Carolyn Haines

Carolyn Haines
Photo: John Adams / Adams Imaging

Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries, including Greedy Bones, Bone Appetit, and Bones of a Feather. She is the recipient of both the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Before writing fiction, she worked for several years as a journalist, and first visited the Delta, the setting for her mysteries, to do a newspaper story on Parchman State Prison. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.


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Q & A

You’re a native of a small town in Mississippi and most of your books are set in the South. Reviewers have said that setting is a character in your stories. Do you find the South to be a unique place?

 

I think time and place influence everyone, even those who don’t turn out to be writers. I grew up in Lucedale, a town of about 3,000 people in a dry county in the southeast corner of the state. The South was a distinctive region then, a place where culture was centered around extended family, screened porches, farming, and boundless woods and clear-running creeks. The South was unique then. Not so much now as technology breaks down the geographical boundaries of the world. I believe I had one of the “last golden childhoods.” That has influenced me greatly—my love of the land, the natural life. The balance that must be struck between human needs and nature. Most of my characters are aware of nature because I am. So setting plays a vital role to my characters and my story.

 

You’re active in animal rescue. I’ve heard rumors that you have delusions of being St. Francis? What’s the pet count as of today?

 

As of today, there are 21 “critters” living at Casa Carolyn: 7 horses, 6 dogs, and 8 cats. My oldest horse is Miss Scrapiron, a Thoroughbred mare who is 32 and I’ve owned since she was three. Some of the horses I rescued. Of the 8 cats and 6 dogs, many were abandoned after Katrina and I took them in. We all get along pretty well. Amazingly well for such a diverse group of personalities.

 

I will climb on my soapbox for just a moment and urge everyone to please spay and neuter their pets. And if there’s any room in your home, please go to a local rescue and adopt a cat or dog.

 

What people or things have influenced your writing?

 

Books and writers, first and foremost. In the aforementioned town of Lucedale, there was little for a young girl to do (well, little that wouldn’t have made my parents hair stand on end). Reading was my salvation. And I read indiscriminately—gothics, literary novels, collections of short stories, adventure tales, scandalous books, and mysteries. I adored mysteries and dark tales that explored the human condition under stress. So books played a big role in shaping me into a writer.

 

Also, I came of age in the 1970s, when the Old South was exploding and changing under the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Feminist Movement and Watergate. I was a journalist, as were my parents, and I was caught up in participating in historic events as a chronicler of the action. Turbulence was a way of life for a journalist back them, so I became comfortable with it. My days as a journalist gave me a lot of material to draw from when writing. It exposed me to people, places, and events out of the reach of normal folk.

 

You write both dark and light. Why is that? Is it a reflection of some mental fracture?

 

You’ve exposed my Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde duality. I grew up enthralled with Edgar Allan Poe and the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson, those dark-edged tales. It was a family affair to watch THE TWILIGHT ZONE and Boris Karloff’s THRILLER. My entire family told ghost stories and enjoyed scaring each other. I also love the texture of fiction that pulls toward the bottom of the river rather than the surface.

 

Yet my life is sort of this Lucille Ball mess. Not a day goes by that some bizarre thing doesn’t happen that has my friends rolling on the floor and laughing at me. So, yes, I love both extremes, the light and the dark. And I find writing both keeps me fresh in each area. Because of my newspaper background, I learned to write fast, and that allows me the luxury of working in both areas, the dark and the humorous.

 

What was your best Halloween costume?

 

Based on the answer above, you probably have no doubt that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Costumes are important, but we have a family rule that no store-bought costumes are allowed. Thrift stores and Goodwill are okay to accumulate pieces of a costume, but that’s it. So my most recent good costume was Jiminy Cricket—top hat, tails, green tights, green face paint, etc. I worked hard on singing “If You Wish Upon a Star” but no one let me get past the first verse. Other good costumes include the Queen of Spades (Spade being the operative word. I carried my own grave shovel.) and Demeter (gotta love a costume that involves a toga).

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books
by the author

Booty Bones
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

Sarah Booth Delaney’s fiancé, Graf Milieu, has become depressed while recovering from a severe leg injury, but Sarah Booth knows just how to help him heal....


Available In:

Book eBook
Smarty Bones
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

Too much knowledge can be deadly for P.I. Sarah Booth Delaney in her latest undertaking in Smarty Bones, the thirteenth novel in Carolyn Haines’s award-winning...


Available In:

Book eBook
Shorty Bones
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

From award-winning author Carolyn Haines comes a charming story starring feisty Southern belle and private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney. Sarah...


Available In:

eBook
Bonefire of the Vanities
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

BONEFIRE OF THE VANITIES Carolyn Haines A porn-star-turned-psychic has made a business of reuniting grieving relatives with their dearly departed and it’s up...


Available In:

Book eBook
Bones of a Feather
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

Bones of a Feather Carolyn Haines A ruby necklace worth four million dollars appears to have been stolen, and its owners, Monica and Eleanor Levert—twin...


Available In:

Book eBook
Bone Appétit
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

Sarah Booth always has had a lot on her plate—working as a private investigator and actress, keeping her ancestral home together, searching for the perfect...


Available In:

Book eBook
Greedy Bones
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

Sarah is no stranger to drama. So when this talented actress and a P.I. hears that her best friend’s husband is suddenly on his deathbed back home, she snaps...


Available In:

Book eBook
Wishbones
A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur Books

It’s time for Sarah Booth to pack up her hound dog and her P.I. business and take a shot at stardom! Soon she aces the screen test for a racy remake of the...


Available In:

Book eBook
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