Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Some Updates, and Saying Goodbye to Angel

Where to begin? I've been pretty godawful sick this last month, which is lousy timing considering my latest Sebastian book, WHERE THE DEAD LIE, was released this month. But I think I'm starting to pull out of it.

My trip to Houston was fun. Thanks to everyone who came to my signing at Murder By the Book. I'll be in Scottsdale, Arizona, this Saturday at the Poisoned Pen, so if you're in the area, do stop by!


I was terrified we were going to lose Angel while I was in Houston, but thankfully he waited until the day after I came home to say goodbye.  He was my mother's cat until she died 7 years ago, and so in a sense it was like losing my last thread to her. But I also loved him dearly for his own sake. He was an exuberantly affectionate cat, sitting on my lap while I wrote and sleeping curled up in the crook of my arm every night. He was 18 years old and had been failing for the last couple of months, but it's still been really, really hard to lose him.

And then there's this complication:


She showed up outside my door the Thursday before Angel died, and was so skinny I called her "My Skeleton." After repeating (over and over again) "I don't need another cat!" and feeding her umpteen cans of food outside (for some reason she can't seem to eat dried) for 12 days without much improvement, I finally scooped her up yesterday and carried her off to the vet. Fortunately her tests for nasty cat diseases were negative, although she was horribly infested with fleas and worms. She's now in isolation until that clears up, and then I'm not sure what I'm doing since I had promised Roscoe and Peanut I was going to let them out of their three-room apartment (Roscoe is a Big Mean Cat who picks on other cats, so I had kept him separated from Angel). This little girl acted virtually feral outside, one of the reasons I hesitated to bring her in (that, plus the old flea collar). But now that she's inside she has surprised me by being very friendly. She really is a pathetic thing, and since Skeleton is an unkind name, she's now Kit-Kat. But she's still a skinny, scruffy mess.


Beyond that, I've turned in the proposal for Sebastian #14, WHO SLAYS THE WICKED. And I've just learned they lost the model they used for the last few covers--he's gone off to be a fireman. So we'll be having a new guy for the cover of WHY KILL THE INNOCENT. Fingers crossed he looks the part!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Interview Podcast

I did an interview last week with Susan Larson for The Reading Life. It's a great interview, and you can listen to it on podcast here: http://wwno.org/post/reading-life-john-barry-and-cs-harris

I talk about the background of Where the Dead Lie and my ideas for the future of the series, as well as my new standalone historical, Good Time Coming. My interview is second, and comes at around 13:40.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Coming' at Ya in One Week!


One week from today, Tuesday, April 4, is the official release date for WHERE THE DEAD LIE, the twelfth in the Sebastian St. Cyr series. To whet your appetite, here's a sneak peek at the beginning!


Chapter 1

Monday, 13 September 1813: hours before dawn
The boy hated this part. Hated the eerie way the pale, waxen faces of the dead seemed to glow in the faintest moonlight. Hated being left alone with a stiffening body while he dug its grave.
He kicked the shovel deep into the ground and felt his heart leap painfully in his chest when the scrape of dirt against metal sounded dangerously loud in the stillness of the night. He sucked in a quick breath, the musty smell of damp earth thick in his nostrils, his fingers tightening on the smooth wooden handle as he paused to cast a panicked glance over one shoulder.
A mist was drifted up from the Fleet to curl around the base of the nearby shot tower and creep along the crumbling brick walls of the abandoned warehouses beyond it. He heard a dog bark somewhere in the distance and, nearer, a soft thump.
What was that?
The boy waited, his mouth dry, his body tense and trembling. But the sound was not repeated. He swiped a ragged sleeve across his sweaty face, swallowed hard, and bent into his work. He was uncomfortably aware of the cloaked gentleman watching from the seat of the cart that waited at the edge of the field. The gentleman had helped drag Benji’s body over to the looming shot tower. But he never helped dig. Gentlemen didn’t dig graves, although they could and did kill with a vicious delight that made the boy shiver as he threw another shovelful of dirt onto the growing pile.
The hole was beginning to take shape. Another six inches or so and he’d—
“Hey!”
The boy’s head snapped around, and he froze.
A ragged, skeletally thin figure lurched from the gaping doorway of one of the tumbledown warehouses. “Wot ye doin’ there?”
The shovel hit the ground with a clatter as the boy bolted. He fell into the newly dug grave and went down, floundering in the loose dirt. Feet flailing, he reared up on splayed hands, found solid ground, and pushed off.
“Oye!” shouted the ghostly specter.
The boy tore across the uneven field, his breath soughing in and out, his feet pounding. He saw the gentleman in the cart jerk, saw him gather the reins and spank them hard against his horse’s rump.
“Wait for me!” screamed the boy as the cart lurched forward, its iron-rimmed wheels rattling over the rutted lane. “Stop!’
The gentleman urged the horse into a wild canter. He did not look back.
The boy leapt a low, broken stretch of the stone wall that edged the field. “Come back!”
The cart careened around the corner and out of sight, but the boy tore after it anyway. Surely the gentleman would stop for him? He wouldn’t simply leave him, would he?
Would he?
The boy was sobbing now, his nose running, his chest aching as he fought to draw air into his lungs. It wasn’t until he reached the corner himself that he dared risk a frantic look back. That’s when he realized the skeletal figure wasn’t following him.
The man—for the boy saw now that it was a man and not some hideous apparition—had paused beside the raw, unfinished grave. And he was staring down at what was left of Benji Thatcher. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Enter to Win the Entire Sebastian St. Cyr Series! (well, at least the series so far)


Penguin is giving away a set of the entire Sebastian St. Cyr series, up to and including an Advance Readers Copy of Where the Dead Lie. The link to enter is:

https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/enter-sebastian-st-cyr-mysteries

You can enter until 11:59 ET on March 29th. Unfortunately, entry is restricted to U.S. residents only. But it's a pretty cool offer. Good luck!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

WHERE THE DEAD LIE Upcoming Events


I've finally finished Sebastian St. Cyr #13, WHY KILL THE INNOCENT (coming April 2018) and now started on Sebastian #14, WHO SLAYS THE WICKED (coming April 2019).  If you've been following my family's various health issues, I can say that Peanut is now fully recovered, fat, and sassy, Angel (who recently had his 18th birthday) is still hanging in there (although he gave us a scare by first getting a bad cold, then by falling off the dryer and hurting his back), and my son-in-law has just undergone a scary surgery which hopefully will fix or at least improve his long string of health crises. We're now 72 hours out from that.

