Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesdays Tidbits With Kari: Featuring Dorothy Howell

Dorothy Howell is the author of 26 novels. She's written for three major New York publishing houses. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, with sales approaching 3 million copies worldwide. Dorothy currently writes for two publishers, in two genres, under two names. Her latest is the fashion sleuth Haley Randolph mystery series. The series has sold in the U.K., France and Thailand, and is available in hardcover, paperback, Large Print and e-book format. Dorothy has signed another 3-book deal to continue the series in hardcover from Kensington. She also writes historical romance novels under the pen name Judith Stacy. To find out more about Dorothy visit her website at http://www.dorothyhowellnovels.com/

Let's see what tidbits Dorothy has in store for us:

Kari: Having written more than 20 historical romances, what made you want to switch to writing a mystery series?

Dorothy: I'd written 23 historical romance novels--and loved every one of them! Most of my books took place in the American West in the 1880's, and during the 1890's in Los Angeles, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. After writing that number of books, I was ready to try something different. I've always loved mystery, so I decided to give it a try. Luckily, it worked out!

Kari: Which is harder to write and which do you enjoy writing more: historicals or mysteries?

Dorothy: Both romance and mystery have the two elements I most like writing about -- emotional involvement with the characters and a happy ending. In romance, the hero and heroine always live "happily ever after." In mystery, you always learn "whodunit" at the end. While each genre has its differences, I can't say one is more difficult to write than the other. Each has unique challenges that make them fun to write.

Kari: How did you come up with such a fun, quirky amateur sleuth like Haley Randolph, and can you tell us about the series?

Dorothy: Haley is 24 years old, living in Los Angeles, and having a big-time quarter-life crisis. she hasn't found her place in the world yet - something I think most of us can identify with. Her passion is designer handbags. She works at a mid-range department store where she is forced to deal with customers, co-workers, and upper management - and the dead bodies she keeps finding! I got the idea for the series after my daughter, a college student, got a part-time job at a retail store. She came home with terrible stories about how bad the customers, co-workers, and management were, and I thought, "Hey, this would make a great book!" Since a mystery series needs a theme to tie the books together, I decided to use designer purses because, like Haley, I'm crazy about them!"

Kari: I see your books come out a year apart. How long does it take you to write a book and what is your everyday writing schedule like?

Dorothy: The big difference, I've found, between writing a romance and writing mystery is the number of books you can release a year. I was very fortunate that my romance publisher, Harlequin Silhouette, published several of my books each year - almost as fast as I could write them! With mystery my publisher, Kensington, releases only one book per year in hardcover. Then that book is released in paperback 11 months later. I spent about four months writing each mystery. The rest of the year I'm doing research and writing other things. My daily routine is to write about four hours each day, five days a week, weekends and holidays off. I treat it like a business, because it is! I always know what I want to write before I sit down at the computer. If I find myself staring at the screen, trying to think up something, I walk away.

Kari: Do you have any tips or pieces of advice for those of us trying our hand at writing a mystery?

Dorothy: If you're going to write a mystery series, I recommend creating characters you love - because you're going to have to write them for years! Give them characteristics that leave room for growth. Don't nail down every aspect of their lives in the first book.

Kari: Who are your favorite authors?

Dorothy: I love Robert Crais - who doesn't! Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Michael Connelly are high on my list, as well. For romance, I really enjoy the work of Charlene Sands. I'm always excited to discover a new author and am usually willing to give a book or series a try.

Thank you so much for being with us, Dorothy. Again to find out more about Dorothy Howell go to www.DorothyHowellNovels.com


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thank you again, Dorothy, for being with us. Great answers to my questions. You've inspired me to meet my own deadlines :-) Can't wait to your your latest book....it sounds fabulous.

Liz Lipperman said...

Thanks for the great interview, Kari and Dorothy.

Dorothy, like Kari, I am intrigued that you write successfully in two genres. You 24 year old purse-a-holic sounds wonderful.

Thanks for joining us on M & M today. Come back again, anytime.

Cassy Pickard said...

Dorothy! Thanks so much for all of your comments. What a contribution you have made with so many books. I love that you write in two genres. I can't imagine doing that. Of course, we have some M&M folks who follow, but I still seem to be one-minded.
Deadlines are awaiting, again, thanks so much. Will you come back and join us again?

Lindsay said...

Great interview Dorothy. When, years ago, no I won't say how many, I worked in retail I had the same problems you mentioned your daughter then character had. I would have loved to find some of them dead. No comment on how they got that way.
Glad to see someone else believes in taking weekends and holidays off from writing.

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks Kari and Dorothy I loved reading about the switch of genre's and everything else. Dorothy it sounds like you have amazing research skills if you've written that many novels in the 1800's in America.

Thanks for joining us on M&M>

Kari Lee Townsend said...

FYI...Kayleigh George, Marketing Coordinator, of Harper Collins loves our blog :-)

She also had some exciting news to pass along. Author James Grippando is giving an interview and giveaway on Blogtalk RAdio today at 3pm EST regarding his new book MONEY TO BURN. Anyone who writes or calls in with a question gets a complimentary copy fo the book.

Check it out at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/librarylovefest/2010/03/16/james-grippando-talks-to-library-lovefest

Cassy Pickard said...

Yeah that we have caught the attention of those out there in the real world! I'm tapping into the link for sure. But, having said that, I'm not leaving Dorothy. Great topic, great info. Thanks to both Dorothy and Kari for making this happen. Cassy

Lindsay said...

I'm happy that you've gotten out there.
Of course, just my luck that that radio show is on when I'm at work. I always miss the good stuff.