Leeanne Harback’s reading habits support the entire Tasmanian Library system!
It’s Friday! And that means one of my reader interviews. I scoured the web for volunteers and stumbled across Leeanne Harback, from the island of Tasmania south of Australia, one of the many destinations on my bucket list. Now I think Tasmanian devils are the cutest ever, despite the cartoon, but once I’d read Leeanne Harback’s responses to my questions, and seen just how many books this woman devours in a week, I think the devil has just found his master. Meet Leeanne Harback, reader extraordinaire:
If we were to do this interview in the real world, where would we sit and talk?
I would love to show you around my country Australia and state of Tasmania and just sit and talk on the beautiful beaches or the pristine rain forests.
I haven’t met you in the real world, nor online really, Leeanne. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a 36 yr old single mother of four who is very outgoing, and am currently going back to school to study community services. I have a very strong view on equality and making sure everyone has a fair and good life, be they disabled, gay, straight or even their nationality or sex. I also strongly believe in giving everyone a fair go and that we can achieve just about anything with positive reinforcements and people. I want to give back to my community to those in need and I am very outspoken on any form of abuse, discrimination and negative behaviors. My four children still live at home with me and are 17, 16, 14 and 12. I have three girls and one boy, the fourteen year old being the boy, LOL. My youngest has Autism and is so beautiful and black or white in life. We love cats, I also volunteer to visit those elderly in need and have no one else that comes to see them.
What is one thing you would like the world to remember you for?
My ability to give back to others that need help and for being able to do it with no worry about it coming back to me or getting paid back. After what you’ve said above, I have no doubt that you are already remembered fondly by many.
I understand you’re an avid reader. What got you into reading in the first place?
I started reading from the age of 3 and have loved it since. I was always in trouble for having my head in a book growing up and it has not changed since. I love reading, for a real good book takes you away into a different place, and the really good ones make it feel like you are right there with the characters. They just can take away so many troubles for just a little while, and I often fall a little in love with the characters lol. Reading can also help you so much in everyday life.
I found you in the M/M group on Facebook, so I presume you like to read gay fiction. As a woman, what attracts you in gay fiction? Is there more to it than “two men is better than one?”
I started of with the traditional [romance novels] and then moved on to the ménage and found that I really liked the ones that had love interaction between the male characters more. What attracts me is I love the strong emotions you see in the m/m books and when they are so well written I just want to kick some prejudiced butt even if it just a story. I have had gay friends that have had the unfortunate pleasure of being victims of a so-called anti “poof” bashing group. I just love the genre regardless. I just love seeing the HEA in m/m book because we all deserve a HEA in life. m/m books also seem to have more emotion and I love the reality of them.
For some odd reason you end up on a remote island (and NOT Tasmania), a modern day Robinson Crusoe, with only three books to bring along as company. Which ones would you bring along as your literary Fridays?
Well that is a very hard question as I love books and reading so much it would be extremely hard, but I suppose at least one book would have to be on how to survive and make thing like a boat so I can escape for more books [Now this girl is smart, I’ll have you know. Nobody’s thought of THIS before!], the second one would have to be a mega anthology m/m romance that I would have to ration to one story a day. And the third would be a photo book/scrapbook of all my family and friends, so I would always have them by my side. Hands down, the smartest answer so far!
If you could travel to any point in time, where would you go and what would you do?
I would love to travel to Scotland and see all the old castles and moors and see what it was like back then and also would love to go back to America and help the Native Americans out. lol
Can you describe your favorite place to read a book?
I love reading a book anywhere but finding a beautiful place outdoors beats them all, be it on the beach with the waves crashing of under a big shady tree in a park. The outdoors and being close to nature just does it for me.
What is the worst advice you’ve ever given to someone?
The worst advice that I have ever given someone would have to be to tell someone that they cared about to tell the truth in regards to their cheating partner, they ended up seriously hurt and in hospital over it as well, as I lost a lifelong friend.
Do you have a credo you live by? Something you try to follow?
