Sunday, August 15, 2010

Imperfect: Author L. E. Harvey

Say hello to someone who flies in the face of convention, both as a writer and a person. L. E. Harvey is a writer and model in Harleysville, PA. She greatly enjoys all that Philadelphia city life has to offer. She is also an activist for human rights, animal rights, women's rights, and gay rights. When L. E. is not writing or working on the political scene, she models as a pinup and  "alt" (alternative) model. L. E. admires women like Betty Page, and "Rosie the Riveter" has been her idol since childhood. She is currently affiliated with The Gypsy Queens, Angels With Ink (AWI), The Cherry Girls, and Curvy and Rocker Pinups. L. E. Harvey is a proud participating author in Operation E-book Drop, sending e-book copies of her books to the men and women of the U. S. military across the globe!

Imperfect, L. E.'s first full-length novel, is the story of Carol Mathers. Carol was born a sickly child, and received a blood transfusion in the early 1980s. Now in her mid-thirties, she's a highly sought IT guru in St. Louis. She has built a great life for herself with her partner of twelve years, Alexandria. Carol and Alexandria face prejudice as lesbians, and as an interracial couple. Fighting tragedy and sometimes finding triumph, both of the women live day to day. During her tumultuous life, Carol discovers that she has acquired AIDS as a result of her childhood transfusion. Now, they face even more obstacles, prejudice, and a new life as AIDS patients. Carol learns just how much her chaotic past has affected her, and how she can never really escape it, even as she tries to move on with her life. An unexpected hostage event creates even more pain and tragedy in Carol's life, and causes her to wonder about the meaning of and purpose of her own life.

Chatting to L. E. is extremely interesting so let's get to know her better!

Imperfect is your first full length novel. How did you make the leap from short stories to full novel? Was it difficult/easy/like falling off a log?
The leap from short stories to a full length novel was definitely difficult and not at all like falling off a log! My publisher encouraged me to try writing a full-length. With a background in non-fiction and short stories, she knew this would be a good challenge for me. The storyline came very easily, but the time and work weren't always easy. I did feel like I was falling off a log into some kind of strange abyss, but in the end, it actually worked out!

Tell us something about that inner and outer journey and inspiration for the book. It's a pertinent topic right now.
The inner journey for Imperfect is that it challenged me emotionally as well as just being my first full-length novel. I began writing it in the beginning part of a year and a half of some serious health issues. I was very vulnerable as I wrote Imperfect. I allowed the book to showcase the emotions of a difficult health issue as well as my own insecurities and self-perception. The outer journey was that I studied computers and technology, as well as HIV/AIDS. I was able to learn a lot in my research and I feel that the studies that went into this book have helped to make me more aware, more understanding and much more attuned with the HIV/AIDS cause.

Tell us about the follow up you have planned, how do the themes expand?
Impeccable, the sequel to Imperfect is almost complete. I'm really excited about it individually and these two as a complete story. What you find in Impeccable is much more character growth and development, even of secondary characters. You really get to know my characters, their thoughts, their emotions, their motives and perspectives on life. Impeccable also shows us all the real meanings of love, devotion and family. The reader will gain a tremendous amount of peace and knowledge, too.

What was your publishing journey like? How did you get published etc? Any funny moments etc?
My publishing journey was actually fairly simple. Like every writer, I got rejected from publishers and agents alike. I happened to stumble across Vanilla Heart Publishing's website, queried them and the rest is history! As far as funny moments, probably the joy and elation I had when I received my acceptance letter from them. I'm normally a fairly calm person, but even I couldn't help but jump around the house when I got that good news!

How do you hone your craft as a writer—do you read books by authors you admire, do you attend classes, do you have a critique group?
Honing my craft is extremely important, especially since my background is in non-fiction. Fiction writing is so much more difficult, so it's important to me to keep improving my fiction writing. I read as much as I can from the other authors in our publishing house. These are people with doctorate degrees, tremendous accolades and years of professional writing under their belts. I have an incredible classroom at my disposal! I also study style manuals, the dictionary and thesaurus. I know that sounds ridiculously nerdy but it helps to improve my vocabulary and writing skills.

Modeling and writing—that's an interesting combination and what is an alternative model? Tell us how you came up with this multi career?
Yes, I do have an interesting career. I've been writing since childhood, and was nationally published for the first time at age 14. So writing has simply always been there. As far as modeling goes, I literally fell into it. A few photographers saw my picture and thought that I had an interesting look and it sky-rocketed from there. Within my first year, I was already in a calendar! I was Miss November 2007 for the original Pinups for Pitbulls calendar. My pictures have been featured in art exhibits and were even in the Philadelphia Enquirer! I NEVER imagined I'd ever model, but it worked out well for me! An alternative model is someone who is not 6 feet tall and only weighs 80 pounds. I am only five foot one and I wear a normal dress size. Alt models are also typically tattooed and pierced, which I am as well. You won't find us on the cover of Cosmo, but we do much more artistic work and you can find us in art exhibits and in more creative photography. It's a very unusual pairing, but I love the creative outlets each provides, and I've had some incredible experiences in my life from them both!

Some advice to writers who perhaps hesitate over contentious topics such as mixed couple, HIV, gay relationships—what is the best way they can get their work out there?
When dealing with difficult or controversial matters, there's really only one way to handle it: just do it. It's not easy at all, and it is a risk to put such books out there. You don't know how they will be received, but creating a piece that's dear to your heart is far more important. Be sure to do your research as well. You don't want to tackle these issues and not have your information be correct. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it can be tedious and boring at times, but the end result from your efforts and research will show. Your book will be so much stronger and sharper, and that is key, no matter what the subject matter.

Thanks for being my guest today, L. E. Readers who'd like to learn more about L. E. and her books can visit her website.

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