25 Authors: Gail Harkins

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Tell my fans a little bit about yourself and your books.

I’ve written professionally for more than 30 years, crafting non-fiction articles about the practical applications of science and technology. Writing fiction and, specifically sweet romances and women’s fiction, is a break from that. I call it my vacation until I can get away for real.

How would you introduce your books to someone that has yet to read them?

Basically, I write “Hallmark” type fiction – sweet romances with unusual characters. I tend to incorporate my travels and experiences into my work, so expect settlings like British Columbia, Scotland and the Pacific Northwest, although my Oklahoma heritage sometimes breaks through. 

How many books have you written? What are their titles?

My most recent book, the full-sized novel “Perspective,” was published this autumn. I’ve also written two novellas, “The Winds of Glenhoolie,” and “The Cliffs of Glenhoolie.” My short stories include a heli-skiing adventure called “Canary Ice,” and the paranormal collection “What Dreams May Come” as well as numerous contributions to the Giant Tales anthologies. The newest of these comes out November 21, in the “Giant Tales: Final Ships in the Neighborhood” anthology.

What inspired you to start writing? What age did you start?

I actually didn’t write fiction until I was in my 50s. I wanted a new challenge and a vacation so, when I had some free time, I began a story set in the misty Olympic Peninsula. One day, I may edit it and prepare it for publication. At some point, my husband told me about a LinkedIn writing contest with a theme that month of climate change. I decided to enter a very short story about a polar bear that eats its “rescuer” knowing that would never even place. But, it won! At that point, I began to take fiction writing more seriously and wrote short stories regularly.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I love photography. My husband teases that it’s my excuse to catch my breath when we’re hiking, but photography was one of my favorite classes as a journalism student. Last year I started running and now, 12 months into it, can call it fun — not all the time (some days are real slogs), but the good runs outnumber the others.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

My advice? Read widely. Live life. Draw on your experiences to create fully-textured characters and settings. Remember to involve all the senses.

What’s your favorite scene/line from your works?

Personally, I love the opening to “The Winds of Glenhoolie,” on the ramparts of a castle on a bitterly cold December day.

 A stinging sleet drove into her eyes, forcing tears and obscuring her vision. It didn’t matter. Claire squinted through the icy needles beyond the battlements, beyond the scraggly evergreen bushes of broom, through the forest and into the distant past. There was movement. Shadows crept through the heather. Silent. Ever closer. She sensed the anticipation of battle about to be joined. Leaning forward, peering through ice-encased lashes, she saw the glint of steel beside tartans. Bagpipes moaned in the distance…or perhaps it was merely the wind whistling around corners and through the parapets. She held her breath, unwilling to break the spell.

“Miss? The castle is closing now. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit.”

What’s the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

 The hardest thing? The beginning, middle and end! Actually, I have a hard time winding the book down to its conclusion.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished a very short, short story set in Roman Britain, and am developing the follow-on story to “The Winds of Glenhoolie”. There was a whirlwind romance that ends with engagement in “Winds,” so now my characters need to deal with the aftermath. It opens with the words, “You did what?!”


What books did you read as a child?

I loved the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. Then I graduated to historical fiction. Those novels brought the past to life for me and spurred me to read the actual history of that time or situation later.

What genre is your favorite to read?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I’ll confess to inhaling Regency romances, but I also love a good modern thriller or courtroom drama.

How has your life changed since you began writing? 

Dark winter afternoons are now spent writing books in addition to reading books. It helps me embrace the long dark days of the Pacific Northwest.

What’s been your favorite moment as an author? 

This sounds silly, but I love seeing a good cover – the type that makes me want to walk into the picture. The result, unfortunately, is that my covers tend to hint at more “action adventure” than “romance” although the books generally have both. Perspective was my first cover to break that pattern, showing sexy legs – the focus of the heroine’s photography project.

Out of all of your characters, who is your favorite?

That’s a tough decision. It’s between Prairie, a quirky Canadian photographer from “Perspective,” who builds her career by photographing feet, and Hannah, a world-class mountain climber from “The Cliffs of Glenhoolie” who’s teaching rock-climbing in Scotland after losing a partner on K2. Prairie is young and tentative, and I enjoy her quirkiness. Hannah is a free spirit, determined to embrace life on her own terms.

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I just want them to have a really good time – a vacation – into another world. I want them to see and feel and taste the region in which the book is set.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What books do you take with you?

Hmmm…Aside from practical survival books, I’d take the Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (time travel is great fun), the collected works of Georgette Heyer (Regency is such good escape!), a few Jeffrey Archer novels, and “The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill.” His bon mots are wickedly good. I’d also probably take the Harry Potter series. 

What is your dream vacation destination?

Last year I explored Alaska. I’d like to see Scandinavia next. 


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4 Responses to 25 Authors: Gail Harkins

  1. Laurie Ryan says:

    OMGosh. I carry my camera with us walking/hiking for that exact reason. To give me and excuse to catch my breath. Lol. Lovely blog, Gail. And some interesting and diverse stories. I just got a nice, comfy new reading chair. Looks like I got it just in time.:)


  2. Lavada Dee says:

    Loved the interview Gail. And that cover is fun, bright and certainly attracted me to pick up Perspective. Wishing you mega sales.


  3. chantillywhite says:

    Fun interview, Gail! And I love that cover, it’s so perfect for your book. Here’s to many sales!


  4. gailharkins says:

    Thanks everybody! It was great to hear from you all.


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