Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ROMP with Molly Harper


For a romance writer, I seem to write a lot of fight scenes. My characters tend to be rowdy. And writing a fight scene is a lot like writing a love scene. You have to keep anatomy and physical space in mind. You have to be careful with your terminology. Though, to be fair, I’ve never embarrassed by the thought of my mom reading one of my fight scenes.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)
At a writers conference last year, I sat on a panel with several writers, including Julie Kagawa, author of THE IMMORTAL RULES, discussing fight scenes. I was amazed by how our own experiences with fighting influenced the way we wrote. I, for instance, have never been in a fight, with the exception of panic-punching an over-aggressive actor dressed as Freddy Krueger at a haunted house in college. So my characters react to violence much in the same why I would. They freak out, over-think their position and every once in a while, they accidently land a lucky punch. Ms. Kagawa, on the other hand has trained extensively in kendo, or as she puts it, “hitting people with sticks,” for years. So when her faerie characters swordfight, she really knows how to describe the maneuvers in a way that won’t result in indignant e-mails from fencing experts.

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1)
As a fight novice, I try to keep choreography realistic and simple. None of my characters have martial arts training. So they’re not going to be Jane Normal for fifty percent of the book and then all of the sudden execute a perfect crane kick technique on some villain. Point of fact, I don’t think any self-respecting martial artist would use the crane technique. (Thanks a lot, Ralph Macchio.) And when you’re moving two people across a “stage” in your head, you have to keep track of their body position, the space between them and around them. You can’t have one character throwing another to the ground in one paragraph, but have both of them standing up facing each other in the next paragraph without an explanation.

And personally, I like to keep things funny. I describe my “fighting style” as slapstick violence, Three Stooges meets Bridget Jones. My characters often realize, mid-swing, how stupid it is for them to be fighting in an alleyway with a mugger and recognize that they are probably going to be seriously injured. There is honesty in that I think readers find appealing. And I try to use “props” surrounding the characters to keep the fight a big more believable. In one of my vampire books, the main character uses a realtor’s sign to stake the big bad guy.

And One Last Thing ...By contrast, I try to leave props out of love scenes, because that can get a little weird. In general, love scenes are easier than fight scenes for writers. While a lot of people have never had a fistfight, most adult writers have had sex. Sometimes complete book ideas can come from an idea for a single love scene. For instance, my new book THE CARE AND FEEDING OF STRAY VAMPIRES came about because I had a daydream about nursing a vampirized version of Karl Urban back to health. But at the same time, I have a difficult time writing love scenes, because I know my relatives will be reading them, and I would really love to be able to make eye contact with Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner.

More than anything, I struggle with appropriate penis euphemisms. “Penis” is too clinical. “Weenie” is too juvenile. And the one time I used the word, “cock,” my editor wrote, “Hey, that word came out of nowhere!” in the margins of the manuscript. I usually use the word, “length” because it’s provocative without being vulgar. I figured, if Nora Roberts uses it, it’s probably classy enough for me.

Driving Mr. Dead
It’s also important to keep your characters’ physical limitations in mind. Unless your leading man is a contortionist or has super-strength, there are some positions that your characters aren’t going to be able to pull off.

And, like fight scenes, there is a progression of action to love scenes – a beginning, middle and end. Unless you’re intentionally planning a quickie, there should be a slow build-up of anticipation before the characters in either situation, well, “let loose the dogs of war.” I have used the controversial fade-to-black technique – ending a love scene as the lovers climb under the covers together, for instance - if I’ve already written a love scene or two in the book. I try to limit myself to three per book. Otherwise, it comes off as a little excessive. But I have had readers complain that they feel cheated by the fade to black, so I try to plan around it if I can.

I can’t say which I prefer – love scenes or fight scenes. While I love writing a good brawl, I know, as a reader, the love scenes are what I look for in a good romance book. I think if you’re going to make it in this market, you have to have a steady hand at both.


Keep reading for info about new release, author and giveaway.

The Care and Feeding of Stray VampiresThe Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires 
by Molly Harper 
(Dead Moon Hollow #2)
BUY: Amazon - B&N

Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.

Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.

Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.


My PhotoMolly Harper worked for six years as a reporter and humor columnist for The Paducah Sun. Her reporting duties included covering courts, school board meetings, quilt shows, and once, the arrest of a Florida man who faked his suicide by shark attack and spent the next few months tossing pies at a local pizzeria. Molly lives in western Kentucky with her family.


Check out all of my Molly Harper REVIEWS

I am giving away one AUDIO book to the winner. 
Please make sure that you can accept books from before entering. Thanks


  1. Admittedly Molly Harper raises some excellent points for the ROMP side and her post is interesting and informative. But... Amanda Bonilla's post is WAY better. ;)


  2. love her post!! Comparing fight scenes to sex scenes. It was great.

    I am excited to see all the posts this month!

  3. That's hurtful, Carmel!

    1. Don't worry. She'll find a moose head in her bed before it's all over.

      (FYI moose head cuz she Canadian. LOL)

    2. All's fair in love and war Molly. ;)

      Jen: Haha it's just sad when you have to explain your joke.

    3. For the peeps that might not realize your across the boarder to the north. LOL

  4. Molly's books sound fantastic. I can't wait to read them. Please enter me in contest.

  5. I enjoyed the review. I'm excited about Stomp vs. Romp. I'm Team Romp. Molly is on of my favorite authors.

    1. And we have another winner. You picked the right team.

      Don't you just love her books?! Fun and sassy.

  6. I love the idea that when you write a love scene you think about what your grandma will think! I would be the same way totally! Thanks, Carin

  7. Carin, it helps that my mom is a lifelong romance reader. She knows that you HAVE to have at least one good love scene. The only problem is that she hears all of the books in "my" voice. And there are some things I've written (like the Naked Werewolf love scenes) where she just skips over them for the sake of her own mental health.

  8. Although I love the action and suspense of the books, I have to say that I like the romance part much more. I used to read more action/mystery but since I found romances, I really need the love and the HEA or at least HFN endings.

    However, I don't think I could have family members, especially my Mom or Grandmother to read a love scene that I wrote (if I had the talent for writing.

    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  9. hahaha, I love that you figure if nora roberts describes man-bits as "length" then it's classy enough for you :) Although, seeing the word "weenie" would seem a lot more random than the word "cock"...just saying..okay, I feel like this comment is just plain dirty....

    Anyhow, thanks for this post today, it made me smile! I can't wait to read The Care and Feeding of Vampires, Book Savvy Babe

  10. I loved this post!! And for the record, I don't think you can ever go wrong with "cock." LOL.

  11. I have the Nice Girls series in my TBR pie. Perhaps I need to bump these up a little higher in the pile. ;)

    Great post BTW. Love the topic choice.

  12. I agree that love scenes are important because they are what makes a romance book. But a little stomp wouldn't be bad either ;)
    As for terminology, I saw a timeline on Twitter discussing that and found some of the suggestions quite funny. I feel it's never bad to go with the classics :)

  13. I love the Jane Jameson series. Thanks for a great interview.


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