Saturday, 11 October 2014

Hosting Lily Harlem, author of "Breathe You In" and "Confessions of A Naughty Night Nurse"

Today's blog hosts a virtual visit by Lily Harlem, author of "Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse" and "Breathe You In", a well-received erotic romance with a medical twist.

LH: Thank you so much for inviting me visit today, Ian, it’s so very kind of you. 

IS: My pleasure. The combination of "confessions" and "nurse" in a title... Am I right to think you've some experience of working in the healthcare system prior to becoming a writer?

LH: I trained as a nurse when I was 18 and then worked in London for many years. I’ve always had a nurse story bubbling away at the back of my mind. I’ve been thinking lately about how my previous career as a nurse influences my writing. I guess that’s because in my work in progress my protagonist is a nurse (a prison nurse to be precise) and I find myself visualizing her routine and what she’s doing on a minute-to-minute basis when at work. By that I mean caring for the patients of course but also the technical bits – drug administration, observing vital signs, preparing for theatre, talking with relatives etc.

IS: Personally, I enjoy stories where the background detail is there, it makes it easier to be carried away. What prompted you to write a story about a nurse?

LH: A few years ago Mischief at HarperCollins approached me to write for their Confessions Series, naturally I decided to go for a nurse but not just any old nurse, a naughty night nurse. I love this cover, it’s so girly, but it’s the jaunty jut of her hip and the way her uniform is just a little bit too tight that really makes me smile.

IS: What do you particularly remember about your time in nursing?

LH: The hours were long and hard, the work certainly stressful, but it was also incredibly rewarding. Helping patients was part of the job and I thrived on the adrenaline-inducing department I specialized in – Accident and Emergency (Trauma). This was my home, be it during the day or on the night shift. One of the things I adored most was the sense of teamwork between doctors, nurses, the porters, lab staff, radiographers and domestic workers (cleaners and kitchen staff). If everyone didn’t get on together, communicate, work hard, then the place just couldn’t run. It was very rare to find a lazy staff member; that type of personality just didn’t survive! It was a case of working hard, then a bit harder, then if you had time, go play too. Mmm, yep, we played pretty hard if I remember correctly!

IS: I worked in a hospital early in my career too, so I remember that team spirit. But it wasn't all work for me. I guess your hospital had a social club, for instance?

LH: Oh yes, an ancient building with a tin roof and drink so cheap it must have been subsidized by someone – I don’t know who. It was generally full, mostly people in a uniform of some description, or if not in uniform they still had tired faces and were most likely just out of scrubs after being in theatre all day. Mr Harlem and I had many a date at the ‘social’, in fact, I think we probably had our first date there!

IS: Other than your husband, do you still remember other friends from then?

LH: During my nursing years I made many friends, most of them are memories now but a few have stood the test of time and without them still in my life there would be a great big hole. It does that to you, working in such an intense environment, you see people for who they are, beneath the layers. Those girlfriends have made up for me not having a sister and we’ve continued to rise and fall together on the crazy crests of life. I adore them.

IS: Can I be a little cheeky and wonder how true-to-life Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse is?

LH: Now don’t think this book is a memoir, it isn’t (OMG, if it was…!) but certainly the main character reminds me of someone I used to know, as do the two main doctors, Javier and Carl, though, of course, their personalities have been embellished considerably.  Some situations in the book are also reflections, and the descriptions of the hospital wards, corridors and Rose Cottage – that’s the fluffy name given to the morgue – are all exactly how I remember them.

IS: I know there are a lot of current and former nurses around, many of whom are likely to come across your book. How do you hope they'd react to it?

LH: I had an early review for Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse whichmuch to my delight, was written by a nurse…

(Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse) centers around Sharon, a night shift nurse in a hospital somewhere in England. If she lived in the U.S., she’d be called a float pool nurse because she can work almost anywhere in the hospital. You follow her sexscapades over the course of a few days/weeks and see how much trouble she gets into as well as how many people get between her legs. She’s naughty, remember?

This book had the potential for utter ridiculousness. As a nurse, I take my profession pretty seriously and I didn’t know if this book would make nurses look like trollops. It didn’t though. It felt real! The author’s grasp of medical lingo as well as the possible happenings in a hospital all felt right. I swear she mentioned Maslow and I guffawed. It appealed to the nurse and the instructor in me. The sex was good, but not overdone and I enjoyed the characters.

