Culture
3:56 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Author Molly Harper: 'Snarky Romance with Bite'

Molly Harper, an author and Paducah native, released A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses, a spinoff to her Nice Girls series, in May. She is releasing the second book in her Rhythm and Bluegrass series in October. Harper describes her style as "snarky romance with bite."
Molly Harper, an author and Paducah native, released A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses, a spinoff to her Nice Girls series, in May. She is releasing the second book in her Rhythm and Bluegrass series in October. Harper describes her style as "snarky romance with bite."
Credit John Paul Henry

Stephanie Meyer may have made vampires sparkle but Molly Harper made them funny. The Paducah-based writer has been publishing paranormal romance fiction since 2009, writing books that explore themes of vampires and werewolves with comedic abandon while also rooting them in local culture. Recently, she’s come out with a new series that veers from the supernatural into the world of state tourism.

The author of the “Nice Girls” and “Naked Werewolf” series sets the books in the fictional town of Half Moon Hollow, Ky. The hollow is a place low on population, high on whimsy and definitely inspired by Harper’s home state.

“There’s something wonderful and quirky and eccentric about our state. It’s just something I wanted to share with other people.”

The bookish mother of two has garnered positive reviews from publications like the Romantic Times and Publishers Weekly for her saucy novels. She was even nominated for a RITA which is the most prominent award given in the romance genre.

But, once up on a time—specifically from 2000 to 2006—this writer worked for the Paducah Sun.

“I really enjoyed the job. You just never knew what was going to happen when you approached your workday. You could end up meeting the governor; you could end up chasing a runaway bear, which I did once. The runaway bear of Golconda, Ill. It was the highlight of my career.”

Like the bear chase, Harper’s life took an unusual turn. After leaving the newspaper, she took a job as a church secretary to help provide a more stable life and schedule for her daughter.. Shortly after she began answering calls for the pastor during the day, she began writing fiction at night. Harper penned a story about a Kentucky librarian who became a creature lusting for blood and for the sexy vampire that turned her after a drunk hunter mistook her for a deer. That story became “Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs”—Harper’s first published novel.

“It took a while before I was comfortable sending it out to agents for representation. For three months, I went to a website called agentquery.com. I think I got a list of 75, and I was rejected by 70.”

And then, Harper got a response from Stephany Evans, president of Fine Print Literary Management. Evans sold the book in two weeks. “Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs” debuted in 2009. Since then, Harper has continued to delve into the weird and the supernatural for plot points.

“For me, it’s always fun to express regular problems through people that have extraordinary circumstances and I think that’s a lot of fun, so why not give them fangs and fur and maybe fins if that’s what makes you happy.”

This author’s furry and fanged characters have inhabited places outside of Kentucky, particularly in her “Naked Werewolf” series, but while Harper’s literary success has grown, she still tends to keep many of her tales rooted in her Bluegrass home. The state’s quirky nature inspires her. In fact, her agent kept sending her strange news stories featuring Kentucky, including one about a man who ate his own beard on a dare. These articles spurred the composition of  Harper’s recent novel “My Bluegrass Baby”,  which centers on a woman working in a state tourism department and who loves to feature unique Kentucky culture in her publicity campaigns.

What “My Bluegrass Baby” lacks in supernatural elements, it makes up for in educational value. For example, Harper felt intrigued by Vent Haven, a museum in Fort Mitchell, Ky.

“I had a whole scene set out just so I could include that information in the book.”

“Vent Haven is the world’s only museum dedicated to the history and preservation of the art of ventriloquism.

Voice actress Amanda Ronconi introduces the scene in the audiobook.

"Housed in a private home in Kenton County, the facility boasts a collection of hundreds of dummies from Edward Bergen’s iconic Charlie McCarthy to more historical specimens, such as the cigarette-smoking granny dummy constructed in the 1850s.”

The sequel to “My Bluegrass Baby”, called “Rhythm and Bluegrass”, comes out in October. The third book

in the series debuts in February 2014, and all three novels will be available be available exclusively as eBooks.

But, the author still plans to continue spinning yarns about Half Moon Hollow too.

And while Kristen Stewart has yet been cast as Jane Jameson, the female lead in the “Nice Girls” series, Harper is happy. She’s working fulltime as an author now, holing up in her Paducah home and writing sentence after sentence about vampires, love or Kentucky.

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