Interview: Harriette Sackler

Please welcome Harriette Sackler, author of “Suffer the Poor” and numerous other stories.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
There are so many things that comprise a perfect day for me. Visiting with my grandchildren. Reading a terrific book. Writing well. Snuggling with my dogs. Spending time with the residents of House with a image002Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary where I serve as Vice President. And on. And on.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Not really. I do like to purchase good purses because they are indestructible. I love jewelry. Black and beige are my favorite colors. My favorite cuisines are Chinese, Mexican, and Italian, excluding any red meat.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Dr. Berenson, a college professor who encouraged me to major in English because she thought I wrote well. Unfortunately my parents won out and I majored in Business because that would enable me to find a job in a very security-minded time and culture. My dear friend, Sher Polvinale, who is the founder of the pet sanctuary and her unselfish dedication to animal rescue inspired me to begin my book about the sanctuary which I’m working on now. And the great writer, John Steinbeck, whose work showed me that it was okay to address important social issues when writing fiction.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I don’t listen to music when I write, but often have the television on for background noise.

If your latest story were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It definitely would be dark as are most of my stories.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
My last story, “Suffer the Poor,” appeared in History and Mystery, Oh My!, published by Mystery and Horror, LLC. in January, 2015. I’ve always been interested in Victorian England and on a trip to London several years ago, friends and I visited the East End. I felt that I was stepping back in time, walking the same cobbled streets that the infamous “Jack” walked. Since I write stories centered on social issues, the poverty of this area of London during Victorian times, sparked my imagination, and thus, “Suffer the Poor” was born.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Again, social issues–i.e. poverty, exploitive employment, the plight of children who have been treated poorly.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality.
My protagonist, Anne Heatherton, is a young woman of comfortable means who wants to make a difference in the lives of the poor of the East End. Her desire to help is not unusual because she is one of so many others who have difficulty ignoring the hardships of others without offering assistance.

If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Hmm. What a challenging question. I’d bring together quite an eclectic group. John Steinbeck, so I can talk to him for hours about my favorite book, The Grapes of Wrath. Charles Dickens could inform me first hand of life in Victorian England. Pat Conroy, in the hope that his beautiful way with words would rub off on me. Louise Penny, who is my favorite author in our genre and is living proof that an exquisite writer can also be one of the nicest people on earth. Jonathan Kellerman, whose work as a psychologist assists him in writing about the motivations of his characters that always engage me. And, Linda Fairstein whose books always uncover new insights about the Big Apple that this native New Yorker didn’t know.

What’s next for you?
For the foreseeable future, I’ll be concentrating on my creative nonfiction portrait of House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. This is truly my heart’s work. I have a number of ideas for short stories, and, hopefully, will have time to put pen to paper and write them.


Harriette Sackler is a writer who has had numerous short stories published in a variety of anthologies of mystery fiction. She is a past Agatha Award Nominee in the Best Short Story category for “Mother Love,” published in Chesapeake Crimes II. Her latest story, “Suffer the Poor,” appears in History and Mystery, Oh My! published in 2015 by Mystery and Horror, LLC.

Harriette has served on the Malice Domestic, Ltd Board of Directors for many years and her position as Grants Chair allows her to choose the recipients of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers in the traditional mystery genre.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime-Chesapeake Chapter, and the Guppies.

Harriette, a displaced New Yorker, lives in the D.C. suburbs with her husband and three dogs. She spends a great deal of time tending to her duties as Vice President of her labor of love: House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. She has begun work on a book about the Sanctuary and her experiences there. She is a proud mother and grandmother and, if you ask her, she’ll tell you that “life is good.”

Visit Harriette at or at

12 thoughts on “Interview: Harriette Sackler”

  1. Thanks for visiting. The only thing that would keep me from volunteering in a pet sanctuary is an overwhelming desire to take all the animals home. Which would result in a very unhappy spouse. 🙂 Terrific interview.


  2. Hi Harriette, thank you for visiting. The ‘ripper’ era is so fascinating. One unknown man has managed to inspire chills and writers through the generations. I hope they identify him someday. Your book is definitely on my TBR pile. By the way, love the way you describe your parents’ goals for you. I remember it well!


  3. Wonderful interview, and Harriette if you ever get that dinner party together–even in a dream–please record every word for the rest of us!


  4. I loved learning more about Harriette, her writing, and the pet sanctuary. We had the pleasure of meeting at Malice, and I’ve long been grateful for her contributions as the Grants Chair and more. Thanks for all you do (for people and pets!), Harriette!


  5. Thank you all for your comments. I enjoyed reading them very much. Kristina, in answer to your question, I find plotting a challenge above all else. My stories don’t always have happy endings and the challenge for me is keeping my stories real, even though that might mean no “happily ever afters.” You’re all invited to my dinner party and to my Facebook page!


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