And my gosh, the book actually had a plot and a decent one at that. Plus, I was rooting for her to end up with the sexy doctor. Well done, Lily Harlem. You definitely won me over.

IS: Wow! You must have been really tickled by that review.

LH: I don’t mind saying that I was pretty nervous when the reviewer reached the point were she said the words ‘utter ridiculousness’ and then stated that she was a nurse, but phew, thank goodness she went on to say it ‘felt’ real. That is exactly what I was trying to achieve, an amalgamation of two big parts of my life, my erotic romance writing and my nursing days – this lovely reviewer made me happy dance. Oh, and if you’re wondering what Maslow is, it’s a psychology model used for assessing needs, starting from the very basic, moving up through the need to achieve, be encouraged etc and finally reaching self-actualisation.

IS: I'm going to have to read it now, it sounds like a lot of fun.

LH: If you do, I hope you enjoy Sharon’s naughty escapades. 

IS: Lily, thanks for agreeing to "pop in", I've enjoyed it. While you're here, perhaps you can share the blurb and an excerpt from Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse?

LH: Of course! 

When scalpels are set down, the ward lights turned off and the patients asleep, there is always time for mischief

I guess you could call me a jack-of-all-trades nurse. I find work satisfaction in whichever department the hospital needs me most, as long as it’s through the darkest hours. Needless to say I’ve seen it all over the years, been there and done that, what’s left to shock me isn’t worth knowing. But it’s so often the quieter nighttime where the real high jinx abound.

Yes, the nocturnal life is the one for me. With a weakness for sexy guys wearing white coats and dangling stethoscopes, my fantasies are often realised and I’m adept at finding relief from the hospital grind in shadowy corners and cozy linen cupboards.

Of course my dedication to patient comfort is paramount. What kind of nurse would I be if it wasn’t? But when one act of extreme, albeit highly inappropriate, kindness forced me to become the hospital director’s snitch, the length I went to in order to keep my job, satisfied my desires and found me the love that had always evaded me. A love that made me push even my not-so-professional boundaries to the extreme.


I checked my iPhone again. Another message from Tom.

You coming?

I typed back quickly.

Yes, so will you soon!

The porter appeared. He was new, a young guy, wide and stocky with hair so short you could see his scalp through it. He had the word love tattooed over the knuckles on his right hand.

‘You got one for Rose Cottage,’ he grunted, tugging the closed, coffin-style trolley along behind him.

‘Yes, sideward six.’

Luckily Mr Parslow’s skinny body was light, and within a few minutes we were heading out of the ward with him safely ensconced in the metal trolley.

‘Hey, Sharon,’ Tinkard called. ‘You may as well go for your break after you’ve done that, it’s just gone midnight.’

‘Right you are.’

The ward door shut with a heavy click and I put some muscle into pushing the trolley along the deserted corridor. As the pace picked up I stared at the lumpy back of the porter’s head and wondered if he was the one who’d found Javier and Iceberg.
If only I could see into his mind.

I pondered on whether I should question him. Just come straight out and ask if he’d seen the hottest medical senior house officer since Pompeii’s hospital had got showered in ash, shagging the Wicked Witch of the West where the sun doesn’t shine.

I thought better of it. My asking alone could become gossip, and I was keen to avoid gossip that included myself. There were too many skeletons in my cupboard, and, for that matter, in clinical rooms, sluices, linen rooms, and in that handy, unused office at the back of the pharmacy. No, I would keep quiet and do my own investigating.

Stepping out into the night, I was whipped in the face by my hair, the band holding it in a low ponytail no match for the ferocity of the gale. I hunched my shoulders and stooped, trying to shelter my face from the needle-points of rain blasting my cheeks. The sound of the torrent of drips hitting the metal trolley was almost as loud as the wind creaking at the row of oaks leading to Rose Cottage. Their boughs strained and moaned, their leaves hissing in great waves of noise.

The porter sped up behind the back of the canteen and put considerable energy into pulling. By the time we went past the incinerator and turned the final corner, I found myself jogging along the uneven path.

Luckily Tom was waiting with the door to Rose Cottage held open. We rushed in, the trolley banging over the door-bar and a scurry of leaves whirling around our feet.

‘Fucking hell,’ the porter said. ‘It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey out there.’

