Friday, December 3, 2010

Harol Marshall's Holy Death

My guest today is Harol Marshall. Welcome, Harol.
Who is Harol Marshall?

I have a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, and spent twenty years in academia where I wrote numerous articles and research proposals that brought in over $7M to my university. I’ve been writing fiction for four years and in that time have produced five novels and over thirty short stories. My most recent novel (a political thriller written under a different pen name), was a finalist in the Don Knotts Silver Bullet Award contest this past summer. I have two published mystery novels: A Corpse for Cuamantla, and Holy Death. Two of my short stories published this year (neither are mysteries) include: Growing Up With Pigs on page 72 of the January issue of Southern Women’s Review
(, and Our New Thing, in the Oct. 1 issue of The Cynic Online Magazine ( I’m awaiting publication of two other completed novels (sequels to the first two), titled: Unholy Death, and A Corpse for the Matadora. I conducted field research in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, the setting for my Corpse series. I grew up in New York State, but now live in Greensboro, North Carolina with my physicist husband, four cats, and an overflowing garden.

What or who inspired you to write?

My love of reading began when my middle school librarian introduced me to Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason novels. Both my parents were avid readers and I come from a story telling family. My father, the Deputy Chief of Police in my hometown, entertained us daily with stories of life on the force, and my British mother introduced me to English cozies. I’ve wanted to write since high school where I had a great English teacher, and for a while I majored in English in college. Despite changing majors in order to become more employable, I credit my Freshman English professor (Wild Bill Wylie, who loved my short stories) for inspiring me to write.

Tell us a little bit about Holy Death and A Corpse for Cuamantla.

Holy Death is the first novel in a series about Private Investigator Pauline (Polly) Isabel Berger and her ex-husband, Hollywood Detective Johnny Birdwhistle. When Polly decides on a new career as a Private Investigator, she envisions her days spent trailing two-timing husbands and wives around Hollywood. Instead, Cinda Mae Bradbury, a local stripper, hires Polly to find out who poisoned her boyfriend at the last two Santa Muerte Sunday masses. Polly knows about the Santa Muerte (Holy Death or Saint Death) cult, a Mexican spin-off of Catholicism, but doubts Cinda Mae's conclusion that Saint Death is trying to kill her good-looking boyfriend in order to sleep with him in heaven. Polly's investigation spirals out of control as she works on the murder case with her ex, Johnny Birdwhistle, a detective third grade in the Hollywood Police Department.

A Corpse for Cuamantla is the first in a series of mysteries set in central Mexico. American antrhopologist Anna Merino travels to the State of Tlaxcala to carry out field research for her PhD dissertation. Living alone in her advisor's fieldwork house and adjusting to the culture and language take their toll. The stress and intrigue ratchet up when Anna finds herself involved in a murder by inadvertently filming the murderer while documenting the village of Cuamantla's Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Knowing her life is in danger if the murderer realizes she holds the key to his identity, Anna enlists the help of two attractive men who eventually become rivals for her affection--Commander José Cortez, Head of the Homicide Division of the Tlaxcala State Police, and Miguel Menéndez, Director of the Primary School Anna is in Mexico to study.

Do you have a favorite character that you can tell us more about?

Of course! My two favorites (one from each book) are P.I. Polly Berger. She’s so the opposite of me – brash, outspoken, and very quirky (as are all the characters in the Holy Death books). And she has a real smart mouth. I get a kick out of her. As for the Mexico series, my husband claims I’m in love with Commander Cortez and maybe I am. What’s not to love about the guy?

Are you currently writing another book?

I’m currently about 20,000 words into the third Mexico novel, A Corpse for Cortez. In this book, I’ve sent Anna back to the States to defend her dissertation, and I’m not quite sure at what point I’m bringing her back to Mexico. We’ll see. I kind of like having Cortez to myself. J In addition, I’m working on formatting my first two books for Kindle.

Where can readers purchase your books?

Online at Amazon, or from my website (for signed copies), or they can be ordered through any bookstore. I’m hoping to have them available on Kindle (for $2.99) by mid-December.

Where can we learn more about you?

On my website: .

You submitted a recipe for my cookbook, Killer Recipes, called Flipped-Out Adirondack Flapjacks. I can hardly wait to try it. Is it a family recipe?

Yes, it is a family recipe. I grew up in upstate New York and we vacationed in the Adirondacks. One summer, my father came across a local cookbook with this recipe and we all loved it. It’s from the Mirror Lake Inn on Lake Placid and the secret to the deliciously light pancakes is to separate the eggs, beat the whites stiff and fold into a thin batter. If you’re using a pancake mix instead, add a tad more milk and an extra egg (separated and beaten).

Since all proceeds from Killer Recipes sales are donated to cancer research, do you have a personal reason for helping with the project?

I do have a personal reason for helping with this project. My mother died of cancer at the age of 83, after having fought off several bouts of various cancers beginning at the age of 29. I appreciate the work you put into this book for a very good cause. And thanks for the interview! It was fun.

Harol, it was a pleasure. I didn't realize you also earned a doctorate. I hope to see you at Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington in February.


Pattie @ Olla-Porida said...

This is a very nice interview, Harol. I'm looking forward to having one of your books on my Kindle, so get crackin' with that formatting! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Harol. Of course you know how much I love your books.