Studioenp: Silence or noise when writing?
Lily Harlem: Silence is golden!
Studioenp: Em’s maths teacher used to say that. He was a scary so and so. Now then, let’s get down to it. What’s your latest release?
Lily Harlem: Stowaways, the fourth book in my reverse harem series titled The Challenge.
Studioenp: Em loves these books. She’s a happy camper because she gets to read them first. She’s laughing manically here. Em? Em? Are you all right…? Blimey, she took quite a chortle turn there. Sounded quite evil. So, how did the plot come about for it?
Lily Harlem: Because Stowaways is a book in a series (best read in order), it’s part of a larger story arc. Though I’ll be honest, the title, which I came up with first, did shape the way this one went.
Studioenp: Yes, it just had to involve a boat with that title. Such a great story. And the kindness of the men in it… Em’s swooning like mad here. How long did it take you to write it?
Lily Harlem: Three weeks. As I write full time, this is my usual turnaround for a novel. I average 5k a day writing.
Studioenp: You’re so brilliant and dedicated! What’s next on your writing list?
Lily Harlem: The fifth book in The Challenge series, Breakaways. I’m two thirds of the way done with that now. I actually think it will be the last of Olivia’s adventures with her men—you read that here first!
Studioenp: Excited! Plotter or panster?
Lily Harlem: Panster every time. I just have an idea for a few characters, often a scene or two and a bit of dialogue, and I go. I couldn’t have come up with a five-novel series by plotting it all out first. I’d have changed it within chapters as new ideas and directions came to me.
Studioenp: Yes, that would have felt stifling to stick to a rigid plan. All the books read so fluidly, Em’s glad you’re a panster. So when the writing isn’t flowing, what’s your go-to form of procrastination?
Lily Harlem: Staring out of my study window, which is at the top of the house. I’m very lucky and have beautiful views of the Welsh countryside—rolling hills, a distant village, mature trees, big sky—and my mind drifts as I stare it. The fact we live on a hill really helps. I’ve also got a little summerhouse at the end of the garden; it’s mainly to sit and enjoy the peace—it’s a no-phone zone!—but sometimes, when it’s warm enough, I sit there and write. Watching the birds hop around is a great way to let my mind drift to other worlds.
Studioenp: Sounds lush. You should name the summerhouse a She Shed. Get a little sign made up proclaiming it as such. Keep everyone else out! How many hours per week do you write, then?
Lily Harlem: 30+. I do treat it as a full-time job, but I am on occasion distracted by trips to lunch with friends or to spend time with my parents.
Studioenp: Yay for friends and parents! What’s one genre you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t—and will you ever write it?
Lily Harlem: I used to say sci-fi, but I’ve written two sci-fi novels now (Master of Her World and Reckless), so probably children’s books. That’s not my thing at all. My work is definitely, without doubt, 18+.
Studioenp: No, can’t imagine you writing books for kids haha. What’s the best book you’ve written?
Lily Harlem: Them all! LOL. If I had to pick one, it would be Breathe You In, which is about a woman who falls for the guy who received her dead husband’s heart. I was inspired to write it years ago, when I was working as a nurse in a coronary care unit in London. There is something magical about the heart because of the way we believe it holds love. I really like the characters in Breathe You In; he’s tough and strong-willed, but also vulnerable, and she ends up in a very tricky situation which the reader can relate to as her attraction for him grows. It was named a USA Today Recommended Read of 2014. Find details of all my books on my website, and get a FREE ebook when you subscribe to my VIP Group.
Studioenp: Ooh, loved Breathe You In, says Em. THE BEST BOOK! See, she’s even shouting she loves it that much. Made her cry then sigh with happiness. Definitely a book with all the feels. Well, it’s been marvellous to have you with us, so good luck—not that you need it—with whatever you write next, and we look forward to reading it!