Kaje Harper




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Kaje Harper

Goodreads Author


Born
in Canada
Website

Genre

Member Since
April 2011


I live in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the deepfreeze chill contributes to the breath-taking, but Minnesota's a kindly, quiet place and it's home to me now. I've been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers - forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment, and currently am focused on M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, history, SciFi...) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. My husband finally convinced me that after all that time writing, I really
...more

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Kaje Harper I haven't had a lot of negative feedback for the M/M in my books, probably because they're fairly clearly positioned and tagged as gay, so they're not…moreI haven't had a lot of negative feedback for the M/M in my books, probably because they're fairly clearly positioned and tagged as gay, so they're not often read by someone homophobic. I did have a couple here and there - someone on Amazon said they couldn't get past the awful first page that had two men in bed together. (I think Mac and Tony kissed on page, before getting up.) And I've had a few emails or messages from people who hate all things LGBT. Those comments I usually set aside and don't dignify with an answer. You can't force a closed mind open, and anyone who would be influenced by those people's opinions is not likely to enjoy my books anyway.

Occasionally I've responded in some discussion context, with a statement of my belief that any kind of mature, mutual love in the world makes it a better place for all of us. But arguing with strangers about beliefs is seldom useful. I instead appreciate the readers I've had who say one of my stories was their first M/M but won't be the last. Every person who does come to appreciate a love story that isn't between a straight man and a straight woman adds to the LGBT allies and the expanding pool of acceptance.

The other thing I sometimes get, related to the M/M content, is people who think something about the way I've written a gay couple is unrealistic. Sometimes that's just one person's opinion. (I've had two different gay men express exactly opposite opinions for the same thing they thought was "unrealistic".) Sometimes I do have it wrong, or at least not right, and I try to do better next time.

I used to get very flustered and mad at myself with that kind of criticism. I'm aware that I'm expropriating an experience and culture that is not my own. I try to do it in a plausible way, since realism is one of my writing goals, and I hate when I don't get it right. But now I am aware that sometimes the commenter, even if it is a gay man, is expressing his own experience and not always a universal truth. And if in fact I screwed something up, I'm trying to let myself be fallible and vow not to mess the same thing up again. (There are, after all, an infinite number of new mistakes waiting for me to make them.)

I've actually been amazingly fortunate in the majority of my reviewers, who focus on the positives in the stories, and make publishing them fun.(less)
Kaje Harper I grew up in a household very focused, in a quiet way, on equality and justice. Not specifically LGBT, but my mother earned a science PhD in 1952, and…moreI grew up in a household very focused, in a quiet way, on equality and justice. Not specifically LGBT, but my mother earned a science PhD in 1952, and was a university professor and internationally-known researcher, when women were still mostly supposed to be housewives. My dad was a Christian in the real, humanist sense of the word, and also a scientist who believed in the wonders of diversity. He genuinely didn't see race, gender or creed, except when others used them to discriminate. So when I hit my teens and began to look around, it was with a heightened sensitivity for justice and fairness.

I'd written stories since I was five or six, mostly about girls, horses, dogs, and fantasy. Then when I was 14 (back in 1974 :) I read "The Persian Boy" by Mary Renault, and was caught up in injustice of slavery, but also by the beauty of the characters and the sadness of the ending. Looking at some commentary about the book in a magazine, I was devastated by the echoes of disdain for a love as true and pure as that. How could people not see the truth? I secretly rewrote the ending to give Bagoas and Alexander many years together, in deepening appreciation (but with no on-page sex, being a sheltered 14-year-old in those pre-Internet days.)

Then I sat down and wrote my first M/M with original characters - two teen boys from different backgrounds, if I remember right. And then some Starsky and Hutch slash. Not long afterward I got a copy of "The Front Runner" by Patricia Nell Warren from the library and that raw, sweet, realistic and tragic story sealed my interest. I rewrote the end of that one too.

