Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rosemary Harris + Free Book GiveAway--Literary Mystery Novelists

To buy Slugfest, click here!

Rosemary Harris is offering a free copy of Slugfest to someone who comments on this post. Post your comment with a valid email to be entered in the contest.

Harris hit the mystery scene with a splash in 2008 when Minotaur Books published Pushing Up Daisies. This first book in the Dirty Business mystery series was an Agatha and Anthony Best First Book Award nominee, Mystery Guild Selection, IMBA Bestseller, and Killer Book, and on Library Journal's Best First Fiction List 2008.

Harris has been going strong ever since. Her books offer an irrepressible heroine, sharp social commentary, quirky characters, smart plotting, and witty prose. The trade paperback version of Slugfest, her fourth book, was recently released.


After several careers in book retailing (Waldenbooks), publishing (Crown Publishers), direct marketing (American Express Travel Related Services), and video/television/public television (WNET, ABC, Kultur, Winstar), Rosemary traded in her pumps for a yellow legal pad and a stack of pencils and started writing. A small item in the New York Times about a mummified body piqued her interest and subsequent research led to her first book, the Agatha and Anthony-nominated, Pushing Up Daisies, the first title in the Dirty Business mystery series from Minotaur Books. Daisies was followed by The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head and Slugfest.

“I love my heroine, Paula Holliday. People always ask how much of me is in Paula – some, but of course she’s the younger, thinner, more adventurous version of me. And she’s single…she can have more romances than I can!”

When she’s not writing or gardening, Rosemary finds time for kayaking and hiking; at last count she’s visited over 70 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, but her favorites are Yosemite, Glacier and Canyonlands.

Something else that’s near and dear to her heart is Habitat for Humanity. Habitat’s goal is to improve substandard housing for people all over the world. If you are not familiar with them, please visit the Habitat for Humanity Web site. As of this writing, Rosemary has been on six Habitat builds, including China, Tanzania, El Salvador, two trips to Mexico, and two trips to post-Katrina New Orleans. She encourages everyone to support this amazing organization, both financially and through volunteering.

Inspired by her Habitat experiences, Rosemary and her husband Bruce have undertaken another very exciting project, building a library in central Tanzania. Visit the Chalula Library Page on her website to learn more about it.

Rosemary is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, CAPA, Ct Authors and publishers Association and CMGA (Connecticut Master Gardeners Association), and is President of MWA/NY and past president of Sisters in Crime, New England.

For those new to your series, can you describe the Dirty Business mysteries?

It's a traditional mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth named Paula Holliday, who happens to be a gardener.

How would you describe Slugfest to someone who has not read any of your previous novels? 

Set in the chaotic, neurotic and in this case, homicidal world of trade shows, Slugfest is a funny, behind the scenes look at some of the less than genteel characters at a legendary flower show.

What sparked the idea for Slugfest?

I've been a volunteer at the Philadelphia Flower Show for over a decade and although I - happily - haven't witnessed any murders, I have seen some pretty strange behavior and I thought it was a perfect setting for a mystery.

Why did you start writing gardening mysteries? Did your own extensive gardens play apart in that decision?

I never thought I WAS writing garden mysteries! A body was found not far from my home in Connecticut and when I did some research I thought it would make a good story. It was natural for me to have my heroine be a gardener since 1) it's helpful if your amateur sleuth  has a job that throws her into contact with lots of different types of people - from the day laborers to the "ladies who lunch" and 2) when you garden in the northeast you can really only do it six months out of the year - so she has plenty of free time to solve crimes.

What's your writing process? What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you keep to a set schedule? What are your writing habits?

I have no typical days . Ever. All I can say is that I write with a pencil on a yellow legal pad (and I've done it everywhere from a tent in Yosemite to a ferry out of Dar es Salaam.) Eventually I enter it all on the computer and rewrite for as long as they let me.

What projects, literary or otherwise, are occupying you at the moment?

My husband and I - with the help of many generous friends have built a library in Tanzania and we go there every year or so to visit. I've cleared another 1/4 acre of woods on my property so I'm slowly building the new garden which is anchored by shade-loving, flowering shrubs. And, oh yes, the WIP. Still IP, but hope to have finished this summer. It's not a Paula Holliday book and may not even be a mystery...

How long have you been writing?

Wow...I guess it's close to eight years now. First book came out in 2008.

How has your work or life experience affected your writing? Is there an incident that has changed your life and influenced your writing?

Of course one's work and experience influences everything. I tend to put a lot of humor in my writing - but I see the humor in a lot of things. I sometimes think if I'd never seen that tiny article about the body that was found I'd never have done any of this. That's what I get for reading the New York Times!

You recently brought out Slugfest as a paperback yourself? What did you learn in the process? Will you self-publish more books?

Ask me in a few months! Seriously...I thought that since the first three in the series had been released in pb the fourth one should be too. It was ridiculously easy to do - and maybe the emphasis should be on the word ridiculous. Despite strong reviews for Slugfest, without a retail presence it's very difficult to grow awareness for a book that isn't soft-core porn, written by an established bestseller a la Stephen King - or free. Like I said...ask me in a few months. 

Rosemary will check in periodically to respond to comments and questions. Leave a comment for a chance at your own copy of Slugfest.


