Welcome, today we are talking with Jessica Coulter Smith AKA Harley Wylde! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.
I always find it fascinating when an author decides to write under more than one name. Let’s begin with you explaining the differences with your two author personas.
Jessica Coulter Smith writes paranormal and scifi romance (mostly). I’ve deviated here and there with a few historical romances and I tried a contemporary or two. But I think my Jessica Coulter Smith readers have come to expect shifters and aliens from me under that name. When I came up a series idea for some erotic new adult books, I discussed with my publisher and we decided to try a new pen name. My husband came up with Harley (I think he was trying to say I’m like Harley Quinn) and we struggled with the last name for a bit. I said that the Harley books were wilder than the Jessica Coulter Smith titles, and it sort of clicked in my mind. So Harley Wylde was born.
Was there a reason that you decided on using a pen name?
When I first started my writing career as a published author, it was 2008. At that time, everything I read and everyone I spoke with said if you crossed genres (even sub-genres) then you should use a different name. I didn’t pay them much heed and write whatever spot to me as Jessica Coulter Smith. I did notice that my usual readers didn’t seem to care for the non-shifter or non-alien books. So in 2016 (or was it 2017?) when I started getting ideas for the Bad Boy Romance series, that’s when Harley Wylde was created. Now Harley is mostly known for MC romances, which I love to write!
With regard to social media, websites, and your online author presence is it hard keeping Jessica Coulter Smith separate from Harley Wylde?
Not really. I mean, it’s time consuming for sure. I have a twitter for each, an Instagram for each (though I honestly don’t take enough pictures to have an Instagram account much less two), both names have their own website and blog. My Facebook is my actual profile page, but I also have author pages for Jessica Coulter Smith and Harley Wylde. I guess, for me, the Jessica Coulter Smith pages are a bit more subdued, but with Harley I can let my hair down and just speak my mind.
Can you share a little something about you that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
That’s a tough one. Well… I’ve lived all over the southern US, Texas, and even as far as California. My mother was a military brat and every 2 years she’d get the itch to move (even though she wasn’t in the military herself). My parents divorced when I was younger and was just me and my mom bouncing from place to place. I got to see a lot of different states and cities, experience different cultures, but the south will always be home.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Since forever LOL. I used to love writing short stories when I was still using crayons and that hugely ruled paper they used in kindergarten way back when (*cough* not that I’m old). In high school, I had an English teacher, Mrs. Robinette, who assigned several writing assignments. I loved writing short stories for her class, so much that when I was at home, I started writing for the fun of it. I started my first novel when I was fifteen, and even won a few editor’s choice awards for poetry by the time I was sixteen. I never really thought of it as a career option. My mother is an engineer, and to her, something along those lines was the only way I’d be able to support myself. I still wrote because I loved it, but it wasn’t until my twenties that I let someone read a finished book and they urged me to submit it to a publisher. The rest, as they say, is history.
How long have you been writing?
For fun, since as far back as I can remember. As my job? I was published in 2008 by a company that is no longer in business, but I didn’t write as a full-time author until January 2011. It was actually my husband who convinced me to stay home and write, and it’s been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.
What have you found most challenging about it?
Getting my kids to understand that “mommy is working” means don’t come tell me every little thing that pops into their heads in that very moment. I’ve discovered that closed doors aren’t a deterrent. I joked with my husband and said I may need a She-Shed because they’re too lazy to leave the house to come find me, even if it’s just a few feet out into the backyard.
What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional or exhausted when you write those hot scenes?
Writing is all of those and more. There are times I have immense fun writing, while other times it helps me purge however I’m feeling. If something bad happened, then maybe I write a fight scene or kill off a bad guy. The most exhausting scenes I’ve ever written were BDSM scenes. I haven’t written many that fall into that category, or maybe they just toe the line of it, but those scenes really take a lot out of me. The every day type of hot scenes though, those I can write practically in my sleep, and are probably the most fun I have that day (while writing).
Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?
It’s not so much that I need to be in the mood, but I do need limited distractions. Music and movies are fine. Live people coming in out or trying to talk to me isn’t okay. I’ve also found when I’m truly tired, my brain just can’t work fast enough for me to feel like I’m accomplishing much. In a typical day, when I’m rested and caffeinated, I can write about 1000 words every 10-15 minutes (especially if I know where the story is going). On a day when I’m barely awake? That’s more like 1000 words in an hour if I’m lucky. So, I’ve learned when I’m super tired, it’s better to go back to sleep for a bit and just try to write through the chaos later in the day.
Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?
