Academic Pursuits by Lou Harper – the interview

Today I’m interviewing Lou Harper on the release of her novella, Academic Pursuits. In case you’re thinking “I recognize that cover” from Tailor Made – all the Amber Allure Hot College Daze stories have the same cover. Inside the books, however, other than the college campus setting and the promise of manloving, anything could happen!

Here’s the blurb from Academic Pursuits:

Jamie Brennan is putting “cad” back into academia!

The son of a well-to-do family and blessed with both dark good looks and buckets of confidence, Jamie lives for the chase. He has a well-deserved reputation around college as a seducer of straight frat boys. No man is off-limits to Jamie—he’s happy to help fellow gay students out of the closet, too. He even has lustful designs on his oblivious English professor, so it’s no surprise that his amorous pursuits often land him in sticky situations.

There’s just one flaw in Jamie’s perfect world—Roger Hunt. The hunky grad student, who dresses more like a lumberjack than the talented artist he is, gives Jamie hostile looks every time their paths cross. Jamie tries to ignore Roger, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other, and Jamie’s beginning to wonder if it’s more than chance that continues to steer them down the same halls…

Buy it now from Amber Allure – only $3.25 on release week!

Hi Lou – thanks for stopping by today.

I’m happy to be here, Jo.

You’ve told me before that your muse was kicked into gear by the word “taboo” in the submissions call. Did you end up breaking the taboos you intended to?

Yes and no. What the publisher had in mind were things like student-professor relationships. Instead, I ended up messing with genre conventions. I see Academic Pursuits as the bastard child of James Lear and Jane Austen.

Academic Pursuits is, to my mind, straddling the divide between gay erotica and m/m romance. What do you hope readers accustomed to more traditional m/m romance will take away from reading it?

Honestly, it was not a conscious decision on my part to go this route, but once the inspiration struck, the story practically wrote itself. I hope the readers will enjoy the ride. Jamie is a bit of a cad, but he has a good heart—he just needs to meet his match.

Jamie thinks of himself as doing a public service by seducing straight boys. Do you agree that this is an effective method of combating homophobia? Or is he putting himself at risk of getting his head kicked in?

Hm, Jamie’s experienced for his years, but not quite as worldly as he thinks. The seducing straight boys part is a don’t-try-this-at-home thing. Remember, this is fiction.

Jamie’s cousin Josephine (who prefers to be called Jo) is a weirdo art student who seems to own the same boots I used to wear when I was a weirdo art student. What’s going on there, then?!

Hehe. Sidekicks help the story progress, give the protagonist a chance to shine. Just ask Sherlock Holmes. M/M doesn’t have a lot of interesting, colorful female characters, so it was fun and challenging to write one. I stole your name because Josephine is so feminine and Jo is such a tomboy—the duality of the name sums up her well. Jo is a blend of real and fictional characters; it was serendipitous she resembled your younger self. When you mentioned the boots I had to steal them. So yeah, there’s a bit of you in her.

You’ve told me before that you were inspired by the plot of Jane Austen’s Emma, although I’m more inclined to see Roger as a Darcy-esque figure. What do you think Austen would have made of m/m romance if she were alive today?

I’m glad you say that, because I see Roger that way too. Jamie has the tendency to meddle in other people’s romantic lives, like Emma does.

It’s hard to hypothesize what Jane would say, but it’s not impossible for me to imagine her writing m/m. Perhaps she would take gay romance mainstream. I suspect there wouldn’t be as much explicit sex, but plenty of social commentary.

And finally, were there any of your own college experiences that wormed their way into the story?

Yes, many little details, from course names to habits of students came from my own experiences. One of the starving art students descending on the free food at the show opening could’ve been me. The campus itself is a fictionalized version of my own old school.

Thanks for stopping by, Lou, and good luck with sales. I hope you find many new readers! 😀

Excerpt (NSFW):

…It’s hard to talk with your mouth full of cock. And anyway, I was fairly certain Butch Hollins’s question regarding the origin of my skills of sucking said cock was a rhetorical one. So I ignored it and kept up the suction. I didn’t want him to come too soon, so I teased him a little. I pulled off and let my tongue play with his cockhead, dance around the rim, lick the shiny mushroom head. Up to that point, Hollins had kept his hands by his sides, but just then he placed one on the top of my head and applied a modest but determined pressure. I smiled to myself: my tasty frat boy had just stepped over an invisible line. To reward him, I ducked down on his shaft and worked it with my throat. He was a chubby six inches—big enough, and I was no size queen.

When his cockhead hit the back of my throat, Hollins sucked in air like he’d been holding his breath for the last few minutes. I assumed the dull thunk I heard was the sound of his head hitting the bathroom door. It was out of sync with the rhythmic thumping from the music of the party downstairs.

While I worked Hollins’s cock with my mouth, I used one hand to massage his balls and perineum, but didn’t venture farther. I didn’t want to spook him. You had to be careful with straight boys. I kept my other hand on my own shaft, stroking it at a steady rhythm. When I felt his balls tighten and draw up, I took him down as deep as I could and hummed around his cock. His hips bucked and his warm cum gushed down my throat. Those guttural grunts and groans he made pushed me that much closer to my own release.

Hollins lifted his hand off my head, but otherwise didn’t move away while I brought myself to finish. It didn’t take long. My spunk splattered on the tiled floor, with a few stray drops landing on the cuffs of Hollins’s jeans.

“Boarding school,” I said, standing and zipping up my jeans.

“Huh?” Hollins’s eyes were still glazed over.

“That’s where I learned to suck cock,” I elaborated.

Hollins said nothing. Clearly, he wasn’t the chatty-after-sex kinda guy. That was fine with me. I made a half-hearted attempt to clean up the mess I’d made. I dabbed at it with a wad of toilet paper, then I gave up. I was sure the floor had seen worse and probably would see more of it before the night was over. We were in a frat house, it was Saturday night and the party downstairs was just warming up.

I checked myself out in the mirror: there was a drop of spunk at the corner of my swollen mouth. I stuck my tongue out and licked it off. Tussled dark hair: check. Blue eyes above flushed cheeks: check. I looked my debauched best. It was time for me to take my leave before things got awkward.

“It’s been nice blowing you, Hollins. See you around, ’kay?” I said with my friendly, it’s-no-big-deal smile I kept for these occasions.

I gave him one last look from the door: He was a blond, corn-fed boy from the heartland. His normally uncomplicated face wore a slightly baffled expression. I gave him one last flash of my smile and left…

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