Sarah Booth Delaney, an anti-Daddy’s Girl with a deep love of the land, falls into becoming a private investigator in a desperate effort to save her family land in Zinnia, Mississippi. Each book is a mystery that revolves around Sarah Booth, her partner (by book 3) Tinkie, and her wonderful friends. While the tone is humorous, there is a dark little heart to many of the stories.
In this 8th installment, which will be out in July, Sarah Booth at last achieves her dream and is offered the role of Mattie in the high-budget re-mark of BODY HEAT. She has broken with her past romantic interest and heads off to Hollywood to film. Things are going great (except for the one, pesky dead woman), until the film crew goes on location to Costa Rica. Then things really become strange, and Sarah Booth must confront how far she’s willing to push herself to find the answers to a current murder and a series of past crimes.
Both. Some writers don’t like to be given a regional label, but I am from Mississippi and I live in Alabama, and sometimes it gets a little tedious to confront the prejudice that’s directed toward the Deep South states. It’s funny, because in some circles, invoking the state of Mississippi is like a sacred charm when speaking of writers. In other places, it’s a black mark. This actually has nothing to do with the quality of my work, but more of a perception about what the South was and is. So I guess it’s a matter of ornery pride that I say I’m a Southern writer. I’m also a crime-fiction writer and a mystery writer and a whole lot of other things that shouldn’t be revealed in public!
My preference is organic. I try to force myself to outline. But I always allow myself to work on a book that isn’t outlined. This is a book just for me. A book that I write for the love of writing. IT may or may not sell. Both PENUMBRA and FEVER MOON were organic books.
This is what I know. I could research and study New York and give a fair representation of it in fiction, but I know small towns. I grew up in Lucedale, and my parents were active in the community, so it was part of my everyday existence. And I find it easier to examine the issues that are important to me in the smaller scope of a town rather than a city.
I’m working on the next Bones book (and struggling with the title, darn it!) and I’m working on a book just for me. A dark little tale about good and evil and the fine line between perception and reality.
Same old advice--read, read, read. Find your favorite book and begin to deconstruct it. See how the point of views work, read with your gut and figure out why certain passages hit your emotions. I believe that’s the key to improving your writing.
Sean Chercover is a new writer I met in Chicago recently. I’ve just started his book and I’m impressed. Lee Jackson. Deborah Crombie. And I’ve been reading a lot of British and Swedish crime writers and enjoying that different flavor.
Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Carolyn Keene, Flannery O’Connor (love that dark humor), Mary Stewart, Taylor Caldwell, John Irving, Thomas Williams--I just read all over the place.
You’re very kind and I’ve been lucky in many ways. I do my best to stay under contract, but I also always write just for me. Short fiction was my first love. I was trained for journalism, and the idea of a novel was so daunting, but I loved to read and write short stories. I got my first agent on a collection of short stories, and she advised me to work on a novel. Because I’m a “reading slut”--I will read anything with a good story that’s well done--I tend to write a lot of different kinds of stories. I believe the story is a gift, and I try to honor it by rendering it as well-crafted as I can. I also believe that writers who stay in one genre burn out quicker than those who shift around and learn new things.
I was sitting at my computer and I heard her bickering with Jitty. At first it was just their voices, and I was amused by the contentiousness between them, as well as the depth of their relationship. So as I listened, they came into focus, and I started typing.
I had two dreams when I was a child. I wanted to be a cowgirl and to be Nancy Drew. I wanted to solve mysteries and ride my horse. Instead, I became a journalist who wrote short stories secretly at night--and read voraciously. And with some wonderful encouragement from family, friends and my agent, I braved the self-doubt and showed my work. But I write because I love the process. I love the time alone and the total absorption in a world that holds surprises and often, complications. I love language and story and the whole mess. When I was younger, I never thought I would write novels, but I’ve always known that I would write.
“I had two dreams when I was a child. I wanted to be a cowgirl and to be Nancy Drew. I wanted to solve mysteries and ride my horse. Instead, I became a journalist who wrote short stories secretly at night--and read voraciously. And with some wonderful encouragement from family, friends and my agent, I braved the self-doubt and showed my work. But I write because I love the process.”