And the winners are…
DONNA and TAMARTINI! Please check your spam filter if you don’t have an email alerting you to this awesome news.
Thanks for playing, everybody!
Hi, darlings! Well, this is an awesome treat for all of us at Women and Words (and we hope for our readers). Harper Bliss, a co-founder of Ladylit Publishing (based in HONG KONG, people) agreed to answer some of my questions (MUAH HA HA) about…oh, a variety of things. You’ll see!
Ladylit focuses primarily on lesbian erotica and romance. Their latest publication is the anthology titled Forbidden Fruit: Stories of Unwise Lesbian Desire, edited by Cheyenne Blue (who also, we are pleased to say, has a story in my co-edited anthology with R.G. Emanuelle, All You Can Eat)
And to celebrate this super awesome release, Harper and LadyLit are giving away TWO ebook copies of Forbidden Fruit to a lucky winner. To get involved in this fun n’ games, all you have to do is leave a comment below. Make sure you include a valid email address in the comment fill-out form (but NOT in the comment body itself! We’re saving you from the forces of darkness that sweep the interwebz gobbling up email addresses). We’ll do the drawing 9 PM EST Tuesday 16 September, U.S. time. Which is probably Thursday morning or something in Hong Kong. But we’ll make it work, people! Have fun and good luck!
And now, a bit about Harper. She’s travelled the world in search of sexual satisfaction and now resides in a hot Asian country and dedicates her time to writing down the stories that have inspired and aroused her. She’s also the author of the High Rise series, the French Kissing serial and a plethora of other lesbian erotic romance titles. As if she wasn’t busy enough with Ladylit!
So let’s go hang out with Harper while she’s got a bit of time. Thank you so much for taking that time to chat with us here at Women and Words. And readers, you’ll find links below for more information about Ladylit and Harper.
ANDI: So, for realz. HONG KONG! Two questions about that. How did you end up in HK — presuming you aren’t from there (or perhaps you are!) — and what drove you to open Ladylit Publishing?
HARPER: First of all: thanks for having me on the Women & Words blog. Much appreciated! On to your question: no, I’m not from Hong Kong originally. Both my wife and I are from Belgium and we moved to Hong Kong for my wife’s job 4 years ago. I quit my job back home and was faced with the question: what now? Since I’ve always written, the answer was very easy. I started to write, and I haven’t stopped since.
At first, I set up Ladylit to be able to sell my own books, but, since my wife and I are both very passionate about books, publishing and all the changes that have happened in the past few years, we decided to open up Ladylit for submissions.
Meanwhile, my wife doesn’t work for the company that sent her to Hong Kong anymore and we both work for Ladylit full time. Fun times!
ANDI: Most excellent. I’m actually fascinated by Hong Kong, and I understand that it was a British colony until 1997, and is now a “Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” which means that it has some autonomy from China. Is that true? Or is it also “semi-authoritarian”? Is censorship something you have to worry about? Enlighten those of us out here in the sticks!
HARPER: Ha! I love that you’ve done your research. Hong Kong operates under the one-country/two-systems principle, which means that our region, although being a part of China, has (supposed) economic and political autonomy. We have our own Chief Executive and Legislative Council (although they are not elected by universal suffrage, which is one of the hot button issues here at the moment) and we are ‘quite’ independent from China. As for censorship, Hong Kong is much more liberal in that respect than the ‘Mainland’, but, that being said, I don’t expect many of our titles to be stocked in local bookshops, nor do I expect to have any of them translated into Chinese any time soon (although it is one of our goals to one day have some of our books translated.)
In summary, censorship is not something we worry about in Hong Kong. (Interesting fact: book sales in Hong Kong are quite high because a lot of people come from the mainland to buy the books that are not allowed to be sold in China.)
ANDI: You see? This is why banning and censorship ultimately probably won’t work. Because then people just want to know why stuff is banned and they go looking for it! Anyway, let’s talk a bit more about social climate. From my own reading, it seems there’s an organized LGBTQ community in HK, and HK tends to be more liberal about that than China as a whole. Can you maybe give us a quick view of your sense of that? Totally okay to tell me I’m full of poo, too.
