I sometimes sort-of-joke in job interviews that I haven’t had a career path. I’ve had a career meander. I’ve pottered about, taking jobs on the basis of my skills and interests at the time. Sometimes my interests were basically ‘I need to pay the rent’. I have been a bank teller, a customer service person, a kitchen hand and, for one awful and soul-withering afternoon, an outbound telemarketer.
But then I found the courage to break out of all those jobs that I did not love to write for a living, at least in the corporate sphere. I took my rather patchy background and wove a narrative through it of me as a writer: of letters to clients, of training materials, of articles for social clubs. Thank goodness for those three years I spent teaching English as a Foreign Language in Egypt in Poland, which got me through the door.
But even my corporate writing career has been eclectic. I’ve written abstracts for a news-gathering service; educational materials and advocacy texts for an aid agency; brochures, newsletters, taglines and marketing texts for an advertising company. For a year I was a journalist who wrote about supermarkets and convenience stores and related products (and I’m still unreasonably excited that I got to interview Stephen Twining of Twinings Tea). These days I’m a quality assurance editor, being paid to be pernickety about other people’s grammar.
Frankly, if I’m all over the place when it comes to my day-job career, it can hardly be a surprise to anyone that I’m just as eclectic in my vocational writing. So far in my non-office writing career I have produced crime, fantasy and horror fiction. I’ve written a true crime essay (part of the recently re-released Cold Blood) and two non-fiction smartphone apps. I’ve written a play. I’m currently writing songs with my talented niece, Jess Harris, for a new book project.
And my latest unexpected foray into new genres?
I’ve become a writer of erotic fiction!
I haven’t always been a fan of the genre. I read a lot of romance novels that made me want to stab one or both protagonists, but I don’t believe in dissing a genre I haven’t actually read. As much as most of the books I read left me cold, though, I would sometimes find books that were fun, with great characters and rollicking plots. I also kept meeting smart, funny, confident women who enjoyed the field. I must be missing something, I thought. So I asked the Twittersphere for advice and it delivered Anne Gracie to me. Oh. So that’s what all the fuss was about. That was what a good, fun, saucy romance story could be!
When Lindy Cameron, my publisher at Clan Destine Press, approached me about writing for the press’s new Encounters line, I thought: why not? I haven’t written in that genre before, but it’s an element of some of my previous books. And it’ll be a challenge. It’s good to be challenged. It’s obviously very hard to write romance and erotica well, and I want to find out if I can do it. I want to find out if I can write a believable romance as the central point of a story, and if I can write an explicit sex scene that isn’t utterly risible.
Let’s face it, most of my books contain an intense relationship of some kind – often a romantic one, though not always. Exploring human relationships is a significant part of my plots.
Thus – ta da! – I have added a new genre to my literary ensemble. Double Edged is the first short story in the Secret Agents, Secret Lives series. Other stories are being prepared for that and another series in Clan Destine’s Encounters erotica stories, written mainly by writers better known from other genres – including Kerry Greenwood, of Phryne Fisher fame.
To delineate this genre from my other work, I’ve opted to publish the stories under a simplified variant of my own name – NM Harris – rather than my stripper name (Heidi Hillside, if you’re interested). After all, I don’t have children to protect from my own reputation, and I’m actually pretty proud of my efforts in the genre.
But you know me – I love a bit of adventure! Double Edged is full of action, sacrifice, explosions, spy shenanigans, swordplay and sass. And that’s before we even get to the saucy scenes.
I’d love it if you’d come on this surprise foray into love and adventure with me. (And I hope you like it if you do. It’s only $1.80, so it’s worth a try!)
And let’s all wait with bated breath to see what genre I’ll be writing in next!
Double Edged by NM Harris
Martine Dubois is a disgraced cop whose main sin was to trust a partner she should not have trusted.
When spymaster Philip Marsden, who has a painful past of his own, recruits Martine as an agent, it’s her chance to find redemption, and a chance for both of them to find love – unless duty kills them first.
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.