Thursday, May 7, 2009

One of my favorite authors - Carolyn Hart, by Vivian Zabel

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? 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 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.

(I forgot about Letter from Home.)

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.

*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.

Vivian: 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.

Oh, I so agree with your description of writers.

Vivian: 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 are, too. At the OWFI writing conference this past weekend, 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.

Vivian Zabel
Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap
Midnight Hours
Prairie Dog Cowboy


Jean Henry Mead said...

An excellent interview, Carolyn and Vivian. I certainly look forward to reading Ghost at Work (an intriguing title).

Vivian Zabel said...

Jean, I really did like Ghost at Work, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the Bailey Ruth series. And I'm not a big "ghost" fan. Carolyn just handles it so well.


Anonymous said...

"Ghost at Work" - catchy. :)

Enjoyed the interview - been following Vivian for about a year now, she's an excellent author and blogger.

Dana Fredsti said...

Sigh. Talk about nostalgia... Carolyn spoke at our local mystery bookstore in San Diego when my best buddy and I were writing the first draft of Murder for Hire. This was many years ago... She (Carolyn) spoke with Joan Hess and Diane Mott Davies (three of Maureen's and my favorite authors) and you couldn't ask for three more encouraging, entertaining and nice people. Absolutely influenced my decision to keep writing and persevere to get published.

Thank you, Carolyn!

Anonymous said...


Enjoyed your interview and
GHOST AT WORK sounds like fun. I look forward to readingit.

But I'm also hanging ontomy old favorites. They are like old friends,and my favorite old friends are LETTERS FROM HOME and your first HenrieO book.(-:

Best of luck with your new books.

Pat Browning
Krill Press 2008

Katie Hines said...

Great interview. It's nice to learn about another fine author, especially one who sets books in two places I've lived - Oklahoma and South Carolina!

Holly Jahangiri said...

Great interview! I love getting personal insights on favorite authors, and I've just added a couple of titles to my "must read" list. Thanks, Carolyn and Vivian.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn Hart is also one of my favorite authors, not because I am necessarily a cozy mystery fanatic, but because she is such an encourager. In 1982 with 31 rejections on my first novel, I wrote to ask her for "the password" to being published. Her immediate response is preserved in a notebook. One tidbit was, if I insisted on writing fiction, I probably would not sell one until between manuscripts 7 and 9. I had written ONE book and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I kept writing, one book after another, anything I wanted, since I didn't expect to sell one for a while anyway. In 1999 I was working on #12 when a publisher offered on #8. I might have thought it was a scam, except for Carolyn's prediction. I've since sought and followed her advice on other things literary. She is a great mentor.