This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding the winner's choice of a backlist eBook to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a $25 Amazon GC to one commenter from the tour.

1. Where did you get the idea for The Hounding?

It literally fell from the sky. I believe the idea was in a rain cloud over SW 5th Avenue and Main St in Portland one day awaiting the next willing writer to cross the street. I went out to lunch. A light rain was falling, and right in the middle of the street as I was crossing, I was hit with the idea to write books for a female Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This is a true story.

2. What is your favorite character and why?

My favorite character between Shirley and Mary is a close call. I think Mary is generally more likeable. I find Shirley more interesting. I'm enjoying watching the relationship between them develop. They have lots to offer each other to aid in their personal development, and as they are still relatively young, they have a way to go.

3. Did you find it difficult to write a novel at first? (It's a daunting task.)

I did at first. I've been a playwright for a long time. And I enjoy writing plays because of their collaborative nature. Whereas writing novels is more solitary. In today's age of online communities, we needn't be so reclusive as in earlier times, but it still isn't the same as theatre. So, yes, and that's why I put it off for so long. Writing The Hounding took me 18 months. And that was before I began the process of trying to get published, editing, rewriting, and all that.

4. What, in your opinion, makes a book a good read?

For me, I want a good hook at the outset, then interesting characters, a good story, and if it's a mystery, I hope I don't solve the puzzle too quickly. I also like for most of the loose ends to be wrapped up by the end. And a possibility of another book in the series if I like the protagonist.

5. Do you think your book meets this requirement?

I do think my book meets all these requirements. I have to say though that I enjoy many other kinds of books as well. I don't have to have a fast moving book, or a mystery to enjoy myself. I read many genres, as well as poetry, non-fiction, memoir, and essays. I especially love reading books by women of color, like Ann Petry and women from long ago, like Mary Austin Hunter.

Thank you so much for inviting me over today. I appreciate it. sdh

About the Author:
Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. See more of her work at de Helen is also a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and International Centre for Women Playwrights.

Follow her on Twitter @dehelen
Read her blog
Like her on Facebook at

Tall, thin, androgynous Shirley Combs considers herself the world’s greatest living detective because she uses the methods and casebook of Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes of the gentry of the American city most closely resembling London, England -- in terms of the weather, at least. Sidekick/narrator Dr. Mary Watson both delights in and is frustrated by her partner’s behavioral resemblance to Sherlock. Combs is unemotional, analytical, and given to pacing through the night in the streets of the almost perfectly livable city of Portland, Oregon. Her ability to observe details and understand their relationship to a case is unmatched; her demands on Watson’s time are too.

Shirley Combs bills herself as the world’s greatest living detective, and why not? Taunted and teased as a child because her name sounded so much like Sherlock Holmes's, she developed an early obsession with the adventures and methods of Sherlock himself. She considered her fate sealed when she met up with Dr. Mary Watson. Shirley adds the technology of today to Holmes’s 100-year-old casebook and solves the mysteries of her much-beloved hometown. Mary Watson assists, and - of course - chronicles their exciting exploits. The planned series of novels incorporates and explores current events, types of people, social/economic situations that occur in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

In their first documented adventure, Shirley is hired by 19-year-old Goldenhawk Vandeleur to investigate her wealthy mother’s untimely death. Timber heiress Priscilla Vandeleur Leoni, direct descendant of Sir Charles Baskerville, decides to spend the family fortune saving the old-growth forests of Oregon. She is a product of the 1960’s - former hippie and free-love advocate who gave birth out-of-wedlock, experimented with lesbian separatism, and married late. When faced with midlife, she tries to outrun her fears and give away her huge fortune. Haunted by a phobia of dogs, she is literally frightened to death by a pair of hounds.


Shannon Ro said…
I didn't realize it took that long to write a novel. It makes sense but I am impressed with the dedication to stick with a project for so long. Thanks for sharing the story

fencingromein at hotmail dot com
Ingeborg said…
Great post I enjoyed it. The book sounds great.
Thank you for hosting!
Sandra de Helen said…
Judy, thank you so much for hosting today! Shannon, not everyone takes so long to write a novel. Some people can crank them out in no time. Maybe I'll get faster! I'm writing as fast as I can. Joyce Carol Oates writes like a demon! Ingeborg, thank you. I hope you download the book today and enjoy it. Remember all, the book is free all week (through Saturday), so tell everyone! I'm trying to give away 50,000 copies!
MomJane said…
I am one of the lucky ones. I have read this book. Got it last night and couldn't stop reading it until I finished. Awesome!!!!!
bn100 said…
The characters sound interesting.

Mary Preston said…
This book hits all the right buttons for me. I can't wait to begin.

Chrysrawr said…
I really love the idea of this book, and the more I follow this tour, the more intriguing it is!

It must be so cool being a playwright and an author. Thanks for sharing!
Sandra de Helen said…
The winner here is Chrysrawr by random drawing! I hope all of you got your free book by download of The Hounding (still available through Saturday). And everyone is entered in the grand prize drawing! Thanks again for stopping by! Sandra