Wednesday, June 17, 2009
IMHO welcomes romantic mystery author Gemma Halliday
I’m delighted to welcome a fellow “Wild Card” (2005 Golden Heart class) Gemma Halliday to IMHO today. In her previous life, Gemma worked in such diverse jobs as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic. All of which have given her excellent fodder for future characters.
Best known for her High Heels romantic mystery series, in which “high crime meets high fashion,” Gemma started writing fiction in 2002. After winning several awards as an unpublished writer, her career kicked into high gear in 2005 when she won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart Award. One month later, she was offered her first book contract, saving her from adding another dead end to her eclectic employment history.
Her first book, Spying in High Heels, was published in 2006, and since then Gemma has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Reader's Choice award and two RITA nominations. The series’ heroine, L.A. shoe designer Maddie Springer, is a little like Stephanie Plum but with much better taste in clothes. Spying is currently in development for a TV series on the USA Network.
The Chicago Tribune says Gemma’s work is "a saucy combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible." Romantic Times BOOKReview says of her latest, Mayhem in High Heels, "This fifth and final installment in Halliday's High Heels series is wonderfully entertaining, with an absorbing and complex mystery. Her pleasingly non-ass-kicking heroine -- with her entourage of quirky and fascinating family and friends -- makes this a fitting finale to these fun stories."
Gemma now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area, where she is hard at work on her next book.
IMHO: Gemma, welcome! As you know, our theme this month is “Weddings & Beginnings.” Since you’re putting your newest release in the High Heels series, Mayhem in High Heels, into June’s gift basket for our lucky winner, tell us how your book features this theme.
GH: Thanks so much for letting me crash your corner of the cyber world, TJ!
As TJ mentioned, she’s giving away a copy of one of my books as part of her basket of goodies this month. Mayhem in High Heels is the fifth and final book in my High Heels series of romantic mysteries, and it follows fashion designer turned amateur sleuth, Maddie Springer, as she investigates the death of a wedding planner. Unfortunately, hers. As the killer closes in, and wedding disasters from hideous bridesmaid dresses to incontinent doves pile up, Maddie’s race to the altar quickly becomes a race against time.
One of my favorite things about writing this book was all the research. Having never been married myself, I turned to my friends, family, and readers to give me the dirt on what really goes on behind the scenes at a wedding. Some of their stories made me laugh, some made me cry and go “awww”, but my absolute favorite one came from a young woman who posted hers on a wedding forum. I laughed so hard I think I pulled something the first time I heard this story. Here’s what happened at her wedding:
She was just 19 when she got married, and the night before her wedding she let her husband-to-be borrow her car to go to his bachelor party. Only neither he nor the car came home that night. The next morning he still hadn’t brought the car back, and the bride was beginning to worry. Finally, an hour before the wedding is supposed to start, the groom shows up at her house. Only, he didn’t bring her car back. He’s in a tiny, bright purple car. He tells her he knows purple is her favorite color, so he borrowed this one from a friend to make her day more special. (Smooth guy, huh?)
So, the two get in the purple car, pile the best man and maid of honor in the back, and drive into the city where the Justice of the Peace will marry them. But they can’t find the place. The end up asking a police officer, who gives them a police escort – lights, sirens and all – to the JP’s place. When they finally arrive, they realize, to their surprise, they’re in Chinatown. The JP’s assistant comes out and rings a giant bong three times before the JP makes his ceremonial appearance. He starts the service, but his accent is so thick that when he tells them to repeat the vows after him, they can’t understand what he’s saying. They totally wing it, making up the vows themselves as they go. After the ceremony, he brings out little glasses with drinks for a toast. The bride and groom – water. The JP – vodka.
When, after containing their laughter from the mangled ceremony, the bride and groom signed the marriage license and paid the JP, he argued that it wasn’t enough money. He said they got the “deluxe” ceremony (bonging included), so owed extra. So, the entire wedding party started digging in purses and pockets, and between the four of them finally came up with enough to satisfy the JP.
As they were leaving the JP’s, his assistant threw rice at them… and accidentally hit a bee’s nest. Angry bees came flying out and chased the wedding party all the way back to their car. Oh yeah, and the purple car? Once it was time to leave for the honeymoon, the groom confessed that he and his friends had been so drunk the night before, they’d completely lost her car. He’d borrowed the purple one at the last minute, but didn’t want to tell her until AFTER the ceremony. You know, so she didn’t change her mind. So, the bride’s father ended up driving them to their honeymoon destination, in the back of his station wagon. Very romantic.
With a wedding like that, I can only imagine how fun the marriage will be. :) If you have any great wedding stories, please feel free to share them here!
IMHO: Thanks, Gemma. No wacky stories from me, sadly, unless you count our experience at a restaurant on our honeymoon night. We knew we would be too keyed up to eat any of our own wedding dinner during the festivities, so we decided to reserve dinner at the hotel afterward and secured a private booth with a wonderfully romantic atmosphere—all of which was entirely wasted on us as we slept through most of dinner while seated upright in front of our plates! We’d been working on putting our own wedding together for days, hadn’t slept much the night before due to our bachelor and bachelorette parties, and were just plain exhausted! But, that’s as wacky as it gets. If you don't count the Greek-waiter led conga line...
How about you, IMHO readers? Any crazy wedding stories to share? Leave a comment for Gemma and at least one other author this month for a chance to win our “Weddings & Beginnings” gift basket full of autographed books by Deeanne Gist, Kathryn Albright, Gemma Halliday, Kathy Carmichael, TJ Bennett, and a free e-book download from Eppie-winning bonus guest Teri Thackston, as well as a $20 gift certificate to Target.