Joining us today is Heather Haven, author of Murder is a Family Business, the first book in her Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series published by MuseItUpPublishing.
Heather is a story teller by nature and loves the written word. In her career, she’s written short stories, novels, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and even ghost-wrote a book.
One of her first jobs as a writer was given to her by her then agent. It was that of writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week and then promptly came down with the flu. Writing "The Sands of Time" with a temperature of 102 delivered some pretty hot stuff. A short stint with No Soap Radio in New York City as a staff comedy writer was a dream come true! She knew writing was for her, in particular, funny writing.
Two one-act plays, The Closet Corpse and Baltimore, farcical comedies both, were well received whenever and wherever they've been performed. She had the good fortune to have Baltimore done at Playwrights Horizon in New York City, shortly after The Closet Corpse premiered off-off B'Way, starring the very talented Sandy Faison, of Broadway's Annie fame. Both have also been recently done in San Jose to an appreciative audience.
Heather is in the process of writing the third novel of the Alvarez Mystery Series and finds it a joy. She gets to be all the characters, including the cat!
Welcome, Heather. It is wonderful to have you here today. Let's start off by learning a bit more about you.
Where did you grow up?
Sarasota, Florida, winter home of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. That’s because both parents were members of the circus. My mother was a featured performer and my father was an elephant trainer. But that’s a story for a later time.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
At the tender age of 9, I was brought to the public library to check out my first book. I chose Nancy Drew, The Secret of the Old Clock. It changed my life. I knew then and there my life would revolve around mysteries and books.
When did you begin writing?
At around sixteen years old, I started writing lyrics to popular songs that had none. It was a fun start the writing process and one I sometimes do to this day, solely for my own amusement. I never did anything with them. I think they’re tucked away in a drawer.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
Yes, yes, and yes. Although, I prefer the morning, when I’m fresh.
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 the rest of Alvarez Family, detectives all. Basically, just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? Quirky Lee doesn't think so. 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. Her thinking is, of all the nerve.
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. Seemingly light and frothy on the surface, the novel nevertheless explores familial love, the good, the bad and the annoying.
What inspired you to write it?
I don’t know that inspiration has anything to do with it. I write because I have to. Driven, don’tchaknow. But I belive in the family unit, whatever form it takes.
Who is your biggest supporter?
Lucky me, I have a family that is very supportive, down to the cats. Most friends and writing buddies are behind me 100%. That makes it a lot easier.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
Every writer should be a member of a writing group, in my opinion. The help and support is unbelievable. So, yes, I am a member of several writing groups, plus I have been fortunate to study in the Stanford Continuing Studies Creative Writing program and with Ellen Sussman, a wonderful teacher and superb writer, in her own right.
Who is your favorite author?
Get ready for it: P.G. Wodehouse. I have read every book of his I can get my hands on and he wrote over 90! His writing can make me laugh like no one else’s. He’s most famous for the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster collection of short stories and books but he was a prolific writer of screenplays, plays, novels, short stories, pretty much anything. I’m a big fan.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
It was loooooong. My then agent – a lovely lady - had some near misses with major publishing houses for nearly three years. Then the economic disaster happened. Publishing went into the outhouse and hasn’t quite come out yet. I thought my little series was doomed, but hauled it out of the drawer last year and sent it off to MuseItUp Publishing, a new house in Canada and voila! It was accepted and now we’re off and running. Ain’t life grand?
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Not one danged thing. I did what was called for at the time. It’s worked out just fine. Maybe I would have exercised more, wouldn’t have eaten so much chocolate…wait a minute. Who am I kidding?
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
MuseItUp Publishing! It awaits there! Specifically at: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=32&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1
It’s lengthy but direct!
Bookstrand.com, Smashwords.com, and Amazon.com are some that carry the book.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
The trailer, which I did myself, is on my website. http://www.heatherhavenstories.com/. I worked on it for about 50 hours – learning curve – and then revamped it in about 15 minutes three weeks ago. So happy I did! The result is on my website and I’m proud of it. You can also follow Lee’s adventures at Twitter@PILeeAlvarez and join me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/.
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
Listening to my betters and those in the know. These people seldom steer me wrong. Also, everyone at MIU is supportive and helpful. We’re there for each other.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Write, write, write. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. And don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do it, or you don’t have the talent, or it’s crazy. Ignore them. Write. The world would be a better place is everyone in it planted a tree and wrote one story, even flash fiction. Get out there and write!!!
What is up next for you?
Finishing up the 3rd book of the Alvarez series, Death Runs in the Family, then I have a very exciting idea for a new novel, plus I need to finish a 3-act play I’m writing, and do the final edits on another mystery novel, not part of the Alvarez Family Series. I also like to write short stories whenever I get fifteen minutes or so.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. Live, live, live! As Auntie Mame says, ‘Life’s a banquet and most sons-a-b------ are starving to death.’
This post first appeared at The Book Connection.