Mystery Writers Key West Fest: Murder and Mayhem in Paradise!

Interview with Author Heather Graham

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than one hundred and fifty novels and novellas. She has more than seventy-five million books in print, published in more than twenty languages. Her latest, “The Cursed,” was just released last week, and is set in Key West. The wildly popular author will appear with nearly two-dozen crime-fiction and true crime authors at the inaugural Mystery Writers Key West Fest this June 13-15. She agreed to answer a few questions for readers of Paradise.


Q&A with Author Heather Graham

Q: Heather, you are an extraordinarily prolific writer with titles encompassing multiple genres—historical romance, suspense, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, even Christmas family fare. The time required for research must be formidable. Do you do it all yourself, or do you ever employ an assistant?

A: I love research and I do it myself. My mistakes, therefore, are always my own. Research is fun—it means you go swimming with dolphins, hopping on the Conch Train time and again, and going lots of wonderful places with the best excuse in the world!

Q: Is there any one of your characters that you particularly identify with—that you consider to be a reflection of you?

A: I think a certain amount of an author’s personal feelings and beliefs come out in their work, but there’s no particular character I see as me. I definitely make use of people I meet! Several characters are taken from friends—one is a fabricator for Legacy Studios in Hollywood and one is now a detective but worked as a forensic artist for a few years.

Q: Have you ever cried over a character that you killed off?

A: There’s a character in a book called The Dead Room I was very sorry to see go. But then again, I do often write about ghosts!

Q: Is there a genre that you have not explored yet, but have on your writing “bucket-list?”

A: Yes. There is a book I’m promising myself. A fictionalized account of Varina Davis, the Confederacy’s one and only first lady. She simply had to have been an incredibly strong woman. The Davises—like the Lincolns—lost a child while in their respective White Houses. Davis could be abrasive; she smoothed a lot of feathers. I just think that she was fascinating. Letters she left while fleeing Richmond are just heart-wrenching, as is one she left behind after her little boy died. And while we think about the horror of war, both families sent their sincere condolences to one another—knowing the pain they were facing.

Q: Your newly released book, “The Cursed,” is set in Key West and involves a haunted B&B, a murder, salvagers, a sunken ship and a curse. Have you spent much time in Key West? Have you experienced one of our haunted Inn’s or had an opportunity to dive on one of our famous sunken galleons?

A: I grew up in South Florida and naturally, yes—we escaped Miami to the Keys when I was a child and I still come down at the drop of a hat. I take the Conch Train – and love the ghost tours and the Haunted Trolley. I’ve stayed in “Robert’s Room” at Artist House and prowled the cemetery, Hard Rock, the Banyan, and many more. I am a diver and have gone out to the reefs many times. I have made use of the Elena de Hoyos story and many more! A few years ago, I did a series of three books that all took place on the island, Ghost Shadow, Ghost Moon, and Ghost Night. That’s what I mean about research—it’s much more gratifying to explore a place and history yourself! (And to sleep at cool BandBs and explore old forts, etc!)

Q: Your bio says that you love ballroom dancing and host an annual Vampire Ball and Dinner Theater charity event in New Orleans. Key Wester’s adore costume events. How does one get an invitation to the ball?

A: A Key Wester just needs ask! I find that Key West and New Orleans—two places I love!—have a great deal in common. NOLA has Bourbon Street while Key West has Duval. They both have incredible architecture. Music is abundant and loved and embraced. Hurricanes have terrorized both. Key West Cemetery is not the same but similar in many ways to the “cities of the dead” found in NOLA. True and crazy stories abound in both places. They have the Mississippi and riverboats—we have fishing, diving, and water sports. Both are wonderfully rich in their history. Both, in my opinion, offer some of the best wonders in the world!

Heather Graham will appear as a “Women of Mystery” panelist at the inaugural Mystery Writers Key West Fest. The Fest is produced by Key West Writers Bloc and sponsored by the Key West Citizen, Mystery Writers of America, and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts.
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