For years (35 or so) I wrote stories of all kinds for fun - many different genres with gay MCs, some slash, and some true gay romance. I didn't know others were out there doing the same, although I read gay lit like Armistead Maupin. I had no out gay friends, and my LGBT family members of whom there were a couple were distant in time and age, so I researched and read and wrote, and never showed anyone. A dozen or more novels, hundreds of first and second chapters of abandoned novels, many short stories. Finally in 2010 my husband convinced me to submit one for publication (although I didn't tell him I'd done it) - and Life Lessons was accepted. The nice comments from the editor gave me the confidence to polish up a couple other books and submit them too - M/M werewolves and mystery and contemporary.

I never felt there was a problem writing from a male perspective - even the M/F stories I wrote often had both male and female POVs. One thing my parents taught me is that we are all humans and there is no qualitative dividing line between the sexes. My father was the softer more emotional of my parents, and saw nothing of female work, life or attitudes as being unfit for a man. So I just wrote people, be they male, female, bigender, elves or aliens.

I did have a fair bit of anxiety about releasing stories about my gay MCs though, where gay men would read them. When a group is embattled and discriminated against, they have every right to be sensitive about how they are portrayed, and to protect both their image and their personal sense of culture. One of my first blog posts was about the cultural usurpation of being a cis-gender heterosexual woman writing M/M. The first few times some gay male reader chastised something in my books as being ignorant of gay realities, I cried and thought about quitting publishing each time. (Not quiting writing - that's life blood, but I got along for 35 years trunking my stories, It wouldn't kill me to go back to that.)

I always felt, though, that more available stories about gay men living real lives had to be a good thing, even with inevitable errors. I read books by male authors that weren't perfect either, or were criticized by other men for being poorly representative. Then I had two gay men send me emails in the same week about something they didn't like in my books... and it was exactly the opposite thing. One told me that I had my guys being switches too often, and that almost all gay men were either tops or bottoms. The other told me that my guys were too fixated on mostly topping or bottoming - that this was a female sex-role perspective, and I needed to understand that most gay men were happy to switch.

A kind of light came on, and I realized that although some of the past criticisms were justified - because yes, I can screw up my research or fail in my empathy - nonetheless, gay men are as varied as any of us, and no one gay man is a perfect arbiter of gay culture or representation either. What I had written was sometimes just variations, not mistakes. I looked back at all the positive reviews I'd garnered from readers, including male readers. I also looked at those precious ones - the reviews that said, "I hadn't thought about gay marriage before I read this book, but now I think they should have the same rights we do." "This book made me proud of who I am." "I had never seen a book with such a positive ending for two men, and now this is what I hope for myself." "This was the first M/M romance I read, but I loved it and now I'm an ally... and looking for more books."

I've always tried to keep it real, to do good research, and to be respectful. But that was a kind of watershed time when I decided to give myself a little bit of a break from the pressure to get it exactly right. And I got the courage to write more different characters - I started, in my YA short stories for my group, to write more F/F, and transgender and asexual and bigender and genderfluid main characters. I decided representing the wonderful rainbow of human diversity in fiction was a worthwhile goal and perfection was unattainable anyway.

Which gave me the nerve to also take the transgender prompt in this summer's M/M Don't Read in the Closet event, and write Carlos who is an Hispanic, transgender, indie-metal musician. All of those aspects have their own community, which is vulnerable to misunderstanding and mis-representation. But I got as many beta readers as I could and dove in. :) And I'm proud of Carlos, whatever unintentional as well as intentional flaws he may have.

Long winded answer, to say yes, writing about other cultures feels like hubris and a risk to a people-focused perfectionist. But if I only wrote what I know, it would be one short and not very exciting book. When it gets to be too much anxiety, I write fantasy or paranormal where I can invent the culture :)(less)
Average rating: 4.06 · 35,477 ratings · 5,102 reviews · 46 distinct works · Similar authors
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The Rebuilding Year (The Re...

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Breaking Cover (Life Lesson...

