An Interview with Harper Bliss, part of the Forbidden Fruit Blog Tour!
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Lisabet Sarai: Greetings, Harper! I'm delighted to have you back at Beyond Romance, and really pleased to be in the Forbidden Fruit anthology with you. I know you're a prolific writer with many single-author titles to your credit. Why did you decide to submit to this group collection?
Harper Bliss: So happy to be a guest here again, Lisabet. Thank you for having me. Well, I submitted a story to Forbidden Fruit for many reasons. The most important one being that Cheyenne Blue is the editor. Of course, I must also mention that I co-own Ladylit (publisher of Forbidden Fruit) and that being able to work on this anthology with Cheyenne is, truly, one of my dreams come true. Apart from that, I love lesbian erotica anthologies and I firmly believe there should be more of them (Cheyenne and I are working on that!) ;-) All of that being said, I’m chuffed to bits with how the table of contents turned out, and it’s a true honour for me to find my name amongst all these fabulous authors.
LS: On a broader note, what impels you to write lesbian fiction? Is this the only genre you write?
HB: It is the only genre I write. The quick and very simple answer is that I write lesbian erotica and romance because I’m a lesbian and I can’t imagine not seeing my identity reflected in the books I write. I also write lesbian fiction because this is the genre I love more than anything. I’m always so offended when someone asks me my why I don’t include more straight characters in my stories (and believe me, I get this question often!) My standard reply: “Percentage-wise, of all the books in the world, how many of them feature non-LGBT characters? Go read one of those.”
Also, within lesbian fiction, there are many sub-genres. I started out as an erotica writer, but, as time goes by, I find myself gravitating towards romance much more (although I can never help but include a few steamy scenes.) For the past months, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a spy thriller about a really kick-ass (lesbian!) woman. I have the main character all mapped out in my head, and I can definitely see myself write something like that someday. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in the future, I may write in many genres, but (most of) my characters will always be lesbians.
LS: The term “forbidden fruit”, of course, refers to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. In that tale, the apple is forbidden because it imparts knowledge of good and evil. Are there any echoes of this notion in your tale?
HB: My story is not so much about good and evil. It’s more about crossing a line that, perhaps, shouldn’t be crossed (which makes it all the more compelling to cross.) By the way, I’d really like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing Cheyenne Blue for coming up with the awesome theme for this anthology. I wanted to read it long before the call for submissions went out!
LS: Have you ever partaken of “forbidden fruit” yourself? Care to share with my readers?
HB: Gosh, what a devilish question! And a good one, too. I may need to ask the same one to my interviewee on this blog tour. ;-) I’ve racked my brain and my answer is a firm no. As dramatic as my stories are, I’m as straight-laced as they come. My wife may disagree, but, all in all, I’m a really good girl. I do have a very vivid imagination, and I won’t say I’ve never fantasized about plucking a juicy piece of forbidden fruit, but it’s not in my nature to act upon these things.
LS: Please tell us a bit about your story, “Freedom”, and how it fits the anthology theme.
HB: “Freedom” tells the story of Ella, recently dumped by her long-term girlfriend, who runs into her ex-mother-in-law. They both turn into forbidden fruit for each other. I’ve always liked the older/younger woman dynamic (and I’ve written many stories about it), but I wanted to take it a bit further and create more of a taboo atmosphere. These two women used to know each other quite well, so the connection is already there. Then there’s the fact that the very person who brought them together in the first place, this girl—daughter to one and ex to to the other—they both love, will, ultimately, bring them together again in a not so obvious, but inevitable (and quite sexy) way.
The city sidewalks are crowded, so I walk behind Brooke until the ocean of people clears up and we arrive at one of the posh streets alongside the park.
“The house simply got too big. You’ve no idea of the amount of maintenance a place like that requires, and just for little old me. I was fed up with it.” She gestures at a building a few feet away. “I live there now and I can walk everywhere. It’s fabulous.”
“I bet,” I say, as I follow her inside, past an obsequiously nodding doorman.
Brooke occupies one of the lower floor apartments, but the view of the park is still breathtaking.
“Lovely.” I scan the living room and recognize some pieces of furniture from the old house. I’m surprised Jamie didn’t talk her mother into getting rid of that sofa, considering what we once did in it. Twice, actually…
“Now, for that drink.” Brooke shrugs off her coat and heads to a cabinet in the corner of the living room. “Do you still like a good brandy?”
“Oh yes.” I perk up at the mention of it.
She grabs the bottle and two brandy snifters, and deposits them on the coffee table, gesturing for me to take a seat next to her.
After pouring us both a generous amount, she hands me a glass and clinks the fat belly of her glass to mine. “You look good, Ella, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“Thanks.” Immediately, a flush burns on the skin of my cheeks. I wasn’t expecting a compliment. The brandy helps. Now both my throat and my cheeks burn.
“How are you coping with being alone?” She draws her lips into a lopsided grin. “As you well know, I’m an expert at that particular activity.”
I asked Jamie a dozen times, shaking my head in disbelief, why a beautiful, classy woman like her mother would prefer to remain single for so long after her father’s death. “She likes her independence,” Jamie would say. “And why don’t you ask her yourself if you’re so keen to find out?” I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking that question back then, and now Brooke practically brings it up herself.
“It sucks.” My eloquence has let me down a lot since the break-up. “I mean, I’m not very good at it. How do you, um, go about it?”
“Jamie may have been foolish enough to let you go, but you won’t be alone for long, Ella. I’m sure of that.” She brings her lips to the glass and sips. “As for me, I just can’t seem to find anyone to my taste. Let’s just say some of my preferences have changed since Gareth and I got married.” She locks her eyes on mine and drags the tip of her tongue across her teeth.
I drink to recover from the sudden intensity surrounding us, from the change of air. What am I doing here, anyway? I look away and my eyes land on a picture of Jamie, all blond and healthy and beautiful. Brooke’s hair is blond as well, but more golden and quite probably dyed.
“I should go,” I say, suddenly overwhelmed by an alien emotion. I can’t identify it as grief or anger—the two main ones I’ve been suffering from of late. It’s more a mixture of apprehension and the rush of being flattered by a member of the Stevens family. I don’t get up, though. I remain firmly planted in my seat.
“Stay.” Brooke reaches for the bottle and refills my glass, which isn’t even empty yet.
The next stop on the Forbidden Fruit blog tour is Harper Bliss (http://harperbliss.com/) who is interviewing Rachel O. Esplanade
Leave a comment on any post in the Forbidden Fruit blog tour to be entered into a random draw to win one of these great prizes. Prizes include a paperback copy of Girls Who Score, lesbian sports erotica edited by Ily Goyanes, Best Lesbian Romance 2011 edited by Radclyffe, Wild Girls, Wild Nights: True Lesbian Sex Stories edited by Sacchi Green, an ebook of Ladylit’s first lesbian anthology Anything She Wants, and a bundle of three mini-anthologies from Ladylit: Sweat, A Christmas to Remember and Bossy. All of these titles contain some stories written by the fabulous contributors to Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire. You must include an email address in your comment to be entered into the draw.
Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire is available direct from the publisher, Ladylit (http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/) or from Amazon, Smashwords, and other good retailers of ebooks. Check out http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/ for all purchasing information.