciled leaves.  I thought, ďI will never run out of book material.Ē

ML: Where can a hot werewolf-hungry reader find more of your work? Will there be a third Grundy book?

MH: Well, they can read my Nice Girls series Ė Nice Girls Donít Have Fangs, Nice Girls Donít Date Dead Men, and Nice Girls Donít Live Forever. A fourth title, Nice Girls Donít Bite Their Neighbors, will be released in March 2012.  I also have non-paranormal title, And One Last Thing.  You can find them in print, e-book and audio book, wherever books are sold. And we have not reached an agreement with the publisher regarding a third werewolf title.

ML: Thank you Molly, for your time!

 

 

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