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Home Work (Life Lessons, #3)

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Nor Iron Bars a Cage

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Like the Taste of Summer

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I'm guest blogging on Love Bytes, where I discuss writing guys who don't fit the typical romance-hero patterns.

http://lovebytesreviews.com/2016/08/1... Read more of this blog post »
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Life Lessons Breaking Cover Home Work Learning Curve
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And to All a Good Night (Life Lessons # 1 1/2) (Gay & Lesbian)
2 chapters   —   updated May 13, 2015 06:32PM
Description: In <i>Life Lessons</i>, MPD detective Mac and high school teacher Tony decided that a relationship in the closet was worth the difficulties involved. Now they are briefly separated by Tony's trip home for the Christmas holidays. On the Florida beach, Tony contemplates the joys and stresses of a hidden relationship, while in the snows of Minnesota Mac tackles a murder case that hits close to home. And in the evening, over the phone, they try to touch each other with words.
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Love Like the Medici
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" Darren wrote: "A YA version of 'Ethan, who loved Carter' will be released in October, simply called 'Ethan'."

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“That's part of being gay, you know. It's not just who you want in bed. It's who your emotional relationships are with the other twenty-three hours of the day, whose arms you want around you when life hands you shit.”
Kaje Harper, Life Lessons

“I know you're not looking for a relationship, or even a fuck buddy, but...are you looking for anything that I can be?”
Kaje Harper, Lies and Consequences

“Sometimes when you live with one man for more than half your life, you stop really seeing him. Not stop loving him. That center-of-my-heart kind of love doesn't go away. But really paying attention gets submerged in the stupid details of day to day life.”
Kaje Harper, Like the Taste of Summer

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Comments (showing 30-79)    post a comment »

message 79: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Anna wrote: "Have a bewitching Halloween

"


I love the little owl <3 Thank you.


message 78: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa Have a bewitching Halloween




message 77: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa Merry Christmas!




message 76: by Kaje

Kaje Harper ~ѕαм~ wrote: "


:0)xx"


Thank you - it's a good day for sparkles as I fight the formatting demons.

I hope your holiday is wonderful too.


BeCullen Hey Kaje, I have recently read you Life Lessons series and absolutely love Mac/Tony. I don't know what your future plans are for writing, but I would like to ask/beg/bribe? lol for more of these two. Seriously, though, love your writing and these characters. Great job.


message 73: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Miȿђƴʝѻ wrote: "I'm your 1000th fan. WOOT!"

That's excellent :) It's kind of unbelievable, but thank you for pushing me over the mark!


message 72: by MishyJo

MishyJo I'm your 1000th fan. WOOT!


message 71: by Kaje

Kaje Harper OMG, fun. You can just tell the cat is saying, "I'll put up with this for a few minutes, because it is the Fourth, but then this bow tie is toast..."


message 70: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa


message 69: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Aw, that is so sweet :) Thanks for the dose of cuteness!


message 68: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa


message 67: by Janice

Janice Thanks for accepting. Thanks for Tony & Mac. And a rather belated, but sincere thank you for the great conversations at GRL.


message 66: by MishyJo

MishyJo Thanks! I look forward to hanging out more on GR.


Bookworm07 Are you thinking of doing any Sole Support sequels? That was one of my favorite books I read last year.


message 64: by Elci

Elci  Woo Hoo!! Congrats in winning Best Free Story in the MM Romance Awards.


Bookworm07 I recommended your Life Lessons series to a friend :)


message 62: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa Happy New Year!




message 61: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa Merry Xmas!




message 60: by Kaje (last edited Dec 09, 2013 11:15PM)

Kaje Harper Nila wrote: "Thanks for accepting the friend request. May there be many more awesome figure skaters in our futures."

Indeed. My daughter doesn't skate much now, but she still tracks down good new people for me to watch. I'll have to find her recent favorites...

