Monday, May 15, 2017

An Interview with Caroline Haines

MM: Your recent book cover is to die for. Tell us about it and your book.

St.Martin's gets the credit for the book cover for STICKS AND BONES and Thomas & Mercer gets the credit for THE HOUSE OF MEMORIES. Their art departments keep coming up with terrific concepts. 
As to the Sarah Booth book, I had this idea for a story about a real Delta b**ch. I've met a few in my day, and Frangelica "Sister" McFee is one. I do want to make a disclaimer here. Vladimir Putin makes an appearance in this story--I thought it was the most ludicrous scenario I could come up with. Just over the top. And I wrote that scene in February of 2016. Lo and behold, November rolls around and guess who is all over the news? Am I psychic or what?

MM: I love this series and want to know if you have any favorite minor characters or guest characters?

This is probably sacrilege, but I secretly hoped Sarah Booth would hook up with Hamilton Garrett. That was my original intent, way back in THEM BONES. But I've learned who Sarah Booth is, and she has control of her romantic fate, not me. I love Millie and Cece and of course Tinkie. Harold has truly grown on me. And Coleman--what can I say? He is a great guy who has also grown in his capability to see who Sarah Booth is and accept her. But Jitty steals my heart every book. She's so BAD, but so protective of Sarah Booth. I wish I had a Jitty.

MM: Do you have a fun story to tell as maybe someone dressed up as some of the characters from your books?

One of my best friends since we were five, Debby Porter Pruett, loves clothes and jewelry and the finer things of life. I've always been a tomboy--I love my farm and the horses and there's just no place for Mani-Peddies and expensive things. (I once had my hair styled very elegantly for a TV appearance but I had to feed the horses before I went. I had so much hairspray going on that some flies got trapped in my hair. Yeah, it's true. My life defies glamour!) But I love my animals more than looking pretty. But back to Debby. The character Jitty is based on Debby. She was always trying to get me to marry well so I could "support her." All of the clothes Jitty wears in THEM BONES came from Debby's college wardrobe. Velveteen hot pants. Yowza! But back then we were really cute.

MM: How many books will you write this year? 

I'll have 3 complete novels out this year )STICKS AND BONES--May, THE HOUSE OF MEMORY--June, and FAMILIAR TROUBLE--July). Two Sarah Booth short stories, and I have an essay in a collection of traditions called A YEAR IN MISSISSIPPI and a reprinted mystery story in BELLES Letters 2, Contemporary stories by Alabama women. I am that lucky person who can claim two states! One of the 3 novels is a brand new romantic mystery featuring Trouble, son of Familiar the black cat detective. It is going to be so much fun!

 MM: 2017 is here so my question is what are you looking forward to this year?

The launch of the Trouble series. Bringing back some of the older FEAR FAMILIAR books. The release of my new books--STICKS AND BONES, and also the second Pluto's Snitch mystery, THE HOUSE OF MEMORIES (I really, really love this series and the chance to write about the past and a few chilling supernatural encounters.)

MM: A few fun questions: Do you look forward to binge watching any Netflix, acorn or other series on television?

House of Cards is a favorite. I'm ready for more People of Earth, and I hope the Exorcist returns. I really like television and there are fabulous shows available all the time now. I love scary movies and shows. (Stranger Things was great fun.) It's wonderful to be able to watch a show whenever, but I really miss the excitement of being hooked into a show and everyone watches it at the same time and then talks about it. I miss that.

MM: How much of a people watcher are you?

I can entertain myself for hours watching people. I used to play a game with my work-study students. We'd go to lunch and pick out a person and decide who they were, what they did, the details of their lives. Then I would go and ask them. Most of the time they were happy to chat. Once or twice it didn't end pretty! But we had fun anyway.

MM: What is your favorite meal, place to travel, person to travel with and song?

I love anything Southern. I love fried foods but I try not to eat them. Ireland and Nicaragua are the best vacations I've ever had. Both very different but so incredibly wonderful. I've had some wonderful traveling companions who had every right to kill me but didn't. And I am still stuck in the singer/songwriter zone. Jesse Winchester, Townes Van Zandt, Roddy McDowell, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson. And I love the blues. Man, I love the blues.

MM: Do you have a favorite teacher or someone you would like to give a shout out?

Carolyn Nyman, my mother's best friend, and I am named for her, was my English teacher for 3 years in middle and high school (and no I didn't flunk three grades!). She introduced me to Eudora Welty's writing and it changed my life. Jean Todd Freeman at the University of Southern Mississippi was also fabulous. Sue Walker at the University of South Alabama was a great teacher and a great boss.

MM: I won't ask you to give us favorite authors that you read or binge read their books but I will ask if you have a favorite book from childhood?

The Secret Garden. I loved that story. It has everything a reader could want. Mystery, chills, secrets, characters who find their true hearts. I still love it.

MM: Let's talk about the publishing world and how it has affected you?

I never knew publishing could be so hard. Had I known 35 years ago, I might have taken a different path. Stardust falls on some writers, but most of us slog it out in the trenches everyday, striving for that great sentence or paragraph or scene. I am tougher than I ever knew I could be. And desperation is truly the mother of invention. I've reinvented myself a number of times to stay alive. But I don't regret a moment. Not a single moment.

MM: In closing leave us with some sage words of wisdom from one of your characters? Your website address and anything else you would like us to know.

Writing is solitary work. Sharing a book is such great joy. I thank all of the readers who have recommended my books to others. And just a little shout out to the fine editors I've worked with who made my books so much better. And please, spay and neuter your companion animals. It's important. Donate to programs that do this. The world doesn't have to be so hard for animals. We can make it a whole lot better with only a little bit of effort. Those are my sage words--and any character of mine would say exactly that!



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  2. I love this interview and there is so much to learn from it.
    Thanks Carolyn.


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