Tom shut the door, winked at me, then took hold of my end of the trolley and wheeled it into the bay of body drawers. I trailed along behind, tucking my wind-wild hair back into its ponytail.

‘Yeah, good job the VIPs in here don’t care about shitty weather,’ Tom said, stopping at twenty-six C and then opening the trolley’s lid to reveal Mr Parslow’s covered body.

‘Bloody hate this part of the job, me,’ the porter said, staring at the shroud-covered lump and shuddering. ‘Don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.’

‘You go if you want,’ I said, ‘I’ll help here.’

He widened his eyes and took a step backwards. ‘Really?’

‘Sure, I’ve done it a million times. Doesn’t bother me.’

‘Bloody hell, thanks . . .’ He nibbled on his bottom lip and scanned my coat, as though searching for my name badge.

‘Sharon,’ I said. ‘Go, we’ve got this covered and I bet you’ve lots to do.’

‘Yeah, I have actually.’ He yanked his sleeves over his hands and strode back to the door.
Tom followed and I heard him lock it shut, as was standard procedure at Rose Cottage. The NHS couldn’t risk body snatching, that’s why Tom was employed as night security here.
‘Poor sod,’ Tom said, wandering back in. ‘Looked white as a sheet, didn’t he?’
‘They all do to start with.’

Tom pulled open the drawer and together we slid Mr Parslow onto the metal; his body, although light, was a dense weight. Tom then pushed the drawer shut and closed the door with a resounding slam.

He wrote Mr Parslow’s name on a piece of card and slipped it into a slot beneath.
‘So how long have you got?’ he asked, a naughty smile tugging his lips and his smoky-blue eyes twinkling.

I raised my eyebrows. ‘No time at all. Change of plan, I have to get straight back, sorry.’
‘Ah, Sharon,’ he said, frowning. ‘Why do you go and tease me like that? You know how much I look forward to your visits. They’re the only thing that keeps me going in this lifeless place.’

‘Sorry.’ I glanced down his body. Through his uniform – dark-navy trousers and shirt – Tom’s well-defined muscles could be made out, as could a fantastically long wedge of flesh behind his fly.

My pussy clenched as I remembered last week when I’d paid him a visit. He’d bent me over the desk and rammed himself into me for nearly an hour. It had been so damn hard to walk back onto the orthopaedic ward I’d actually considered nicking a pair of crutches.
I hitched in a breath, knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep up my pretence for more than another few seconds. Tom’s big dick and his skilful use of it was too damn irresistible. ‘The ward is crazy busy.’

He reached for me but I stepped away. ‘Just a kiss and a quick grope then, to keep me going.’

Quickly I moved even further away, towards the autopsy room. ‘Ha, ha,’ I said gleefully. ‘Just kidding, I’m on my break now.’

He flattened his lips into a tight line, as if holding back a broad smile, though at the same time narrowing his eyes as though furious with me. ‘You little minx,’ he said. ‘You’ll pay for that.’

‘Only if you can catch me.’ I darted into the autopsy room, dark except for a couple of low lights over a set of huge scales. The air was cool and laced with disinfectant.

I glanced around. There was a big, steel surgical table in the centre, a row of cupboards, several filing cabinets and a desk holding an ancient computer monitor.

‘Sharon,’ Tom called, the door shutting behind him with a soft whoosh. ‘You can’t escape.’
‘No, please, no,’ I said with a giggle and ran towards the far side of the room.

He chased but I dodged at the last minute, went to run for the door. He cut me off and I swivelled, found myself barging into the bolted-down table in the middle.

I gasped as the air flew from my lungs, but recovered quickly and, with my hands flat on the cool surface, scooted to the end.

Tom was facing me now, his face strewn with shadows, but I could see the thrill of the chase had flushed his cheeks and caused him to pant.

‘Come here,’ he said, edging closer.

‘No.’ I moved away from him in a circle around the table.

But it was futile; he was tall, fast and strong. Suddenly I was grabbed and tugged to the end, my body pulled up against his.

He pressed his lips down hard on mine and instantly the game was over. Now it was all about carnal satisfaction. With Tom, I was always guaranteed a spectacular orgasm and I couldn’t wait to start riding towards it.

‘Ah, yeah, baby, I’ve got you,’ he said, shoving my coat off and flicking it out of the way. ‘You gonna take it good again? Like you did last week?’

