Ms. Fifty Shades of Gay
By Madeline Iva
Hi readers! Today Daisy Harris is with me to chat about her erotic romance oeuvre. ;>
Daisy Harris, as her fans know, has two distinct bodies of work in writing erotic romance. She used to write for the futurist (Aeon) category of Ellora’s Cave. Her books were full of sexy Frankenstein characters she called “Steins” and love-bots. Now she’s switched (for the moment at least) to writing m/m erotic romance. Her latest work, MY FAIR DORK was published by Siren, and just released on October 13th.
MADELINE IVA: Daisy, how did you start writing erotic romance?
DAISY HARRIS: I’m a big fan of Jeanienne Frost, Larissa Ione, and Nalini Singh, and when I set out to write fiction, I decided to imitate the way they wrote. Particularly Larissa Ione. I totally wanted to be her! It took me a while to realize that I can’t write dark very well, and I do better when the humor comes more center stage.
Oh, and I loved the Dragon Kin series by GA Aiken, which is very snarky and also very sexy. So, I guess I tried to imitate Shelly Laurenston’s style as well.
MADELINE IVA: It says on your website “Ms. Harris lives in Seattle, where she tortures her husband by making it rain.” Has there been any backlash from city of Seattle for this?
DAISY HARRIS: Oh my lord, does my husband hate the rain. He can’t stand dark and gloomy weather, and to hear him talk you would think Seattle’s climate is my personal fault. It’s not, actually. I merely enjoy the damp, cool weather. But I don’t make it happen.
The irony is that I didn’t make my husband move here. He moved to the area in 1995, a year before I did, and for his own reasons. He’d been living here (and, presumably, complaining about the weather) for five years before he met me.
We’ve thought about moving many times, but my husband’s family moved to the Pacific Northwest to be close to us. That, and Seattle’s an easy place to travel from. We can get direct flights all over the world, and the cost of living is relatively affordable for a city this size. (Yeah, I know that sounds crazy, but compare Seattle to the cities of California!) In the end, we love it here. Or at least, I love it here. The husband still isn’t sure.
MADELINE IVA: When I first heard about you, you were writing about these sexy “Steins” and hot-bots. Where did they go?Did you enjoy that kind of futuristic genre? Why aren’t you writing that kind of futuristic stuff anymore? Why Daisy, why?
DAISY HARRIS: Oh…I dunno. After Built 4 It, I really wanted to focus on male-male, and Love-Bots was primarily a male-female series. So I finished One Night Steined because I had started that book as a subplot of Lust After Death, so it was already half-written.
As much as I liked writing paranormal, I found that my steins weren’t really mainstream enough to attract a broad audience. Zombie stories were a tough sell at first. I think they’re more popular now, but I was definitely on the cutting edge. I wanted to get into writing stories that were a little more mainstream.
MADELINE IVA: What made you shift over to contemporary college boy stories?
DAISY HARRIS: Basically, I tried out writing contemporary because Annabeth Albert asked me to on Twitter. (This just goes to show you, social media does have an impact!) I’d run out of paranormal ideas for the moment and wanted to try something new. I was reading mostly contemporary male-male at that point, so I decided to try my hand at the genre I was most enjoying!
MADELINE IVA: Are your books as funny as the things you post on your website, twitter, and FB?
DAISY HARRIS: I don’t think I’m funny at all on FB. Honestly, I’m terrible at Facebook and have never really understood the point of it. I can’t tell if my books are as funny as my online persona. Some books are certainly funnier than others. My Fair Dork, which releases October 13th, is hilarious. Even I can tell it’s funny. But a lot of stories that I think are amusing or cute, other people think are laugh-out-loud worthy.
A lot of things that I think are going to be too “on the nose” or obvious are the things people find the funniest of all. When I try to be subtle, people often don’t get it. LOL. Like “Holsum College”—some people get the pun immediately, but most don’t figure it out until they’ve read several of the books. Or maybe said the name out loud.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then take a second and say “Holsum College” a few times. Then say, “I love those Holsum College boys” and “I can’t wait to read about Holsum College men getting their sex on” and “I wish I had a Holsum College boy of my very own.”
But as for a more obvious joke… In my first male-male, Mercury Rising, I named a gathering “Deities International Conference and Kibbitz” aka “DICK” and people thought that was hi-larious. But, myself, I wouldn’t have kept that joke except that my agent loved it. Me, I thought it was a little too easy.
DAISY HARRIS: My first male-male effort was a subplot in my Ocean Shifter book Shark Bait. At the time I wrote Shark Bait, I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing as male-male romance, so I thought I was being all cutting edge. But my agent, Saritza Hernandez, read Shark Bait and encouraged me to write male-male, so I did with Mercury Rising.
After that, I bopped back and forth between subgenres, never comfortable going fully male-male, but always drawn to gay stories. With Built 4 It, I finally thought, “Yes! I can do this!”
I prefer writing male-male because I’m not terribly comfortable with romance in which there’s a huge power gap between characters. The powerful, incorrigible alpha male has never been a character I write well. Personally, I’ve always preferred band geeks to football players. And I enjoy writing smart, sexy, and, above all, vulnerable men. That works a lot better in male-male than in male female.
Kresley Cole has written some great beta heroes. And plenty of authors write kick-ass women. But really, this is mostly in paranormal. The meat and potatoes of straight erotic romance (and romance in general) is aggressive alpha males overpowering and overtaking women who learn to “surrender completely”.
