Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Welcome Cynthia Harrison to our Garden Interviews

 Hello Cynthia

tell us about yourself

When I first began publishing my novels, I was a pantser all the way. Once I began writing mysteries, I quickly learned you have to be at least part plotter or you will make yourself crazy. You have to write out the murderer’s story, even if it will not be part of the book. You’ll need to know everything about him from behind the scenes so when you write those scenes they will feel more authentic.


In Blue Heaven had one character, Lily, who really got to me. At first she was just a walk on. She showed up, a 17 year old hitchhiker on the only highway out of town. She stayed. She wanted to be the star of the show. Blue Heaven was the first book in a series so I kept thinking “one of these days I’ll write your story, so can you simmer down for now?”


Yes, I talk to my characters. Lily went away to college but four years and two books later she was back in Love and Death in Blue Lake. And she really did almost steal that book. I could hardly hold the lid on her. Also, she added an element of mystery to the series, yet another thing I was not expecting. Since then, I’ve only written mysteries. I finished that series with a Christmas mystery, and while Lily was not a character, she was like a ghost hovering over the book.


I finally wrote Lily’s book Lily White in Detroit. There are two main characters, a police detective and Lily, who has become a private investigator. With a lot of baggage. I wanted to give her a happy ending. I wanted her to triumph over the tragedies in her past. And I wanted to not mess up on police procedure or private investigators. So, for Lily I went to the Writer’s Police Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I also read many many books on both cops and P.I.s The Detroit Police Department has a good website and I visited it. I also visited a state prison and the Wayne County jail in Detroit. I became a founding member of the Michigan chapter of Sisters in Crime.


That book took twice as long to write than any book I’d ever written before, but it had been a long time coming. Lily White in Detroit is my favorite book to date. I did base certain elements of Lily’s life on my own, but not in a way anyone but I can tell. I’m really proud of all the work I did to change genres and give Lily a book of her own. People ask me if I’ll write a sequel. Never say never, but for now, I’ve moved on to a new series set in Florida. Lily’s still in Detroit. Here’s the Amazon link:

Tell us more...

My husband is my hero and my true love. He married a single mom, which he swore before he met me he’d never do. He supports my writing and is so proud of me. When he introduced me to his mom he said “Cindy’s a writer!” I just love him for that. He also was the first person to notice that I was in trouble mentally. After a couple of really bad car accidents, I had a whole mess of phobias, panic attacks, PTSD, you name it. And he noticed (how could he not, I was unable to control or hide my panic). He told me I needed to see a psychiatrist, and doing that changed my life for the better in really big ways. He’s been a great stepdad to my sons and a role model for me. He is so healthy. He eats healthy, he exercises, he drinks in moderation. He is wise and generous  with money and can fix everything from a refrigerator to a car engine. He’s forgiving. He’s gentle. He’s loving. He balances me out in so many ways. I owe my writing career (not to mention my sanity) to him, because whenever I needed to take a semester (or two) off work, he never complained.


I enjoy interviews. I’d rather do an interview than any other form of marketing. And yes, I laugh at my own jokes. My husband just retired this year, and he doesn’t always get my humor. So, I laugh and say “Did you notice I just told a joke?” Now he knows that when I say something and laugh, he needs to laugh, too. Work in progress.


I love autumn, but summer’s nice too. My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes. I could eat them every day. I really want some right now.


I’ve had my website,, since 2002. I blog once a week on writing, retirement, reading, or whatever’s on my mind on Monday morning. I love #MondayBlogs hashtag on Twitter, but there is no book promotion allowed. But I still blog every Monday. I don’t have a business page on Facebook, but my Twitter handle is @cynthiaharriso1. I’m a fan of Pinterest and have boards for all my books plus boards for everything in my personal life from organizing the pantry to new haircuts I want to try. You can find the boards I’ve created here:


I have a new book coming out November 2, Jane in St Pete, a brand new series about a woman who completely changes her life when her husband dies unexpectedly. She retires, sells her home, moves from Detroit to Florida. This cozy series is much more light-hearted than Lily White in Detroit. Jane gets involved in murder cases because, as a former art lecturer, she consults with the police on art-related questions in suspicious deaths. And of course, as in all my books, there’s a little romance.


Until then, I have a free short story on my website with characters whose story continues to unfold in Jane in St. Pete.  You’ll find it here:


Barb said...

Great interview. Even though you are my friend, I learned lots more about you. Good luck with Jane. Hope she's as good a friend to you as Ruby. Happy to be in the rose garden with you as my guide.

Barb said...

Make that Ruby Lily, Sorry.

Jan said...

Wonderful interview with great advice for crime writers! Happy to have been along for the trip to Reuter’s Police Academy, where Michigan Sisters in Crime was born.

Anonymous said...

Make that Writers Police Academy

GiniRifkin said...

Hi Cynthia: Enjoyed the interview. Love 'taters" too. Your Cozy mystery sounds great. Best of luck on sales.

Cindy said...

Thanks Gin. My book came out shortly before Covid and all my St Pete marketing plans went nowhere. I’m almost done with 2nd in series so maybe I can do something with Jane’s debut then. Had a hard time writing during Covid too. Did you? Miss you!