‘Yes,’ I panted, tearing at the buttons on his shirt. ‘Yes, that was so hot, I could hardly bloody walk the next day.’

He chuckled, low, deep and sexy, then kissed me again, the stubble on his chin scraping my skin and his breaths blowing hot and hard on my cheek.

He had my uniform up around my waist now and was forcing me to lie back on the ice-cold table. He stepped between my legs and leaned over me, pressing his groin into the gusset of my knickers.

‘Really, on here?’ I said, slotting my fingers into his hair and drawing my knees up so they pressed either side of his hips. ‘Where they chop up dead people? Isn’t that a bit freaky?’
‘The French for orgasm is petite mort so it’s kind of fitting.’ He was fiddling with the elastic of my underwear, at the juncture of my thighs.

‘Yeah, I suppose, but, oh –’ My words were cut off and turned into a delighted moan. He’d plunged two fingers high up inside me and found my clit with his thumb.

‘Oh, you’re such a dirty nurse,’ he murmured, kissing and licking over my cheek.

Lily Harlem Bio

Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is an award-winning, best-selling author of contemporary erotic romance. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including HarperCollins, Totally Bound, Xcite, Ellora’s Cave and Sweetmeats Press. Her Hot Ice series regularly receives high praise and industry nominations.

Her novel, Breathe You In, a super-sexy romance with a twist that will not only heat you up but stay with you for years to come, was named a USA Today Reviewer’s Recommended Read of 2013.

Before turning her hand to writing Lily Harlem worked as a trauma nurse and her latest HarperCollins release, Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse, draws on her many experiences while nursing in London. 

Lily also self-publishes and The Glass Knot and Scored have been blessed with many 5* reviews since their release in 2012.

Lily also co-authors with Natalie Dae and publishes under the name Harlem Dae - check out the Sexy as Hell Box Set available exclusively on Amazon - The Novice, The Player and The Vixen - and That Filthy Book which has been hailed as a novel 'every woman should read'.

Lily Harlem Links

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Revision, revision...

I thought I'd finished with revision when I did my last university exam, but that was before I discovered the delights of being an aspiring author!

At this precise moment, I'm about 35% of the way through my first-pass revision of the draft of my first ever novel, provisional title "Walking Out". I spent months working away at it, posting one chapter a week to my on-line critiquing group. Like almost all other authors, I've got a day job and a life, and writing has to fit in as best it can. So, 26 chapters took me 26 weeks to post...

A few members of my crit group delighted me by offering honest comments on almost every chapter, which I really genuinely appreciate. Several others offered encouragement, which was every bit as valuable and appreciated.

So, I'd got to the end and felt... happy... unhappy with a few scenes... and mentally exhausted!

One of my on-line chums, Spencer Dryden, suggested I leave the piece for at least month before looking at it. He's been published, a rather delightful and imaginative novella called "Bliss" which I heartily recommend (available from and

Until I started revision, I'd been rather dreading this step. Minor anxieties, you know, like would I still like my characters and story?

So, last week, I opened the file again and started with chapter 1.

And I'm finding revision's great fun. 

It's an opportunity to correct the typos which slipped through, tidy up the narrative and dialogue, check chronological consistency, add a few new ideas and address a few of the things I remember members of my crit group commented on. I saved all their comments and will review these in detail as part of my second-pass review.

Then I'll be asking the brave souls who've volunteered to read it as a whole if they still want to!

So it won't be long before my imagination will be demanding I get started on some of my other ideas. I've got fairly-well developed ideas for three more novel-length pieces and some to develop for another. And then there's this idea rattling around the old cranium about compiling an anthology of my better short stories and flash fiction.

The most important thing I learned was to plan ahead. Somehow, I managed to write a fairly self-consistent novel of 125,000 words, combining an erotic romance and a supernatural thriller, without an overall plan.

It's set in the modern-day, in and around the city of Plymouth in south-west England. The idea developed from characters I created and developed in some flash fiction pieces and a couple of short stories. I had a few key "scenes" and characters in mind, then let my imagination run with it. It worked, but I'm not trying it that way again.

So, the plan to take it further. I made a list...
(1) Revise, revise, revise
(2) Ask beta-readers for comments
(3) Revise, revise, revise
(4) Try and interest a publisher
(5) If no interest, sort out a cover illustration and self-publish.

Okay, yes, that makes it sound really quite simple. But I keep on asking myself, would it be fun if it was easy?