Ah yes, Mayo Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu


message 59: by Nila

Nila Thanks for accepting the friend request. May there be many more awesome figure skaters in our futures.


message 58: by Dale

Dale Thele Kaje, thanx for accepting my friend request :)


randomantic I wish you have a facebook.


message 56: by Susan

Susan Kaje! I must've had my head buried in the sand! I just noticed you'll be at GRL...as an AUTHOR!!!! Gah! YES! So glad. Looking forward to meeting you there! :)


message 55: by Andrew

Andrew I think I'm going to very much enjoy the picture prompt part! Be assured that I'm going to go through all of the stuff in the group. Thanks again XD


message 54: by Andrew

Andrew Thank you Kaje for helping! You are the best :D


message 53: by Andrew

Andrew Hello! Does the group have a Love is Write kinda section??


message 52: by Andrew

Andrew An octopus...wow. Have you read it? Is it in the weird department of m/m romance? LOL


message 51: by Andrew

Andrew Wow. You'd be the first! An underwater shape- shifter romance! Although I'm having a hard time imagining it.


message 50: by Andrew

Andrew How could I not accept the invite with that awesome answer? LOL


Macky ~ Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

Thanks for the cake Kaje, :D


message 48: by Lolita

Lolita thank you for accepting my friendship:)


message 47: by StellaR

StellaR Kaje wrote: "StellaR wrote: "Hi Kaje, I thank you for accepting ;) love your Mac and Tony ❤ Home Work is all I got left, hope there's more :p"

Thanks :) Book 4 is in editing."


Am so excited! :)) yay


message 46: by Kaje

Kaje Harper StellaR wrote: "Hi Kaje, I thank you for accepting ;) love your Mac and Tony ❤ Home Work is all I got left, hope there's more :p"

Thanks :) Book 4 is in editing.


message 45: by StellaR

StellaR Hi Kaje, I thank you for accepting ;) love your Mac and Tony ❤ Home Work is all I got left, hope there's more :p


message 44: by Anna

Anna Kļaviņa Thanks for accepting FR.
Happy Easter, Kaje! :)


Michelle Thank you for the add. I have really enjoyed discovering your books. Tony and Mac's story is wonderful and I can't wait to keep reading.


message 42: by Susan

Susan Thanks! I joined the group because of all your posts! :) Looking forward to reading the shorts!


message 41: by BJ

BJ I just re-read the present you gave me for Christmas last year <3 Still gets me... Thank you again... I'm REALLY looking forward to meeting you irl :)


message 40: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Anthony wrote: "Congrats on your 1,000th rating on Breaking Cover and soon, The Rebuilding Year. Just read about it! xx"

Thank-you!! It is so freaking cool that people like the books and continue to read them a year after the release :)


message 39: by Anthony

Anthony Paull Congrats on your 1,000th rating on Breaking Cover and soon, The Rebuilding Year. Just read about it! xx


message 38: by Sara

Sara Thank you for the accept Kaje! :D


Aleksandr Voinov Hi Kaje - I can't believe we weren't. :)


message 36: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Tina wrote: "Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to the comments on your post over at C&D!"

It was cool that people stopped by. I appreciated the opportunity.


message 35: by Tina

Tina Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to the comments on your post over at C&D!


message 34: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Shahreen wrote: "Thanks for the add!! Can't wait for Life Lessons 3 btw :D"

I sent the proofed ms in today *crosses fingers* should get a release date very soon.


Shahreen Thanks for the add!! Can't wait for Life Lessons 3 btw :D


message 32: by Kaje (last edited Aug 12, 2012 02:59PM)

Kaje Harper My daughter sent me a link to this picture, and it made me think of books with kids in them, and then I started reading Keeping Promise Rock, again, and now my whole day has been spent with Crick and Deacon, and little Parry Angel, and I'm not sorry.

description


message 31: by Kaje

Kaje Harper Thanks! My editor is a busy lady, but I'm hoping we'll get there soon.


message 30: by Bogusia

Bogusia Hi Kaje, thanks for adding me to your friends list.I can't wait until Life Lessons 3 is out. Looking forward to it :)


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