SC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a very small Mississippi town in the southeast portion of the state. My two ambitions were to be a cowgirl and solve mysteries, and in some twisted kind of way, I do both. I run an animal rescue where I care for horses, dogs, and cats (I would have been a terrible cowgirl because I would have saved all the cows!) AND I write mysteries. I have a degree in journalism, and I was a photojournalist for a decade before I had the courage to jump into fiction. Since then I’ve published over 70 books in a number of genres from short fiction to mystery, to thriller, crime novels, horror, general fiction, romantic mystery. I read everything, as long as it’s well written. I try to honor the story I’m given, and tell it to the best of my abilities. I taught fiction writing for a while, but now I’m focused solely on writing, and I have two on-going series and some future projects.
SC: How would you describe your books to readers?
The Sarah Booth mysteries are set in the Mississippi Delta. I’ve tried to capture the charm of a state I love, without whitewashing the problems. I hope my characters are sassy and fun and smart—that’s what I aim for. I’ve had readers write me to say that during times of illness or hardship, reading my books made them laugh and helped them get through. I think that’s one of the highest compliments a writer can hear. The books are sometimes listed as cozy and sometimes as traditional mystery. Some of the cases Sarah Booth and Tinkie solve are just downright funny, and some have a darker edge. There are now 16 books in the series, and #17 is in the process of being written.
SC: What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the next Bones book, and also doing some research on a historical idea. I’ve also had some rights on older books returned, and I’ll be bringing back the first 5 Familiar the black cat detective romantic mysteries. I’m also working on a secret project (involving Familiar). I’m so excited! As much as I loved teaching, I have so many writing projects I want to complete. And I HATE keeping a secret, but I want to make a big announcement later.
SC: Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
That’s a very hard question, because books spring from different inspirations, and sometimes it’s the place it comes from that is dear, or sometimes it’s the story, or sometimes the writing. I would say, I love the book I’m working on now, because once the book is finished, it’s like a child gone off to college. It has to be what it is—I can no longer influence it. But I am still 100 percent engaged in the book I’m working on.
SC: What books have most influenced you as a writer?
Nancy Drew. The Secret Garden. King of the Wind. Robin Hood. All the short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Doris Betts. Anything by James Lee Burke, Stephen King, Raymond Chandler, Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith. “The Exorcist” (now that book scared the kinks out of my tail for a good long time!). Hundreds of wonderful books that swept me into a different place or time and gave me the joy and total freedom of a good story. “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is another.
SC: What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing?
Sometimes the day-to-day grind is very hard. Especially if I’m tired or emotional delicate. I lost my oldest horse in February. She was 35 and I had her since the day she was born. And my diabetic cat, Coal Shaft, who was also older. It’s been hard to push through with the writing, but you know, it’s also the best thing for me. It’s easier for me to write from a place of serenity, but life doesn’t provide that at the snap of the fingers.
And the most rewarding?
There is nothing like that moment when a scene takes on its own energy and life and almost writes itself. When the characters take over and everything falls into place.
SC: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Oh, more Bones for sure! The next Bones book in May 2017 (title still up in the air) but it’s a cold case involving the death of a young man and his mother who were swept away in a flood after their vehicle drove off the bridge and into the water.
And something brand new! Aug. 9 is the launch of a new series, The Book of Beloved, which is a historical/paranormal/mystery set in Mobile, Alabama in 1920. It’s the tale of a young WWI widow who is invited to Mobile for a summer party at her uncle’s estate, Caoin House. But the past is very much alive in the grand old house, and someone wants to keep it buried.
I’m very excited about both books. And I have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
SC: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?
Please, please spay and neuter your companion pets. Please adopt from shelters and rescues and do not pay for a pet for any reason. And if you can, please support local rescue groups who work to spay and neuter feral cat colonies and help the low income with these services. It’s a crime in a country as wealthy as America that so many animals are born into suffering. And when you’re done with all the good animal works, read a book. The world will be a better place.
Sarah Booth Delaney knows the perfect way to begin recovering from both the recent attack on Scott Hampton’s blues club and her broken heart. She’s going to host a Thanksgiving feast for all of her friends at her ancestral home in Zinnia, Mississippi. But one bitterly cold night with the holiday just around the corner, Sarah Booth awakens to the insistent ring of her doorbell. She opens the door to find a newborn baby in a basket sitting on her front porch…and a pool of blood slowly seeping out from the basket. Before she can respond, an engine guns and a dark vehicle takes off.
After the police and a doctor ensure the baby is otherwise safe and healthy, Sarah Booth calls Tinkie Richmond, her partner at the Delaney Detective Agency. They know they need to do everything they can to find the baby’s mother…even if they are starting to fall in love with the baby themselves. But as they track the baby’s mother, Sarah Booth soon begins to suspect the woman might have been in danger; in fact, she might have been running for her life. And following in the woman’s footsteps, Sarah Booth might find her own life on the line next.
USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Haines will once again delight readers with the next sparkling Sarah Booth Delaney mystery.
Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series and the upcoming Pluto’s Snitch historical mystery series. She is the author of over 70 books in a number of genres and an advocate for animals. You can learn more about the author at www.carolynhaines.com. We invite you to join her newsletter and to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.