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 After winning several awards as an unpublished writer, her career kicked into high gear in 2005 when she won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart Award.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.



Margay said...

Sad to say I can't come up with a wacky wedding story myself, but this one takes the cake! The deluxe package, huh?


MJ said...

I don't have any crazy wedding stories but a 900 I call her???


Christie Craig said...

Gemma . . .

You've been holding back!

Love it girl.


At Home Mommy Knits said...

I love finding new authors. This blog has been a gold mine in that regard. Thanks!

jcp said...

NO wedding stories. How much did that uneaten wedding dinner cost you?

Judy said...

Gemma and TJB love the stories. The funniest thing that happened at my daughter's wedding was when the pastor, the groom's father, introduced them to the congregation as Mr. & Mrs. Anderson. Anderson being my daughter's name not the grooms! My daughter looked at her new father-in-law and said "do we have to do it again"?

Wendy said...

I'm a wedding reception coordinator, so I have all sorts of stories:D But, the one I want to share isn't humorous at all! 2 years ago we had a couple get married right before the reception, and ooh my goodness, the groom was wearing a KILT! Talk about something I'll never forget. Bagpipes played in the background, absolutely wonderful!!

I've read the first 4 in the series Gemma and I love Maddy!! I hate to see this series come to a close. But all good things must end, eh? :)

Great interview!!

wendyhines (at) hotmail (dot) com

Jody F. said...

I actually don't have any funny wedding stories since everyone in my family has eloped.

flip said...

The wedding was at the American Legion Hall. The groom's family loved the bride, but really did they need to invite the drunk uncle who kept turning the lights on and off. Finally, one of the bride's family asked the groom if he could ask his drunk relative to stop with the light switch.

Some uninvited drunk had wandered into the reception and was trying to liven things up.

Leigh Court said...

Hey Gemma (fellow TKAer):
I *love* your High Heels series -- laugh-out-loud characters and situations that have you rooting for Maddie from page 1!

My only funny wedding story is that after 4 yrs of dating, my hubby gave me an ultimatum that "either we get married or I'm leaving." So we turned the whole thing over to a wedding planner and tied the knot 2-weeks later! Everything was fine (flowers, food, venue, etc) except for the live band, whose singer was so off-key that hubby actually offered to pay him extra NOT to sing! Needless to say, that didn't go down too well...LOL!

Good luck with Mayhem In High Heels!


Gemma Halliday said...

Great stories! Love the lights-on-lights-off one. Lol!

Being Scottish myself, I LOVE the kilt look, too. My brother wears kilts at all the formal occasions in our family. I've tried to get my son in on it, but he's 9 so still insist he's "not wearing a skirt". Sigh. I'm working on him. ;)

Keep the stories coming!


scottsgal said...

We had a guy from the wedding next door come out on the dance floor and do a strip tease - it was extremely entertaining. He did take his shirt off - no one knew who he was
msboatgal at

squiresj said...

I'm on Gemma's newsletter list. I enjoyed her story of her wedding. My wedding was simple and we told everyone the night before to show up at church. We had no clue what the Pastor would do as we did not have a rehersal dinner. Must have been a good wedding as on the 23rd we will celebrate 30 years.
I would love to win your book.
jrs362(at)hotmail(dot) com

Anonymous said...

Hi Gemma,

Unfortunately I don't have any wedding stories.

I love reading your books and I enjoyed the interview.

I would love to win and good luck everyone.


Terri W.

Maureen said...

Our wedding wasn't too wacky just a pretty casual wedding outside in my parent's backyard.

Kathryn Albright said...

Congratulations on all your success, Gemma! It's been great watching you grow as a writer since meeting you in Reno for the 2005 Golden Heart ceremony.

The one thing about my wedding that was different is that we organized it in one week and then had to get "married" twice. The first wedding being on my grandparents farm (front lawn, which the pastor suddenly realized was over the county line from his "jurisdiction" and the church. So, after that ceremony we had to resay our vows back at the reception at the church. We laugh about it now and I call my DH-- my first and second husband.

Marie said...

The craziest wedding story I have is that the priest who was to marry us told us about two weeks before our wedding that he was getting married himself! Seems he decided to leave the priesthood and marry the woman he fell in love with years before. Fortunately he helped us find another priest :-)

Debby said...

I have lots of wedding stories but I will tel the shortest one. My wedding cake was delivered to the wrong wedding. The best man tracked it down and whent hey went to retieve it, got into a fight. Then, my bother passed out in the top layer and ruined it.

Book Video Productions said...

Well. I've never been married, but I have to say I got a GREAT laugh from Gemma and everyone else's stories. Almost makes you want to get married, just to see what would happen!

Well, ok, maybe not... but *still*..... :)

I also love this blog for introducing me to new writers; Gemma, I'm going to have to start reading your books. Anyone who's had the '9 lives' working history that you've had has to have some very interesting stories to tell.


TJ Bennett said...

Loved all the wedding stories today, folks. I want to thank Gemma for stopping by. I know she's in the midst of travelling so couldn't stay long, but we're happy to have her.

Stay tuned for next week when we'll have not one, but TWO guests (always shaking things up here at IMHO). Eppie-winner Teri Thackston will be my special bonus gift on Monday, 22 June, and then fellow Medallion Press author Kathryn Carmichael will guest host on 24 June. So come back and enjoy this month's theme with these two fabulous authors.

And feel free to keep leaving your funny wedding stories here for us all to read.

Take care,

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks for having me, TJ! Yes, I'm doing the Hollywood circuit right now trying to sell a new TV show. Wish me luck!

And a huge thanks to all of you who commented - either with your own funny stories or not. I'm so glad some of you are enjoying the Heels books, and I love meeting new readers, too!


Virginia said...

Hi Gemma, I don't have any crazy wedding stories. I have been to very few weddings. I was lucky just to make it to my own.

I really enjoy the interview. I think I would really enjoy your books because I love romance and suspense. Thanks for sharing.

etirv said...

I've been to weddings but can't believe I haven't encountered anything crazy at any of these weddings! I just discovered TJ Bennett and enjoy IMHO and this interview with Gemma! Look forward to reading more!

Carol L. said...

Hi Gemma and TJ,
Got here a little late but I love finding new Authors (to me)so I look forward to reading your High Heel series. Good luck with the trying to sell your tv show.
The only funny thing I can rememeber was from my son's wedding when the priest iintroduced my son Derrick and his bride Derrick Anne, lol Her name is Debbie.
Carol L.

MJ said...

No wedding stories to share but this sounds great.


Suzan Harden said...

No weird wedding stories, but I'm crossing my fingers Maddie makes it to the small screen.

jean hart stewart said...

Is that wedding story for real? What a hoot... Makes all the ones I know look prosaic.. Good way to start the day, tho, with a good laugh. Thanks. Jean

Pam said...

Well, my husband and I got married twice - first in Michigan for my family and friends and then in the Philippines for his. During our first wedding, my husband nearly passed out during the ceremony and my brother, the best man, actually left the front to get him some water. I was oblivious to this whole thing. During our second wedding, we knelt down for one of the ceremonies and I had to put my head down on the table as I was very lightheaded and the room started to spin. Luckily, my father realized what was happening and asked my husband's nephew to bring me up his bottle of water. There I was at the front of the church, chugging out of a 2L bottle of water as the minister prayed.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Susan said...

Congratulations on your success Gemma!

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