Name – Heather Haven
Age – You’re kidding, right? 45 – 37 – 15 Hut, hut, hut!
Where are you from – Born and raised in Florida, the Sunshine State. Live now in the Golden State. Life is good.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Went to Miami Dade Junior College and then the University of Miami. That was back in the Punic Wars. My mother was a single mom when it was really, really tough to be one. No social support networks at all. She did a good job, I think.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Am currently writing the 5th Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, The CEO Came DOA. Like all my novels, it’s like it is the first time. I thought writing was supposed to get easier!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always penned words for as long as I can remember. Poems, lyrics to songs, stuff like that. I had my first paying job when I was 17. I wrote a column for the Miami Beach Sun. It was about the residence of a large condo on Miami Beach. The comings, goings, births, deaths, all sorts if interesting and not so interesting tidbits. The MB Sun is no longer shining, now being defunct. I made $25 a week! I was heady with success.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always considered myself a writer. I made some money at it right away. Not enough to live on, but enough to think well of myself. If you want to make money doing a craft, writing does not top the list. I’d say take up plumbing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’d read dozens of murder mysteries, mainly cozies. Loved them. But one day I said, I can do that. Of course, the first novel took me over 2 years to write. They’re a lot tougher to do than they look! But I wanted to write something about a quirky family, who do their darnedest to stay together, be supportive and loving, despite whatever gets thrown at them. Also, and this is important to me, I love blended people. The Italian half of my family came to the States at a time when it was difficult to be Italian. But my family worked hard to integrate and become useful members of our society. I decided to write about new immigrants working hard and succeeding. The series revolves around a half-Latino, half Palo Alto blueblood family who has managed to capture the American dream through perseverance, hard work and familial love.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, easy, breezy, clever (I hope), with humor. At least, that’s what I strive for. Shakespeare, I ain’t.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Not sure. Titles pop into my head but then so do laundry lists. Take the very first book of the Alvarez series, Murder is a Family Business. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t name it that. Sounds much more serious than the story warrants. Some men buy the book thinking it’s going to be about organized crime and then they find all the name brand shoes and a kitten. Sometimes I get killed in a review for that! And this last book I’m penning, The CEO Came DOA. The title came to me, I loved it, and I’ve been writing the story around the title. I mean, really Heather? Can you not make this any harder on yourself? Who does that? A challenge is a challenge, but that’s ridiculous. Yet…strangely…I’m having a great time.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Family is important. And it takes all kinds and setups to make a family. It’s not just a mother, father, and kids with a station wagon and a large dog. Families come in all shapes and sizes. It’s the love that binds. And being positive. There’s enough negativity in the world without any of us adding to it.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I try to make all the facts I write about correct. I do a lot of research. But it is a work of fiction, after all, so I play with things.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Always. Truth is stranger than fiction every time. As for the stories, I read articles in the papers and then twist them to fit my writing needs. The 2nd book of the Alvarez Family Mysteries, A Wedding To Die For, is based on an article I read in the New York Times. It was about a family in Egypt who pilfered the tomb of a lesser known king for 60 years! They would take one piece, sell it below the radar, and then the entire family – extended members as well – would benefit from the money. With several passing decades they became educated and some rose to positions of power. The legacy passed on from generation to generation. They only got found out because one of the family members, an assistant curator in a museum, got greedy and substituted real artifacts for phony ones. True story! I transferred the scenario from Egypt to Mexico and I was off and away!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
P.G. Wodehouse is the one writer who has influenced me the most. He’s a British humorous writer of the 30s and 40s. I love him. He’s written over 90 novels; most notable is his Jeeves and Bertie Wooster series. He is the most hilarious writer I’ve ever read. He knew how to create visual pictures with words. He was a master at it. I am proud to say I copy his style whenever I can.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am doing a moderator job for four authors for the AAUW on Feb 9th. I always read each book the author is highlighting. I feel it gives me more questions to ask and a better understanding of the author. Plus I know the audiences like that approach. At this moment I am reading Black Beans and Venom, A Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen. Lucky me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Let’s see: Terri Austin, Cindy Sample, Nancy Parra, Larissa Reinhart, but I don’t know how new they are. There are so many wonderful writers out there it’s hard to choose just a few!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
As I mentioned, The CEO Came DOA, is currently what is vexing me. And here I thought writing about Silicon Valley was going to be easy. Silly me.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Sisters in Crime – They are the best.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It IS my career, Toots. Here I am.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. My latest release is the 3rd book of the Persephone Cole Vintage Series, The Chocolate Kiss-Off. I think it’s the best of the series to date. But then you always love your latest, don’t you? They’re all your kids and this is the one who did the latest recital.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Born to tell a tale.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here goes:
The CEO Came DOA
Book Five of the
Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries
Life was good. I was happy. Let me count the ways. Any day now my sister-in-law’s water would break, and my first niece or nephew would get on with things. I was dubbed Investigator of the Year by the Professional Private Investigators Association of California. No one was more shocked than my mother. I lost five pounds. No one was more shocked than me. And I was getting married in three weeks to a man who thought I was just about as great as I knew he was.
Meanwhile, I was doing my favorite kind of job, which is not chasing bad guys over rooftops, often my sad lot in life, but rather by ferreting them out sitting on my duff in a client’s air-conditioned office. Working undercover, I was sifting through documents at a small start up called Read-Out, a dull but appropriate name, and looking for a saboteur.
