Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Book Stories: Heather Haven and Murder is a Family Business



Today's guest is Heather Haven, author of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series. I've been working with Heather to promote the first book in this series, Murder is a Family Business, though a Pump Up Your Book virtual book tour. I haven't read this book yet--though it's on my Kindle begging for my attention--but based upon the reviews it's received, I know I'm going to love it.

The Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series by Heather Haven


In my twenties and thirties, I spent my writing career in New York City creating short stories, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, and commercials. I even ghost-wrote a book once. The idea of writing my own book didn’t occur to me until I was in my early forties. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.

I read my first Nancy Drew book at the tender age of nine and have never looked back. I love a good mystery, in particular, humorous mysteries. Most of the time when I read a book, I like it to be on the humorous side. If I want to cry, I can pick up a newspaper and read the real estate or financial section. Tears will spring to my eyes immediately.

So I decided to write a funny murder mystery series, beginning with Murder is a Family Business. After all, a writer lives inside her or his head and if I have to be in there 24/7, I’d like to have a few laughs along the way. Also, I felt my mystery series had to include two important things: the recently immigrated, which is one of America’s natural resources, and the family unit.

Right off the bat, this wasn’t going to be a ‘classic’ family i.e., father, mother, sister, brother, and large dog, all careening around in a shiny SUV. Of course, these days a family like that is harder to find than a dinosaur with feathers. Oh, wait. Archeologists are digging those up all the time from unsuspecting peoples’ backyards. The Ozzie and Harriet family does still exist. Hello there!

But I wanted something unique. Hence, the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, a family of detectives, was born. Quirky Lee Alvarez, the protagonist, along with her younger brother, Richard, are the products of a 35-year union between Roberto, a Mexican Immigrant who made good, and a Palo Alto blueblood, Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day Lila Hamilton Alvarez. Roberto dies unexpectedly and like most sudden familial deaths, a realignment of the surviving members takes place. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but as a rule, it will be different. Who would have thought another death two years later would help rekindle what this small family had lost earlier?

Lee Alvarez is a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’ Stephanie Plum. This 34-year old divorcee works as a private investigator in the family business, Discretionary Inquiries, a successful Silicon Valley agency that normally deals with the theft of computer software. Her beautiful ice-princess mother, Lila, has taken over as CEO and head of the business. Lee’s younger brother, Richard, is the head of Research and Information Technology. Her Uncle Tío is a retired head chef of a well-known Mexican restaurant. Even the new foundling kitten, Tugger, becomes head of the household in Lee’s small, two-bedroom apartment over the family garage.

Lee isn’t head of squat, thank you. But she’s got the heart of a lion, eyes the color of twilight, and the instincts of a first-rate PI, which is good, because she’s always getting herself into trouble.

I had an agent for three years who couldn’t give my book away. Lovely lady, but I’m not sure the book was positioned right. I happened to be searching through Duotrope and saw a piece on MuseItUp Publishing, a new publishing house out of Canada, where they were looking for mysteries. I sent it off to them and had a contract within a few days. It was Kismet, baby.


Heather is a story teller by nature and loves the written word. In her career, she’s written short stories, novels, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and even ghost-wrote a book.


One of her first jobs as a writer was given to her by her then agent. It was that of writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week and then promptly came down with the flu. She wrote “The Sands of Time” with a temperature of 102 and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Later on, she wrote short comedy skits for nightclub acts and ad copy for such places as No Soap Radio, where her love for comedy blossomed. Many of her short stories have been seen in various publications, as well as 2 one-act plays produced in Manhattan, one at the well-known, Playwrights Horizons.


Her novel, Murder is a Family Business, the first in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series, has been epublished by MuseItUp Publishing in January, 2011. The second in the series, A Wedding To Die For, debuts April 22, 2011. She is currently writing the 3rd of the series, and says they are a joy to write. Heather gets to be all the characters, including the cat!


You can visit Heather online at www.heatherhavenstories.com and her blog at http://heatherhavensays.blogspot.com/.

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