Friday, July 12, 2013

Carolyn Hart Revisted

A bestselling author with more than three million books in print, Carolyn Hart is best known for her Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins (Henrie O) series. Her most recent series features red-haired ghost Bailey Ruth Raeburn of Adelaide, Oklahoma, who returns to earth to help solve murders.

Carolyn, your latest book, Escape From Paris, which will be released this coming week. Was it actually thirty years ago that you originally wrote it?

This month, to my great delight, Oconee Spirit Press is publishing the original manuscript, which has a newly amended copyright. It has been 30 years in coming but now Escape From Paris is available as it was written.

A war story?

I was a child during WWII and the war dominated our lives.Two American sisters risk their lives in Nazi-Occupied Paris to save British fliers from arrest. Family members served in the Army or Navy. We followed the faraway course of the fighting in  huge black newspaper headlines. Food and gasoline were rationed. The war remained vivid in my memory and, as an adult, I wrote several WWII suspense novels. To sell Escape from Paris, I cut the book from 93,000 to 55,000 words. That  version was published in 1982  and 1983.

I hope readers will share the struggles of brave men and women who defied the Gestapo during the bitter winter of 1940. They knew fear, found love, grieved loss. Their lives and deaths remind us that freedom survives only when the free are brave.
 I hope you may be interested to remember a year of war when England awaited invasion and the Nazis devoured Europe. I believe this is a book that will appeal to book club readers, highly intelligent women, often of a certain age, who will bring their own memories or memories of their parents into play.  

I look forward to reading it. You also have a recent Bailey Ruth Raeburn novel out, Ghost in Trouble. Please tell us about it? 

Bailey Ruth Raeburn has the best of intentions when she returns to Adelaide to save a life but she never counted on that life belonging to a woman she loathed when she was in the world. Moreover, her charge stubbornly insists on playing hunt-the-killer. Bailey Ruth deals with young love, a mother's heartbreak, a fraudulent psychic and a dog's rawhide bone in her quest for a wily murderer.

Your ghost series is my favorite among your books. How did your impetuous red-haired ghost Bailey Ruth Raeburn of Adelaide, Oklahoma, come about?

 I loved the Topper books and films when I was growing up. I see ghosts as reflections of the person who lived. I always wanted to write about a fun-loving, energetic, impetuous ghost returning to earth to help someone in trouble and Bailey Ruth answered the call.

When did your Death on Demand mystery series originate?

In 1985, I attended a meeting of the southwest chapter of MWA in Houston and visited Murder by the Book. I had never been to a mystery bookstore and I was enchanted. I had just started a new mystery set in a bookstore. I immediately decided to have a mystery bookstore named Death on Demand.

Tell us about your latest Death on Demand mystery,  Dead by Midnight.

Annie Darling refuses to believe in her new employee's suicide. To save a woman from a false charge of murder, Annie unravels the mystery of a towel hidden at midnight in the gazebo, the lack of fingerprints on a crystal mug, blood on a teenager's blue shirt, and the secret of a lovers' tryst.   

You’ve received an amazing number of awards including the Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award. Has the recognition resulted in increased book sales and reader awareness of your work?

I hope that the awards, which I very much appreciate, help to attract readers. It’s hard to know whether such awards increase sales but any mention of a book or books is helpful to an author.

What's your writing schedule like and do you aim for a certain amount of words each day, no matter how long it takes?

I try to write five pages a day (approx. 1,500 words) when working on a book. Some days I meet that goal. Some days I don’t. When I am stuck, I take a long walk and usually something will occur to me.

 Tell us about your writing background.

I worked on school newspapers and majored in journalism at the University of Oklahoma. When we started a family, I didn’t return to reporting but decided to try fiction. I wrote juvenile fiction, then YA, and in the 1970s began writing adult suspense and mystery.

How much research do you conduct before you begin a novel and do you always visit the locale?

The novel dictates the amount of research. I wrote several early novels, preceding the Death on Demand books, which had World War II backgrounds and required extensive research. I’ve visited the locales of all the books written since Death on Demand. Once I set a book partly in the Philippines which I have never visited and a woman who grew up there asked me how many years I’d spent in the islands and I knew my library research had been successful.

Advice for novice writers?

Care passionately about what you write. If you care, somewhere an editor will care.

Thank you, Carolyn.

You can visit Carolyn at her website: