Guest Chick: Sherry Harris

Chick Ellen Byron here, thrilled to welcome back friend and fab author Sherry Harris. Sherry writes theSarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, which are loaded with unique, irresistible characters. Today she’s sharing the genesis of a few of them…

Secondary Characters

One of the best things about being published is having people write and tell you that they absolutely love a character. Here are a few of my readers’ favorite characters and how they came to be.

We first meet Angelo and Rosalie DiNapoli in Tagged for Death. They run a restaurant that Sarah frequents and as the series progresses become the family of her heart. Angelo and Rosalie are based on real neighbors we had when we lived in Bedford, Massachusetts. Although some of my neighbors said I toned Angelo down a little from the real thing.

Mike “the Big Cheese” Titone is in all the books but he doesn’t speak until the third one and boy when he started to talk did things take off with him. I happen to have a neighbor by the name of Mike Titone and like the Big Cheese he’s Italian. But as far as I know he isn’t part of the Mob. The funny thing about the real Mike is the people in his office are now calling him, “the big Cheese.” The fictional version helps Sarah out on occasion, but it always comes at a cost.

Charlie Davenport shows up in A Good Day to Buy. She’s a Vietnam vet, has a big afro, a hearing problem, and she loves to go to karaoke. Charlie’s family owns a local jewelry store. She reluctantly helps Sarah when a mutual friend asks her to. I needed someone in that story who knew the military in a way Sarah didn’t. Charlie returns in Sell Low, Sweet Harriet and my upcoming book Absence of Alice.

In The Gun Also Rises Sarah is helping Miss Belle Granville price her extensive collection of mysteries for a fund raiser to benefit the Ellington library. Miss Belle is a transplanted Southerner who’s as feisty as she is rich. When her maid steals rare Hemmingway manuscripts Miss Belle is not going to sit back and let Sarah do the sleuthing alone.

Kitty Thompson shows up in Let’s Fake a Deal. She’s a crazy cat lady with only two cats, but her decor and her clothes are all cats all the time. Kitty hires Sarah to do a garage sale for her and Sarah finds herself up to her neck in cat objects. I had so much fun searching online for cat things for Sarah to price and found everything from Burmese opium weights to quilts to fairy lights with cats. Sarah dubs it the Biggest, Most Cat-tastic Garage Sale Ever and she just hopes it won’t be a cat-astrophe.

Ah, Seth Anderson. He also shows up in Tagged for Death. Readers either love or hate him. Seth wasn’t supposed to be a named character. He was just supposed to be a one night stand. But he surprised me by liking Sarah, so he sent her a text and then he called. Seth is smart, handsome, and rich. He’s been Massachusetts’s Most Eligible Bachelor for three years running. But he’s not just a pretty face. He’s a DA who is about to prosecute Sarah’s ex-husband and that’s when things really get complicated.

I have to give a shout out to a character I didn’t create but wish I would have. I hope you all know that Ellen has a new series coming out written as Maria DiRico. Here Comes the Body is the first book in her new Catering Hall mystery series. I was lucky enough to read a pre-publication version and that’s where I met protagonist Mia Carina’s brother Posi. While all the characters in the book are fabulous, Posi is unique! I loved him and he made me laugh. I’m guessing he will make you laugh too.

(NOTE FROM ELLEN: I snuck in a copy of my cover. Thanks, Sherry!)

Here Comes the Body

Readers: Do you have a favorite character? Writers: Which character surprised you?

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and upcoming Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mystery series. She is the immediate past president of Sisters in Crime and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

In her spare time Sherry loves reading and is a patent holding inventor. Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.



Twitter:  @SHarrisAuthor 






13 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Sherry Harris

  1. I love this, Sherry! I find my secondary characters are so much more fun to write. I can go way over the top with them. In FOUL PLAY ON WORDS, which is set at a writer’s conference, one of the faculty is a guy who wears flowing garments and has never written anything, but people hang on his every word, sitting like acolytes at his feet. He’s such a hoot and I’m not telling if he’s based on anyone I know ….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love that the real Mike’s office-mates are now calling him the Big Cheese!

    I think inventing characters is the most fun part of writing a mystery, and it’s fascinating the way they keep growing and changing just like a real flesh-and-blood person would –sometimes in ways you’d never expect, even though you invented them!

    What a fun post, Sherry–and thanks so much for stopping by the Chicks today!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherry, loved hearing about the real-life inspirations behind some of my favorite characters. Secondary characters aren’t really “secondary,” in my view–they often steal the show! Thanks so much for hanging out with us at Chicks today.


  4. I love the secondary characters in this series. They are all believable and make the stories better. My favorites are the DiNapolis. I love the way they take care of Sarah.


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