Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interview with S. M. Harding

I met Suzanne Harding at a book signing for DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, the Wolfmont Press anthology of winter holiday crime stories published to benefit Toys for Tots. We were since delighted to hear that the anthology was #8 on the Independent Mystery Booksellers' Association best-seller list for 2008, and even more delighted to hear that the anthology netted over $3000 for the kids.

I interviewed Suzanne by email.

MA: Do you have a web site, or a blog where you post?

SH: I don't have a website, though I hope to have one up and
running by May. Computer problems seem to multiply rapidly
once the first pops up and I'm praying to the spring spirits
to heal the damn thing!
MA: You had a story in DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND. Where
else do your stories appear?

SH: In Great Detective Stories, Great Mystery and Suspense,
Mysterical-E, Crime and Suspense, and the anthologies Racing
Can Be Murder
, Medium of Murder, and Dying in a Winter
MA: Was the story in DIWW part of a series?

SH: No -- it came out of the blue. I looked at the list of
holidays and thought winter solstice (the original winter
holiday) would be fun to play with. I set it in New Mexico
because I'd celebrated several winter solstices there; once
place was set, the characters seemed to appear. It wasn't
until I was three-quarters of the way through that I
realized I was writing a pretty traditional manor house
mystery -- and that's when the ghost materialized.
MA: How did you get started writing?
SH: I've been writing most of my life, but primarily academic
pieces and special interest articles and essays. About ten
years ago, I was living in a log cabin in the foothills of
the San Juan Mountains (elevation 8400 ft). The closest
library, a tiny one in Chama, was 25 miles away, the nearest
bookstore, 70 -- and over the mountains. The one road into
Taos was closed periodically with snow (at my elevation, we
got nearly twelve feet of snow that winter; for the mountain
passes, triple it). I began writing a mystery out of a sheer
need to read a new story!
MA: Do you have any work in progress?

SH: A number of short stories because I love the short form. It
really requires a mastery of all the writing components that
go into novels. I believe in the old adage "practice,
practice, practice." Besides, it gives me a chance to play
with voice, try something hard-boiled or dark, as well as
something much more cozy-like, i.e. "The Longest Night." I
also have used secondary characters from my novel as
protagonists -- it helps control their egos, plus I get a
deeper understanding of them.

I've been working on a series from the novel I began in New
Mexico (its called The Shadow of Truth and is set in
southwestern Pennsylvania where I lived for many years). I
haven't found an agent, so perhaps the primary wip is doing
MA: Do you have anything in the pipeline for publication?

SH: A story entitled "A Death Investigation," set in southern
Indiana and featuring McCrumb County Sheriff Sarah Pitt and
her father Micah, the ex-sheriff. I love the characters and
have written several more. The story will appear in Crime
and Suspense in the May/June issue.
MA: This is Fatal Foodies, so: What's your favorite

SH: The last ten years, I earned my keep as a chef -- so this is
an impossible question! I love to cook healthy and surprise
people with how good "healthy" can taste. I do a really
wonderful shrimp creole (in fact, I'm fixing that tonight),
as well as a chili verde (I learned it while I was in
northern New Mexico; it uses lamb instead of beef). My
favorite dessert is called Chocolate Decandence, a
flourless chocolate cake, made by a pastry chef friend of
mine. Heaven, absolute heaven.

By the way, the first story I had published featured a chef,
and the same chef, Kate, was the protagonist in "One Cold
Dish" in the Racing Can Be Murder anthology.

Naturally, I couldn't let that last one pass, and asked her more questions, which I'll post the Tuesday after I receive them.


1 comment:

Dana Fredsti said...

A: I want chocolate decadence cake
B: I can't get the tune for Winter Wonderland out of my head...