posted on May 25, 2015 by Carolyn Haines

Sarah Booth was BONE TO BE WILD

brokenheartsAs I’m enjoying the release of the 15th Sarah Booth Delaney mystery, BONE TO BE WILD, and writing the next installment of this crazy series, I am struck anew by the forces that came to play in how Sarah Booth and her friends became a mystery series.

To be completely honest, I’ve adored reading mysteries since I was a child. I love the puzzles, the clues, the deception of certain characters, and the dark motivations of the villains. Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle entertained me on many a hot summer day in the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi.

I would ride my pink and white Schwinn bicycle down the red dirt road to the woods, where I would find a great hiding spot, curl up, and read and read and read. These books took me on adventures. They were harrowing and sometimes a little creepy. And always delicious.

The love of mysteries began young, and my admiration for those writers who could pen the complicated plots made me think I’d never be that good as a writer. Plot isn’t easy for me. It’s something I really have to work hard at. I love a good plot, and I’m annoyed by sloppy plotting.

When I started writing THEM BONES, the first book in the series, I didn’t call the book a mystery. I’d done a couple of Southern gothic stories, one a coming of age, and the other an exploration of small town Mississippi in 1926 centered around a young girl the townspeople believe has been “touched” by Satan. I didn’t know how to plot and lay clues with any degree of skill.

Sarah Booth and Jitty (who is a ghost who acts as Sarah Booth’s subconscious) came to me as I was sitting at my computer watching my horses graze. I simply started writing without a real plan. Now this is my favorite way to write, but it can be vexing if I lose control of the story. Writing by the seat of my pants is thrilling, but it can leave me in a real jam. But since I didn’t know what I was writing—I was just telling the story as the characters revealed it—I didn’t spend a lot of time fretting about it. I just wrote.

And lo and behold, I wrote a mystery. The book was sold at auction to Random House, and they wanted two more books. And two more. And in one summer, I became a mystery writer with a series.

That was over fifteen years ago. Time has passed with a speed that makes me slightly nauseated. I have aged considerably, and Sarah Booth has aged only 1.8 years.


With BONE TO BE WILD, Sarah Booth is entering a new phase of her life. All of the characters have grown and changed as the series progressed. In this story, Cece really comes into her own, and it gave me a lot of pleasure to write about the new things in her life.

These crazy characters are like my close friends. I’ve spent more time with them in the last fifteen years than I have a lot of my “real” friends. Often people tell me they’re eager for Sarah Booth to find true happiness and settle down with a good man (the vote seems to go to Coleman, but you know, there are other men in the series who have great reader support). I do believe Sarah Booth will find happiness. In the end. But I’m hoping that end is a long way away. I have too much fun helping Sarah Booth and Tinkie solve the mysteries.

Heck, 15 books isn’t that many. Not when I think of all the cases Sarah Booth has to solve. Zinnia is just a town with a lot of mysterious happenings. Sarah Booth and Tinkie have enough work for at least another 15 years!

Carolynfarm3dogWhile you can’t find Zinnia, Mississippi, on a map, you can find it between the covers of a mystery novel. Grab a drink, curl up in a rocker on the front porch, and help Sarah Booth and Tinkie figure out who’s trying to run Scott Hampton (sexy beast!) out of his blues club and out of town. And while you’re at it, who do you think Sarah Booth should end up loving? As Aunt Loulane would say, “There’s a lot of fish in the ocean.”

I’d love to hear your ideas on Sarah Booth’s love life. Please leave your suggestion in the comment section. With the reason why you think this character is Sarah Booth’s true love. The top two answers will each win a copy of BONE TO BE WILD.


Special thanks to K.D. Wood, author and friend, for creating the illustrations.

Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi Delta mystery series. Because she has a split personality, she also writes dark stories as R.B. Chesterton. She has been honored with the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Excellence. She is a native of Mississippi but now lives in Alabama, where she is the hard labor for Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 animal rescue involving dogs, cats, and horses. For more information, go to and sign up for her newsletter.  You can also join her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Join in the mischief.

BONE TO BE WILD Can be purchased in hardcover or eBook format

Carolyn Haines

Carolyn Haines

USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Haines grew up with both parents working as journalists, and she was bitten by the writing bug at a very young age. Her three ambitions were to be a cowgirl, a mystery-solving sleuth like Nancy Drew, and a writer. Today, she has basically accomplished them all. She is the author of the acclaimed Bones mystery series and in addition, she works as an advocate for humane treatment for animals and operates a small rescue on her farm (7 horses, 9 cats and 6 dogs).

Haines claims to have had “the last golden childhood of the South.” She grew up in Lucedale, Mississippi, a town of 3,000 in the Southeastern Pine Barrens. She rode her bicycle all over the county with her wonderful dog Venus and employed her imagination to create adventures with her friends.

Her first job in journalism was at the local weekly, The George County Times, when she was in high school. She went on to work as a photojournalist at the Hattiesburg American while attending the University of Southern Mississippi to earn a B.S. in journalism.

She worked for nearly a decade in the news business, covering local politics, the state legislatures in Alabama and Mississippi, spot news, writing a personal column and her favorite—writing features and using photography to illustrate the story. With her mother, she ran a statewide bureau in Mississippi for the Mobile Register and the Mississippi Press. As part of her journalistic adventures, Haines covered an armed robbery on horseback, hopped a freight train, and rescued a young, injured bald eagle from certain death. She was the first female reporter hired on the news side of the Huntsville Times.

