Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris

Today we welcome the third of our Agatha Award nominees for Best First Novel--Rosemary Harris.

Thanks so much Joanna and all the other Killer Hobbyists for inviting me to meet your readers. My first book, Pushing Up Daisies really did spring from my own hobby – gardening. Although I’ve always loved reading mysteries, I never dreamed I’d write one until one frigid February (much like this month in CT) when I saw a tiny item in the newspaper that read Mummified Body Identified. Ordinarily in February, I’d be outside pruning my azaleas, cutting back ornamental grasses and bringing in forsythia to force indoors. But that year we had 17 snowstorms in CT and gardening – while much on my mind – was months away. I had the time to do some research and I learned that the body that had been found hadn’t been 100% identified. I found myself thinking what most mystery writers think at some point – What if? What if they’re wrong?

’m convinced that if I’d read the article in June I’d never have written the book, but weaving (forgive me!) the story out of that one headline, and making my heroine a gardener was a way for me to be in the garden without freezing my keister off!

Apart from my own desire to be outside, it made perfect sense to make Paula Holliday a gardener. Every amateur sleuth has to have a job (unless you’re (Peter Wimsey) and as a gardener Paula can make her own hours, have lots of free time to solve crimes during the off-season, and she has a legitimate reason to be thrown together with lots of different types of people – from the day laborers she sometimes hires to the bluebloods whose gardens she works on. While I like to have Paula do some gardening in the books, they don’t include garden plans, and, although I am a master gardener, I hesitate to give gardening advice since every zone is different and every soil is different. That didn’t stop a woman from coming to one of my readings with a rotten tomato in a ziplock baggie. I was glad to learn that she wanted me to diagnose a problem and it wasn’t a reaction to the book!

Pushing Up Daisies has been a terrific experience for me – I know how lucky I’ve been! It was a Mystery Guild Selection, on Library Journal’s Best First Fiction List and now an Agatha Nomination. I’m over the moon! Book two in the series is The Big Dirt Nap, which just came out, and this month I’ll be delivering the manuscript for Deadhead, to be released in 2010. Thanks again for letting me chat about them here.

** Join us next week when our guest will be Krista Davis author of The Diva Runs Out of Thyme.
** Clue word: tomatoes
Remember--Submit all five "clue words" and I'll draw a name from the group on Monday, May 11. The winner will receive an autographed set of all five of the Agatha-nominated Best First Novels. That would be G.M. Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer, "Sarah Atwell's" Through a Glass, Deadly, Rosemary Harris' Pushing Up Daisies, Krista Davis' The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, and Joanna Campbell Slan's Paper, Scissors, Death.


Camille Minichino said...

Welcome, Rosemary!
I just made a mini version of your book for the Malice auction scene I'm working on, so I feel I know you.

Thanks for the reminder to always ask What If?

Camille/Margaret Grace

Rosemary Harris said...

Wow! That's so cool. I saw one of your minis at Left Coast Crime last year. It was incredible, and as I recall raised a lot of money for the LCC charity.

Terri Thayer said...

Welcome, Rosemary. Looking forward to seeing you again at Malice.

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi Terri..

Betty Hechtman said...

Hi again, Rosemary. We were on a panel together last year at Malice. Loved the rotten tomato story.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Ro, you know you are one of my favorite people. (Now don't everybody get huffy!) Glad to have you here.

Alan Orloff said...

Hi Rosemary,

I love your titles.

What's next, Bloom of Doom?

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi Alan,
Copngrats again on the book deal!
I'm open to title suggestions. Sheila comes up with great ones. Next up for me is Deadhead...
I liked Pest Management for number four but my agent and editor hated it..what do you guys think?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey, sister!

I love Pest Management! And I think you and I once chatted about Sub Rosa, which I also think is terrific.

ALan, what's the book deal? Do tell!

And Camille/Margaret--can't wait to see the mini! (Im one of the auctioneers--so I'm thrilled!)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Ah, but Hank is holding out on us. Didn't I hear you are a grammy again? Dish, girlfriend.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Great story Rosemary! Wish you lived in Houston so I could entice you to pop by and explain why I can't even grow native plants in my garden (except for weeds and grass - those do great).

Love your titles!