Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Interview of Lily Harlem, Author of 'Candy Canes and Coal Dust'

Scribal Love Welcomes Lily Harlem

Lily Harlem is an author of contemporary erotic romance. Her newest work ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ is available from Total-E-Bound.

What inspired you to write this book?

If I’m really honest I saw the call for submissions on www.erotica-readers.com.  Total-E-Bound wanted some super-hot Christmas stories so I set my imaginative cogs into action. I started by searching the recesses of my mind for a perfect location and remembered when I went to Finland on a ski trip. I hadn’t wanted to go originally but once I got there I was totally blown away by Finland’s magical beauty. The long dark days and the thick carpet of sparkling snow created such a unique atmosphere and everywhere I went it was so cozy and smelt so divine, although I have to admit I didn’t spend much time on the floodlit slopes – the sauna and bar kept calling!
Once I had the location in my mind I set about dreaming up my characters. I knew I wanted to write a ménage so it was fun to orchestrate the plot so Bridget got what she wanted for Christmas!
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write contemporary romance and often in the first person which is a little unusual for my genre. I also tend to write about places I know which means many of my stories are set in the UK since I lived here all my life. Although like ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ foreign places I’ve visited often star as locations.
In terms of plots I like something fast paced, plenty of dialogue to keep the story moving and of course lots of bedroom action! One reviewer wrote earlier in the year; which perhaps gives you a clue to my style – “From the first paragraph I knew I would enjoy reading ‘Shared’ by Lily Harlem. Harlem's prose and phrasing is artfully wrought and shocker…” (Night Owl Reviews)
What is the name of your latest book?  And how did you come up with the title?
‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ - the title came easy for this one (it doesn’t always). I was thinking about my heroine, Bridget and how she’s such a good, obliging girl. Always trying to do the right thing by everyone and hoping for sweet little Christmas presents. Until this year, this year, dumped and depressed she heads off on a solo holiday and ends up discovering that actually she’s not a good girl at all, in fact she’s so naughty, so bad and her secret desires are so filthy she doesn’t even deserve a lump of coal for Christmas – just the coal dust at the bottom of the sack. Needless to say she has a fabulous time, being naughty is always so much more fun than being good!
What is ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ about?
‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’ is a Lust Bite short story about a highly erotic, very public dream which shows Bridget what she really wants deep down. A fantasy she has never been able to admit– unfortunately for Bridget it’s also pretty clear to everyone else on board the flight from London to Levi what she wants!
Luckily for Bridget thought the hot, Irish guy sitting next to her proves to be very obliging in fulfilling her fantasy. That sounds like I am giving the story away, I’m not!

What books have most influenced your life most?

