Newcomer Kellye Garrett had the kind of debut most authors can only dream of. Her first novel in the Detective by Day series, “Hollywood Homicide,” not only garnered gobs of great reviews but also won a handful of prestigious awards and earned nominations for several more. We sat down with her recently to talk about the series, the landscape for women of color who write in the mystery genre and her views on chasing literary trends.
Open Mic: First, let’s talk about the books. Your debut, Hollywood Homicide, received many awards and accolades. The follow-up comes out in August. Tell me a little bit about how this has changed your world.
Garrett: I’ve been wanting to be a novelist since I was five years old, but it took me a long time to actually be brave enough to actually write a book. So just the fact that I finished a book is a big thing. And then to have an agent who loved it just as much as I did and then later an editor who loved it just as much as I did, and then to have it out. I love the awards and I appreciate them, but I am always just super excited when a stranger will send me a message or tell me that they read the book. I’m always surprised, too. I guess there’s always that writer doubt. You know, ‘I wrote this and I like it but will anyone else like it?’ So I think that’s been something that I enjoyed the most. I was finally able to do it, and then people liking it, the award nominations, that’s kind of like the icing on the cake if you will.
Open Mic: You’ve worked in newspapers, magazines and television. You said you always wanted to write a novel, did you always want to write mysteries?
Garrett: I’m a mystery lover, and I always say I’m a reader before I’m even a writer. I used to read Encyclopedia Brown when I was younger, then I transitioned to Nancy Drew and then when I was a pre-teen I found cozy mysteries. A couple of years later I found writers like Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky and Valerie Wilson Wesley. So I’ve always been a mystery reader and lover, and so I knew I always wanted to write a mystery. I just didn’t feel like I had a good enough idea. Mysteries, or at least cozies, are a series, and I didn’t really have a good idea of a character or a hook that I felt could sustain more than one book. So once I got the idea, which I actually got driving down the street when I saw a billboard offering a reward for information on a murder, that’s when I finally decided to actually write it.
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