I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GUEST AUTHOR: Dakota Harrison

Dakota Harrison and I met several years ago, during our days of entering writing contests. Within a year we met face-to-face at a Romance Writers of Australia conference where we realised we were as passionate and obsessed about writing as each other (we both loved writing paranormal romances, particularly fantasy romances), AND we were undeniably as crazy as Mad Hatters (this was a friendship destined to flourish!).

We're now writing buddies, and geographically about 5 hours apart, but we don't let distance or time stop us getting together to talk about all things writer-ly. We're two of a small group of writers who make up the ELE writing group (Evil League of Evil - yes, I know, this confirms our pick up on the next trip to the nearest institution, but the orderlies have to catch us first!).

But I digress!

This her post, not mine, and EXHALE is her debut contemporary romance novel. Please welcome my good friend-in-mayhem-and-madness, and writing buddy, Dakota Harrison!

Hi Kylie, and thank you for having me today!

My debut release, EXHALE, has a Japanese hero. I was asked by Kylie to explain how my fascination with Japan and Japanese heroes came about. I’ve never been there (it’s on my bucket list!) but I’m a major history fan – Egypt and Japan being the two that most caught my attention from a young age. Anime has been a huge interest for me since childhood, so it was a natural progression from the children’s versions, to the adult.

For years I received a subscription from Harlequin MIRA. Once a month, I’d get three new books in my letterbox. One set contained a book called, ICE BLUE, by Anne Stuart. I fell in love with the not-so-nice Japanese hero about three chapters in.

This was the year I joined Romance Writers of Australia – the first time I’d even heard about a writing association for readers/writers of a genre I loved. And the funniest thing? Anne Stuart was one of the keynote speakers at that first conference I attended that year.

During one of her workshops, this idea flashed into my head, so I madly wrote notes while trying to listen to the rest of the workshop. Those notes turned into a romantic suspense novel.

Near the end of the session, Anne mentioned J-Rock and J-Pop. My ears pricked up. I'm a huge music fan, and the thought of Japanese rock piqued my interest. I went home from the fabulous conference weekend, and googled J-Pop. What I found had me glued to YouTube for *days*.

Over the next few months I bought CD's and DVD's of  a particular group, and immersed myself in the language and styles. At the same time, a story for a romance was growing in the back of my head, so I ran with it. I was writing a fantasy romance at the same time, and gave myself permission to write this one as well – for me. It was a way for me to feel-out a genre I loved to read, but had never attempted to write, and also a way to get an idea on how I would write a hero from a different culture.

I researched until I couldn’t see straight, and became hooked on Yakuza history and how it influenced modern culture. I’d had a love affair with the Samurai as a teenager, and this research just reinforced it.

What I was coming to see about the culture was how I wanted my hero to be. Strong. Respectful. Determined. Honorable. Inscrutable. More than a little mysterious. All these things spoke to me about how they lived their lives, and how I would want a man to treat me.

While not Yakuza, my hero, Taka, has connections to the organization. This isn't mentioned until the last chapters, as it’s not his story. His family left Japan to get away from the influence, but his cousin, Shin, is a Yakuza prince, and firmly entrenched in the organization.

So, what began as teenage interest and curiosity, became the strong fascination that has created several worlds within that culture – all from different angles. One who left and chose a different life for himself; one who embraces all that he is within that world; and one who places himself outside the organization but makes himself indispensable and plans to bring the entire thing down around the ears of the corrupt Families.

I also developed a small crush on an actor. He was my muse for the story of EXHALE.

My love of Japan and Asia has even influenced my fantasy and sci-fi romance writing, with attributes from Asian culture pervading my elven world building.

Takeshi is finishing up a brutal double shift in the ER when a familiar—and bloody—face erases all thought of heading home. The broken body of the woman fighting for her life belongs to Gabby, his best friend’s mother. A woman he's loved since he turned nineteen, when he foolishly declared his love for her.
 She’s not dying today. Not on his watch. And not with a promise left unfulfilled.
Gabby has never forgotten the taste of the kiss Taka gave her under the mistletoe all those years ago. Or the silly promise that surely by now he’s forgotten. She’s wrong. Taka remembers. And she melts as he uses every trick in his highly trained surgeon’s hands to heal her—and rekindle the heat between them.
But there’s a secret lurking in Gabby’s past. And when it follows her all the way to Seattle, it threatens to drag the one man she loves into the nightmare she thought she’d left behind.

Amazon     Samhain    B&N     Fishpond

Dakota's Bio: My first attempt at writing a book was about my first love – horses.

But this was no ordinary horse, he was from Alpha Centauri and could talk. I also illustrated this book. I learned the hard way that my writing was far better than my drawing skills.

Growing up on a steady diet of romance novels and sci-if/fantasy in a house where reading of all kinds was encouraged, I never tired of finding fabulous books in both genres, but none crossing over. I dreamed of the day when the Alpha prince would not only get his princess, but would get the chance to bring their relationship to the fore, making it a major plot line. After marrying and having two fabulous children, I decided to combine my two loves and write the books I wanted to read. I love writing both Alpha and Beta heroes, all whom I torture and make fall to their knees before their heroine and beg her for mercy.

 I live in a (not-so) sunny part of Queensland, Australia, with my human and fur-kids, and harbor a strange love of UGG boots. K- and J-Pop feature heavily in my home, especially when drafting my novels, drawing inspiration for my heroes from the music videos and anime, much to my children’s delight and my husband’s sufferance.

Dakota's next book, BREATHLESS, another contemporary romance, comes out from Samhain on October 28th, 2013!

She ran half a world away to escape from her past…and found the one man who can heal her heart.
It’s been three years since a seemingly insignificant decision destroyed Emma’s life. Western Colorado is a long way for an Australian girl to run from the suffocating guilt she feels, but it isn’t far enough. 
So she’s made herself a promise: No men, no responsibility. Ever again. That was before her pipes burst, and the crusty old plumber she was expecting turns out to be six-foot-two of brooding hard body with a killer smile—which he rarely aims in her direction. 
Gabe doesn’t like it. Even through a layer of plaster dust, Emma’s beauty shines through and grabs him hard. Her laugh wraps around his lungs until he forgets how to breathe. But he’s still looking for pieces of the broken heart another woman’s betrayal left in its wake.
Pretty women are trouble, end of story. 
Too bad no one told his determinedly matchmaking sister. Her efforts could crash and burn, for all he cares. He’s not interested. Not now, now ever. Now if he could only convince his body.


  1. Great post Dakota. I love the romance of Japanese History. Have you ever read The Otori Tales - an absolute favourite of mine!

    1. Hi Rowena! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, there's a lot of romance in the history, isn't there? It leaves a rich, vivid picture in my head, that's for sure! I haven't read that, I'll have to go have a look!

  2. My first taste of anime was 'Who lives in the deepest darkest Africa?" Yep, you guessed it, Kimba the White Lion. All the best with 'Exhale', Dakota. :)

    1. Hi Sandy!! Yes, I *love* Kimba!! I even have a little white stuffed dog that looks like him, and yep, his name's Kimba! The City of Gold; Battle of the Planets... so many I love.(You should check out the adult ones - Appleseed comes to mind. Fabulous!) Thanks heaps for stopping by.

  3. Hi Dakota,
    It's amazing how much Japan has influenced our popular culture. I grew up on a diet of Japanese anime and shows (Kimba, G-Force, Battleship Yamato, Astroboy, Monkey). I love that your hero in Exhale is Japanese and can't wait to read Shin's story.

  4. *cough*small crush?*cough* K- & J- Pop ftw when writing :)