Heather Haven, author of the humorous mystery, Murder is a Family Business joins us today to discuss writing her book, her favorite genres and if she gets writer’s block. Join us below for the interview.
About Murder is a Family Business
Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez doesn’t think so. But the 34-year old ½ Latina, ½ WASP and 100% detective has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve. Set in the present, Murder is a Family Business is the first in a series of humorous mysteries revolving around Lee Alvarez, a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’ Stephanie Plum, and rest of the Alvarez Family, detectives all. Seemingly light and frothy on the surface, the novel nevertheless explores familial love, the good, the bad and the annoying.
Completing the family is Lee’s Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day aristocratic mother, Lila; computer genius brother, Richard; beloved uncle “Tio;” and her energetic orange and white cat, Tugger. When this group is not solving murders, they run Discretionary Inquiries, a successful Silicon Valley agency that normally deals with the theft of computer software. The love, humor and camaraderie shared within this family are what set this series apart from others.
Q: What are a few of your favorite genres and why?
A: I’ll read any book that’s well-written. For example, I’m currently reading Meg Wait Clayton’s, The Four Ms. Bradwells (fabulous); Tom Holt’s The Portable Door (funny and very today); I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephram (hilarious, but I can soooo identify with it); and Rita Mae Brown’s, Catch as Cat Can (who done it? Only the cat knows for sure).
Can you get more diverse? Well, probably. I could have thrown in a manual for how to build a barn. Now that’s diverse.
However, my first love is mysteries, because that’s what I like to write. If you have to be in your head 24/7, it better be with something you love to do! The very first book I can remember reading is Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Clock. I was nine years old at the time and it changed my life. Seriously. It took me to a world I never wanted to come back from, even though my childhood was perfectly fine. I graduated to Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy Sayers, then moved on to a host of others, mostly American writers. I was glad I started with the British writers, though. Their form is perfect.
Q: In writing your book/novel if you could do it again what would you do differently?
A: Maybe I would do a breakdown of each chapter, so I could have an overall view of where I was going. I tend to write from the-seat-of-my-pants. I know what the ending is going to be but how I get there is anybody’s guess. I had to go back and restructure a few things in this book, not much, but if I’d had more of an outline, I think I would have saved myself some work. Having said this, though, I wonder if I really will do that in the future. It’s so much more fun the other way.
Q: Do you have a writer’s studio? Describe it for us and what is the view you see from the window?
A: Yes, I do. It’s a small corner of the kitchen but it’s all mine. My desk is “L” shaped, so it fits right into the corner nicely; nobody’s home during the day but the two cats and me, so if Life doesn’t interfere I can get a lot of work done. All my books and writing projects cling to shelves running up the wall and the two posters of my book covers help to decorate one wall. I have a lovely view of the front garden. It was lovelier before the Yuka tree had to come down – some root and drainage problem – but I try to cope. Usually the sun shines and all is right with the world. Lucky gal, that’s me.
Q; Writer’s Block – If you have ever experienced it – how did you resolve it?
A: I don’t get writer’s block, per se. I think it’s because I have 6 or 7 projects going at the same time. If one project poops out for the moment or I’m ‘not in the mood’, I pick up something else. I work well under deadlines and pressure, too. If it has to be done, it has to be done. I think that’s the training that came from writing ad copy and comedy material in my younger days. You approach writing like a 9 to 5 job. Imagine if I had said to my bosses, today I can’t write ad copy for Babo, The Foaming Cleanser? Where would we all be? Okay, I probably would have been fired, but you get the idea.
Q: Advice for the audience, first time authors, those choosing the writing life.
A: Read authors whose work you like. Don’t be afraid to take the best of what they have to offer, whether it be plot, characterization, location, phraseology, or descriptions, whatever. I don’t mean plagiarism but try to emulate what makes the story sing for you. Everyone “borrows” and there’s no sin in it. We all learn from one another. Then, write, write, write. You can’t be a writer unless you write. Join a writing group. Take classes. Learn, grow, experiment, and discover yourself and what you excel in, your strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, never let anyone tell you, you can’t write, scoff them, sneer them and expunge them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They are projecting their own feelings of inadequacy upon you. Got it? Now, get out there and write. And revel in it. You belong to a wonderful club, the Writers of the World.
Q: Who or what was your greatest influence that made you want to be a writer/author?
A: P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie are probably the biggest influences of my writing life. They gave and give me hours of reading pleasure. I think if you can give one person the joy of being transported out of themselves and into another world, where they love every minute of it, you’re doing something worthwhile. I never wanted to write about earth-shaking matters, but I like to think I entertain, give a few laughs, and make someone feel warm all over, at least for the time they are reading my book. One reviewer wrote, “This is the perfect beach book.” That review made my day.
About Heather Haven
Her novel, Murder is a Family Business, the first in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series, has been epublished by MuseItUp Publishing in January, 2011. The second in the series, A Wedding To Die For, debuts April 22, 2011. She is currently writing the 3rd of the series, and says they are a joy to write. Heather gets to be all the characters, including the cat!
And at her tour page at Pump Up Your Book