At the same time, she began writing short fiction for personal satisfaction. Under the sway of Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Doris Betts, and Lee Smith, Haines wrote about the landscape and the people she knew. The end result was being accepted by an agent who urged her to “write a novel.”

Another huge influence was Harper Lee and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Haines’s first novel was SUMMER OF THE REDEEMERS, a coming of age story set in 1963 rural Mississippi and published in 1994. Haines was honored in 2010 with the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing.

In 2009, Haines was named the recipient of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

From general fiction, Haines drifted into mysteries, and THEM BONES, a humorous mystery with a wise-cracking ghost, was bought at auction. The stories center around Sarah Booth Delaney and her friends. The fourteenth book in the series, BOOTY BONES, was published May 20, 2014, by St. Martin’s Minotaur.

While writing the lighter mysteries, Haines has continued to write in the darker terrain of the crime novel. PENUMBRA and FEVER MOON (both St. Martin’s Minotaur) are historical crime novels.

In May 2010, an anthology she edited, DELTA BLUES, was released to critical acclaim.

Along with writing, Haines is the fiction coordinator at the University of South Alabama where she teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction writing. And she is president of Good Fortune Farm Refuge, an organization dedicated to helping animals and to educating the public on the need to spay and neuter.

She lives on a farm with her “critters.” They are the terror of the neighborhood.

Carolyn Haines Contest

Carolyn Haines is giving away a digital edition of THE SPECTER OF SEDUCTION, A Pluto’s Snitch Mystery #3.

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5 thoughts on “Sarah Booth was BONE TO BE WILD”

  1. Oh Carolyn, You wonderful thang you! Giving me ALL that I wanted!!!! OPTIONS! So many to choose from and invoking the name of the one I want for her her the most, at the end that way. My… you know how to leave me with baited breath. Your favorite Memphis reader, Kim Roberson

    1. Avatar Susan Simpson says:

      Hi Kim,
      Your comment was chosen as a winning comment! Please forward tour contact info to susan(at)writerspacemail(dot)com and I will send it to Carolyn so that she can send your prize!

  2. That Sarah Booth! She just has all the luck. I like all of the options, but I can’t influence her at all!

  3. Avatar Samantha D. says:

    I really want Sarah Booth and Coleman together. He cares so much for her and she loves him as well. I was so happy with this book bringing her back to her feeling for Coleman. It felt like the Good Ol’ Days. Not to disrespect your writing, because this has been my favorite series of all time. However, I feel like Sarah Booth’s reason for being so upset with Coleman is unjustified. When he arrested her he was trying to do that right thing and protect her. He went about it the wrong way, but he tried. Credit has to be given for that. Her future, and his career depended on him not making a single mistake. She was/is well within her right to be mad and stay mad, but one mistake doesn’t make you stop loving a person. Their timing wasn’t right, and as of the end of Bone to be wild, it still isn’t. But this is a different situation. Coleman is finally free from Connie and giving Sarah Booth the space she needs to heal from her failed engagement. Which by the way, made me so very happy. Again, not to disrespect, but I loathed Graf. I love the series too much to stop reading, but I would not have been happy had she married him. He was the old SB. The one that had wild dreams of acting and living a luxurious life style. Since coming home to Zinnia, she has changed. I think she is learning (based on the ending of this recent book) that as a new woman she needs new dreams. If Coleman had a chance to do things over again, I think he would have and they might still be together. My hope is that this all happened for a reason. Coleman lost her because he didn’t commit to the love fully. Sarah Booth then met and loved Graf. But she needed to lose that love for a second time to learn that wasn’t the life she needed to live. Her happiness will come from the critters, the house, and the land. I feel like Coleman is the man who can respect and love all of those things, as much as he loves her. Graf could not offer her the life she truly desired. No to mention Coleman respects her business. As a professional he respects her decisions, opinions, and abilities. That is very important to her. As a man who loves her, he tries to stop her from endangering herself, but ultimately trusts her judgement. Now that I have made my very strong case for Coleman, I want to add that I would be equally as happy if she falls in love with Harold. He knows her as well as Tinkie does and respects her even more than Coleman. Because Harold never judges her reckless decisions, and even partakes in a few himself. I have grown very fond of his character and think ti would be a fun resolve since the story started with a proposal from Harold. BUT, as a reader and a huge fan, I am not sure I would ever get over Coleman’s pain if Sarah Booth chooses someone else. Sure there is the “he only wants her happiness, yada, yada, yada…” but he loves her so much if they don’t end up together a piece of me will always be longing for them to marry and have children. Which will make everyone, even Jitty happy. For whatever reason I am as fond of Coleman as I am Sarah Booth, and care very much about his feelings. So I want them both to be happy. Even if he were to fall in love again with someone else,I don’t think he will ever love another woman as much as he does Sarah Booth. I love these stories, and characters so much that as long as they are happy, I will be happy.

    1. Wow! What a brilliant,reasoned plea for Coleman. And trust me, Sarah Booth was listening. I don’t know who Sarah Booth will end up with, but I do know that the series will end with her happy in her choices. But I have a lot of stories to tell about Sarah Booth, Coleman and the gang. So don’t expect any happy endings in the immediate future. Once Sarah Booth is happy in her life, I suspect the series will end. That just seems like a natural ending for the whole shebang! So give Sarah Booth a chance to romp and cut up before she settles down.

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