I adore Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters. To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Rings are top of my favorite list. In the genre I write I like Maya Banks, Kristina Lloyd and Lucy Monroe, from reading these three I developed a clearer understanding of writing erotica.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Probably out of the above Kristina Lloyd. Her book ‘Asking for Trouble’ is somewhat controversial, she puts the sex right there on the table amongst danger and criminal activity. One of her other novels ‘Split’ had me up all night reading. She really is a master of her game.
What books are you reading now?
I am reading ‘Best Women’s Erotica 2010’ edited by Violet Blue. I have a spankingly naughty story in it called ‘Stable Manners’, but there are seventeen other very hot stories which have been keeping me entertained!
What are your current projects?
I’m writing a series for Ellora’s Cave called ‘Hot Ice’ all about those bad boys of ice hockey and the women who tame them, or don’t as the case maybe. The first novel, ‘Hired’ is due out very soon. ‘Hot Ice’ is proving to be enormous fun. The sexy characters are getting it together, breaking up and making up all over the place. There’s just something about hockey players that really does it for me. (Phew! I get a little hot and flushed just thinking about them.) I’ve found myself getting so immersed in these full length novels that the housework, ironing, Christmas shopping etc. has really fallen by the wayside. I just can’t seem to drag myself away from my description of these hot, sexy men with their sticks and their pucks and their… see there I go again!
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I write every day now. Not all day, I do have a part time job to pay for bread, butter and wine, but I usually get a few hours a day to let my imagination run riot. It’s when I’m happiest, writing, and getting those words and stories out of my head is very cathartic. I get peace and quiet from my characters once I’ve got their scenes down on paper – or on a memory stick as the case maybe. It’s like they rest up and go to sleep once I’ve given them some attention. 
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Mmm, no not in the book itself, but it would be nice to write a sequel and see how it pans out for all the characters and maybe introduce a few more girls into the mix – I can’t say too much or I’ll give the end away. But yes, you’ve got me thinking now. Perhaps I will write the sequel ready for next Christmas, or even Easter.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Reading. I’ve always read and read and read. One day, several years ago, I finished reading a light romance, it was sweet, there was some sex and the characters were likeable and I remember thinking – I could do that – it was like a light bulb above my head.
Anyway, I had a go and it was terrible, like really, really bad. That’s when I realized writing was going to take a little more work than I thought. Not to be deterred by hard work I enrolled on a part time creative writing course at the local university and spent the next two years doing a whole range of weird and wonderful assignments. Eventually, when I felt I’d mastered the actual art of writing I had another go. The first story I wrote was called ‘Madam President’ an American inspired tale about the first female president of the US having a clandestine affair with the British Prime Minister (don’t worry, unlike in real life my fictitious PM is gorgeous!) I spotted a competition at Love Honey and added, as they requested, one of their sex toys into the story. I submitted and crossed my fingers that Love Honey would enjoy the naughty goings on in the Oval Office – they did! I won first place in the long story section! I was so happy to have my writing recognized and realized I’d definitely found my genre – you can read the award winning story for free by following the link on my website, it’s a hoot.
So, after my win I kept on writing and my sexy short stories proved to be a hit. I got accepted by several anthologies, kept on writing and writing and then the big publishers started saying yes, Total-E-Bound, Ellora’s Cave and Xcite. The rest, as they say, is history.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Apart from making the time to write I find the blurb incredibly difficult to come up with. It’s silly I know, but when I’ve had up to 80,000 word to tell a story I find squeezing the essential elements into a couple of hundred words has me banging my head against the wall. I write it all out, hit delete, re-write, hit delete, have a glass of wine, write, hit delete, eat chocolate, write, delete… you get the idea, not fun!!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Did I learn anything from writing ‘Candy Canes and Coal Dust’? Mmm, well, let’s see, I guess I’ve learnt I never want to have an erotic dream on a plane, especially since my resident hunk tells me I do talk and moan a lot in my sleep as it is!
Casting my mind back, as I was writing this first part of the story my toes were curling for poor Bridget – the whole plane can guess what she’s been dreaming about! Oh, cringe!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Okay, here goes, maybe I’m a bit kooky but this is what I do…

When writing dialogue just go for it, let it flow out of your fingers as fast as you would speak. Don’t even think about speech marks and punctuation, or if he is scratching his head and she’s licking her lips, you can add all that in afterwards – dialogue moves the story forward and if you can get it flowing naturally then you’re onto a winner.

Don’t get bogged down with adverbs, eg. he groaned ‘loudly’, she panted ‘heavily’, it’s considered much less lazy to write ‘his groans were loud in her ear’ or ‘her heavy pants filled the small space’. There’s usually a way to describe your scene better if you circle around the adverb and it will make the story meatier.

Let a story brew in your head. Have the idea, jot it down if you need to, and then sit quietly and play out the scenes like watching a film in your imagination. It will give you a clear picture of what you want to achieve in your writing and help you with the tiny details.

If the house is quiet make the most of the peace and get busy getting those words down. You can iron and dust and cook with everyone around chattering and demanding help with homework and lifts to friends and clubs. Writing, for me at least, requires silence, so silence has become a very valuable commodity in my life.

Incubate the final product. When it’s written tuck it aside, for a few days, longer if you can, then go back to it. I can guarantee you’ll spot silly mistakes, inconsistencies or simply find better word choices to slot in. There’s nothing worse than sending a manuscript off and then on a re-read seeing stupid errors. In fact now, when something has gone I refuse to look at it again unless it’s with an editor.

Thanks so much for having me, it’s been fun hanging out.

Lily x

You are Welcome Lily!  And thanks for dropping By!

You can find Lily on the web at:

And her book 'Candy Canes and Coal Dust' you can buy at: 


  1. Thanks so much for inviting me over, it's great to be here. Candy Canes and Coal Dust was fun to write and an excerpt (18+)is available on the buy page at Total-e-Bound.
    'Hired', my hot ice hockey novel has a new release date of the 17th of December so keep an eye on my website as I will be giving copies away.
    Do feel free to ask questions and leave comments, I'll be hanging around all day, although probably in a different time-zone to many of you! Snow is falling in the UK and it is soooo cold!!!

  2. Lily, I love your stuff. I just wish I had more time to read...and to write! I envy you your part-time job. Keep letting those characters talk, because without you, they have no life!

  3. Thanks for your kind comments Fiona.



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