Carolyn Haines, author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series, is originally from Mississippi but now runs a farm in Alabama. A recipient of the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, her latest, Sticks and Bones, is the 17th mystery to feature the unconventional Southern belle private investigator.
Ms. Haines took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions about her popular mystery series, the latest with Sarah Booth Delaney, and what she is currently reading and watching!
What would be your murder weapon of choice?
Poison. Without a doubt. I don’t like to leave behind a mess. But if I had a magical power, it would be the power to vaporize. Nothing left behind but smoking shoes! I would like that a lot too.
What are you currently binging on Netflix?
Waiting on House of Cards. Since I have the farm to run and all of the refuge animals to care for, I don’t binge TV a lot. I do love TV (the cats are really happy if I sit down so they can have some lap time), and some shows I’m captivated by now are Preacher, American Crime, Empire. Thank goodness for Tivo!
Describe Sticks and Bones in 5 words.
Bitch arrives; mayhem, murder ensues.
What do you want readers to think or feel after finishing this book?
I hope they cheer when the villain is vanquished. I recently went to see Get Out, and it was so much fun when the audience cheered at the conclusion. It’s been a while since a movie got that response and it was exciting. I want people to laugh at the funny parts of Sticks and Bones, but I hope I’ve created suitable villains that make people happy when they are vanquished.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading an unpublished book for a blurb. It’s a new author to me, and she is freaking dynamite! The Last to See Me by M. Dressler. Look for it.
If you could team up Sarah Booth Delaney with any other detective, who would you choose?
There are so many wonderful detectives out there. I guess I’d say Inspector Thomas Lynley from the Elizabeth George books. He’s brilliant, refined, sympathetic. It might be refreshing to have Sarah Booth work with someone like that. Dave Robicheaux is always a favorite too.
What's your favorite line from Sticks and Bones and why?
“Glamour is nothing without intrigue, Sarah Booth Delaney.” This is a quote from Jitty, the nearly 200-year-old ghost who haunts Dahlia House and tries to keep Sarah Booth in line. Jitty delivers all the best lines with a lot of wisdom and practicality.
How has Sarah Booth Delaney changed over the years?
Sarah Booth has gained a bit of wisdom—and not a moment too soon. She’s at a point right now where she has to decide to let go of the past and the issues that come from it and reach for the future. She’s smart enough to know this, and also to know that letting go of things is truly a goodbye. To make room for the new things, though, some old has to go. That’s a hard place, and each person has to find it on his/her own.
What mystery/crime series have had the biggest influence on your work?
Nancy Drew. I devoured those books. I spent every penny of my allowance buying them and reading and re-reading them. Nancy was the perfect companion for a young girl in a small rural Mississippi town who dreamed of solving mysteries and riding horses.
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Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries. She is the recipient of both the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Semmes, Alabama, on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.