I am so excited to welcome Carolyn Haines to Escape With Dollycas today!
Her latest book, Smarty Bones, was released in May and I know she is hard at work writing the next one so I am so pleased she has time to visit today!!
People often ask me if Sarah Booth Delaney is based on my own life—and I think most writers would admit that ALL characters in our stories have a little bit of the author in them. Where else can a person extract revenge for a past wrong, or stand up for a friend who’s being bullied or blackmailed, or commit a despicable act—all without suffering any real-time consequences? So, yes, I am part of every character I create. For better or worse.
Sarah Booth isn’t me, but I’d like to think that we would be very good friends. I’m just a little jealous that in the past fifteen years, Sarah Booth (and all the Zinnia characters) have aged less than two years. Time has put me on a harder road. A decade plus has been added to my age. I don’t pay much attention to numbers or a calendar, but 15 years is hard to ignore. A new generation has been born and is growing up.
Sarah Booth and I share a love of land, a desire to do the right thing, a need for a code of ethics, and the knowledge that friends, family, and farm are the trinity of a good life. While I have seen ghosts (really—not kidding here) I am not haunted by them.
In one other way, Sarah Booth imitates me. She is collecting a number of animals. Much in the same way that I’ve populated my house with 9 cats, 8 dogs, and 5 horses, mostly rescues and critters I’ve picked up along highways. I have rehomed a number of them once they’re vetted and in good health, but these are the ones that have lived with me so long, I suspect we will grow old together.
So far, Sarah Booth only has 3 horses, 1 dog, and 1 cat. She’s managed to pawn off the evil, rascally Roscoe-the-dog on Harold Erkwell. And she did begin her private investigative career with a shameful incident involving Chablis, the little Yorkie that belongs to her now partner, Tinkie Bellcase Richmond. So the world of Zinnia is populated with animals, just like my world.
Sarah Booth’s first horse, Reveler, is based on my very own Cogar. And Sweetie Pie—that hound! I had the most wonderful Sweetie Pie of my own for 10 years. She was a hound in terrible condition when she showed up at the farm not too long after I moved in. She had a number of serious illnesses, and her life expectancy was 2 years. She lived for 10, and there was never a time when her tail didn’t wag. She would beat the floor with it—a wonderful drumming sound. She was such a gentle dog. I took in a baby possum and raised it for several weeks until I could place it at a rehabilitation center for wild life. Sweetie would babysit that dang possum.
And Pluto the black cat is based on my very own Coal Shaft Haines. Coal Shaft was found by my neighbor with his leg hung in his collar. The leg had atrophied, and the vet was afraid they would have to remove it. The poor kitty was almost dead from starvation and infection.
But miracle of miracles, with a lot of great vet care and a lot of physical therapy (my college students helped me) we saved not only Coal Shaft, but his leg. And he has full use of it today.
Coal’s only problem now is that he was so starved when I got him that he hasn’t learned not to overeat. And he’s not real partial to exercise programs. But he’s a handsome devil, even if he is a bit rotund.
Sarah Booth is like me in how she relates to her animals, and how they are a big part of her life. And we both value our friends. And she has very good friends.
In Smarty Bones (the 13th and latest Mississippi Delta Mystery), Sarah Booth is drawn into a mystery because an old friend of her mother’s asks for help. It is a simple enough request—to find out what an academic from a northern university is doing in Zinnia. Sarah Booth agrees because she knows her mother would want her to help. That one decision ends up changing Sarah Booth’s life forever.
Sarah Booth tries hard to protect her friends from danger, but that’s often wasted effort. The cases brought to the Delaney Detective Agency involve greed, lust, revenge—all dangerous motivations. Where Sarah Booth dares to tread, Tinkie is sure to follow. And look behind Tinkie. Cece, Graf, Harold, Oscar and even the man who should know better, Coleman Peters, the sheriff are in the Conga line of trouble.
I grew up in the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi, not so far from where I live now. I read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries, as well as Trixie Belden and a number of others. I wanted to be a detective and a cowgirl and to write. Though I am a far cry from a cowgirl, I do have 5 horses, and I love o ride.
I don’t solve mysteries, except in the pages of a book. And I spend a large part of each day writing. So my childhood dreams have been fulfilled. Not exactly in the way I expected, but I’m not complaining.
And I have the best friends and smartest critters than anyone could ever want.
You can find out more about my books at www.carolynhaines.com. Please sign up for my newsletter. I also have a writers/readers gathering each April—www.daddysgirlsweekend.com We will post the 2014 schedule as soon as we have it. The dates are April 4-6 at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, AL.
Come and join us. You’re bound to make some new friends—and I can offer a fine selection of Sarah Booth approved critters for adoption.
Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi Delta Mysteries. She also writes dark novels as R.B. Chesterton. An animal advocate, she runs Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501-C3 devoted to all animal species.
Thank you Caroline so much for dropping by!!
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