  1. Interesting interview. I was wondering if you'd had any thoughts about incorporating your crosscultural travel experiences and interactions into your work? I think a sleuth in Africa or Mexico, etc. could be a lot of fun and rife with humor and other possibilities. I travel a lot myself and it's so enriched my world-building and characterization.

  2. Hi Bryan,
    There are already a couple of pretty good sleuths working in Botswana, but I wouldn't rule anything out. Especially if I could t&e those trips to visit the library! Maria Hudgins writes a travel agent series as does (I think) Janice Hamrick. What I have considered is entering Nevada Barr's territory - she says bravely. I've been to over 70 national parks and monumnets and there are lots of stories there!

  3. Rosemary, that's a fascinating idea! A National Parks series of mysteries from the viewpoint of a veteran traveler or travel writer, perhaps? It would be a different take on the whole Parks area.

    1. As much as the National Parks are a national treasure with funding always in danger, you might even get some promotional help with such a series from the Park Service, if you show the parks and their mission in a positive light.

      Even though they are often on the "funding chopping block" of certain political interests, many people love their National Parks! I bet you'd find a good following.

      Ditto for national parks in any nation, though negotiating those endorsements might be trickier!

  4. Love the cover, the colorful flowers with the skull peeking out!

    The idea of exposing the behind-the-scenes of gardening shows sounds intriguing. All those sweet little old ladies...and all their buried secrets! Will definitely check into your Paula Holliday series. I much prefer mystery and humor to the "soft-porn" books so popular right now. Actually, I'm not so sure I'll call most of them "soft"!

  5. Looking forward to reading your new book, but am even more impressed with the work you've been doing to bring a library to Tanzania.

    1. Yes, Deborah, I know Rosemary and her husband make trips over there periodically to take supplies and check out how the library is doing.

  6. Any plans to continue the "Dirty Business" series?

    1. Dru,

      Thanks for stopping by. Rosemary will come on to respond to comments again after a while when she has the chance.

  7. I loved "Pushing Up Daisies," and I'd love to read "Slugfest"—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  8. Hi guys,
    I did check in from Amtrak but I guess it didn't go through. I've spent most of the last 24 hours in transit to and from a Jungle Red confab in Boston - Hank Ryan, Hallie Ephron, Lucy Burdette/ Roberta Isleib, Julia Spencer Fleming, Jan Brogan and Deb Crombie on Skype. What a blast!

    Thanks for the kind words re Daisies and the Chalula Community Library in Tanzania.

    Right now I'm busy wrapping up WIP but after that I think I'll write a Paula Holliday short story or novella and put it up online, just to get something out fast. I'm missing her!

  9. An interesting post, I have been looking for a protagonist who could support a series of novels so I appreciate your comments about your heroine. I hope I'm in time to get a chance to win your book

  10. Thanks, Rosemary. I don't know what was going on yesterday. As I emailed you, Sally Berneathy posted a comment that blogger sent me by email, but it's never shown up on the blog, either!

    And I'm so jealous that you had that great get-together with all the other Jungle Reds. Of course, I wish I could have been there, too, but I wouldn't have wanted to take your place. It wouldn't be the Reds without you.

  11. Warren, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you got some ideas from Rosemary's sensible method of deciding on a protagonist.

  12. Rosemary... your titles alone... with the cover art... SLUGFEST with a teapot and flowers... got my attention!!! xo

  13. Sorry I'm so late... couldn't be helped. Rosemary, about the self-pub concerns, especially the current pleth of giveaway downloads... do you find that troublesome. I'm wondering if this recent push to offer e-freebees to drive sales, might actually backfire. Any opinion on that?

  14. Yes, Reine, the titles are so witty, and the cover art works beautifully with them.

  15. Reine, everyone has her own goals and strategies for getting the word out about her work - whether it's books, music or short films. For some people the free or .99 route has breathed new life into a dormant backlist and helped introduce readers to an author they might have missed. And for them - way to go!
    Personally I have offered a free short story on my website (and would on Amazon if I ever get the time to figure out how to do it), but I don't see myself offering an entire book for free. What's troubling to me is that some people now seem convinced that books should be .99-2.99 otherwise they are overpriced. Authors still need to eat and pay rent and go to shows and visit libraries and bookstores and that's hard to do if the perceived value of their work is so low.

  16. Amen, Rosemary! That's so true. And aside from the fact that writers are trying to support themselves with their books, there's the whole sense of not valuing your work. I think my books are worth much more than .99 or free (as are yours and so many authors'). Why would I say to the world, in essence, "My stuff's not worth even one whole dollar." That's like saying, "My stuff is just cheap trash." If I believed that, I'd never offer my books for sale. Where is the pride in craft and artistry?

  17. Thanks, Rosemary... I agree, only I hadn't thought it out as much to the point that you and Linda had. <-- Constructing sentences like that will assure my never getting published! [She grabs her hair and runs screaming into the night!]

  18. Linda,
    Thanks so much for having me visit this week. And Jan, good tip about the parks. How cool would it be to have a launch party at the Ahwahnee!
    Okay....drum roll...the winner is Debra Goldstein! Debra, please email me at rosemary@rosemaryharris.com. Just send your snail mail address and I will send the book right out! Cheers.

  19. Thrilled ! So glad I took the time to read and comment.