Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Elizabeth Harmon on Heroes

This week we’re going to find out a little about author Elizabeth Harmon. March’s theme is ‘Heroes’ so Elizabeth will be talking about heroes. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red-Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist.

Beverley: What do you think makes a hero, either in real life or in books?

Elizabeth: Great question!  I think most of us picture a hero as someone brave and protective, like a soldier or a first responder. While those guys are definitely heroes, the definition is a lot broader.  A hero is a man who cares about others, has a strong sense of honor, and wants to make the world a better place—whether it’s by catching bad guys, healing illness, teaching kids, making music or being a faithful loving husband, and father.

Beverley: Is it important to have strong conflicts? If yes, inner or outer conflicts, or both?

Elizabeth: Definitely both. Conflict is the building block of fiction. But as a beginning romance writer, I thought that meant the hero and heroine had to be hostile adversaries who argued constantly, and I had trouble imagining how you could fall in love with someone you didn’t even like.  As time went on, I began to realize that enemies-to-lovers was simply another romance trope, not a genre requirement. I tend to write couples who like and care for each other, but are kept apart by a combination of external and internal problems. In my new release, Nora is keeping a secret she fears will cause Alexei to hate her. Alexei has trust issues after another woman deceived him. He senses Nora is hiding something and fears the worst.

Beverley: Who are your favorite heroes, and why?

Elizabeth: Beta heroes are my favorite heroes to read and write, because it’s easier for me to imagine falling in love with a man who treats women with kindness and respect. Two of my favorites are Will Parker, from LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  While they’re very different—Will is an ex-convict drifter in the 1940s, Levi is a present-day college student; both are deeply caring men who fall in love with women who have been wounded emotionally.  Being a loving, steadfast partner brings out the best in both Will and Levi, and helps the women they love to heal and find happiness

Beverley: Tell me about the heroes in your book/s.

Elizabeth: I’ve enjoyed giving each hero in my Red-Hot Russians series different layers and experiences, but at heart, they’re the best friend hero archetype.  Two of them, Anton and Misha, are famous figure skaters who are charming, handsome, sexy celebrities.  Vlad is a former skater turned male stripper, who has survived a trauma that’s left him drifting, and feeling unworthy of love.  Alexei grew up poor and dreamed of adventure. Now that he’s carved out a life and career in Antarctica, he’s determined to keep the station he calls home from closing.

Beverley: How do you develop the characteristics for your hero?

Elizabeth: One of the first things I do is think about what my heroine needs emotionally, and how he can fill those needs.  I also think about needs he might have and how the heroine might fill them.

I knew that Heating It Up’s heroine, Nora, was a solitary person who was grieving the loss of a man she’d loved.  Alexei understands her situation, and rather than use his authority as the head of the station to force her out of hiding, he gives her the space she needs to emerge on her own. Like Alexei, she’s adventurous, and loves the cold beauty of Antarctica, so she understands why he wants to stay.

Once I know the reasons they must be together, I think about what will keep them apart. That’s where the story’s internal and external conflicts come from.

Beverley: How long have you been writing?

Elizabeth: I’ve always loved writing stories, from the time I was a kid. I wrote my first romance for ninth-grade English class.  I got an A and was hooked.

Beverley: What genre do you write in and why?

Elizabeth: I’m published in contemporary romance, but I’ve also written a pair of historical romances set in late Victorian England, and turn of the century Paris.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Elizabeth: In school, I had a number of teachers who encouraged me to write, and since I’ve embarked on a professional career, my husband and family have offered amazing support. My husband is also an English teacher and a voracious reader, so he gives great feedback.

Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?

Elizabeth: Finding the time to write, and I also had the fear that my life wasn’t dramatic or interesting enough to make me a good writer. I bought into the idea that you had to write what you know. It wasn’t until I started writing my first historical that I realized my journalism background and love of research meant I could write about anything I wanted. It’s less about writing what you know and more about writing what you want to know.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Elizabeth: Music. I make playlists for all of my books and this helps me get into the rhythm of the story. I also find it easiest when I’m able to work on the project steadily, and not lose the flow of the story and characters. Coming back to a story after a few days away is a struggle.

Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?

Elizabeth: Getting so busy that I don’t have time to write every day, because it pulls me out of the story and makes me feel more stressed. Another distraction is the internet.  When the writing isn’t going well, logging into Facebook for a short break, can mean getting sucked into clickbait stories about politics, or celebrities gone bad. It almost makes me miss the days of dial up! Those are the times when I leave and go write someplace where the internet isn’t quite so accessible.  

Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?

Elizabeth: Comfortable clothes, but on weekdays I’ll wear a nicer sweater, maybe a scarf and I almost always put on make-up.  I want to feel like I’m going to work, which I am. If I have to spend the weekend writing, because of a deadline or a hectic week, I don’t bother with trying to look nice.  If I’m too sloppy to leave the house, there’s less temptation to blow off the writing in favor of errands or other distractions.

Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?

Elizabeth: I have an office in my home and most of the time, that’s where I work. Our house also has front and back porches, so when it’s nice, I like to work out there. When I need to get away from the distractions of home, such as kids home on summer vacation, laundry, or the internet, I head to Panera.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Elizabeth: I love cynical, pretentious, and under-employed Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants. He’s a frustrated jazz clarinetist stuck working as a cashier at the Krabby Pattie, and thinks everyone else is an idiot. He has the best lines of any cartoon character, plus I think octopi are pretty cool. 

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?

Elizabeth: J.K. Rowling. The intricacy of the Harry Potter series blew me away and I’d love to talk with her about her writing process and how she planned the stories to fit together so well.  

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Elizabeth: Go someplace with my husband, that probably involves a road trip on two lane backroads, and a really good meal.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Elizabeth: I’m working on the next full-length Red Hot Russians book, Shining Through, which comes out in the fall. When the sweetheart of American figure skating falls for the bad boy of Russian figure skating, it jeopardizes her quest for Olympic gold, and to provide for her struggling family’s future. The hero Daniil, was the nemesis of Misha, in Getting It Back. The heroine, Tabitha is a good girl who wants to take a walk on the wild side.

Blurb for Heating It Up

Red Hot Russian Alexei is king of the Ice…Antarctic style

Alexei Zaikov loves his life in remote Amity Bay, Antarctica, until a new luxury guesthouse threatens the community’s future.  As head of Amity Bay, he’s driven to save it, but first must discover who is hiding out in the supposedly deserted lodge…and why. 

Nora Bradford has lost everything; a promising career and the man she loved.  Glacier Ridge Lodge, the architectural masterpiece she designed but was denied credit for, seems like the perfect place to grieve her loss, until a ruggedly handsome Russian arrives on her doorstep, determined to bring her in from the cold. 

Desire sparks, leaving them hungry for more. But will the truth about Nora’s role in Amity Bay’s demise, doom their romance?

Buy Links:
Barnes and Noble
Apple ITunes Books

You can find Elizabeth at:
Goodreads Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview. This time is a discussion on self–pubbed/traditional/ other writing formats and why?  


  1. Beverley, thanks for having me as a guest today to talk about my new release, Heating It Up. I'm running a giveaway of the first three books in the Red Hot Russians series. Enter Here:

  2. Hi, Elizabeth and Beverley! So nice to get to know you. I agree about everyday heroes. They are everywhere. My plumber helped family members go to med school. He was imprisoned by Castro when very young. My electrician is a fireman, too.

  3. Your plumber sounds like he could be a great character! And bad plumbing offers lots of funny possibilities...