Today we will introduce to you Kaje Harper. Kaje calls Minnesota home and believes in real men, real life, and real love. Kaje focuses on writing m/m romance, with a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp. If you want to join her and all the other amazing authors in Munich, you can find more info on the Euro Pride Con website and register HERE!
Among all commenters of this tour, we will randomly draw one winner for a $25 voucher to a book retailer of their choice 🙂
Now, without further ado, … MEET KAJE HARPER!
Can an Introvert Learn to Love Conventions?
I’m going to answer that with a loud “Yes!”
I’m not usually comfortable in groups of people, and I tend to avoid them. Except that at M/M Romance conventions, these are my people. I’ve been to three such events now, and found that there is real joy in meeting writers and readers and sharing time in this community, even for someone as shy as me. Not only can I do this, I can love it!
So, this year, I’m going to head out across the pond, to Munich, Germany, and the Euro Pride Con, on July 11 and 12. This is the inaugural year for this con, and I’m excited to be part of it.
I remember watching with envy and a little wistfulness when the GayRomLit retreat had their first M/M reader-writer event in New Orleans in October, 2011. I’d published a couple of books by then, and was peeking out from behind my computer monitor at the world of those who were reading and celebrating and writing the books I also loved. I’d commented a bit on Goodreads, read some blogs. But I was very shy and decided I didn’t dare venture out into a setting like that with real live people.
What we heard online, reported back from New Orleans that fall, was partly about the fun, the meet-ups, and parties. But what caught my eye was the way everyone talked about the simple joy of hanging out with others who would smile when they saw two guys kiss. I saw people expressing the pleasure of being able to celebrate love in all its wonderful varieties, of bringing gay and lesbian spouses, of being able to say who they were, what they enjoyed, and not being judged, not being eyed sideways. They celebrated coming together as part of a larger community, instead of reading and writing in a little isolated bubble which their real-world acquaintances didn’t share or understand.
And I wanted to be part of that.
The next year, I decided to go to GayRomLit as a reader. By then, I had a dozen published works, but I was still the same quiet introvert who didn’t want to be noticed. I figured I’d hang out on the edges, listen to other people, and enjoy the acceptance of being with 400 people who all love M/M. I registered. I went to Albuquerque. And I did have to work myself up to joining in the fun.
The opening reception was crowded and people were greeting each other with exuberance. I really needed a friend with me, to encourage me to go in and sit down, except I’d come by myself… So I found a dark corner and wondered if I’d made a mistake. Then someone I’d barely met once in Minnesota spotted me hiding in a hallway, and became that friend. He sat with me, and put me at ease, and introduced me to more people. Over the next few days I made more friends. I was caught by surprise the first time someone saw my name-tag, and started telling me they loved my books, but they had wonderful, insightful things to say. I stopped flipping my name tag over to hide it.
The three and a half days of the con flew by. There were times it was too much and I hid in my room for an hour or two. I didn’t stay late at the parties, although each time I found others who also wanted to stand back, watch the extroverts dance, and talk books. Mostly, I felt excited and happy and almost high.
These were my people; this was a place where the guys I write could have been as out and as happy and as social as they chose. We talked about Adrien and Jake, Vadim and Dan, Ty and Zane, Kabe and Deputy Joe, and we all knew who we meant. There were couples of all kinds, and groups who might or might not be more, and no one was judging. There were out-loud readings of gay love and sex scenes in a hotel bar, and the staff smiled and helped adjust the sound system. There were authors sitting next to me, whose books had taken me through tough moments, and they were willing to talk about the work I loved. Amy Lane saw me, knew who I was, and hugged me! (By the way, I’m bad at names, but I’m pretty good with hugs, should I meet any of you.)
Not everything goes smoothly at events like this. People are human, tastes vary, equipment fails at inopportune moments, and sometimes it’s too loud for us introverts in the crowd. But every year that I’ve gone, I’ve come away energized, inspired, with new friends, and a sense of hope. While GayRomLit is the only con that I’ve attended, I’m sure that the M/M reader-writer spirit that I appreciated in Albuquerque, in Atlanta, and in Chicago will also be part of the Euro Pride Con in Munich this summer.
Of course, fiction is fiction. First we entertain and engage, with the written words of our stories. The cons are all about the books—the craft and art of writing, and the characters, plots and themes. In formal sessions, in hallways, at parties and at meals, we all found those worth discussing, and celebrating. Each year, I shared long talks that were satisfying, informative, and great fun. I found new authors to read, and new ideas to try. I learned more about my craft, and got tips from readers and experienced writers.
But in this genre, we’re also helping to build support and community, and the kind of world we want to see. My days spent at cons have been a shot of optimism that sent me home energized. Our genre is growing. Our community is growing. And even an introvert like me can be inspired and feel less isolated after sharing time with my fellow M/M fans.
I can’t wait for Munich!
Rebuilding Year Book 2 is Life, Some Assembly Required – release date is June 9th from Samhain Publishing
Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Don’t make Fate laugh.
After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, redheaded landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow.
For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.
For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.
Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes…
Blurb: A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.
Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.
John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.
It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.
Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew up, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment she had, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.
Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn’t have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, Life Lessons, which was released in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels available on Smashwords and elsewhere. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.
Books by Kaje Harper:
The “Life Lessons” mystery series (novels from MLR Press): Life Lessons, And To All a Good Night, Getting It Right, Breaking Cover, Home Work, Compensations, Learning Curve
The “Hidden Wolves” paranormal series (novels from MLR Press): Unacceptable Risk, Unsettled Interlude, Unexpected Demands, Unwanted Appeal, Unjustified Claims
Contemporary novels from Samhain Publishing: The Rebuilding Year, Sole Support, coming soon – Life, Some Assembly Required (Rebuilding Year 2)
Free books on Smashwords and other retailers: Into Deep Waters, Like the Taste of Summer, Nor Iron Bars a Cage, Lies and Consequences, Show Me Yours, Laser Visions, The Family We’re Born With
Self-published novels: The Family We Make, Second Act
A complete list with links can be found at http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/books/
Here is the schedule for Week One ❤
TODAY: Kaje Harper (Author) on Rainbow Gold Reviews.
March 8th: Marc Fleischhauer (Euro Pride Con Organizer and LGBT Blog Owner) on Love Bytes.