Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carolyn Hart - mystery writer extraordinaire

Carolyn Hart, one of my favorite authors, allowed me to interview her. I first posted this on Make Mine Mystery, but I wanted the interview also to be on my personal blog. Carolyn is not only a good writer of cozy mysteries, but she also is a mentor and friend to other writers.

Carolyn's two most recent books are as follows, both of which I have read:
Dare to Die, publisher Morrow, ISBN 978-0-06-145303-8 published date 3/31/09
Ghost at Work, publisher Morrow, ISBN 978-0-06 087436-0 published date 10/27/08 (set in Oklahoma)

May I present Carolyn Hart, mystery writer.

Vivian: Carolyn, do you have a website?

Carolyn:www.CarolynHart.com but no blog

Vivian: How did/does your history and home background affect your writing?

Carolyn: I grew up wanting to be a reporter and majored in journalism at OU. I've used a news background for several books. I also love to read mysteries. This provided the background for the Death on Demand series.

Vivian: The Murder on Demand books are set on Broward’s Rock, an island off the coast in South Carolina. Why did you choose that location?

Carolyn: We started vacationing on Hilton Head Island in the mid 1970s. When I decided to write Death on Demand, I wanted to use a resort background for Annie's mystery bookstore and Hilton Head was the only resort area I knew well. I created a fictional sea island inspired by Hilton Head of the '70s.

Vivian: The first book in your new series with Bailey Ruth is the first book set in Oklahoma, I believe. What made you decide to have a book set here?

Carolyn: The Bailey Ruth series is my only series set in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is also the background for Letter from Home, a standalone novel set in a small northeastern Oklahoma town in the summer of 1944. It is a story of the home front during WWII.

Vivian: I forgot about Letter from Home.

Carolyn: I love Oklahoma and enjoy using my home state as a background.

Vivian: The Henrie O series attracts me, probably because I can emphasize with a woman of “a certain age.” Do you have any more books featuring her in your writing future? If so, would you share some tidbits of information about one?

Carolyn: Henrie O is currently resting, as they say in Hollywood. I am committed to write one Death on Demand book and one ghost book every year and I don't at the moment have time for a new Henrie O.

Vivian: *sigh* I can understand Henrie O resting. I find I need more rest, too. At least we'll be able to read more of your books, though, and I did enjoy "meeting" Bailey Ruth.

Please fill us in on your hobbies, interests, or activities you participate in during your leisure time. *laugh* If you have any.

Carolyn: I used to enjoy jogging and tennis but now settle for leisurely walks in the park. Walking and reading are my hobbies.

Vivian: Authors are often asked when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing. I like to know that, also, but I would especially like to know what keeps you writing.

Carolyn: I have always been fascinated by language. I enjoy creating a scene that I hope will interest readers. Writers are not disciplined. Writers are compulsive. Writers have to write. It is their destiny.

Vivian: Oh, I so agree with your description of writers.

You have so many projects going all the time: working on books, traveling, etc.; how do you manage?

Carolyn: I always focus on one task at a time.

Vivian: The two most recent of your books I’ve read are Ghost at Work and Death Walked In. What influenced you to write those books?

Carolyn: I love ghost stories, but I like happy ghost stories such as Topper. I wanted to write a book of that sort and the outcome was Bailey Ruth Raeburn, my impulsive, well-meaning redheaded ghost. Death Walked In, as are most of the stories in the Death on Demand series, a study of failed relationships and the effect on everyone involved.

Vivian: Do you have a particular writing process or technique that you use, if so, what?

Carolyn: When I start a mystery, I know the protagonist, the victim, the murderer, and the reason for the crime, and I have a working title. That is all I know. I have no idea where the story will lead or how I will get to Page 300.

Vivian: Do or have any writing groups benefited you and your writing? If so, how?

Carolyn: I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, the American Crime Writing League, abnd the International Association of Crime Writers. If so, how? Membership affords information about the industry and collegiality.

Vivian: What advice would you have for a new author?

Carolyn: Write about something that matters enormously to you. If you care, somewhere an editor will care.

Vivian: Any other comments?

Carolyn: Follow your star.

Thank you, Carolyn. I know I enjoyed our visit, and I'm sure many others will, too. At the OWFI writing conference the first of May, I was telling a group at lunch about Ghost at Work, and one comment was, "Carolyn can pull it off better than anyone else." I agree that you did "pull it off," and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Readers, if you enjoy Carolyn's books, please leave a comment about which are your favorites. If you haven't read any of her books, yet, when you do, please share your thoughts.


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