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Author Talk: July 10, 2003

July 10, 2003

Mary Kay Andrews is a former journalist who reported on the trial made famous in MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL and is the author of ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series. Her latest book is LITTLE BITTY LIES, an entertaining Southern novel that comes on the heels of her Edgar Award-winning SAVANNAH BLUES.

In this interview Mary Kay reveals why she decided to use a pseudonym for these two books. She also discusses the common themes and characters in her fiction and gives us a sneak preview of her next book.

Q: Is that your real name?

MKA: No. I haven't used my real name since entering the witness protection program. Actually, Mary Kay Andrews is a combination of my children's names-Mary Kay for my daughter Mary Kathleen, and Andrew for my son, Andy. 

Q: Why a pseudonym? Have warrants been issued under your own name?

MKA: After publishing ten mysteries under my real name, I started hearing voices. The voices told me to write a completely new kind of story, and call myself Mary Kay Andrews. They did not tell me to shave my head, move to Mars or start a new religion, fortunately. Truthfully, since SAVANNAH BLUES and LITTLE BITTY LIES were so different from my previous work, I decided to publish them under a pseudonym. And it's been very liberating to become someone else-if only for a few hours a day. As far as I know, there are no outstanding warrants-under either name. 

Q: What's the deal with divorce? You seem to write about it all the time/Are you divorced?/Can i have your husband if you don't want him anymore?

MKA: I'm a middle-aged woman living in modern America. Divorce is as rampant as kudzu in my world, and it's such a life-changing occurrence I find myself writing about it. A lot, it seems. I, however, am still married to the first and only Mr. Mary Kay, so don't be messing with my man. I mean it. I wrote ten mysteries, so I know lots of ways to kill somebody who needs killing. 

Q: Your novels are full of wacky southern characters. are they for real?

MKA: I write fiction, so my characters are totally a product of my over-active imagination. But of course people like Weezie and Mary Bliss, Daniel, BeBe and Katharine are inspired by the kind of people who live in my world-the South. And I've never lived anywhere outside the South, so I don't know what normal looks like. 

Q: Family plays a big part in your fiction. is your family as screwed up in real life?

MKA: No. Yes. Well, Maybe. I come from a big, ethnic Catholic family, and that's probably why I use a pseudonym. So they can't sue. I will say that like the fictional Foley family, my family tends to put the "fun" in dysfunctional. But that's a Southern thing, I think. We don't just accept eccentricities, we celebrate them. Instead of hiding our kleptomaniac cousins in the closet, we tend to just cluck and say things like "Bless her heart, she never could resist taking that five-finger discount." 

Q: What's your next book about?

MKA: So far, it's about 150 pages. See, I never could resist being a smart-ass. Actually, HISSY FIT is not about divorce. It is, however, about a 28-year-old interior designer named Keeley Murdock, who catches her fiancée in a compromising position with her best friend and maid of honor-at her rehearsal dinner. When Keeley throws the hissy fit of the century, the repercussions turn her world inside out. Watch for HISSY FIT from HarperCollins, summer 2004.