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In the spotlight: James Lee Hard

James spends most of his time looking at his computer screen, trying to summon the magical words that make the ingredients for a great story.

He dreams about being able to move people and becoming a great writer one day. He writes contemporary gay romance and erotica but he wants to write about

much more. His mind is filled with sci-fi gadgets, swords, wizards and dragons and he has trouble trying to choose one theme. Maybe one day we’ll read

something starring sinewy heroes battling giant dragons in tight pants. But the romance will always be there. And the abs. And the happy endings – James is a

sucker for them. James draws inspiration from everyday life, books, movies, songs, pictures and much more. Almost everything can ignite his desire to write but not all will end up on his stories. James is an indie author who relies on friends and a growing base of lovely beta readers to help him with his stories, ensuring that each book is better than the previous one.


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What inspired you to start writing?

I guess I always wanted to write and have been doing it since I was a child. I love writing and reading and so, a little over a year ago, I decided to see if I could start a story and finish it. Although writing can be challenging and I constantly doubt myself, when I’m doing it I’m creating a world that’s mine, and that’s just awesome.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

There are a few things that I consider very important. First, read a lot. Reading is one of the best things someone who wants to write can do. For me, reading is a constant source of inspiration, vocabulary, style and it helps me hone my art. The second important thing to consider is finding at least a proofreader, but it’s preferable to find someone that can edit as well. Even if you think you’re grammar is spot on, you’re bound to make mistakes that you’re not going to notice. We are all too close to our own work, and mistakes will be made. It’s really important to have a manuscript as clean as possible because this can make or break your sales. Finally, the book’s cover. Don’t just assume you can concoct something with Microsoft PowerPoint and call it a day. A professionally made cover can make a huge difference in making your book noticed. Plus, it’s prettier. And no one likes a cover that seems made by a toddler.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

All the time! I think it’s pretty normal to suffer from it and I try not to let it pull me down. I have two different approaches to it: force myself to keep writing in the hopes that I can come up with a good idea, or just go work on something else. This was actually how I came up with my The Rift series: it began as a short story I wrote and uploaded for free to my website when I was suffering from writer’s block on another story I was working on. The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive, though, I ended up writing a whole series about it.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

I’d say the characters. I normally come up with an idea on what I want to write about, that’s inspired by a character. This then blooms into a plot that revolves around him, but it’s all very organic and sometimes I end up with a story that it’s only vaguely similar to what I had in mind in the first place.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Isabel Allende continues to be in my top authors. I love the magical reality of South-American writers, and Allende is one of the best in this regard.

Describe your writing space.

It’s pretty Spartan, actually. It’s a wooden desk with my MacBook Pro propped on a shoebox to level the screen with my eyes, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. It’s not pretty, but I was looking on Amazon for laptop stands and they’re either awful or terribly expensive. And the shoebox works for now. I’m still trying to convince myself I should buy something prettier. But my Mac is more than six years old by now and could die any minute. So, I’m not sure if I should buy accessories for it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Actually, I’m still working on that! I’m terribly insecure but I think the first time I thought to myself “this is it” was probably around the launch of my first book, last year. Still, there are days in which I have to talk myself into believing what I do is worthy of a writer.

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

The loneliness. I’m not exactly the most social person in the world, but writing is a fairly lonely affair, one where you spend most of your time talking to imaginary people in your head. I miss being around people, and that’s something I had never thought about before.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

It starts around 8.30 a.m., with checking emails and messages on social media while I eat breakfast. Then I’m off to writing until around 5.30 p.m., with a few breaks for snacks and lunch. Some days, I’ll do a bit of promotion around lunch and then I’m off to write again.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Seven in total, one of which is a short story. My favorite so far? I’d have to say Falling for Matt not only because it’s a love story with a happy ending but because it also has some twists and turns and I like those in a story.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

Sometimes, my characters do and say things I did not expect them to. I know this sounds weird as I’m the one writing and making up them, but I’m honestly telling you that sometimes they will say something I had not predicted and the story can turn into an unexpected avenue. Personally, I love when that happens because it can be boring writing when you know everything that’s going to happen. I like to be surprised.

What are you reading now?

Abbadon’s Gate, the third book in the Expanse series. Sci-fi stuff.


