featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Today we welcome author Dorothy Howell, the author of 28 novels. Dorothy writes the humorous Haley Randolph mystery series for Kensington Books, and as Judith Stacy, she writes historical romance for Harlequin Silhouette. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, with sales approaching 3 million copies worldwide.

Dorothy is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America.
For more information about Dorothy, visit her website where you’ll also find information about a contest she’s running for her readers where you can win a designer handbag. However, just for readers of Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, Dorothy is giving away a copy of Clutches and Curses. To enter, simply post a comment to the blog this week. -- AP

After writing 22 historical romance novels, most under the pen name Judith Stacy, I decided to try my hand at writing in a different genre.  I loved reading mysteries so I figured I’d try writing one.

Coming up with the premise of the Haley Randolph series was fun.  Haley is a 24 year old salesclerk who’s in the middle of a big-time quarter-life crisis.  Nothing seems to go her way, and she just can’t seem to catch a break.

All mystery series need a theme so I picked handbags.  I’m absolutely crazy about handbags.  A few years ago I had an online purse business.  I gave purse parties, too.  What fun!   So I decided that in the series Haley’s biggest passion in life would be getting her hands on the newest, hottest purse.

This, of course, makes doing the research for the books loads of fun for me.  I shop at retail, discount, and factory outlet stores, and check out fashion magazines to see the latest styles.  I pick up a handbag or two for myself, occasionally – just to keep the series real, of course.

In each book, Haley is on the trail of the “it” bag of the season -- along with the murderer, of course.  I give each handbag a name.  So far, Haley has pursued, and gotten, a Notorious and a Sinful.  In Purses and Poison, the second book in the series, Haley sets her fashion sights on a Judith Leiber evening bag.  Who wouldn’t?  In Clutches and Curses, this month’s new release, it’s a Delicious bag she’s after – where else but at a handbag convention in Las Vegas!

My dream is to one day create my own handbag line.  Since I live near Los Angeles, where the series is set, I visit the garment district where, in the book, Haley buys handbags for the purse parties she gives.  Nearby is the fabric district.  There are thousands and thousands of bolts of fabric from all over the world, in every color, quality and pattern imaginable.  Oh, the gorgeous bags I could make – someday.
For now I’m content to write about fabulous handbags.  But who knows that the future will hold?

Dorothy, thanks so much for joining us today. My own purse envy usually runs toward the classic Coach bags, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a Birkin on my shoulder. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? What about you, readers? Any purse envy people out there? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Clutches and Curses. -- AP


Cynthia said...

Lots of purse envy here! I find the series fun as I have the same handbag obsession.

Jillian said...

sounds wonderful!!

Patricia said...

That is such a unique and cool theme for a mystery series. I love mysteries as long as they aren't too full of blood and gore and yours sound right up my alley.
Thank you for the post. I think I've found my next mystery author!


Irene P. tried to post and had Blogger problems. She asked me to post the following for her:

Tell me you're kidding about a handbag expo in Vegas. :)
I'm the type who has a purse until it wears out after five or six years. But the more I think about the idea, the more it intrigues me. It may even prompt me to go out and buy a new purse!

Llyn K. said...

I'm like Irene P., but actually this purse obsession sounded so interesting that I actually started thinking that it's time to stop buying utilitarian black purses and go for something new. The books sound like a lot of fun!

Lynn M said...

Wow -- it sounds like fun! Look forward to hearing more!


Dorothy, thanks so much for being our guest today.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I'm like Anastasia. I've had my Dooney Burke bag for a couple of years and plan to use it until it wears out. So much easier than changing purses all the time. But, I still enjoy reading and learning about purses and other fashions, so the mystery sounds like fun.

shirley said...

Always on the lookout for the perfect bag. Sounds like a fun book!

ElaineCharton said...

I Love handbags! The only way I could get a Coach or a Dooney and Burke would be if I found it in a thrift store. This sounds like a wonderful series to add to my TBR