Friday, November 19, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Carolyn Hart

Carolyn Hart writes the Death on Demand series set in a South Carolinian mystery bookstore, the Henrie O series featuring a retired newspaperwoman, and the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series starring a redheaded ghostly sleuth.

Carolyn Hart wrote her first fiction story about Oklahoma, her home state, in "Spooked". More recently, if you've seen the name Carolyn G. Hart, that's Carolyn too. When she changed publishers, her new one decided to help the art department by dropping the G.

If you think "meet sweets" only happen in novels, then Carolyn could prove you wrong. She met her husband Phil on a college trip to Europe during her junior year. She graduated with a degree in journalism and they're still enjoying a great journey...along with charming Cat-A-Thomas and the imperiously beautiful Sophie.

Carolyn was one of 10 mystery authors featured at the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC in 2003 for LETTER FROM HOME and again in 2007 for SET SAIL FOR MURDER. She has been nominated 9 times for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (and won 3 times)!

What/who inspired Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her series? What prompted you to make her a ghost, in lieu of a regular living heroine?

I grew up enjoying the Topper books by Thorne Smith. I always loved ghostly movies that were fun or cheerful. I still laugh aloud when I see a performance of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. And I always wanted to write about a ghost. Since the ghosts I enjoy are cheerful spirits, I decided a spectral sleuth would be both fun and challenging and I was delighted when Bailey Ruth swung around a heavenly cloud and said, "Come along with me. We'll have fun together."

Did you fashion Bailey as a sleuth (and a member of Heaven's Department of Good Intentions) because of your love for mysteries?

I've written 45 books that have been published. All are either suspense novels or mysteries. (A complete list of the books is available at my website -- Those are the books I enjoy reading and the books I enjoy writing. When Bailey Ruth returns to earth to help people in trouble, she has to figure out what has happened to them and that provides the mystery.

What is the most telling clue you've dropped about yourself in one of Bailey's books?

When I decided to write about a ghost, I realized I must decide who she was and where she came from and immediately my mind popped to Heaven. Bailey Ruth's heavenly origin clearly reveals that I believe in a Heaven which is always and ever cognizant of its creatures on earth.

If you could do one good deed with Bailey's ghostly stealth what would it be?
Imbue each and every person with a confidence that God knows and loves them.

Like every sleuth needs a method to crack mysteries, most authors have their own personal process. How do you create such wonderful and memorable books?

I am a what if writer. I begin with a protagonist and I imagine where they live and why and what matters to them and what dangers they face. One of those dangers will create the background for a mystery.

Out of all your experiences as an author, is there one that remains unforgettable?

When DEATH ON DEMAND received the Agatha Award for the Best Mystery Novel of the year in 1987. I was a struggling unknown author who had had very little success and that moment changed my writing life.

Do you have any appearances/new fans need to know about?

I will be the keynote speaker at the Eighteenth Annual Festival of Women Authors on Saturday, May 7, 2011, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, CA. My forthcoming novel, DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, the 21st in the Death on Demand Series, comes out in April 2011.

Remember if you post a question for Carolyn or a comment about her series', then you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of GHOST AT WORK, the first novel in the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series! Please include your e-mail address so we can contact you in case you win!


donnas said...

This is the first I have read of your series. But I am always on the lookout for a good mystery and ghosts involved make it all the better. Thanks for sharing!

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Asylumgirl said...

I'm familiar with Carolyn's other work but the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series is new to me and it looks amazing!

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