These days Kira write constantly, reads obsessively, and shares her home with her younger teenager, her amazingly patient husband, and a crazy, omnivorous little white dog. She can be found at her author page on Goodreads, or (in her adult fiction alter-ego), moderating the YA LGBT Books group there. She looks forward to sharing many more stories with YA readers in the future.
Connect with Kira Harp on Goodreads.
Q&A with Author Kira Harp:
- If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?
I'm in my fifties, so being a teenager again would be a bit of a stretch. I'd want to be Geoff, one of the two dads from The Benefit of Ductwork because I really do think life gets better as time goes by, and those two men have a strong, loving relationship. They're parenting two teenagers, and doing a good job of it. As for what I'd do? I'd spend some time with my husband, Rob, maybe do some hiking or work on the house, and reconnect as a couple.
- Tell us more about The Benefit of Ductwork.
This story was originally written for the Goodreads Gay-Straight Alliance group. Andy is seventeen and was adopted as a young boy, out of an emotionally abusive situation. He loves his two dads, but he has abandonment issues, and when he hears them planning to open their home to a young gay teen in need of shelter, all his fears of not fitting into their happy home come back to him.
I tried to turn things around a little, because the dads are gay and Andy is straight. I wanted to show how these two men have created a happy, nurturing home, and yet Andy has deep insecurity and concerns, tied to both his present and his past. I'd like readers to see how our perceptions of who we are, and how we fit in our world, are both universal and very personal, and that LGBTQ issues are only part of that.
This story was expanded, edited and released as part of Featherweight press's Helping Hands line - all the author and editor royalties go to benefit Lambda Legal, a legal advocacy group for LGBT and HIV+ people.
- Tell us about the character Seth from your book Intervention and the relationship he had with his brother.
Seth is a sixteen-year-old gay boy who's been in the closet at school, and yet he's been repeatedly bullied just for seeming gay. He feels alone, unable to confide in anyone, and hopeless. His older brother, Jory, is off at a local college, living near campus and mostly out of Seth's life. They're friendly, but Seth isn't out to his family either, and the brothers haven't spent much time together lately.
But at Seth's lowest point, when he can't handle the bullying and isolation, when he believes he has no reason to care about living any more, Jory shows up. He cares about his little brother, and he's determined to convince Seth that there is more to his life than this one moment, one month, one year, and that high school is an intense but short-lived pressure cooker that can be outlived. Jory is about hope and acceptance and family, and looking past the moment. He's exactly what Seth needs.
- Where can we find your work? We heard you have some free reads out there too. Where can we find them?
Both of my published stories are from Featherweight Press's Helping Hands line: http://www.featherweightpublishing.com/helping.php
Proceeds from Intervention go to benefit The Trevor Project.
My free YA short stories can be found along with those of other group members in the “Tales told - a.k.a. free reads” folder in the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group - http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/97380?group_id=49526. (I both write and moderate there under my adult fiction pen name, Kaje Harper.) I'm hoping to do a collection of several of my own stories for a free book release soon. We do a monthly writing prompt. Every member is welcome to contribute something, and there are a lot of great stories and poems from quite a few different writers on the threads there.
Under my adult pen name, I also have one free short story, Like the Taste of Summer, that is probably 17+ (for some sexual content): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119594 - It's the story of two eighteen-year-olds finding each other in a small Iowa college town in the 1980's. It's a free download, and a hopeful coming-of-age story.
- What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?
First and foremost is hope. Lives can change, doors and windows can open, a year or four may feel like forever, but that's a tiny fraction of the rest of your life. You can make a poor choice, and go on, and choose better the next time. Nothing but death is truly irrevocable, and although life can be hard, it's also full of moments of goodness and beauty, and the promise of better things to come.
And the second and connected message is that things don't have to be perfect, to be really good. The teen years are so intense, with everything looming up as vitally important, like there's no grey zone between triumph and disaster. I remember those years, when every small failure, every embarrassment, every flaw and blemish, felt like the end of the world.
I'd love young readers to see that some of those superficial things, that feel so vital at the time, are really ephemeral. It's the moments of kindness, of integrity, and of creativity that last. I don't remember what I wore to my first date, or first dance, and I haven't seen either of those guys in thirty years. But I still vividly remember the kindness of one boy who found me feeling blue, and invited me over and talked for two hours about nothing much. He made me feel like someone cared. I can't tell you if he was good looking, I think maybe he had dark hair, but I can recall his voice and soft laughter.
There's enough time in life to get it wrong, and then do better. I have a friend who became a lawyer, worked a year and decided it wasn't for her. She went back to school and became a pediatrician. She has a husband, a child, a profession she loves and it only took fifteen years to pay off her student loans. Sure, it might have been more perfect if she'd chosen the right path first, but who can say for sure - she's happy with absolutely good enough.
You can choose, and then choose again. You can live though tough times, and they will fade in memory. You can make changes - people come back from significant setbacks and mistakes and can still be amazing. You can have a satisfying life. But you mustn't devalue things that are good, just because they're not perfect. Enjoy the sweet moments, focus on the qualities that last. And you have to have hope. I'd like to help readers believe that.
Now Available from Kira Harp:
Intervention Sometimes it seems to Seth like more trouble than it's worth to keep going on, to keep living and breathing and hurting and going to school with guys who hate him, and hiding who he is from everyone around him. Seth is sixteen, in the closet, and about ready to give up on life. But for his brother Jory, making an unexpected visit home from college, nothing is more trouble than it's worth to keep his little brother alive.
The Benefit of Ductwork Andy was six when he was adopted by the men he calls Dad and Pops. At seventeen, he has almost escaped his early years and found security in his dads' loving home. But his neglected early childhood taught Andy that nothing good can be his forever. When his parents decide to foster Kyle, a young gay teenager in need of a place to stay, Andy can't help wondering if he's going to lose his dads to the new kid.