Friday, March 25, 2011

The High Heels Mysteries

I’ve been getting a lot of reader mail lately, the majority of it asking for one thing: more High Heels Mysteries.

SPYING IN HIGH HEELS was my first sale to a NY publisher, in 2005. It was back when chick-lit was hot, and a chick-lit mystery was a shiny new idea. I had always hoped this book would become a series, but, as a new author, of course my publisher was reluctant to commit to that. But, luckily readers liked my take on a chick-lit mystery well enough that reviews were great, it won a couple awards, and sales were pretty decent. All meaning my editor was excited to work with me on my second book.

KILLER IN HIGH HEELS was the hardest book I have ever written. There’s something about writing that second book that makes you certain your first success was a fluke. Was I an actual writer with enough talent to do this for the long haul or just someone who just wrote one good book? And it didn’t help things that I had two deaths of close family members at the same time – one of whom I had *just* written into my book before she passed away. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to write comedy when dealing with grief. Needless to say, when this book came out, I was sure it was going to flop, be horrible, be as painful for readers to read as it was for me to write. Amazingly, it wasn’t. In fact, I’ve had people tell me that it’s the funniest of all the books I’ve written. And it did well enough that my publisher offered me another contract.

The premise for UNDERCOVER IN HIGH HEELS was actually a collaboration between my fabulous editor and I. She had the idea to do a Desperate Housewives spoof, and thought Maddie would be the perfect person to take this on. Combining that idea with my past experience working the film industry, we came up with a fun book about a murder on the set of a TV show that was a blast to write. And I guess that fun I had with it translated to readers as book #4 followed.

By the time I began writing ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS two things happened. One – I optioned the rights to a “Spying in High Heels” TV show to Hollywood. Two – while Hollywood was digging the chick-lit, NY publishing was not. The format of fun, fashion-minded characters in lighthearted situations was supposedly out and serious Oprah-style literature was in. So, while we planned for a TV version of the book, my editor and I both made the decision to end Maddie’s journey on a high note and let ALIBI be her last adventure.

That was the plan. But, as I wrote the book, I realized that Maddie really deserved a great end. So I ended the book (and the series, I thought at the time) with a straight out of the movies, huge hook, big bang ending. Only when my agent read the manuscript, she told me, “Um… you know we need to know what happens next. You have to write another book now.” And when my editor read it, she gave me the same line, word for word. We jokingly kicked around idea for a fifth “Wedding in High Heels” book, and, after a little while, we decided we weren’t joking, and I agree to do just one more Maddie story.

MAYHEM IN HIGH HEELS was my absolute last High Heels book. I took great care to NOT end this one with quite the bang as ALIBI. A happy ending that was clearly an ending in my mind. That left everyone happy. That tied up all the storylines I’d been kicking around for years. That left me satisfied and, I hoped, readers satisfied as well.

That was in 2008. Fast forward to 2011… I have left the original publisher of the High Heels books, with the rights to all these books, and there are now some great venues for me to make these books available as an Indie author. And you know what I realized being Indie means? It means that, unlike large publishers, I have the luxury of publishing whatever books I want to, regardless of the trends in big publishing. It also means that, thanks to ebooks, Maddie has found a whole new audience of readers that are discovering her for the first time and writing to me telling me that these fun, fashionable books are a welcomed light-heated escape from the sad economy, the depressing job market, and the natural and political disasters cropping up in the world right now. They’ve been telling me they’d like more fun.

Know what? Me too. Who doesn’t want more fun, right?

So, I’m super excited to say that I WILL be bringing Maddie back for another full length adventure! I plan to start working on the 6th book in the series very soon, which I will Indie publish hopefully sometime next year. (Indie also means no deadlines – woohoo! - so I’ll let you know as I get closer to finishing when the actual release date will be.)

My only problem now is coming up with a new title for this next chapter in Maddie’s life. Anyone have any suggestions?

~Trigger (and High Heels) Happy Halliday

P.S.  In between the books I also wrote two short stories featuring Maddie, that can be found in ebook only.  CHRISTMAS IN HIGH HEELS and, just this past February, SWEETHEART IN HIGH HEELS.


Diane Kelly said...

I love your point that self-pubbing means you can pub whatever you want regardless of the trends. So cool!

It must've been hard indeed to write thru grief. Though I actually find I'm at my funniest when I'm really, really pissed off. I tend to just put my thoughts out there with no sugar coating, and that's where humor is both honest and hilarious.

Tori Lennox said...

Woohoo!!! I love Maddie! :)

Kristi said...

Can I just say YAY! I loved Maddie. Cannot wait.

PATRICIA said...

Dear Gemma,

Just can't tell you how much I have enjoyed this series, it's my absolute favorite!

Read the Kindle boxed set 1 – 5, Christmas in High Heels and Sweetheart in High Heels. Just finished them last night and am already missing Maddie and Ramirez.

Was so excited to read today that you are going to write another one.

Hope you keep the series going and going. Love the fact that they are now married (I was holding my breath to see who would get off the Eiffel Tower elevator, would have been very disappointed if it had been Felix).

Am reading your Hollywood Headlines series now and then on to Viva Las Vegas.

I participate in some of the Kindle threads and recommend High Heels whenever the opportunity lends itself.

Thanks for writing such a great series and please…, I'm begging you – no divorce for Maddie and Jack, it would just be way too sad and ruin the series.

Thanks again!

Mo said...

Woo Hoo! More Maddie! I read them as they were released and loved very one. I recently bought the bundle for my kindle and donated the paper books to my local library.

PATRICIA said...

And you asked for new book title suggestions:

Holiday in High Heels
Stiletto Sting in High Heels

Amanda Brice said...

Yay for more Maddie books!!!!!

Shawna R. said...

Dare we hope for a Mommie in High Heels?

Shakinbellydancer said...

I'm just new to the High Heel series but I have not been able to put the books down since I finished Spying Last week. I just started Alibi this morning too. I have to admit being late to work is so worth finding out what happens in each chapter. Oh and getting less than 4 hours of sleep a night because I can't put it down is a huge bonus with these books. All I can say is I so can't wait to read more about Maddie and of course Ramirez *purrrs*

miss_margaritaa said...

Love the book Gemma, have not been able to pick up a book all year...started reading Spying in heels on Tuesday and I was almost about to finish this afternoon!

Had I not encountered this website and read Patricia's spoiler about Maddie and Ramirez getting together, I probably would not have been able to put the book down until I finished!

Hope that my spark lights back up again and I forget about the Patricia's Spoiler.

I am based in UK but would love the see the tv series, hope they can sell it on Amazon! :-)

slightfoot said...

I just finishesd Alibi in High Heels and I'm so, so disappointed it wasn't Felix who got off the elevator. Maddie is a self indulgent, spoiled brat around Ramirez but with Felix she's likeable. They're friends, equals and a great crime busting team. I had bought the box set but after the third thought I wouldn't read her again. Wanting something light in between heavier books, I came back and loved this until the end. I hope Felix finds happiness. Maddie probably doesn't deserve either of them!

Line said...

I just finished Spying in... last night and I'm sooo hooked! I just love Maddie, her thoughts and Jack just makes me all hot and bothered like he does Maddie. Can't wait to read the rest of the books.