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Author Interview: Harlowe Frost Chats about Pacific Pack

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Get ready to learn more about the book Pacific Pack in this discussion with sapphic author Harlowe Frost.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Harlowe Frost about Pacific Pack, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Cozy Mystery category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Pacific Pack?

I originally loved the idea of combining a cozy mystery with werewolves and witches. Initially I thought it could be a stand alone book. Then the book and characters told me they wanted to be something more.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I really like Paige, though Tamsin is a teacher at a university, as am I. We teach different subjects, but the heart of an instructor is universal. I like writing the alpha and the werewolf pack as a family, not members all vying for dominance. I think I’m similar that I love to surround myself with a village of friends and family. I’m different in that I think, if I were in a werewolf pack, I’d probably be submissive.

What inspired the idea for Pacific Pack?

This is kind of funny. I’m in a writers group. One of my friends and I was discussing different book ideas. I thought that this would be a great idea for them to write. Cozy mystery with a fantasy twist, right up their ally. They liked it, but didn’t think they wanted to write it. By the end of the conversation, enough of the idea had been fleshed out, I decided to take a stab at it myself. I ended up writing the first draft a week before NANOWRIMO because I had a different book planned for that. I brought this back out the next January to clean up and eventually get edited.

What part of Pacific Pack was the most fun to write?

When I started Pacific Pack, I had one ending in mind. Anyone who has read the book or the series, knows that black witches have come to Santa Cruz to take the city from the current wolf pack and witch coven.

In the initial concept, there wasn’t a separation of the witch coven and black witches. Then, I had an idea of them being somewhat integrated. But in the end, I decided I wanted this to be a series. different tropes in each book, and multiple HEAs. It changed everything about the initial story arc.

In the end, the whole writing process is fun. I always tell people writing, to me, is like reading a book, in action. I have some control on where it’s going, but a lot is watching it play out in my mind, and transcribing what I see. Good fun all around!

What is your writing process like?

I like to know where the book is going to end. It doesn’t always work out. I plan on ending in New York but in reality I end up in Boston. I’m close, but not quite there. After that, I like to figure out the major players. I find names hard, so if I can figure out names and imagine who the characters are, it helps to see them in my mind … then the scenes can play out.

I can usually plan three to five chapters at a time. I’ve done more, but usually if I do, I’ll end up needing to fill in, adjust, delete, or reimagine the last bits. I had one book I planned beginning to end. I had twelve full chapters figured out. That was as much as I could imagine. In the end the book has thirty-six chapters.

At times I’d like to be able to plan out more, have a more concrete path laid out, but I also enjoy experiencing it as the story unfolds. I don’t want my chapters to feel forced, and for me personally, when I’ve planned to much, my readers have told me that happens.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

Well, since this IS a pseudonym, yes, this! I teach. I also enjoy reading and writing romance with all the spice. At the end of the day, I don’t feel my students need to read the spice I write, at least not knowingly. I know there are plenty of authors who don’t mind, I just prefer, if students read my books, the read the stuff that is no spice.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

The most valuable advice is to ignore most advice.

There are a lot of writers who have rules they write by. Their backgrounds are in English and their writing is fantastic. My background is I’m a dyslexic math teacher. I believe I tell good stories and I write for the readers. That doesn’t mean I don’t have an editor … or three.

Most rules are great, but aren’t so strict that they can’t be broken at times. At one time, I had a critique writer who wrote ‘telle’ on every paragraph of a book I wrote. It got to the point it lost meaning. I’ve always had a flare for the dramatic and have always added that to my writing. Have I gone down the rabbit hole of telling and not showing. Sure. Was it every part of that book? Nope.

Okay, best piece of advice. Everyone has room to improve. Find the people who care about you as a writer as much as the words you’ve written. They will be the people who won’t make you feel bad about the parts of your writing that need to be improved but will make you feel empowered that you’ve written something amazing … that just needs editing.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

What helps me the most is my oldest son and my writing group. Every time I’m stuck or excited. They are there to help brainstorm or celebrate. It helps that I don’t feel like I’m in this alone.

Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?

I don’t. I probably should, but usually when I’m in the middle of writing, it’s with a plan on how the characters are going to get out. Now, when I’ve gone back to read weeks or months later, then I’ll feel bad. I don’t have as strong a sense of every page of writing and I’ll be more like a reader than the author.

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

I don’t know if I was inspired by these authors, but I really enjoy Illona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. Their combination of strong character and vulnerability has always impressed me. They also include a lot of humor in their writing.

What books did you grow up reading?

My mom had bookshelves of fantasy books written by women with women leads. It took her years to find and curate this collection. There were the books I read. I still have all the books, she gave them to me when I moved into my current house. I love reading about magic and shifters. What her books didn’t have were vampires and what I think of as current urban fantasy. I also like romance, which she didn’t read.

Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?

My main genres are urban fantasy, fantasy, and romance. I like almost anything well written. I’ve read some great historical fiction, woman’s fiction, YA lit, contemporary romance, autobiographies. As long as I’m entertained, I’m willing to try just about anything.

Meet Harlowe Frost

Harlowe Frost, pen name for Hannah Willow, has always loved reading but found the lack of LGBTQ+ representation frustrating. She started out writing in a variety of styles but found sapphic paranormal fantasy struck a chord.

Visit Harlowe’s Website

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