Interview with Sherry Harris: Wicked Cozies, Garage Sales, and the Redneck Riviera

Please join me in welcoming Sherry Harris to the blog, today. Sherry is the author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, published by Kensington Publishing. Her debut, Tagged for Death, was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Along with a grouSherryHarris(HeadShot)p of New England mystery writers, Sherry is one of the WickedCozyAuthors bloggers. In early September, Sherry will become national president of Sisters in Crime. Please join me in welcoming Sherry to the blog, today.

MB: You have a new series coming out. What’s the premise? Who is the main character? Where will the stories be set? When will it be out?

SH: The main character is Chloe Jackson. She promises a friend that if anything happens to him in Afghanistan she will go help his grandmother run her beach bar in the panhandle of Florida aka the Redneck Riviera. When he dies Chloe arrives in Florida to find out her friend’s grandmother doesn’t want her there. Chloe doesn’t know a Manhattan from a Tom Collins and can barely open a bottle of wine. But her background as a children’s librarian gives her an uncanny knack for dealing with difficult patrons. It will be out sometime in 2020.

MB: How did you come to write mysteries?

SH: Growing up my house was full of mysteries and thrillers so they were my first love when it came to reading. So as an adult when I decided to try writing a novel it was a natural choice to write mysteries.

MB: Tell us a bit about your next book.CoverArt(GunAlsoRises)

SH: The sixth book in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries is The Gun Also Rises. I was so excited to incorporate a bit of history – the Hemingway manuscripts that disappeared in 1922 never to be seen again. That is until Sarah finds them in the attic of a house. However, they are quickly stolen again setting Sarah on a dangerous journey to find them.

MB: Where did the idea for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries come from?

SH: I confess the idea for the series came from my Kensington editor, Gary Goldstein. However, I’ve always loved garage sales and the first three chapters of the book magically whooshed out of me. If only all writing was that easy.

MB: What’s the coolest thing you ever bought at a garage/yard sale?

SH: Oh, this is such a hard one. I’ve been asked before and I think I give a different answer every time depending on my mood or recent purchase. But in the early 1990s we were living in San Pedro, California. A friend and I went to a garage sale in an exclusive neighborhood. I found a claw and glass-ball foot table with a ‘price firm’ sign on it. I bought it anyway. A few weeks later I found an identical one at an antique store priced seven and a half times higher than I paid for mine. It still makes me smile.

MB: Your website says you’re a patent-holding inventor. What did you invent, and how did your “inventiveness” come about? Will there be more inventions?CoverArt(BidLastSummer)

SH: Swapz is a fashion accessory that allows you to change the look of your eyewear. You can switch your look to match any mood or occasion. Support your favorite team one day, celebrate a holiday the next, show off your bling or indulge your wild side with leopard print, all with quick snap on front or side pieces. I came up with the idea when I was shopping with my daughter. She was looking at two pairs of sunglasses and couldn’t decide between a pair with a leopard print running across the top or a pair with rhinestones. I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just switch those top pieces out?” I mentioned the idea to friends and we’ve been working on it since. I do have other ideas taking up space in my head. The valuable lesson learned with Swapz is how long it takes to get a patent and how hard it is to bring something to market.

MB: What are you reading, these days? Who are some of your favorites, outside the mystery genre?

SH: I just finished Dark River Rising by a guy named Roger Johns. I loved it and I can’t wait (really any old ARCs laying around? Or word documents? Just kidding I’ll wait, but I’ll be first in line) for River of Secrets to come out on August 28th! As for other genres – I was just looking over my reading list and it is almost all mysteries and thrillers. I do occasionally read some women’s fiction (I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine this year) and romance. I love Jane Austin and Shakespeare.

MB: What advice do you have for folks who want to write cozy mysteries?

SH: Find a fresh twist and voice. Write about something you love or are interested in researching. Study the genre and the craft of writing.

LilyHarris(HeadShot)

MB: Your dog, Lily, is the cutest dog in the solar system: Strongly Agree or Strongly Disagree

SH: Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this.

MB: Later this summer you will be installed as the national president of Sisters in Crime. Congratulations and best wishes for your time in office. What has your journey to this position been like, and what motivated you to get so deeply involved in this organization?

SH: Thank you! Many years ago, at Malice Domestic, I met Julie Hennrikus who told me about Sisters in Crime and encouraged me to join. I’ve met so many wonderful people through that chance meeting. I was first involved at the chapter level when I joined the New England chapter. When we moved back to Virginia I joined the Chesapeake chapter and eventually became their president. I volunteered for a position with National and the rest is history. I believe I was published because I joined SinC – the networking opportunities and the friendships led me to a publishing contract. Otherwise, I might still be sending out query letters and getting rejected.

MB: Can you give us some insight into the initiatives and challenges that will come before the membership during the Harris administration?

SH: I want to make sure that all crime fiction writers find SinC a welcoming home, a place to respectfully exchange ideas that pertain to our mission to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers. The ongoing challenge is to make sure people know who we are and that we are here to help them in their writing careers.

Sherry Harris is an independent editor, a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, Sisters in Crime Chesapeake, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. Her fifth Sarah Winston Mystery, I Know What You Bid Last Summer, was released in February 2018. You can find her books wherever books are sold. Please visit her at https://sherryharrisauthor.com/.

Sherry was interviewed for MurderBooks by Roger Johns, the author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.

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