I'm happy to welcome Heather Haven to the blog today. Heather writes the Alvarez Family Mystery series. The CEO Came DOA is the fifth book in the series and was released earlier this summer.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important part in mysteries. Why choose the Silicon Valley?
HH: Putting aside that I live here and ran a department at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, I find Silicon Valley a lively and invigorating place. It's edgy, fueled by youth and innovation. Also, it has a diverse population and I love that. There isn't any country's food that isn't here and it's all delicious. Unfortunately, my waistline shows it.
Kathy: In The CEO Came DOA Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering. Have you ever been involved with a startup company?
HH: No, I haven't. So the research was unbelievably daunting. For months I researched the history, nature, and financial complexities involved in getting a startup up and running. Because of my living smack dab in the middle of this world, I was able to talk with many people involved in all parts of the process, from techies to high powered executives. Each saw it from a different angle, which helped me round everything out. I wanted to make sure I had enough facts for readers who know a little something about the life, but not turn off the ones who don't care. I trod a fine line!
Kathy: You studied drama at the University of Miami in Florida. How has theatre influenced your writing?
HH: Absolutely. The fields are interconnected, as are most of the arts. In my youth, I thought I wanted to be an actress, but I don't really have the temperament for it. I didn't like the constant traveling, auditioning, or being called 'talent' instead of my name. The life simply wasn't for me. But I had always written things. I love the solitude and being able to go anywhere using just my imagination. One of my first jobs was writing a column on the births, deaths, trips, etc. of a Miami Beach condo complex for the Miami Beach Sun. I was seventeen.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
HH: Like the song from Chorus Line, "I Can Do That," after reading hundreds of them, I thought I could do that. I had no idea how tough it was. Ignorance is bliss. It took me the better part of 5 years to write the first novel of the series, Murder is a Family Business. I had false starts and stops, but ultimately, with a lot of help from my friends, the novel made its debut. I will say that even though the protagonist is a PI, she is trained to ferret out thievery of software and hardware or intellectual property. She is in no way seeking out murderers. But Lee Alvarez keeps tripping over dead bodies, especially when she isn't looking, so she tries to deal.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
HH: My short stories are often a mixed bag. But when it comes to months of writing a single project, I opt for something I enjoy doing to the max, mysteries.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
The Alvarez Family Mysteries take place in today’s sparkling Bay Area, namely Silicon Valley. I like to feel these whodunits have a crackerjack mystery to solve while exploring familial relationships -- the good, the bad, and the annoying.
My other humorous series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, takes place in New York City during World War II. The protagonist, Persephone Cole, is one of the first female detectives and not unlike Sam Spade. She’s a full-figured gal with an 8-year old son and a wicked sense of humor.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
HH: All the characters I write about are like my children. Even if I had a favorite, I wouldn’t face it or admit it.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
HH: When I began the series revolving around the Alvarez Family, I wanted to depict a family that wasn’t the traditional husband, wife, two kids, station wagon, and dog. Even if it starts out like that, Life happens. At the very least, your car breaks down and your dog gets fleas. What we discover along the way is you need to hold on to what you have with lots of love, humor, and flea powder.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
HH: I was with two traditional publishers and have no terrible stories to relate. They were just fine to me. However, I wanted more control over the covers, pricing, editing, etc. Along with another writer, Baird Nuckolls, we formed The Wives of Bath Press, so that we could have total control of our books. It’s a lot of work and sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but by gawd, I’m the boss of me. Or we’re the boss of us. It’s a worthwhile venture and so much fun.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
HH: Oh, just the thought of it makes me giddy! We’d have to hold a séance, because there are three no longer with us. The Bard, himself, Will Shakespeare; the phenomenal wit, Dorothy Parker; and one of the world’s funniest writers ever, P. G. Wodehouse. The sole living author would be Stephen King. I chose Mr. King even though I’m not into horror stories per se, but because he has brought the genre to new heights and is a wonderful writer.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
HH: I usually have three to five books going at the same time. Right now it’s Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, an oldie goldie; Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, another oldie goldie; The Race For Paris, Meg Waite Clayton’s newest release; and The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirschman. I just finished The Lanvin Murders, Angela M. Sanders; Marva Dasef’s Missing, Assumed Dead; and Roseanne Dowell’s All’s Well That Ends Well. I read a lot. Books are my friends.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
HH: Hang gliding, Skeet shooting, and mud wrestling. Just kidding. Let me think. Hmmm. Well, here’s a wannabe: I wish I had time to continue with the ukulele. I’d progressed to learning a bunch of chords, but still can’t strum worth a Tinker’s Dam. I set it aside two years ago because I don’t really have time for it. I have no hobbies, I guess. Wait! My husband and I love to travel. That’s my hobby. Phew! I didn’t think I could come up with one.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
HH: Butter, milk, eggs, and cat food (For our two cats, not for my husband or me).
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
HH: Yes, the sixth book of the Alvarez Family Mysteries will revolve around the restaurant industry in the Bay Area. I’ll get to do a lot of research. Yummy!
And I do have a new series percolating. I spent a lot of years working on Broadway with performers. I’m going to try to tap into those experiences.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
HH: The being. I’ve always been writing, ever since I can remember. I love the written word. I love going someplace in my mind and setting it down on paper. I can’t think of much I’d rather be doing. Maybe mud wrestling? Just kidding!
IPPY Award Winner, Death of a Clown
Multi Award-Winner, Alvarez Family Mysteries
The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries
Best Historical Mystery Novel Lefty Nomination, 2016
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