Friday, June 13, 2014

UP-CLOSE with long-time SARA member Harriet Jarvis!

Tell us about your writing journey.

I have always enjoyed reading and plotting stories in my head and can’t remember when I didn’t. I progressed from children’s adventure and horror to romance and murder mystery. Occasionally I’d write poetry or short stories but didn’t have the discipline to pursue it.

After retiring I spend a lot of time reading romance and decided to buy a computer and have fun trying to make sense of the random scenarios in my head.

I’ve written a few category novels - most of which need drastic editing and have a few more in progress. I have entered Little Gems 10 times over four years and love the feedback. I find most criticism justified when I check it against my writing. Favourite comment: ‘This was my favourite entry. I would love to read more from this author.’ In 2013 I finalled with 'Stealing the Detective’s Heart'. Holding a copy of your published story ranks right up there with jumping from a plane.
How long have you been involved in the South Australian Romance Authors group and Romance Writers of Australia, and how many conferences have you attended?

I joined SARA, RWA and the SAWC in late 2009 and went to my first conference in 2010. Haven’t missed any since and enjoy the workshops and meeting other writers. Leith always comes. He’s a consummate traveller - quite happy to explore any city on his own and attend special night functions.

What do you get up to in a typical day? And what did you do before you were a writer?

I was a bookkeeper for 50 years apart from time out when the boys were young. Now I write, read, travel and am trying to clear 40 years of accumulated stuff from my study and the back shed. This means bin it, save it or take it to the Salvation Army!

Is it true your husband critiques all your manuscripts?

Leith has read and critiqued all of my Little Gems entries and a reasonable amount of the novels. He’s listened to hours of plots and scenes, given constructive advice (i.e. Aussie men don’t say that), helps out with technical stuff and willingly does research for me. He’ll also act out a scene with me to check whether it’s practical.

Who are your favourite authors?

I don’t have favourite authors. I tend to skim-read and if the story grabs me I’ll reread it. I have some I keep and reread passages or the whole book just for the enjoyment of the story. ‘All a Man Can Ask’ by Virginia Kantra (2003), ‘Perfect Morning’ By Marcia Evanick (1989) and ‘Uneasy Alliance’ by Jayne Ann Krentz (1984) can always grab me. I also love intrigue if the story and the love interest are believable and strong.

Finally, what’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
We love travelling now we have time and can afford it and have visited and helicoptered over the three great waterfalls of the world. Relaxing and writing on a cruise boat is special.

Whenever the opportunity arises I love to try something risky. I’ve white water rafted, hot air ballooned, abseiled, skydived and in Zimbabwe crawled to the edge of the African rift to see a waterfall hundreds of metres below in the valley.

I’d like to be able to swim but after a few strokes I sink. In an emergency I’ll just have to hit bottom and run like heck – which with my arthritic hip and knee doesn’t promise much hope!


  1. Thank you for this personal insight into a romantic adventuress, Harriet. And you have your very own romance hero helping you on your writing journey.

  2. Great interview!

    Is it really 5 years since you joined SARA, Harriet? Time certainly flies.

  3. You certainly have an exciting life outside of writing ... it's a wonder you can fit in time behind the desk with all of your overseas adventures!


We love comments. Why not leave one?