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Author interview with Lily Harlem

Loved by the Last Knight comes out tomorrow! Lily was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

You can get your copy of this steamy historical romance HERE!

Did you always know you wanted to be an author? How did you get from there to where you are today? 

No, I didn’t always want to be an author, my first love was nursing and I wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I completed my RGN training just outside of London, UK, and went on to work in Buckinghamshire in an acute setting. I did this for eighteen years and loved every high-adrenaline moment. I still miss it, the patients and my colleagues but like everything in life it was time to make a change.

And that change was a move to rural South Wales with Mr H’s job – Wales is a country within the UK, a population of just 3 million, it has its own language and own devolved government and is very mountainous. It is also the only country in the world that you can walk the entire coastline on a dedicated heritage trail, much of which I’ve since done.

I adored Wales but where we moved to didn’t work for my skill set so I started writing. A course at a local village hall was linked to Cardiff University and I was hooked as soon as I was set my first assignment.

I did this for three years with an amazing teacher and group of fellow students and then began to sell short stories to anthologies. That was when the romance genre found me. I say that because I won first prize in a contest for a romance and I never looked back after that.

So now I have a desk overlooking rolling hills in a little pink study and I write full time. It’s been this way since 2010 and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It does mean, however, that over the years I’ve dallied with most pairings (MF, MM, MFM, MMF, F/MMMM M/MMMM) and genres, from paranormal to contemporary, and sci-fi to historical. What all my books have in common is they’re hot; the bedroom door is left well and truly open. I blame Mr H for this, he’s walking talking inspiration!

What is the most inspiring place you’ve visited and has it shown up in one of your books?

I’m going to say Vienna in Austria because that is where I got the inspiration for my new Habsburg romance trilogy HAWK CASTLE. Maximilian of Austria lived in a palace just outside Vienna and over the years the Habsburgs have a grand and at times turbulent history with Vienna.

It’s a wonderfully historic place, friendly, clean and every corner offers a photo opportunity. I was there on my own for a few days and indulged in all the museums – Gustav Klimt’s THE KISS is there – and thoroughly enjoyed the Spanish Riding School’s awesome show. Why Spanish in Austria? That’ll be the Habsburgs!

How much research do you do into the time period and places you write about? Do you have any experience dressing in character or participating in living history situations or are you more a fan of libraries and online resources?

I do as much research online as I can before I start writing. In the case of LOVED BY THE LAST KNIGHT that involved a complicated timeline that included not just the main characters, Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy, who were of course real people, but also the other influential characters who had been around them at the time. By that I mean other kings and queens, notable scholars – Leonardo Da Vinci was around at this time – and the characters’ relatives from cousins to in-laws.

I also had to investigate the course of their romance and how it was effected by wars and battles, uprisings, attempts on their lives and their children. What I really enjoyed about Maximilian and Mary’s story is there was enough information to get a real feel for their romance and early marriage but still enough space to inject my imagination. One particular scene I enjoyed was Mary trying to teach Maximilian to ice-skate and him becoming very frustrated, apparently that did happen.

Dressing in character? No, I’ve never got into that though I do enjoy seeing other people’s photos online.

Do you write better in the morning or evening? How do you handle the distractions of working from home, especially if you’re sharing the space with others?

I always write during the day when Mr H is at work. And I usually set myself a 3-5k goal for the day which is a chapter or two. I then have to spend some time on other ‘writing’ jobs, which is promotional work, website, and newsletters. I get distracted with Facebook which I do enjoy because I’m lucky to have so many reader and author friends with the same interest in romance and books as me.

Sharing the space…oh no, I like to be alone and in silence when I write.

From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?

The hero I’m currently writing is always my favourite. I guess that’s because I fall in love with each hero as I go along, if I didn’t I don’t think my readers would.

Having said that I am very fond of Maximilian. He was known at The Last Knight during his lifetime because he was so gallant and brave and wore the most exquisite armour much of which still exists in museums. I adored how patient he was and how despite his big tough exterior he fell head over heels in love with Mary as soon as he saw her and never stopped loving her.

I do hope you dive into LOVED BY THE LAST KNIGHT, and if you do, look out for the bonus material at the end of the book which includes character interviews, a playlist and book club questions.