Paranormal Activity: Author Molly Harper Makes Sure Vampires, Ghosts, and Even Dragons Find Love Too
Get to know the fan-favorite author behind the Half Moon Hollow series and the upcoming "How to Date Your Dragon."By Michael CollinaJan 8, 2018 8:34 AM
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It's not uncommon for listeners to refer to Molly Harper's style as a "quirky" and "refreshing" take on paranormal romance, featuring a trademark sarcasm and humor that keeps you chuckling.
With the popularity of her Half Moon Hollow series and the upcoming release of How to Date Your Dragon, it's no surprise to learn that Molly has always been a fan of all things creepy and crawly. But this Kentucky-born novelist knows about much more than things that go bump in the night! From her favorite romance tropes, accents, and micro-genres to her relationship with long-time narrator, Amanda Ronconi, Harper manages to put a little bit of herself in everything she writes.
Michael Collina: Hi, everyone. I'm your Audible romance editor, Michael, and I'm so excited to be talking with author, Molly Harper, today. Hi, Molly. Thank you so much for doing this.
Molly Harper: Hi. Thanks so much for inviting me.
MC: So you're really well-known in the world of paranormal romance, probably most recognized for your Half Moon Hollow and Naked Werewolf series. What is it about vampires, werewolves, and now dragons that interest you and keep them returning in so many of your books?
MH: I was that weird kid who was always telling ghost stories at school, and I was always checking out those Time-Life Mysteries of the Paranormal books at the library, to the point where the elementary school librarian sent a concerned note home, because she was like we're excited Molly's reading, but we would really like her to expand on her subject material. I've just always been really fascinated with ghost stories and vampires and the dark side so to speak, just being able to work with those characters and put my own funny spin on it has always been my dream as a writer. I'm just glad that I'm able to do that now for a quote unquote grownup job.
MC: That's great. That interest has really gone back way since your childhood days.
MH: Yes. I was always watching Scooby Doo and just really hoping that just once it wouldn't be a latex mask, that it would be a real monster.
MC: Do you like to read a lot of paranormal romance as well, or is it really what you write now?
MH: The funny thing is when I read my own genre, I read so editorial, like clinically, that it's kind of ruined it for me. So now, I stick with, there's a lot of historical romance. I really love Jane Austen variations. I read a lot of Abigail Reynolds, and Maria Grace is wonderful. Just what would happen if Darcy was a little more communicative and Elizabeth was a little bit less touchy. I love those.
MC: Okay. Well, with your Southern Eclectic series, particularly your latest book Sweet Tea and Sympathy, you break away from your usual paranormal romance genre. Have you found many differences in your approaches to writing non-paranormal, versus paranormal romance?
MH: Well, the great thing about paranormal romance is if there's a major plotting issue, you can fix it with magic. Like, oh, there's some spell or there's a ghost that's going to help you out with that, but when it's just people being people, it's a little harder to work through those loopholes in that way. So I've had to be a lot more careful about plotting and really making sure I have a full plan before I throw myself into a chapter. So it's made me a more conscientious writer.
MC: Okay. So that's not always a bad thing.
MC: I've also noticed that many of your stories seem to have a fish-out-of-water feel to them. Is there a particular micro genre or trope that you really love, whether that be in your own writing or even your own reading?
MH: I do enjoy the whole "person being thrown into new experiences" thing. I often feel like I am completely lost in my own life, so I definitely identify with that--just stumbling around in the dark trying to find an answer sort of feeling. I do love it when two characters have very sarcastic dry humor between them, and they can banter back and forth. I guess you would call it the Moonlighting trope.
MH: Having that enemies-to-lovers situation is always nice from my perspective. I like that.
MC: On that note, you actually call yourself a snarky romance writer with a bite on your blog, and I've noticed that all of your books do have that sarcastic humor and wit to it, which I really love.
MH: Thank you.
MC: Is that something that's reflective of your everyday personality, or is that something you really just reserve for the page?
MH: Oh no. It's in every conversation. It's sort of funny, my mom is very sarcastic and quick and witty, and it's really, if you wanted to survive at the dinner table, you had to learn how to quip, and now I have my own children, and my daughter is actually more quick and witty and sarcastic than I am. So by the time the third or fourth generation hits, we're worried for the future.
MC: More and more sarcastic, and more and more witty as the years go on.
MH: With every generation.
MC: That's even better. And you and narrator, Amanda Ronconi are also longtime collaborators and probably one of the most beloved author-narrator pairings at Audible. How has that relationship developed over the years?
