Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I sooo did not expect this! I've just learned that WHY MERMAIDS SING has won the Best Historical Mystery Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times.

I've known for several months that MERMAIDS had been nominated. But it was up against such fierce competition from such well-known writers that I was convinced there was no way it would win. I simply counted it as an honor to be nominated, and forgot about it.

When I remember the conditions under which I wrote this book--as a Katrina refugee devoting most of my time to rebuilding my house--it really seems incredible. The most amazing thing to me is that the book ever made it into print.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Entertainment Weekly Reviews WHY MERMAIDS SING!

This week's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY is running a review of my new Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, WHY MERMAIDS SING. It's my first-ever Entertainment Weekly review, so I'm pretty excited about it. Not sure I'd have described the book this way, but hey, I'm not complaining! Here it is...

Why Mermaids Sing
by C.S. Harris
Reviewed by Tina Jordan

Regency-era London--abuzz with the grotesque murders of several wealthy young men--looks to noblemen/sleuth Sebastian St. Cyr to solve the crimes

MOVIE PITCH: It's Hannibal Lecter--early 1800s style!

LOWDOWN: A serial-killer thriller set 200 years ago? It may sound incongruous, but it works, thanks Harris' pacing and fine eye for detail. A real plus: the murk and stench of the age only heighten the suspense.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MERMAIDS Makes Its YouTube Debut

Well, I did it. The book trailer—or book video—or whatever you want to call it—for WHY MERMAIDS SING is up on YouTube.

Now that I see it on YouTube, I’d probably do it differently if I had it to do over—black writing instead of white, for instance. Do I expect this video to help sell the book? No. So why did I do it?


Labels: , ,

Friday, July 06, 2007

Revisiting Hell

The galleys for WHY MERMAIDS SING are due back in New York on Tuesday. Because of the long time lag in publishing, that means I’ve been spending the last few days rereading the book I wrote right after Katrina—the book I thought would never get finished. I had sent the proposal for MERMAIDS off to my agent right before the storm hit. And then I didn’t write another word for more then six months.

At first my days were spent driving back and forth from Baton Rouge, mucking out the house, dragging what couldn’t be salvaged out to the curb, tearing out walls. Even after we moved down to my mother’s house in Metairie, we still had to drive up to Baton Rouge once a week for groceries. While we waited for our stripped studs to dry out, I set about the painful task of attempting to restore my antique furniture. And then it was time to start putting up walls, finish Sheetrock, and do all the million and one other things needed to put a house back together. I spent my days in paint-splattered clothes, joking that with the cost of labor in New Orleans I could make more money installing Sheetrock than I could writing. Actually, it wasn’t a joke. After all, the only reason I’d acquired the skill was because good Sheetrockers were impossible to find in New Orleans. They still are. But I digress.

Sometime around February or March I realized I had to quit working on the house and start working on my book. My deadline was looming. Only, how could I? We were rebuilding the house ourselves simply because we couldn’t find anyone to hire. Even putting in 12-14 hour days, Steve could only do so much on the weekends; I was the one working on it seven days a week. I was desperate to rebuild my nest, rebuild some kind of normal life for my traumatized chicks. I kept saying, how can I just quit and sit down and start writing? How can I write when I live, breathe, sleep, dream Katrina?

In the end, of course, I realized I had no choice. At first I set up my computer in my mother’s backroom. Then Steve and our friend Jon got the paneling up in my office and I started writing in here. The floor was just a concrete slab, there were no baseboards or crown moldings or doorframes or window frame (actually, there’s STILL no window frame!). There was no kitchen in the house, although one of the bathrooms upstairs still functioned. The neighborhood was filled with the sound of air compressors and hammering and sawing. I kept saying, I can’t write like this! I’d write half the day, then give in to the compulsion and go off to do Sheetrock or sand trim, seal tile or paint ceilings. In the end, the only thing that saved me was the miracle that is the lake house.

Yet somehow, the book not only worked, but worked amazingly well. The only problem is that as I go through the galleys, I find that I can only read about thirty pages at a time and then I need to put it aside and do something else for a while. I find myself remembering the time I was assaulted by a raving lunatic at one of the city’s few functioning gas stations (people were seriously losing it in those days). I remember sitting next to my dying aunt and listening to the hospital rep apologize for the fact they were using orange FEMA blankets, but their laundry service had flooded. I remember the miles of flooded cars choking the streets of New Orleans, the boat abandoned just two blocks from my mother’s house (where the water stopped). I remember the huge flies that seemed to mutate after Katrina, and the smell. Who could ever forget that smell? And then I go pick up the galleys again.

And I wonder, is it there? Did the heartache and the trauma and the craziness of it all somehow bleed into these words about an English Viscount chasing a tormented killer through the streets of 1811 London?

I don’t know.

Labels: , ,