I don’t think I really considered it either way. I took a break from writing from the time my daughter was three until she was maybe six or seven. I had so much pressure on me one day that I just felt like I might snap or explode. So I opened a blank screen and just started putting words down. The book that emerged was originally titled Whispering Lake, and is not Moonlight Haunting. It’s a bit rougher than how I write now since it was my very first finished and published story (even though it’s been edited more than once). One of my co-workers begged to read it. She loved it and told me I should get it published. Then my husband said I should try to find a publisher, even though he hadn’t read it. He said if I’d put in enough time to write an 80,000 word novel, then I should do something with it. Even when I signed that first contract, I still didn’t think of writing as a job. It was awesome that people would be able to read my book, and I’d discovered I was still addicted to writing, perhaps more so than before, but for me… it was a passion. Not a hobby or a job. It’s still my passion, but it also helps pay the bills.
What inspires you?
Lots of things! It might be something my husband says or does; something a person says that makes me angry; even a picture I see while I’m out running errands. Ideas are all around us and every day life is the best inspiration a writer could ever have.
Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.
What is your favorite:
- Animal – If I have to pick only one (because I love many), then cats.
- Food – Mexican. Or Italian. It’s a toss-up. I love them both.
- Movie – Overboard! It was the first romantic movie I remember watching.
- TV show – Supernatural
- Singer – I honestly don’t have one
- Author – Laurann Dohner was the first author that was ever an auto-buy for me. I’d one-click her books without even reading the description because I knew I’d love them.
What are your pet peeves?
Slow drivers in the left lane. A$$holes who treat women or kids like crap. Bookstores that put price stickers over the book description! Or even worse, bookstores that have a romance section that contains maybe 3-4 shelves of books, like it’s shameful to even have them in the store.
Who is your hero?
I don’t really have just one. My Nana is my hero for teaching me that I have to love myself and be happy before I can make others happy, that it’s okay to not appease everyone around me. My mother is my hero for telling me that hard work and determination meant I could do anything I wanted. I just had to believe I could. (I don’t think she had romance writer in mind at the time LOL). My dad is my hero for going to work even when he was sick, for taking the time to come look at my car when it wouldn’t start after he’d been at work since four that morning. My Poppop is my hero for pushing me to go further than I believed I could. If I whined and said I couldn’t do something, he’d tell me that I could and keep going, expecting me to keep up (and I did). My husband is my hero for believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself. When I feel like I can’t handle one more thing, he reminds that I have before and I can now. I know that no matter what gets thrown my way, he’ll be there. My Grandma and Pappaw are my heroes for showing me what over fifty years of marriage is like, that even when things are difficult, you don’t give up and quit. You honor your promises and commitments to each other and push through together. My kids are my heroes for facing things head on even when they say they can’t. They work to conquer their fears and go after their dreams, no matter who says they should give up.
Give us one thing on your bucket list.
I would love to see Ireland and Scotland one day. I’ve only seen them in movies and pictures, but they always give me a feeling home. Seeing the Scottish Highlands fills me with peace, even when I’m not there to breathe in the fresh air and experience the beauty in person.
What would readers find surprising about you?
I read this question and decided to go think about it. I’ve been thinking for about 8 hours now (and I quite possibly overthink things). But the problem is that I’m not quite sure what you’d want to know. Do you want to know that I can play several different instruments and like to sing? Or that I’m a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do? Maybe you want to know that I used to ride horses every day and even placed in shows? The reason I don’t do those things now is because my body turned against me and said “nope, we’re not doing that anymore.” Trust me, if I could still ride a horse, I’d be in pure heaven. I miss that horses and dirt smell.
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?
I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, especially in the last three years. If I couldn’t visit all of them, then I’d probably choose my Meemaw. She was a writer too, and even though she never finished writing the two novels she’d started, she submitted articles to the DeSoto Magazine and had quite a few published. We used to discuss book trends, possibly marketing ideas, what the latest craze seemed to be for romance novels. I miss those conversations. She was only one in the family who got it, who understood my need to write, and could toss around ideas with me. I still reach for my phone to call her when something exciting or outrageous happens in the book world.
Any bad habits?
I say Fuck way too often, or some variation of it. Not sure I necessarily consider it a bad habit, but my husband likes to tease me about it. My husband also says it drives him batty when I constantly twirl my hair. In my defense, I inherited that trait from my dad’s mother, my Grandma. I remember my grandfather always fussing at her for doing that. Now that I think about it, my dad doesn’t twirl his hair, but he does play with his mustache A LOT. So I guess I get it from both of them. ?