MH: It's so funny, and it is always very nice to hear that, by the way, that we're a well-known team. But when we first started working together, it was literally the company sent me one sample, and it was Amanda reading a section of Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, and they said what do you think of that, and I'm like, well, that sounds good to me. I was just really excited there was going to be an audiobook. It just so happened that they found the perfect person to read the books. She just really has such a wonderful feel for the pacing and the pronunciations and the way everything should be spaced out between two characters, and dialogue, and how to give everybody their own individual voice so you always know who's speaking.
Over the years, I actually didn't feel like I had the right to contact her the first couple of books we recorded together because oh, she's got to be so busy and I don't want to bother her, and now we email each other pretty regularly just to check in and make sure we got all the pronunciations correct and we're on the same page about different voices and accents and things like that. So it's a much closer relationship now, and I really enjoy it.
MC: That's great. I know I've always loved her narration. It's always been one of my favorite parts about listening to your audiobooks. It's just having that narrator you can always rely on and you know is always going to be there and be the constant.
MH: Well her mother is actually from Kentucky, which really helps.
MC: Oh really?
MH: Yes. So she knows that you say Louisville instead of Louisville and things like that, so it comes naturally to her.
MC: That's great.
MC: We're also so excited here about your upcoming Audible original, How to Date Your Dragon, and this is actually the first time one of your books is going to feature a dual narration with the male part performed by Jonathan Davis.
MH: I'm very excited about that.
MC: What made you decide to take this approach?
MH: Well, it was just something that Rose, the editor and I talked about in terms of just giving the hero his own voice and really embracing the male POV, which is something I haven't really done in previous books. So that was exciting and a little intimidating. It was something that I found intriguing as a writer and a new challenge, and I was really excited about it.
MC: I think we all are. Is there anything else you can share with us about How to Date Your Dragon or maybe the Mystic Bayou series as a whole that's going to be coming out this upcoming January?
MH: Well the fun thing about this was there were no limits. They just said whatever you want to do. Rose told me if it sounds like fun, throw it in there. It was actually kind of overwhelming at first because there were no restrictions. If I wanted to have mermaids, there could be mermaids. If I wanted to have weather witches, there could be weather witches. I really had to sit down and winnow down what was too much, and then I did it anyway. It was really fun to have total control and whatever was interesting, I could throw it in Mystic Bayou, and I really liked the results because there's so many different kinds of creatures. Every character has their own background. They all come from different places and different cultures, demonstrating how they all manage to create this community. It was difficult, but still, I think the results speak for itself in terms of the characters.
MC: It sounds like we have a lot to look forward to with this one.
MC: Do you actually listen to a lot of audiobooks?
MH: Yes. I do. I run a lot of errands. So I'm in my car a lot. It is very rare that I'm listening to music. I'm almost always listening to audiobooks.
MC: Yeah, I find I'm the same way. It's a great time to get some listening done.
MH: And I actually listen to my own books after they come out just to find errors that I've made or maybe I use a word too often or a plot contrivance or something. So it actually makes me a better writer because I find my own weaknesses.
MC: That is a really good way to improve on your writing.
MH: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
MC: When you usually shop for audiobooks when they're not your own, what do you usually look for in a narrator, whether it be an accent, a narration type, or just anything else?
MH: Usually, you can tell within the first couple of minutes of a narration, whether that audio narrator is going to fit your ear, because some narrators, for whatever reason, the tone of voice they use or the pitch, it might be kind of grating. So I look for a smoothness of tone, and do they hit the hard sounds too hard or the soft sounds too soft or something like that. If an accent is really important, particularly Southern accents. When a Southern accent goes wrong, you can always tell. So that kind of thing, but I try to keep an open mind and not try to weed out anybody typically.
MC: Is there anything you prefer, I suppose? I know you mentioned Southern accents a lot.
MH: I generally go for books that are read in a British narration. As long as their upper-class accent fits, I'm pretty happy with it.
MC: The posh, British accent.
MC: Always a favorite of mine, too.
MH: Especially in a male narrator. That's very nice.
MC: That's very true. I know it's one of my personal favorites, too. The male British accent. Yeah, I love it.
MH: My Siri is actually an Australian male.
MC: Well, what are you working on next?
MH: Right now, I'm working on the sequel for the Mystic Bayou series, which is still untitled, because we always come up with that during the editing process. I am also working on the next novella in the Sweet Tea series, which is actually called the Southern Eclectic series, and it is the story of Duffy's tragic divorce.
MC: Oh wow.
MH: His horrible ex-wife, Lana, will be a main antagonist in the story. She's lots of fun to work with because she has no class.
MC: You've definitely been keeping very busy.
MH: Oh yes. I've written more this year than I have any year in my career.
MC: I'm definitely not going to complain about that because it sounds like we have so much to look forward to in 2018.
MH: Thank you.
MC: All right, well I can't wait to listen to what you have published next. I'm a huge fan, and like I said, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for that next book. So thank you so much, Molly. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.