Interview: Dorothy Howell

Welcome Dorothy Howell, author of the Haley Randolph and Dana Mackenzie Mysteries series.

 What’s your idea of a perfect day?

pocketbooks-and-pistols-coverFor me, a perfect day is a day spent at the beach. But since I can’t get any writing done like that, I spend my mornings at my computer tending to business and pushing ahead on my work-in-progress. Afternoons are for exercising, running errands and, of course, dreaming about being at the beach!

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

I’m so attracted to the color blue, it’s crazy. I think it must mean something about my personality, but I don’t know what (hopefully, it’s something good.)

I’ve lost my mind completely about Starbucks. I found a drink on their menu that’s very tasty but doesn’t have much sugar, so I’m there several times each week. I have a Starbucks Gold Card!

Here’s one of my favorite expressions:

If you don’t change direction, you’re liable to end up where you’re headed.
–Chinese proverb

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

I read all sort of books—self-help, mystery, suspense, romance, sci-fi, non-fiction. I love Laura Levine’s cozy mystery series, science fiction by William F. Wu, and mystery/suspense/thrillers by Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, and Lee Child. I enjoy non-fiction works by Mitchell Zukoff and Eric Larson. I’m up for anything except graphic violence.

Do you listen to music when you write?

I need total silence to write. Any distraction at all will blow me out of what I’m writing—which is a real problem because I usually think up something only once!

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

I was a devoted chocaholic since childhood. If I saw—or even smelled—something chocolate I absolutely had to have it. I actually drank Hershey syrup out of the can.

That changed when my life took an odd turn. On June 15, 2012, I stopped eating sugar. Yes, that includes chocolate. I haven’t eaten any sugar products since then—no cookies, cake, cupcakes, candy, sodas. None. I feel healthier (I lost 35 pounds), and I only miss it during holidays when treats are plentiful and feasting is part of the celebration.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

I began my writing career with historical romance novels, most of which were published by Harlequin under my pen name Judith Stacy. After writing over 20 of them, I wanted to try something new. I always loved reading mystery so I decided to give it a try.

I wanted to write cozy mystery (no graphic violence for me) so I needed to come up with the plot, setting, and characters. My daughter was working part-time at a department store between her college classes, and came home with the worst stories about working there. It was so awful I decided it would make a great book.

With that, the character of Haley Randolph was born, a 24 year old single girl having a quarter-life crisis, who is the absolute worst sales clerk in the history of retail. All cozy mystery series need a theme, so I picked handbags because I’m a nut about designer purses.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

Since Haley is in her early twenties, she deals with dating, friends, her career and future, and finding her place in life. I thought that making Haley this age would appeal to readers because most of us can remember when we were twenty-somethings, lost, and not sure where we belonged.

Tell us about your main character.

Haley is edgy, often looking for a shortcut, and struggling to find her place in life. She’s very loyal to her friends and always respectful of her somewhat whacky mother. She’s big on justice being served. She has a code of conduct she lives by, such as not sleeping around, drinking and driving, or standing idly by when someone she cares about is hurting.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

Wow, this is a tough one, hard to limit to only six. I’d have to invite Agatha Christie, of course, along with Carolyn Hart, Sue Grafton, and Margaret Mitchell (even though she’s not a mystery author, I’d love to talk to her). Laura Levine would absolutely have to be there also. I’d invite Lee Child because I can’t resist a man with a British accent.

What’s next for you?

The latest Haley Randolph mystery, Pocketbooks and Pistols, was just released from Kensington in hardcover and ebook editions. Also now available is Backpacks and Betrayals, a novella in the series.

Several more of the historical romance novels I write under the pen name Judith Stacy will soon be available as ebooks.

The latest information is always available on my website and on my Facebook page Dorothy Howell Novels. You can follow me on Twitter @DHowellNovels.

I have lots of special deals and giveaways planned for the holidays so sign up for my newsletter on my website to get all the info.

Thanks and happy reading!


Dorothy Howell has sold 40 novels to three major New York publishing houses. She writes the Haley Randolph and the Dana Mackenzie mystery series. She also writes historical romance under the pen name Judith Stacy. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, with sales approaching 5 million copies worldwide. Dorothy lives with her family in Southern California.


5 thoughts on “Interview: Dorothy Howell”

  1. Beaches are just about my favorite place in the world! Do you have a favorite beach? And as for handbags, I can’t get past a display of handbags in any store. I am looking forward to checking out your books.


  2. Welcome, Dorothy! Your cozy sounds so fun! I love that your MC is going through a quarter-life crisis, LOL. And now I want chocolate, mmm…


  3. Thanks for visiting. I’m a reader,not a writer. I haven’t read any of your books YET, but I now have added you to my “to read” next,and I love the title “Pistols and Pocketbooks” certainly just screams “have to read!”


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