23 & 24 August 2018


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European Lesfic Literary Conference

Meet Harper’s other half – Caroline


Ever wondered what keeps a writer going? Who is their other half, the one who makes the endless cups of tea and props them up when they feel down? Us too! Which is why we have been extra nosy and gone asking questions on your behalf. This week we meet Harper’s wife, Caroline Manchoulas – let’s give her a warm welcome.


Caroline – how long have you known Harper?

I met Harper almost 18 years ago. It took a few months for us to get together though, as I was nursing a broken heart when we met. Luckily she was nice enough to wait until I was ready.


Do you read your partner’s books?

By the time one of Harper’s books comes out, I’ve probably read it about four times. She sends me what she’s written every day as she’s working on the first draft, then I go over the whole book when she’s done with her first draft, and then I do at least one or two rounds of proofreading just before it goes out in to the world.
I regularly re-read my favourites, or listen to them when they come out in audio. All in all, I probably read them more than she does.


What is the best thing about being married to a writer?

I’ve always had my nose in a book, ever since I learnt to read, so I’d say the best thing about being married to a writer is the endless supply of new reading material. Also, with all the drama and up-and-down moods, there’s never a dull moment.


Do you ever have to try out certain scenes from her latest book? (i.e. does this scenario work?)

It has happened in the past that we’ve had to test if a body would fold in a certain way without causing permanent damage, but not so much anymore these days. Which is good, as our own flexibility has certainly not improved with time, despite hours of yoga.


Is writer’s widow a real syndrome?

Not so much in our household, as I’m so involved in the book from the very beginning, and we work together on all the other parts of our business. I sometimes wish I could be more of a writer’s widow, we are way too merged for our own good…


How much ice cream/chocolate/wine gets consumed when writing the first draft?

I would say the amount of chocolate and wine consumed is proportionate to the drama and doubt about the book and tends to go in a bell curve over the course of the first draft, with peak consumption being around three quarters in.


How do you keep Harper the writer in a good mood?

The best way to get her back into a good mood when she’s drifting to the dark side is to do my best rendition of Ally McBeal’s dancing baby. Or else make sure our cat Dolly Purrton is within her eyesight as she’s a constant source of amusement.


Do you get jealous when she spends too much time with her characters?

No, because I spend almost as much time with them. We can share 🙂


What is her more adorable/irritating quirk as a writer?

Adorable: The way she comes into the office when she’s done with her writing for the day and proudly (or sheepishly) announces her word count.
Irritating: I’m not at liberty to say!


What do you think writers are doing when they stare blankly into space?

I think my writer is mostly picturing Robin Wright, or whoever is her fantasy casting for the book she’s working on. Which is often Robin Wright.


What’s Harper’s biggest writing secret? Something she has never spoken about to her readers. Something nobody knows … until now!

When she was a teenager she used to write dramatic song lyrics on the walls of her room. These are still visible now and I’m thinking of turning the house into a tourist attraction for lesfic fans, as a little extra source of income. Interested parties, feel free to contact me.


How do you feel right before Harper’s book is released? Is it as stressful for you as it is for her?

It is quite stressful for me as well, as I’m so involved in the whole creation process. But I can manage my stress better and keep it to myself. The same cannot be said for someone with a dramatic writer persona.


Do you organise something special to celebrate, like a party, when her next book is released?

Usually by the time a book comes out, we’re somewhere in the production process of the next one, so there’s not that much of a party, probably just a glass of nice wine.
We should celebrate it more, I think. Maybe for the next release we’ll have two glasses of wine.


What is the best thing your writing partner does to make you feel appreciated?

She says I put the Bliss in Harper Bliss.


What advice would you give to significant halves of aspiring writers?

Be prepared to deal with a lot of drama!