Monday, August 23, 2010

Interview with author Heather Haven

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Heather Haven.  Heather's humorous mystery novel is scheduled for release January, 2011.  Heather has agreed to discuss her book and her writing.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Murder is a Family Business is the first in a series of humorous novels about the Alvarez Family, a family of detectives, who live in Silicon Valley and run Discretionary Inquiries. While they normally deal with the theft of intellectual property, plus software and hardware piracy, they become involved in crimes of murder from time to time. The protagonist is Lee Alvarez, ½ Latina, ½ WASP and 100% detective. Lee is complimented by her Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day aristocratic mother, Lila Alvarez, who believes what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize; her computer genius brother, Richard, from whom all things flow; her loving uncle, Tío, a retired master chef; and her energetic kitten, Rum Tum Tugger.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wanted to write a “today” mystery series, fun, light-hearted, but at the same time, exploring familial love-- the good, the bad and the annoying. I live in a place filled with color and potential intrigue and wanted to use all of that as a background. The Bay Area, and in particular Silicon Valley, is on the cutting edge of computer software and hardware creativity. And there are so many off-shoot companies of the internet, such as Ebay, making their home here. Imagine the intrigue, the glamour, the money being dealt with every day. It’s mind boggling. I live where the wild, wild west of the internet is a happening thing. Why not write about it?

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I have the good fortune to be able to write full-time. I count my blessings every day.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Always. I never didn’t write, if that’s grammatically correct.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope you will have “fun, fun, fun ‘til your daddy takes your T-Bird away.” Should I give credit to the Beach Boys here? Consider it done. Also, I wanted to leave the reader with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Even though life can get tough, stick with it and, “with a little help from my friends” (The Beatles) everything comes out fine. And keep your sense of humor. You’re lost without it.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My short stories are on many subjects and style but when I write a novel, I write mysteries. I’m not completely sure why but I can’t imagine spending all those hours, days, weeks, writing anything else. It’s a lonely, solitary life, this writing business, and you’re inside your head all the time. I want to enjoy it.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Writing is rewriting. That’s all there is to it. You’re going to rework a sentence, a paragraph, a page, endlessly. It’s rare that you get it right the first time or even the fifteenth. Then you hand what you hope is a finished product off to a writing group, writing class or editor and discover all the things you can improve. Back to the keyboard. Confession: while I write seemingly light and fluffy stuff, if you scratch the surface of the story, I want there to be something real and important there. I take the writing process very seriously and it takes a long time to get it right.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Not really. I have a vivid imagination.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Lee is nothing like me at all! Yes, we are women and living in Silicon Valley but that’s about it. Actually, Lee is based on many of my mother’s characteristics. Lee’s a combo of a lot of women I know, though.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Searching the internet, asking questions of computer geeks, reading articles, etc. It has to be factual, for sure. Otherwise, it pulls the reader out of the story. You don’t want that.

12) What about your book makes it special?
More than ever, families come in all types and sizes. The day of a mother, father, 2.4 kids, and an English Sheepdog in the back of a Volvo station wagon is pretty much over. If that’s what you have, lucky you, but it’s pretty rare. Most of us come from families that are divorced, abandoned, one parent, two moms, two dads, adopted, surrogate, etc. Throw into the mix step kids or half-brothers and sisters, and you have quite a combo. What do they all have in common? LOVE. They love each other and that love binds them together and is as valid as any Volvo-driving family in the world. I salute the different and unique family.

13) What is your marketing plan?
Marketing plan? Marketing plan? Let’s see. Push, get out there, blog, twitter, anything to let people know this fun and unique book is being published by MuseItUp Publishing January 1, 2011. I just finished a book trailer of Murder is a Family Business last night. I hope to put it anywhere they’ll let me. Anybody got any ideas for promoting, let me know. Oprah? Anything?

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Visit my website at or MuseItUp Publishing at;

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read authors whose work you like. Don’t be afraid to take the best of what they have to offer, whether it be plot, characterization, location, phrases, descriptions, whatever. I don’t mean plagiarism but try to emulate what makes the story sing for you. Everyone “borrows” and there’s no sin in it. We all learn from one another. Then, write, write, write. You can’t be a writer unless you write. Join a writing group. Take classes. Learn, grow, experiment, discover yourself and what you excel in, your strengths and weaknesses. And never let anyone tell you, you can’t write. Scoff at them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They are projecting their own feelings of inadequacy upon you. Got it? Now, get out there and write. And revel in it. You belong to a wonderful club, the Writers of the World.


  1. Great interview! The book sounds like it will be fun to read. Interesting cover. I enjoyed learning more about the author. I wish her much success with her book.

  2. I absolutely love Heather and her writer's voice. You can get a pretty good idea of this by checking out her trailer. That opener using Danny DeVito...charming and had me giggling.

    Kudos to you, Heather, and I wish you nothing but success.

    And thank you, Penny, for hosting Heather today.

  3. Interesting interview. Nice to learn a little more about you, Heather. Good luck on your book.

  4. Susanne, glad you enjoyed the interview. It's always interesting to me how other authors work.

  5. Lea, thanks for stopping by. I loved Murder is a Family Business and can't wait for the next one to be written.

  6. Rhobin, I've enjoyed getting to know Heather through Muse (and you, too). There are so many talented authors with MuseItUp Publishing.

  7. Do I really have to wait until JANUARY to read "Murder Is a Family Business"? It sounds like such fun. Congratulations Heather! You're on your way!

    Also thanks for the comments on re-writing. For me, that's the big surprise -- how long that takes, and how arduous it is. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    Hope to see you soon, Heather.

  8. Kathleen, you may have to wait until January, but the good news is Heather is working on the next story which I'm sure will be just as much fun.