Quite by accident. About eight years ago, I read a two line item in the New York Times Metro Briefing section. A mummified body was found in a small Connecticut town near my home. They gave very few details - no names, cause of death, just the name of the town. i was intrigued and much like the amateur sleuth i would go on to create I did some snooping. I wound up having a telephone interview with a doctor who had assisted in the autopsy of the body and he told me two things which I thought would make a good story. So I wrote one. that was the genesis of my first book, Pushing Up Daisies.
What are you working on at the moment?
I've been working on a historical novel, which starts in 1899 - but last weekend at a book festival I found a wonderful used book and it's given me a fun idea for a contemporary novel - women's fiction with a murder, so I have put the historical one on the back burner for the time being. I've never done that before, but it feels right.
Do you plan your novels? How do you prepare?
A lot of ideas come to me. The hard part is developing them to the point where you think there's an entire novel. I try to come up with a one page synopsis - just for myself at this point - and then imagine how I would sustain a reader's interest for 300 or so pages. What difficulties can I put my characters in? What challenges will they face? In the case of the historical novel I read dozens of books either written in the late 19th century or written about. For my second book, The Big Dirt Nap, I had the painful job of researching casinos. (Just kidding..)
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Hearing that someone has enjoyed one of my books. That I made someone laugh or got them through a difficult time. The best email I've ever gotten was from a woman who wrote that one of my books had made her mother laugh - and it was the first time since her dad had passed away. Not sure anything can top that.
What do you get up to when you're not writing?
I'm a master gardener so I spend lot of time digging in the dirt. I also love to bake - I own more cookie cutters and baking tins than anyone needs. My husband and I travel as often as we can. I adore Italy (who doesn't...but I'm Italian so there's a special connection) and we participate in Habitat for Humanity Global Village builds at least once a year. That's how we found the small village in Tanzania where we built a library. That pretty much fills my time!
What advice would you give to anyone starting out?
I'm tempted to say "just write the best book possible" but I always find that such annoying advice. Of course, we're all trying to write the best book possible.
A few things -
Re-writing is key. the muse doesn't sit on your shoulder and then the words pour out, perfect on the page.
The first 35-50 pages are the hardest. Don't agonize over them - you're going to change them anyway, just press on with your story. Finish it and only then go back to page one.
Not everyone will like your book. They're not all idiots (although some of them may be.)
If your book was made into a film, who would you want to play the main characters?
This is the first time I've been asked this question re my latest book, The Bitches of Brooklyn...let's see
Rachel McAdams - Jane Monaghan
Mila Kunis - Tina Ruggiero
Rose Byrne - Abby Daniels
Zoey Deschanel - Rachel Weiner
Drew Barrymore - Clare Didrikson
I'm almost embarrassed to say how long this list took me! While I do (upon the insistence of copy editors) give details about a character's appearance, I try to leave a few things out so that readers can imagine their looks for themselves. One of the best reader events I've ever held was at the New Haven Free Library. Attendees were asked who they thought should portray Wanda "Babe" Chinnery, a former back-up singer who owns the diner in my first four books (and makes a cameo appearance in Bitches.) The answers ranged from Goldie Hawn to Pam Grier to Cher! I loved that everyone had their own notion of what Babe looked like.
Tell us about your current book.
The Bitches of Brooklyn is about four friends awaiting the arrival of a fifth at a beach bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every summer. They are childhood friends - once nicknamed The Bitches - whose lives have crisscrossed and they've been in and out of touch for the almost two decades since they graduated from high school. But this year, the fifth woman doesn't show, instead she sends a note that she's run off with one of their men.
Has she? Is it a prank? Fast, funny and irreverent, it's the story of women forced to reevaluate their friendships, their marriages and their memories.
Tell us how you settled on the title.
Aaah, the title. Originally the book was entitled The Fifth Woman. Then Henning Mankell came out with The Fifth Woman. And someone else released The Fifth Witness, The Sixth Man ...
The Fifth Woman sounded too familiar. I grappled with the B word. Did it sound angrier than the book really is? Should I use an asterisk ala Sh*t My Dad Says? For good or ill the word bitch has moved into the lexicon and for most people who would likely be drawn to my book, no longer has same connotation it had in the 1930s when Joan Crawford was prevented from uttering it in The Women "There's a word for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society - outside of a kennel!" Scandalous at the time. Not so much now. And in BOB, it's mostly used with affection.
For the record, there are no f-bombs in any of my books. And no really salty language. But The Bitches of Brooklyn was the title everyone loved, so there it is!
What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I'm switching off between As Husband's Go by Susan Isaacs and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shachocis.
From the author of the Anthony and Agatha-nominated Pushing Up Daisies and Dead Head.
Are they really bitches? That depends who you ask...four friends await the arrival of a fifth at a secluded Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every summer. But this year the fifth woman doesn't show. Instead she sends a note that reads - "I've run off with one of your men."
Has she? Is it a prank? Do they run for the phone or try to enjoy the weekend without her? Fun, flirty and filled with Harris' trademark snappy dialogue and quirky characters forced to reevaluate their marriages, their friendships and their memories, The Bitches of Brooklyn has been called "a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Sex in the City."
Inspired by a classic Hollywood film, The Bitches of Brooklyn will appeal to readers of Jennifer Weiner, Cathleen Schine and Susan Isaacs and is for every woman who's ever had a best friend and wondered ... is she really??
"Rosemary Harris is a GEM of a writer." Joanne Fluke, NYTimes best-selling author of the Hannah Swenson series.
"Smart, sassy and sophisticated, The Bitches of Brooklyn may be the best female buddy book yet. I dare you to put it down." Elaine Viets, best-selling author of The Dead End Job series and Catnapped!
Rosemary Harris has been a bookstore manager, a video producer and a public television exec. Her debut novel, the Agatha and Anthony-nominated, Pushing Up Daisies, was followed by The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head andSlugfest, all titles in her Dirty Business mystery series. She is past president of Mystery Writers of America's NY Chapter and Sisters in Crime's New England Chapter. Like some of the characters in The Bitches of Brooklyn she was born in Brooklyn but now lives in New York City and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
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