Eileen Curley Hammond writes magnificent mysteries. Her “cozy” series is helmed by sleuth Merry March, whose first adventure — Murder So Sinful — hooked me from the hop. Eileen has recently released her fifth book and is a gracious contributor to my upcoming cookbook, Cooking with Fire. It’s a brilliant collaboration, since food figures largely and deliciously in her own stories. I’m delighted to share this interview with Eileen.
Welcome, Eileen. I’m dying to know more about you. We’ve had a great virtual relationship and curiosity has been killing me. Over to you.
My entire career was in the insurance field in the United States, the majority of it with two Fortune 100 companies. Just before I was fortunate enough to retire, I headed marketing for life insurance and annuity products. Along the way, I learned how to put a compelling story together.
About six months before retirement, I began telling anyone who would listen that I would write a book. I had no idea what it would be about, or how to write one, but I was determined (and on the hook because I had set an expectation).
I read everything I could get my hands on about writing a novel and the nuts and bolts of publishing. I went to local classes and asked authors for their advice, and since this was four years ago, almost all of the advice advocated for traditional publishing. Being a contrarian and a control freak, I chose a different path and haven’t looked back once.
Why cozies? And why Merry March?
My mother was a huge mystery fan. I named my company, Twody Press (family nickname), in honor of her. So, it was only natural that I, too, became a mystery aficionado. I’ve always loved Agatha Christie’s books, and I guess today they would be considered cozies. I must admit I sometimes struggle with what is acceptable for the genre and what would be too much, but think I’ve threaded the needle so far.
I wanted my main character to be a businessperson, and since I know the insurance business, she ended up being an insurance agent with her own shop. I love Christmas, so she became Merry, and then March came to mind for her last name, which I like because no matter what setbacks occur, she always moves forward with resilience.
She does. Love her name. How many books are in the series and do you plan to continue it? What are you working on right now?
Murder So Hot is the fifth book in the series, which debuted in early September. I love each of my books because they let me explore different topics relating to emotional intricacies. This particular book deals with someone who is adopted, and by chance discovers who his birth mother is. It allowed me to explore what family is and how blood is just one of the ties that bind us.
I didn’t have a set number of books in mind when I started. I had thought the sixth book might be the last for the Merry March series, but now I don’t think it will be. As long as there are interesting topics to explore, and she continues to grow as a person, I’ll likely continue it.
I’m hard at work on the sixth Merry March mystery (title as yet undetermined.) You can also find my micro-fiction by following me on Twitter.
What do you enjoy reading? Have you been inspired by other authors?
I’ve always been a voracious reader of all genres, including non-fiction. But my favorite on the beach/ready to relax reading is mysteries. I love trying to puzzle out whodunit. I mentioned Agatha Christie above; Carolyn Keene also was an influencer in my early years with Nancy Drew. Today, I find myself drawn to other independent authors. I love J.C. Paulson’s Adam and Grace series, Helen Whistberry’s noir Malhaven Mysteries, and Alicia Anthony’s Blood Secrets books, to name a few.
Eileen! It’s so kind of you to include me. Thank you so much for this, and all the best with Merry March.
How to find Eileen and her work: