Carolyn Haines started her writing career as a photojournalist for Southern newspapers at the age of twelve. She came from a "newspapering" family and as a child was teased because of her writing ambitions.
Growing up in the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi, Haines found refuge in reading. The magic of the written word, particularly the strange and wonderful worlds of fiction, was rivaled only by her love of horses.
"If I could have had a chance to be a cowgirl, I might never have written a word," Haines said. "As it was, a typewriter was a lot easier to come by than a horse, especially since both of my parents were journalists." Haines earned her BS degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi and began a career of covering politics, features and hard news across the South.
A love of short fiction led her to write short stories, several of which received critical praise and attention. In 1988 Haines took a career shift and began writing romantic mysteries under the pseudonym Caroline Burnes. "I worked with a terrific editor at Harlequin Intrigue, Tahti Carter. In Tahti, I found someone who saw enough talent in my work to help me master the basics of writing. I had gotten my graduate degree in 1985, but I hadn't learned the things necessary to publish."
While she wrote romantic mysteries, Haines continued to write books about the rich characters and settings of her childhood, the rural South. Years of hard work paid off in 1994 when she published the critically acclaimed first novel, "Summer of the Redeemers." This book was selected as a candidate for the Pulitzer by Dutton, and has been published in France and Germany. It was also published in England under the title, "Season of Innocents." Her second novel for Dutton, "Touched," was published in 1996. Both novels are set in the small town of Jexville, Mississippi. Summer of the Redeemers is a coming of age novel set in 1963. Touched is set in 1926 and is about a young girl who is struck by lightning and becomes prophetic.
Along with the human cast, there are also unforgettable animals such as Picket the dog and Pecos the rooster. "So many of my books feature animals," Haines said. My first Intrigue was published in 1988, a romantic mystery that involved horses and was called, "A Deadly Breed," she said. She has continued to write in that genre and has published 21 novels for Harlequin Intrigue. Her mysteries have been translated into nine languages.
The decision to create a new pseudonym for her latest work was done with a glint of mischief in her eyes. "I like to write different types of books," Haines said. "Shop Talk "is very different from my work as Carolyn Haines and my work as Caroline Burnes. So I decided to write as Lizzie Hart. My middle name is Elizabeth, and my father wanted to call me Lizzie, but my mother insisted on my first name. Hart is just a fun name, but it has that necessary murmur dypthong! It was irresistible." Shop Talk has been called a collision of Designing Women and The X-Files, Haines said. "It is broad humor, a sort of Southern satire.
"In a small town there wasn't a lot for a kid to do. I was one of the lucky ones - I found books. And ever since then, I wanted to create stories and worlds that would give other people as much pleasure as I received when I read." (Author's Website)
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