Now that our readers know a little bit about you let’s get down to the business of Rocket, book 2 in your Hades Abyss MC Series.
How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?
While I do try to sit down and write consistently, I don’t always work on the same book from day to day. I have over 50 partially written books at any given time (it might be closer to 100 in all honesty). For Rocket, if I add up all the days, it took me eleven days to write his book. Quite a few of those days I wrote 4,000 to 5,000 words (each day not all together). Once a story clicks in my head, my fingers tend to fly. I’ve written as much as 18,000 words in one day before, or as little as 1,000. Some days are just better than others. The title for Rocket was easy enough as that’s the hero’s name. Each book in the Hades Abyss MC series will be titled after the hero featured in the story. Rocket’s story actually started prior to his book. The idea was planted in a different series, and I followed that thread with book 1 in Hades Abyss, and it carried through Rocket’s. I like to interconnect my series, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be read as stand-alone books. I try to make it possible for readers to jump in anywhere and not feel lost.
Please tell us a little bit about, Rocket.
Well, after all that vagueness in my previous answer… Rocket is a member of the Hades Abyss MC. He lost his little sister in an accident, so when the club ends up taking care of what they thought would be spoiled Colombian mob princesses, his President volunteers him to take in the youngest. We get a glimpse of their initial meeting at the very beginning of the book, but the story doesn’t take off until she’s older (and legal), so no worries there. Violeta is determined to make Rocket hers, and it’s a bit humorous to watch the big tough biker run from her… but once she catches him, he’ll do anything for her.
How many books do you have planned for the series?
I learned a long time ago not to set a number of copies for a series. I’d say I would write three, end up having eight or more books. So I just take the stories as they come. If I had to guess, there will be no less than five or six.
What was your hardest challenge writing this book?
Time! It was summer break so the kids were home and were in the process of buying a house. So I was house hunting, packing, and hearing “I’m bored” a million times a day. Remember I said it took 11 days to write Rocket? That was spread over two months. And yes, I worked on other books during that time too, but I didn’t have anywhere near the usual amount of time I dedicate to writing.
What kind of research did you have to do?
I’d already researched a bit about Colombian crime families and their set up back when I was writing a previous book. So for Rocket, I didn’t have to do much. I try really hard to use things I already know when I’m writing. Obviously, if I were writing a historical romance, that would be different. Bouncing from place to place, I learned quite a bit over the years. I also have Marines and Airmen in my family, as well as police, doctors, and lawyers. Dinner table discussions, or just eavesdropping on the grown ups talking, has given me more than enough things to write about for years to come.
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
In a Harley Wylde book, there’s almost always an instant spark of lust. And while sexual gratification is always a bonus, it’s the obstacles I throw their way that draw them closer together and make them fall in love. Sex can be awesome just for the sake of sex, but it’s mixing in love and feelings for the other person that makes it explosive.
Any other works in progress?
Always! I just turned in Wire (Dixie Reapers MC) and it’s up for preorder at Amazon right now (other retailers hopefully coming soon). I’ve started the first Devil’s Fury book. Whether it’s the one that talks me to until it’s completed or I switch to Devil’s Boneyard or Hades Abyss I can’t say for certain. I never know what will be finished next until I’ve written the final word of the story.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Buy stock in wine? Okay, in all seriousness, don’t expect to be the next Nora, especially with your first book. No matter how amazing you think it is, I promise there’s room for improvement. I’ve been published since 2008 and I’m still learning things and improving on my craft. Being a writer means that things are always changing, and you’re in an awesome position to constantly grow with your career. If you submit your book and get a rejection, it’s okay. We’ve all been there. J.K Rowling received tons of rejections on Harry Potter, but she didn’t give up and look at her now! I’m not saying you’ll be a billionaire, but if you keep chasing your dream, you’ll eventually see it to fruition. It won’t be easy. If you think writing is a quick way to hit fame and fortune, you are in for a very disappointing ride. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and definitely stubbornness. And before you ever turn in that first book, start researching ways to market your work because getting people to buy your book rests on your shoulders. Most publishers will want to know your marketing plan, what social media platforms you use for your writing, and anything else that makes them feel you’ll be able to help sell the book. Do all your homework and be prepared! Start building relationships with other authors now.
Thank you so much for interviewing me today! Writing Rocket was a lot of fun, but then I love writing all of my books. I appreciate the chance to share Rocket with the Coffee Time Romance readers! If there are any aspiring romance writers out there who might be feeling a bit lost, you’re welcome to reach out to me. I don’t claim to know it all, but I’ll help where I can.
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