The first series I started with for my reverse harem research before writing The Genie Whisperer was Ouran High School Host Club, which is the most famous of the ones I own. In this series, a poor girl gets a scholarship to go to an elite high school. There, she gets mistaken for a guy when she breaks an incredibly expensive vase, so ends up having to work in the school’s host club (which is basically a club where six handsome guys entertain rich young ladies) as a guy to pay off her debt. The host club guys quickly realize their new member is actually female, and shenanigans ensue.
Warning: This post has some spoilers for books five/six of The Genie Whisperer. If you haven’t finished those, proceed with caution!
I broke down my study of the series (and the other reverse harem series I researched) into four categories:
- the guys’ interactions with the main character
- the guys’ interactions with each other in relation to the main character
- the main character’s interactions with the guys
- the plot elements related to reverse harem
Some of the plot elements I wrote down from Ouran High School Host Club ended up in The Genie Whisperer. For example:
|Ouran High School Host Club
|Main character must be surrounded by handsome men and stick close to them
|Haruhi (the main character) must stick by the host club members to pay off her debt
|Ali must be surrounded by the genies because she’s their only hope for freedom
|Situations that bring the main character closer to the guys
|Only the host club members know Haruhi is a girl, so must work to protect her secret (not that she really cares, other than that it’s easier to repay her debt this way)
|In books five/six, the genies learn Ali can summon their magic and increase their power, but only if they have a close relationship, meaning she needs to draw closer to them to power them up
|Barriers against characters realizing/acknowledging they’re in love
|The guys are terrified of ruining their friendship. If any make a move on Haruhi, who knows how it will impact their existing relationships with each other? While Haruhi (and one of the love interests) is too oblivious to realize love is a thing. When she starts falling for one of the guys, she thinks she’s sick.
|Ali worries she’ll fail if she focuses on anything but school (though who knows how that will go with her leaving school behind for now), while the genies . . . well, I can’t say without offering spoilers, but you’ll discover some of their thoughts in this area in books seven and eight, coming October of 2023 😉
There are also much smaller things I took note of, like the love interests competing for who can make the main character happiest. When I made that note, I added an extra line that the genies would compete like that, and I had a version of that in book three, The Three C’s of Genie Whispering, when everyone but Ocean and Shadow participate in attempting to brighten Ali’s Christmas.
Another little note I took from this series that I really love is a love interest being cute and affectionate when sleepy . . . but the genies don’t sleep, so that won’t happen in this series! Which is why I have it written down, so I can implement it into later stories. Though we kind of vaguely get a version of this again in book three when the genies are under a spell that takes away their inhibitions, which was quite fun to write.
Overall, I felt like I got great potential ideas from rereading Ouran High School Host Club to spark inspiration for The Genie Whisperer. Rereading it also came with a major bonus! I’d somehow never read the last book, even though I owned it. It was exciting to discover I had the last book and hadn’t ever read it yet. And then, for those astute observers who’ve read the series and take a good look at the second picture above, I also forgot to include the last book or two in the picture. Whoops. In my defense, the series takes up more than one shelf on my bookshelf, which is why I missed it.