L. E. Harvey, author of “Loving Her” (2009), a collection of short stories and “Unbreakable Hostage” (2010), a suspense/thriller, turns her attention in her latest novel “Imperfect” to the love and chaos of a relationship between life partners who are not only confronted with small-town prejudice against interracial gay couples, but are also coping with AIDS. As a sickly child, Carol Mathers received a blood transfusion in the early 1980s before blood donors were screened as they are now. When she is diagnosed with AIDS in her mid-30s, she fears she may have unknowingly infected Alexandria, her partner of twelve years. The e-book addition of “Imperfect” is available now from Vanilla Heart Publishing. The trade paperback is scheduled for a November release.
Malcolm: Welcome to the Round Table, Lauren. In Unbreakable Hostage, released earlier this year, your protagonist, a PhD candidate in algebra, is kidnapped by one of her classmates and ends up using algebra-related messages to get word to the outside world. How difficult was it to shift gears from the life of a hostage to the world of a young couple who meet in Imperfect, fall in love and decide to share their lives together?
Lauren: Thanks so much for having me, Malcolm! I’m thrilled to be here! There was actually no real transition for me. The intensity of Unbreakable Hostage mirrors the intensity an interracial lesbian couple would face in a not-so-gay-friendly environment. Granted the situations are different, but on an emotional level, they’re actually quite similar. Fear is fear, hatred is hatred and love is love, no matter what situation you’re in.
Malcolm: To what extent is the tone of your daily life affected by the joys, sorrows and challenges of the fictional characters you’re writing about? That is, did you feel tense while writing about the kidnapping and angry and sad while writing about Carol and Alexandria?
Lauren: Very much so. I’m a very emotional person as it is, and I get swept up into my characters’ emotional states as well. To boot, I typically play music that’s reflective of what I’m writing, so I am very much engrossed and enveloped in their lives and emotional states. My books can easily sway my emotions! LOL. I’m sure that can’t be easy on my family! 🙂
Malcolm: What do you hope your will take away from reading Imperfect?
Lauren: My hope is that this book really causes people to stop and think. I want them to throw out any stereotypes or judgments they may have had after reading Imperfect. Perhaps it’s a lofty goal, but I really want my readers to walk away from this book seeing us all as human beings, hopefully diminishing some prejudicial thoughts/assumptions.
Malcolm: To what extent does your women’s rights and gay rights activism shape the plots and themes in your fiction?
Lauren: I think it shapes my books tremendously. If you look, I have very strong heroines. Not that the male characters are weak, mind you, but the women definitely take the spotlight! Whether intentional or subconscious, my three current titles all have themes regarding the strength and capabilities of women, equality for all people, etc. I guess I have a hard time separating my various passions & work!
Malcolm: I haven’t met many authors who also work as “pin-up girls.” How did you get started in that business? Are you finding any good story material in your modeling experiences?
Lauren: LOL. I kind of accidentally fell into modeling. I’m only 5’1″ and don’t look “model-ish” at all! 🙂 But for some reason, people like taking my picture! It’s fun, so I won’t stop ’em! 🙂 As far as pinup work goes, I just happen to be naturally inclined to make those silly, over-the-top cheesecake pinup facial expressions, so it all just kind of worked itself out. 🙂 You know, I haven’t thought to look at my modeling work for inspiration, but now that you said that, I’m going to start thinking about that! 🙂
Malcolm: Your website is promising a sequel to Imperfect. What can you tell us about that without giving away too many spoilers?
Lauren: Well, what I can tell you that is that Impeccable, the sequel to Imperfect, lives up to its name. I hate to sound like an ego maniac, but I am just so proud of this book! I really think it’s going to touch people’s hearts. You will have the same cast of characters, but you get to know them on a much deeper level. You’ll learn things about them that you never could have imagined. It gives you a more clear and defined understanding of the entire story and all of the players involved. Impeccable is very cerebral and also very emotional. If you liked Imperfect, you’ll love Impeccable! 😉
Malcolm: When you’re not writing and not modeling, do you find time to relax and smell the roses?
Lauren: Do I find the time to relax and smell the roses? LOL. Ummm…I am a self-admitted workaholic. Actually, working with my partner on our house or her sculptures is very relaxing for me. Doing anything with my family is really the best down time I can ask for. Whether it’s sanding wood or making dinner with our little one, family time is my down time. So, I do stop and smell the roses, in my own unconventional kind of way.
Malcolm: I’ve enjoyed our conversation, Lauren. I must tell you that after your powerful ending for Imperfect, I’ll be waiting to read Impeccable as soon as it’s hot off the press.
You can also find Lauren’s work in Vanilla Heart’s With Arms Wide Open anthology of poems and prose celebrating living and loving. You can read excerpts from “Loving Her,” “Unbreakable Hostage,” and “Imperfect” on fReado. Lauren’s books are also available to coalition troops serving overseas via Operation E-Book Drop.
To keep up with Lauren and her work, visit her blog “The writings and ramblings of a Philadelphian.”