AND things are about to get hectic with my upcoming book release. Here is my current schedule. If you live anywhere in the area of one of these events, I hope you can come by and say hi!

1. Jane Austen Literary Festival
Saturday, 1 April 2017, 2:45 pm
Panel and book signing
Old Mandeville Trailhead
675 Lafitte Street
Mandeville, Louisiana

2. Garden District Book Shop
Book signing 
Tuesday, 4 April 2017 
6-7:30pm
The Rink
2727 Prytania Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

3. Murder by the Book
Book signing 
Saturday, 8 April, 4:30pm
2342 Bissonnet St
Houston, Texas

4. Poisoned Pen
Cozy Con 
Book signing
22 April 2017, 1-4 pm
4014 N. Goldwater Blvd
Scottsdale, Arizona

In other news, WHEN FALCONS FALL, Sebastian #12, is now out in trade paperback. My publisher has switched their paperback reprints from mass market size to trade because, bluntly, the market for the little paperbacks is drying up and a lot of outlets don't carry them any more. The New York Times has even quit printing a mass market paperback bestseller list, which is really hard for me to wrap my head around! 

It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the change has on the paperback sales, although the truth is my sales have always been strongest in hardcover and ebook. But I know the switch will be rough on all you OCD types out there. Believe me, I understand.  


Monday, February 06, 2017

Hold Onto Your Carriage Strap . . .

So I guess I'm not doing so well on my New Years Resolutions! Oh, well...

At any rate, here is the charming review Kirkus just gave WHERE THE DEAD LIE. They think the book is a tad "bleak." Because Kirkus has a tendency to give away too much, I have edited it slightly. But be sure not to miss the last couple of sentences; they're real charmers!




In Regency England, a viscount pursues the sadistic killer of London's most vulnerable denizens. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his former comrade in arms, surgeon Paul Gibson, have seen more than their share of violent death in wartime. But neither one can look calmly at the body of Benji Thatcher, a street urchin who [was tortured and murdered]. The death of one more homeless pickpocket is unlikely to cause a stir among most of fashionable London, but Gibson and Sebastian specialize in solving crimes that others can't or won't. 

Sebastian's wife, Hero, is a social reformer who's writing a series of articles about the poor of London, and while she interviews some of the street children who knew Benji, Sebastian uses the testimony of an old soldier who saw and interrupted someone digging Benji's grave as a starting point for finding out what happened not just to Benji, but to a number of other homeless children who've disappeared. The owner of a secondhand store helps direct Sebastian to a brothel catering to clients who like their prostitutes young, and contraband copies of a book by the Marquis de Sade bring Sebastian closer to identifying the person responsible for the pitiful collections of children's bones buried near the shallow grave meant for Benji. Unfortunately, Sebastian's suspects—an actor, a French count, a dissolute marquis' heir about to marry into Sebastian's family, and an even more highly connected person who's also a relative of Hero—all have alibis. 

But Sebastian's power-hungry father-in-law presents the biggest obstacle to his sleuthing in a tale that, despite top boots and tall hats, velvet spencers and gowns à la grecque, and even a cat named Mr. Darcy, is a far cry from the world of Jane Austen. Harris (When Falcons Fall, 2016, etc.) is as determined as her lead couple to explore London's underbelly. Hold onto your carriage strap: the tangle of familial, criminal, and political conflict makes for bleak reading.

Monday, January 09, 2017

A New Year


Do you make New Year's resolutions? I read the other day that one should call them "intentions"--the theory being that relabeling them might make them less intimidating and help us feel less of a failure when we inevitably stumble.

I usually do make them, and they're typically the same ones every year: eat healthily, exercise more, get more sleep, stop wasting time. I actually do eat healthily most days (the result of some twenty years of making the same resolution), and I exercise when my aching joints allow. The sleep and time-wasting are still a work in progress.

Another of my resolutions this year is to be better at keeping this blog. I do like to be upbeat on it because nobody needs a Debbie Downer, and last year was such a rolling series of disasters that I found it increasingly hard to strike the necessary note. Maybe this year . . .


I can tell you that having my girls home for Christmas was beyond wonderful (and Maddie and Zydeco! I've really missed those two. Look how big and fat Maddie is!). My little Peanut is now just fine. One thing I learned from our vet is that runts of the litter, when they hit 7-8, usually start having health problems. So another of my resolutions is to spoil her. She's not complaining.


I'm back at work on my next Sebastian book (tentatively entitled Why Kill the Innocent), and the end is finally, finally within sight. I've reached the point where I'm more than anxious to move on to #14 (Who Slays the Wicked--love that title). I'm also looking forward to the release of WHERE THE DEAD LIE, coming in April. It has already received a nice Publishers Weekly review, which I should be able to share soon. This is undoubtedly my darkest book, by far. I wonder why?


I will be going over to San Antonio again in few weeks to be with my daughter while her husband undergoes major surgery. Another of my resolutions this year is to try to stay calm and meditate more.

We'll see how I do.