HARPER: Hong Kong is NOT China. It’s much more westernized and there is a huge ex-pat community, and since it was a British colony for such a long time, most people also speak English. And yes, there is quite a vibrant, albeit small LGBT scene here. This year for instance saw the first edition of Pink Dot HK, an inclusive event promoting the freedom to love, with an estimated attendance of about 12,000 people.
However Asian culture is also very different from what we’re used to in the West. A lot of people I meet here employ a ‘Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell’ policy when it comes to coming out. For instance, their parents would know, or suspect, that they might be gay, but they don’t talk about it.
Legally there is still a lot of work to be done on the LGBT rights front. Previous attempts at passing an anti-discrimination law have been blocked in the Legislative Council (mostly due to the influence of religious groups, not so much because of censorship from China). An example close to home: my wife and I are legally married in Belgium, but our marriage is not recognized by the HK authorities, which affects many facets of our lives, from visas to insurance.
ANDI: There is still a lot of work to be done on that front everywhere. Thanks for the insight about HK, and thanks for pointing out how policy affects you personally. Back to books. Is Ladylit working to build an audience locally in HK? Do you have mad awesome plans to start a wave of lesfic publishing in HK that will spill into other parts of Asia?
HARPER: I wish! Earlier I said that many people (including locals) speak English, but I’m not sure how many of them read English-language lesfic books.
As far as I know, the market for lesfic in Asia is, perhaps not small, but definitely not easy to reach. You definitely have to offer Chinese-language material in order to break into it. It’s something we plan on looking into at some point in the future.
ANDI: That would be amazing. And might also reach diaspora populations around the world. So tell us about Ladylit’s latest projects.
HARPER: We’ve just published a lesbian erotica anthology called Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire edited by erotica legend Cheyenne Blue. The stories are as juicy (and forbidden) as the title suggests. We at Ladylit are hugely proud of this anthology and we were so honored to be able to work with Cheyenne Blue, and all the talented authors who contributed a deliciously forbidden story.
We are also super-chuffed to be publishing Cheyenne Blue’s collected lesbian erotica and romance short stories in the near future.
And in November we’ll be releasing my very own first foray into (more traditional) lesbian romance with my novel At the Water’s Edge.
ANDI: Excellent. I was pleased to get Cheyenne on board for a story in a co-edited anthology that was recently released. Glad to see that you’ll be working with her more in the future. Looking forward to that! You’re currently acquiring novellas, novelettes, and short story collections (at least 4, between 2000-4000 words). It seems that you’re expanding, now, into novels as well. Fair to say?
HARPER: Yes! (In fact, we may have already changed our call for submissions by the time this interview goes live.) 😉
ANDI: There’s some good news! So what’s next for Ladylit?
HARPER: Apart from doing what we’ve been doing, we’re looking to expand our author list. We’re in the process of contracting a few mini-anthologies by authors we’ve already worked with. We would also love for Cheyenne Blue to edit another anthology for us (and I think she just might).
ANDI: Hear that, Cheyenne? Girl, you are IN DEMAND! Besides that, what’s your wishlist for Ladylit?
HARPER: At the moment, we’re still very much focused on erotica and erotic romance as sub-genres of lesbian fiction. I’d like for Ladylit to publish much wider. We’ll always focus on lesbian fiction, but I’d like to mix it up a bit. In every interview and every guest blog I do, I keep mentioning my own idea for a spy thriller series featuring a kick-ass lesbian protagonist. I guess this character (her name is Stevie) personifies my Ladylit dream. 😉
ANDI: Get on writing that. And while we’re at it, the perpetually freeloading Women and Words elves would like to know if we can come visit and stay with you. Will edit for room and board in HK!
HARPER: Sure! If you’re willing to stay in a tiny apartment on a tiny fold-out couch in the living room (Hong Kong flats are notoriously small because there are too many of us living here on too small a surface.) How about a house swap?
ANDI: If I had a house…but let’s keep this on the back burner, people. I’m envisioning, “LIVE, from Hong Kong, it’s Women and Words!” LOL Thanks again, Harper, for coming by and best of luck to you and the Ladylit family.
Readers, don’t forget to add Ladylit to your list of places to check for neato things to read. Happy Friday and get in on the drawing!