Nowadays, I write bossy bottoms and reluctant tops. I write some struggling doms and the occasional bratty sub. But really, the thing most people like best about my books is that I write nice guys having hot sex.
It’s the humor and sweetness that keep people coming back to my stories. And I supposed I could write “sweet” M/F erotica, but it would never sell as well as Laurann Dohner, Maya Banks, or that darn 50 Shades book.
MADELINE IVA: Do you plan to stick with m/m? Or will we be seeing other types of erotic romance from you in the future?
DAISY HARRIS: For now, I only write male-male and that’s the only thing I have plans for in the foreseeable future. Of course, my “foreseeable” is much shorter than the average person’s. To me, the future that I can know and plan takes place in the next two weeks. Maybe, maybe, the next 2-3 months. But you can ask anyone who knows me, I roll with things! I can say what I assume I’ll be doing, but not what I plan to be doing. And I assume I’ll be writing entirely male-male. For now.
DAISY HARRIS: Confession time—I’m a castrating bitch and have no interest whatsoever in placating some insecure testosterone-addled Neanderthal.
That’s not what I find hot in real life, and I can’t write it to save my life. That said, I understand the fantasy of the testosterone-addled Neanderthal. I really do. And God Bless those writers who can pull it off.
But I can’t. I just can’t. It’s not a part of the human romance spectrum I can relate to, and a girl can only write what she knows. I know sweet, sexy guys who are neat, and nerdy, and who don’t have identity crisis when someone else calls the shots.
The other day I mentioned to someone that I’ve never dated a guy who liked perfume. In fact, I’m never dated a guy who could stand perfume. They all hated it. Uniformly.
Then I realized, that that was because every guy I’ve dated has had allergies, environmental sensitivities, or both. Yes. I am a woman who has only fallen for guys with allergies. Further, I’ve hardly ever dated guys who didn’t wear glasses.
So, yeah. I like writing male-male because when two men get together, they are equals. Sure, there may be class or race or other reasons why there is a power differential, but that isn’t always there. Men are men and they don’t have to have a master/slave dynamic. Not unless they’re kinky that way.
MADELINE IVA: Is the Holsum College Series really a series? (Like, do we see other characters popping up from earlier books?) Or is it a “If you liked this one, you’ll like all these other books too” kind of a series?
DAISY HARRIS: Holsum College characters make reappearances, but it’s not a series in a Harry Potter sense. It’s more like Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown—books with similar themes that don’t have to be read in order. Each Holsum College book is different, but they don’t really build on each other. My goal in writing Holsum College was to have a series I could expand on, but didn’t have to.
MADELINE IVA: What do you like best about writing erotic romance?
DAISY HARRIS: I write good sex scenes, and always have. Some authors have trouble with the sex, or have trouble writing sex scenes which forward the plot—but not me! I adore writing sex that is challenging, awkward, scary, exciting and sometimes even bad. Heck, I adore writing bad sex! If my characters have great sex right off the bat, where am I supposed to go from there? I like my characters to have hang-ups and insecurities and kinks they’re embarrassed about. I like sex to reveal something about them they wouldn’t have revealed otherwise.
The thing I like best about writing erotic romance is the bad sex. It’s the most fun part.
MADELINE IVA: What do you like the least?
DAISY HARRIS: Only the feeling I get sometimes that I should be writing darker, more alpha-dominated stories. But the longer I write, the more I realize that readers come to me for the lighthearted stuff. They read my books when they want to smile and laugh and say “awwwwww!” I don’t really feel the pressure to write anything other than what I want to write anymore.
MADELINE IVA: How’d you get to be so funny anyway?
DAISY HARRIS: I’m from New York, where humor is infused in the water, like all those tiny shrimp. (Yes, New York City water has tiny shrimp in it. Google it!)
The town I lived in from ages nine to sixteen was more than fifty percent Jewish, in addition to being in New York. And I know it’s a stereotype, but there really is a thing with Jewish humor. Being funny was like a competitive sport in my town, and I learned with some pros.
That said, I think my family is pretty amusing as well. My parents like to laugh and are both sort of partiers, in a sedate and very functional way. My younger brother is very, very funny. My and him together are hilarious, though I’m not sure if anyone else would get our jokes.
MADELINE IVA: On Twitter you recently mocked the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock, perhaps inaptly termed: ‘fracking’. Have you ever been to Frackville, PA? Has there been any backlash from the town of Frackville for your Twitter comment?
DAISY HARRIS: LOL. I know a lot more about Battlestar Gallactica than I do about natural gas, so yeah—every time I hear “fracking” I think of Starbuck cursing. In all honesty, though, I talk a lot of sh*t on Twitter about all kinds of things I probably shouldn’t. But I’ve decided to stop worrying about catching an earful from anyone. If a follower has a problem with stuff I tweet and mentions it to me more than two or three times, I block them. No one makes anyone follow me on Twitter, and they can unfollow any time they want.
I see social media the way I see my books—if I pull my punches, the whole thing is gonna be bland, and who wants to read that? Thanks for having me on the blog!
MADELINE IVA: You’re welcome. 🙂
Meanwhile, readers, I recommend the m/m romance MY FAIR DORK. It’s sweet, so very refreshingly sweet. (Yes, I had the Awwwww experience she mentioned above) but the sticky sex scenes really hit the spot too. Daisy meanwhile, will give one of you readers a $5.00 Amazon gift card for leaving a comment. (Hint: you can buy MY FAIR DORK with it. She’ll give you a B&N gift card if you read a NOOK.) Sounds good, yes?