Something that I live by and teach my children is three major things: always tell the truth, never ever steal, and always use your manners. These few simple things can take you a long, long way, also to try and turn the other cheek and always help someone if you can respect is also a big one.
What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to?
It would have to be my home state Tasmania. We have so many amazing natural attractions and marvels that I am proud to call it home.
Do you have any regrets in life?
No, to have regrets means that things went wrong, but to my thinking I just took a side street or a detour, lol. And it has also made me the strong person that I am today so no I have no regrets.
- On average, how many books do you read per week? 20 (WOW, I mean, wow, W.O.W.)
- Who’s your favorite actor? Ellen
- Your favorite drink? Coke
- Your favorite film? The green mile
- What food would you never put in your mouth? veal (poor baby cows 🙁 )
Thank you Leeanne Harback. I have to hand it to you, you are a wise gal! And I loved your take on my questions and your responses. One of the reasons I do these interviews is to learn about people, what they read, why they read, what makes them tick, but also, very importantly, to simply get to know another fellow human being, someone I might not have met otherwise. Tasmania is about as far away from Sweden as it gets and your home island with its mystical name has a strong pull, a great appeal. Thanks for doing this. Now, Leanne, like everyone else, gets to ask me a question, and here it is: “my question for you would have to be how have you put up with the prejudice against gay romance and the taboo subject?”
I just double checked with Leeanne to make sure I understand her question correctly. Thing is, I am gay, so the prejudice you feel against gay fiction (I don’t write romance novels, even if love and relationships are a part of my books, as they are part of life, and I do like a happy ending) is what I’ve grown up with. Just as you mention in your clarification to me, “yikes” and “gross” and what not were words I’ve often had to hear. It is also why a lot of readers of gay fiction are closet cases, which is interesting. For me, once I was out as a gay man, and once I had time to adjust to that, there was no going back, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt or heard any sort of discrimination, at least that I’m aware of. I’m happily married (our twelfth year) and we have a son. I’d be lying if my writing gay (contemporary) fiction isn’t like a coming out, all over again, and I’ve had some people look at me funnily, but except for my dad nobody ever told me to not do it. And he said it mainly because he felt there are no readers. To a straight man in his seventies, it’s almost incomprehensible that anyone would read gay fiction, let alone hordes of straight women around the globe. He doesn’t get it, but he now supports me.
The second part of your question, the taboo (i.e. the sex, I double checked), well, I just put out a smut novel, an erotica book, and while it was fun for a while to write that (plenty of breaks, if you catch my drift), it’s not my genre. I’m a visual person, and if I need to get my rocks off, there’s better ways (i.e. porn.)
Now, I have absolutely no problem with sex in books, although I’m not a big fan of reading it, simply because most of the sex described in books is so unrealistic (comes with the rules of the genre, which are more about phantasies than reality.) If I write a sex scene in my other books, e.g. the coming one, which has one single on page sex scene, I make sure it’s realistic, just as it would be in real life. But the more I write, the more I banish the sex off page. In Jonathan’s Promise, my coming novel, the on page scene is a key scene in the story, and it is absolutely critical that it be there. All other sex is off page, mentioned, joked about, but since it’s not moving the plot along, I leave it to the reader to imagine it. I prefer it that way.
So no, I have no qualms writing about sex, but I have certain rules I follow. And since I don’t write romance, I’m not obliged to follow any of the genres rules. If you want sex in any of my writing, Ross Deere – Handy Man is the book to read. My other novels do all contain sex, but the way I described above. Sex for the sake of sex? I’d rather watch that! 😉
I hope this helps. Thank you so much Leeanne Harback for doing this with me. As a thank you, I’ll send you a copy of Spanish Bay, as requested. I hope you’ll like that book. In it, a steamy sex scene was removed by me since the book is intended for young adults. But originally it contained a scene between Chris and Neil, and since Neil is wheel chair bound, I felt it was important to show that even the disabled can have great sex. In the end, the young adult aspect trumped that, and I rewrote that scene a bit.
Have a wonderful weekend!