ABOUT THE BOOKLee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering in the heart of Silicon Valley. Little does she know early one morning she will find the CEO hanging by the neck in the boardroom wearing nothing but his baby blue boxers. Was it suicide? Or was it one of the many people who loathed the man on sight, including his famous rock singer ex? Enter the world’s scariest drug, Devil’s Breath, and the bodies start piling up all the while she’s planning her very own Christmas wedding. Ho, ho, ho.
GUEST POST BY HEATHER HAVEN
The first book I remember reading was Uncle Remus, when I was six or seven. When I turned nine, I hop scotched to the public library and checked out Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock.
My life was changed forever. I not only fell in love with reading, big time, I fell in love with mysteries and writing. It’s a love affair that has never waned. I went to college on a costume scholarship, studied drama then went to NYC to become an actress. I hated it. I hated the life of an actor. It wasn’t for me. All that traveling! Living out of a suitcase! Who needs it?
However, I discovered I loved writing. I could sit in a room and write for hours, send characters to the far corners of the earth, and not have to leave my chair. To make money, I worked in advertising for a while, wrote short stories, one-act plays, ad copy, and nightclub acts for performers. I loved it.
I didn’t tackle writing a novel until I came to California, wine country. Chardonnay helped tamp down any jitters I had about taking on 75 thousand words and hoping somebody would read them. Now I write 85 thousand words and still hope somebody reads them.
Essentially, I love the written word. For example, there’s nothing I admire more than someone who writes beautiful imagery that stirs the heart. Remember Don McLean’s "Vincent" (Starry, Starry Night)? The lyrics are absolutely gorgeous. Add that beautiful, haunting music and you have something memorable. If Vincent Van Gogh looks down from time to time, I believe he knows he did something right to evoke such a wondrous song.
My favorite author may surprise you, me being a mystery writer. It’s P.G. Wodehouse. No matter how many times I read Right Ho, Jeeves! it makes me laugh. I have read every book of his I can get my hands on and he wrote over 90. He’s most famous for the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster collection of short stories and books, but he was a prolific writer of screenplays, plays, novels, short stories, pretty much anything. I’m a big fan.
Of course, there’s Agatha Christie, the queen of the mystery, the plot maker. She’s the one who made crime writing all warm and fuzzy. Let’s not forget Janet Evanovitz, who turned it all into a wonderfully, funny game.
I developed the protagonist of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Lee Alvarez, because I wanted to have a central character that was identifiable but different, off-kilter, and likable. Lee’s not your typical protagonist. She’s smart, talented, and loves dancing, shoes, handbags, and a good joke. She knows her own worth but, like all of us, has her moments of self-doubts. They seem to hit her when least expected. It makes for some funny moments in the books.
The Alvarez Family owns Discretionary Inquiries, a Silicon Valley investigative agency dealing in the theft of software, hardware, and Intellectual Property. Dead bodies are not in Lee’s job description, but they seem to crop up, especially when she isn’t looking. But as she chases down a new suspect, she strives to be a better person, knowing nobody’s perfect. Except maybe her mother, Lila-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day Hamilton Alvarez, she who can chill a glass of chardonnay at a single glance. Try living in that woman’s designer-clad shadow all your life.
I’ve tried to create a real, California-honed, reluctant PI in Lee, who wears Vera Wang clothes, while cheering on Humphrey Bogart. She reads Dashiell Hammett detective stories or watches old black and white movies on TV, while searching the web or her iPhone. She loves peanuts and a good, classic martini—gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and 3 olives. And served icy cold, please, straight up!
The humor is sparkly, the characters real but slightly larger than life. Most importantly, I try to keep it positive. I wanted The Alvarez Family to like each other, even if they don’t always ‘get’ each other.
On a personal note, I read so many books where protagonists are antagonistic and nasty to the people they profess to love. How can the reader like them or root for people that dysfunctional? I can’t. I try to write a world I’d like to live in, a family I’d like to live with. Or should I say, with whom I’d like to live. Better grammar.
The latest book of the series, Book Five, is The CEO Came DOA. The subject matter forced me to do a lot of research about the world of startups in Silicon Valley. And I thought writers were crazy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series. Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD . . . If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, debuts September, 2016. She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!
Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013. It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.
On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.
Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.
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