This time I got to do my ferreting in jeans and a sweater, not the standard getup required by Lila Hamilton Alvarez, mother mine and chieftess of the family business. The family business is Discretionary Inquiries, better known as DI to everyone but Lila, she who balks at abbreviations, chewing gum, or crossing a lady’s legs anywhere except at the ankles. But despite her mandates, I would have looked even more out of place in a designer suit and heels than I already did, me being female and considered ancient at thirty-four years old.
Ninety-eight percent of the one hundred and forty employees at Read-Out were male, and aged somewhere between puberty and chin hairs. To try and fit in, I gathered my long, dark hair at the nape of my neck in a thick ponytail, donned horn-rimmed glasses, and gave the spinster aunt look a try. It didn’t work.
Recently one of the older techies – had to be twenty-two if a day – hit on me and told me he’d never seen violet-colored eyes as beautiful as mine, all the while staring at my chest. He then proceeded to ask me over to his apartment to play the newest version of Swords and Gremlins. I stopped wearing eye makeup immediately and took to very loose-fitting shirts. Just call me granny.
Read-Out was a bio-tech start-up company claiming to have developed a ground-breaking computer chip. The scuttlebutt was that when said chip was placed under the skin of a human or other mammal, it detected a multitude of conditions or diseases relative to that particular species. Additionally, the chip could predict potential problems for the next five-year period with eighty-nine percent accuracy. For a small fee, there would be monthly transfers of information to a medical data center or your doctor.
This last bit perked up my ears, because breast cancer had struck down many of the women in our family. I’ve lost both grandmothers to the disease. Consequently, there was a personal interest in my seeing Read-Out thrive. If only half of what they promised was true, this Old Bag Geek was committed to finding the saboteur of their upcoming IPO.
For those not familiar with the Mother’s Milk of Silicon Valley, an IPO or Initial Public Offering is the first sale of stock by a company to the public, mega millions in the making for investors and vested staff, none of which was me.
Other than that, life was good…a little too good. That’s probably why I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a dead man hanging from the center beam of the boardroom early Monday morning wearing nothing but his jockey shorts. And it wasn’t just any man, but the co-founder and CEO of Read-Out, D. H. Collier.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My husband, Norman, says I write like I’m being paid by the word. In other words, WORDY. But I believe you should put everything in, stream of consciousness style, and edit it later on. It’s always easier to take away than add, I think. Well, a little easier.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I think we covered that with P.G. Wodehouse. Of course, no one can touch Agatha Christie in the mystery field. She is the queen.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I travel a lot concerning my husband’s wishes. He likes to travel and I like him. We get to write a lot off in taxes and then many locations inspire another story. It’s a win-win.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover style for The Alvarez Family Mysteries was designed by Jeff Monaghan, and he did the 3rd cover for Death Runs in the Family. Then I either redid or execute the rest of the covers for the series in the same style. The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series are both my designs and execution. Corliss and Other Award Winning Stories was designed by Suzannah Safi. Death of a Clown – and that’s a picture of my real mother on the cover when she was in Ringling Brother Circus – was designed by Dawn Dominique. I love them all.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
WRITE! YOU CAN’T BE A WRITER IF YOU DON’T WRITE. Yes, I am yelling that message. You’d be surprised how many people say they want to be a writer but don’t find the time to sit down and do it. Steal time. Commandeer it, borrow it, beg it, but take it and write. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time but it needs to be every day. Writing for only a ½ hour to an hour every day will give you a lot more than you think! When I was still working at a nine to five job, sometimes I would get up at four in the morning to get some writing done. I didn’t do it every day, but if I was on a roll and needed to write, that’s what I did. Also, take classes, get into writing groups, and listen to the critiques. Big, important caveat here: It should be from people you trust, who respect you and your work, but don’t blindly love it. Try to leave your family or close friends out of this. They often have a biased take on things. And unless they are a professional editor, you might not get the best feedback, anyway. Lastly, read good authors, who write what you want to write or are currently writing. Learn from the masters.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my books. And for those of you that call yourselves my fans, bless you a thousand fold. I am so very grateful.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Uncle Remus. It was a huge book with lots of pictures. I loved it. Briar Rabbit and Briar Fox and Briar Bear. Childhood friends.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Shakespeare. And I would ask him this: You left your second best bed in your will to your wife. Who got the first best?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
She was proud to love and be loved.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Pa-leeeese! It’s all I can do in between my home, two cats, traveling, friends, and a terrific husband to get the laundry done. My hobby is having another cup of coffee.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love the Miss Fisher Mysteries. But I love all mystery shows!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Behold my new website! http://heatherhavenstories.com/ I am so proud. Karma Bennett designed and executed it for me. Here are a few other sites:
Heather Haven, writer
San Jose, California 95135
Heather’s author page at Amazon:
Email me at: Heather@HeatherHavenStories.com
After studying drama at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced at Playwrights Horizon and well-received. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.
One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote “The Sands of Time” with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio – where she wrote comedic ad copy – help develop her long-time love affair with comedy.
Heather lives in the foothills of San Jose with her husband of 34-years and her two cats, Yulie and Ellie.