After finding his partner in bed with another man, Robert sees his relationship of fifteen years come to a painful end. A distinguished college professor, his whole life had been dedicated to his career and partner, but after his betrayal, Robert spends one year trying to mend his broken heart, too deep in his sadness to even continue his work in the field of nanorobotics.

Everything starts to change when he meets Matt, a twenty-six year old gardener, who at first sight has nothing in common with him. He’s the poster-boy for the masculine: tall, rugged and handsome, mixed with something else, a dash of sweetness and unpretentiousness that leaves Robert intrigued and wanting to know more. At the same time, Robert fears the stigma of their age difference and what people will say about him dating someone younger.

Nevertheless, they find themselves gravitating towards each other, navigating the entangled mess of each other’s lives. Robert’s fear is still alive, though: will he be able to mend his heart, let himself be happy again and trust another man?


Book excerpt Falling for Matt

Robert wiped the foggy bathroom mirror and saw his own reflection. The dark patches beneath his eyes were almost gone. He sighed. Today was the day he’d chosen to get over Ted, his former partner of fifteen years, and forget about how he’d found him in their own bed with another man. That thought alone was enough to make his heart beat faster. Robert drew in another deep breath and closed his eyes. There was no point in festering in those thoughts. They were only good to make him feel he had a hole inside his chest, a hole that would make it impossible for him to trust anyone ever again. But it wasn’t easy to think that this was how it had ended after he’d given so much of himself to Ted, after spending his best years going out of his way trying to make him happy.

Robert lowered his head and now stared at the sink. He lifted his chin up and observed himself in the mirror again, studying the network of fine lines around his sad gray-blue eyes. The Robert he saw wasn’t the one he remembered being. He wasn’t apathetic like that image showed. He turned his head to one side, never losing sight of his reflection in the mirror. He was still handsome at thirty-nine, chiseled features and a sturdy jaw line. He didn’t look his age, although his graying hair betrayed the fact he was now closer to his forties than his thirties. But he still had an attractive body, courtesy of years of playing rugby during his time in college. His thin, pink lips curved into a half smile for the first time in weeks. The fact he was weighing the pros and cons of his aging body was childish, but at least it told him he was going to be fine. He had to be. Or else Harry would make sure he’d never hear the end of it.


In one swift movement of his hand, Robert wiped the fog that had again built up on the mirror. He’d forgotten about Harry who’d be arriving any minute now.

For the better part of last year, Harry had been more of a babysitter than his best friend, always checking on him and making sure he wasn’t too deep into his depression over Ted, insisting he should leave the house and at least go for a walk to get his mind off things. In the beginning, it hadn’t been easy. Robert didn’t want to hear any of it. He just wanted to ignore it all, shut his eyes and sleep it over. As the months passed by, the pain became a numb throb in his heart that was eventually replaced by apathy. Lately, though, it was almost as if he could breathe again, and today was the first in many when he woke up feeling he had the strength to overcome it all.

As always, Harry had insisted on coming over to check on him again, and there was no way of saying “No”. Robert wasn’t too fond of being treated like a small child, but deep down he welcomed his friend’s attention. Especially when all he could see was the doom and gloom of being almost forty and freshly out of a long-term relationship.

Robert grabbed the shaving cream and sprayed a healthy amount into his hand. He lifted his eyes to the mirror and began to spread the cream on his face, the stubble prickling his fingers. He was almost finished when he stopped. Why was he shaving? Ted wasn’t around anymore. He didn’t have to shave every day, as he’d been doing for the past fifteen years just because Ted didn’t like the roughness of his beard. Robert stared at himself for a couple of seconds more and turned on the tap. He leaned forward and wiped the shaving cream off his face. His first decision as a single man, now free from the influence of his former life, would be to let his beard grow again. Not into one of those full-sized bushes that seemed to have their own ecosystem, but something trimmed and neat like he used to have so many years before, before meeting Ted.

Robert dried his face on a towel. He was tucking it around his waist when the doorbell rang. As always, Harry had arrived on time. Leaving the bathroom in a hurry, Robert went downstairs. As he opened the front door, he was greeted by a smiling Harry who gave him a good, hard look, scanning him from head to toe.

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