Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Writers Wednesday with Miriam Auerbach

This Wednesday at The Pink Heart Society we're joined by new Harlequin Next author Miriam Auerbach whose first book, Dirty Harriet was nominated in two Categories of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and won Best First Series Romance of 2006!!!

Miriam Auerbach was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her family moved to the United States when she was seven years old. She grew up in Denver, where she spent her high school and early college years studying diligently to become a particle physicist. However, she soon began to suspect that building nuclear weapons just might not be the best way to spend her life. Thus, at age twenty she rebelled and spent the next decade living on the fringes of the Harley biker world.

In her thirties she returned to semi-conventional life, earning a Ph.D. in social work and becoming a university professor. She found this to be a rewarding career, with the minor exception that one fine day she crashed headfirst into the glass ceiling of the ivory tower. Thus, she reinvented herself as a novelist. Miriam lives in Boca Raton, Florida with her killer Corgi, Elvira. She continues to profess by day and decompress by night by working on her next book.

My debut novel, Dirty Harriet, introduces the title character, a Harley-riding, swamp-dwelling, wisecracking tough chick private eye who is hired to solve a murder in Boca Raton, Florida. Here's how Harriet was born...

I always loved reading, since childhood. It was my escape from reality. About fifteen years ago I discovered Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone mystery series. The first book of hers that I read (somewhere in the middle of the series) was about a fraudulent chiropractor. At that time, I was married to a man who was studying to become chiropractor. So, I felt offended
on his behalf, and I really did not like the book. But a couple years later we were divorced, and suddenly that book became a lot more appealing. I proceeded to read all of Sue Grafton, and after I finished her books, I searched for similar authors and found Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, Linda Barnes, and others. These women all write about strong female characters.
What they've done is taken the classic male private eyes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and turned them upside down into women. So these books have a strong social message as well as great entertainment value. Then Janet Evanovich came along, and I was really enthralled. She had all the elements of the others plus she was absolutely hilarious.

Apart from enjoying these kinds of mysteries, one thing I've always been intrigued by is gender stereotypes. You know how people claim there are fundamental differences between men and women? Well, whenever I heard or read comparisons like that, I always identified with the male description. Like, women want to talk about relationships, men don't; women ask for directions, men don't. In my life and relationships, it was always the opposite. So I kind of felt like I was a male trapped in a female body.

Then one day I was watching an old Dirty Harry movie. I never got his appeal. But suddenly it occurred to me: why is it okay for a man to be the strong silent type, but not for a woman? It's all about societal expectations of how we should behave. So the idea came to me - what the world needed was a Dirty Harriet. I'd always had the idea that I'd like to write a mystery like those I enjoyed.

So now I had a character. But that's all. Nothing happened for a couple years. Then one summer I went to England. Well, you know about jet lag. I couldn't sleep all night. So while I was tossing and turning, the entire preface of this book came into my head. The next morning I wrote it on paper. But I still didn't have a plot. It took another couple years to come up with that. Then it
took three months to write the first draft.

The call came in 2005, six years after my initial idea and two years after my first draft. I got to the call by following all the how-to advice in books on both writing and the publishing business. I literally taught myself how to write a mystery and how to market it to an agent. I followed the rules, and they work! My agent sold Dirty Harriet to Harlequin's NEXT line, which is the last publisher I would have expected, since I viewed my book as a mystery, not a romance. However, I learned that Harlequin has expanded greatly along with the expansion of women's interests and women's fiction over the past twenty years. The NEXT line is targeted to women 35 and older who are moving into other chapters of their lives beyond youthful romance.

The road since publication has been awesome. The book has received many outstanding reviews, I've done a lot of signings, and now it has won the 2006 Romantic Times Bookclub's Reviewers Choice Awards for Best First Series Romance! I've also signed a contract with Harlequin NEXT for two more Dirty Harriet books. Dirty Harriet Rides Again will come out in August 2007, and Dirty Harriet's Darkest Hour in 2008.

Today as I write my publication story, it's my 45th birthday -proof that dreams can come true at any age, and that midlife can be the start of a whole new set of adventures!

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Miriam on her award!!! And to check out more about Miriam and her writing you can visit her Website... Thanks for joining us Miriam!


  1. Miriam,
    What a wonderful story. I must read your book...I loved Dirty Harry...why not Dirty Harriet! Congratulations on your award.

    PS...or maybe I 'loved' Clint Eastwood????

  2. HUGE CONGRATS on your RT win from last years winner of the same category! LOL I feel like I've just passed on a crown at a beauty pageant....

    The book sounds wonderful! Am off to Amazon as we speak...

  3. Miriam - your life sounds so interesting and the book sounds like a winner. As a 47 yr old unpubbed writer you give me hope! Like the kick ass heroine and the sardonic prologue - am going to the bookstore right now.......