I met Rosemary at Malice Domestic the year her debut, Pushing Up Daisies, came out. We were seated at the Minotaur table, talking titles, and Rosemary asked me what I thought of The Dirt Nap. "Teriffic!" I said. "Like sleeping with the fishes, right?" "Yes! Exactly!" she said. She had been having trouble finding people who recognized the reference. Then and there we bonded over a fondness for tough-guy metaphors. (The title was saved when Minotaur's Very Tall Publicist, Hector DeJean, suggesting The Big Dirt Nap, and that became Rosemary's second "dirty book.")
Despite running all over the US on book tour, Rosemary agreed to answer a few questions about her work, her schedule, and her Gladiator fetish:
JULIA: I well remember your sensational debut, PUSHING UP DAISIES. How many books have you now written in your Dirty Business series? Tell us a little bit about SLUGFEST?
ROSEMARY: Thanks for the kind words! Pushing Up Daisies did seem to strike a chord with readers looking for an edgier cozy. Slugfest is the fourth book in the series and in this one Paula goes back to her roots (I couldn't help myself..) and returns to New York City where she agrees to exhibit at a legendary flower show for a reclusive garden sculptor. When a gatecrasher is found floating in the Hudson Paula realizes that she accidentally holds the key to his identity and the reason he was murdered.
JULIA: I love your protagonist, Paula Holliday. How has she grown over the series?ROSEMARY: In Daisies Paula is the complete fish out of water in her new environment. She's used to working 24/7, counting every gram of fat and wearing black at every opportunity. After three years in the suburbs, she's lightened up! She's also explored new definitions of friendship, success, work and tolerance - all while keeping her street-smart sense of humor.
JULIA: What is one character trait in Paula that is most like you?
ROSEMARY: Paula's a wiseguy - I guess I'm a bit of a wiseguy, too. What trait is the opposite of you? You mean apart from the fact that she's younger, thinner and more adventurous? She's a better gardener than I am - her plants never die.
JULIA: You have such a gift for colorful characters. Are they based on real-life acquaintances? Any tips for writers on keeping characters fresh and the series fresh?ROSEMARY: Thank you! There's probably one trait or mannerism in each character that comes from someone I either know or have eavesdropped on - how scary is that? Seriously, I love my secondary and tertiary characters. Maybe that's it - I don't just ask them to walk on and deliver a line or a snippet of information. I hope I flesh them out as much as I do the main characters. Even if their backstories get cut in the editing process, I know who they are.
JULIA: Are you working on your next book? Research? Writing?ROSEMARY: My WIP is a slight departure. It's written in the third person and Paula is in the book, but she's not the main character. There's a bigger crime than an amateur can handle on her own, but it's still laced with her trademark humor. That's all I'm ready to say right now!
JULIA: Where will you be over the next month, and where can we find you outside of Jungle Red?
ROSEMARY: Lots o' places! Malice Domestic, Festival of Mystery, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Poisoned Pen, all over the triangle area with the marvelous Molly Weston and dozens of libraries. Anyone interested should check my website www.rosemaryharris.com
JULIA: Now for some fun questions. Are you an outliner or an organic writer?
ROSEMARY: Outline...but only 2-3 chapters ahead..I like to surprise myself.
JULIA: Your favorite book/s as a child?
ROSEMARY: I've already gone on record declaring my love for all the dog and horse books but I also loved biographies. Most memorable..Story of My Life by Helen Keller and Born Free by Joy Adamson. I wasn't a real mystery buff as a kid and have still never read a Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden.
JULIA: Your favorite classic movie/s? Movies in the past year or so?
ROSEMARY: I'm such a movie freak! I don't think anything holds a candle to The Godfather, although I love The Shawshank Redemption almost as much. For the real old-time classics...Now, Voyager, Double Indemnity and It's a Wonderful Life. New movies..not much in the last year or so. Last one to make a lasting impression on me is probably close to 10 years old, the Keira Knightly Pride and Prejudice. And of course, Gladiator. You may not want to get me started on that.
JULIA: I know you're well-traveled. Just how many continents HAVE you visited? And where to next?
ROSEMARY: Only five..would love to add Australia and Antarctica to that list but the timing's never been right. Next up is a return trip to Tanzania in August to visit the Chalula Community library which my husband and I founded five years ago.
JULIA: One fact about you that most people don't know?
ROSEMARY: After three years "on the stump" I feel as if everyone knows more than they ever wanted to about me - I once produced a video on the Greatest Moments in College Basketball.
Thanks, Rosemary! For those of you who'd like to start at the beginning if the Dirty Business series, Minotaur is offering the ebook of Pushing Up Daisies for only $2.99 - less than a bag of potting soil! - at Amazon, B&N and the iBookstore.