Dorothy Howell, Mystery Author
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Since Slay Bells and Satchels is a Christmas-themed story, The Twelve Days of Haley seemed appropriate.  Here are 12 bits of trivia about the Haley Randolph series you might not know.

 

Day One
When I wrote Handbags and Homicide, I envisioned it as a stand-alone mystery.  My literary agent told me the only way to sell it was as a series, and asked if I thought I could do that.  I’d never written a series and had no idea what it entailed, so what could I say but, “Sure!”


Day Two
My original title for the first book in the series was The Working Girl’s Guide to Handbags and Homicide.  My editor at Kensington suggested changing it to Handbags and Homicide—which I think was a great idea. 


Day Three
Some of the shenanigans at Holt’s Department Store come from my own experience working at Sears back in the day, and from the experiences of my daughters who worked retail during their college years.  Between the three of us, we’ve worked at six retail outlets. 


Day Four
When I was developing the character of Haley I wasn’t sure what her last name should be.  I considered “Randolph” and “Piper.”  I finally settled on “Haley Randolph,” and I’m glad I did.  It seems to fit her better.


Day Five
When I wrote Handbags and Homicide I decided to make Haley 24 years old, the same age as my youngest daughter.  My daughter is now 28—and Haley is still 24. 


Day Six
Haley’s older brother is in the military.  I chose that profession for him because my husband served in the Air Force for the first 20 years we were married.  He’s still involved with military aircraft through his job with the Department of Defense. 


Day Seven
In Purses and Poison there’s a scene (page 103) in which Haley runs into a group of engineers arriving at her parents’ home for dinner.  The clothing the men are wearing—Hammer pants, plaid shorts and sandals, powder-blue sweatpants and black dress shoes, a jacket from junior high—are taken from real life, outfits my daughters or I had actually seen engineers wear.


Day Eight
I got the idea for the handbag convention in Clutches and Curses while attending a Barrett Jackson car auction at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with a dear friend from high school.  We looked at the cars for a while, then abandoned our husbands and went shopping.  I really wish someone would stage a handbag convention so I could go!


Day Nine
In Shoulder Bags and Shootings, Virginia Foster arrives in Los Angeles from Charleston, SC, because her friend has been murdered.  For those of you who read the romance novels I write under the pen name Judith Stacy, you’ll notice I use the name “Virginia” often in my books.  I do this to pay tribute to my home state of Virginia.  I decided the character would be from Charleston because I used to live in that beautiful city.


Day Ten
In Purses and Poison, Haley recalls how she adopted her strict never-volunteer-for-anything policy when, in fourth grade, she volunteered to bring cookies to the class Valentine party.  To her extreme embarrassment, her mom put Chips Ahoy cookies in a plastic container and tried to pass them off as homemade.  I admit, I did this to my own daughter.  After that incident, she always volunteered to bring napkins to any class function.  We still laugh about it. 


Day Eleven
My original title for Clutches and Curses was Designer Purses and Deadly Curses.  My editor thought it was too long so we agreed to short it.  He had a good point, but I still like my original title a little better.


Day Twelve
December 12th is my birthday.  The number 12 has always been my lucky number which is why I used it for Haley’s winning ticket in the handbag drawing in Clutches and Curses.