Monday, December 31, 2012

How I got the idea for THE DEAD AND BURIED

The Dead and Buried releases officially tomorrow! So I thought now would be a good time to share how I got the idea.

Sometimes an entire book lands in your head in one daydreaming session. And sometimes a book comes together in pieces, over years and snippets written in your idea notebook. Clarity was the former. The Dead and Buried was the latter.

I always wanted to write a haunted house book. I’ve loved the genre since I was a little girl and it’s no coincidence that some of my favorite novels of all time are ghost classics. But the genre has been done to death. I didn’t want to rewrite the same story that had already been done. So I waited for inspiration, for a fresh spin. And it came to me in three parts.

1. One day I read an article in the real estate section about “stigmatized properties” (a.k.a. murder houses) and how they can be a bargain for families looking to trade up to a nice town or that dream house they always wanted. And I thought THERE IT IS. That fresh spin. My haunted house is not a traditional 100 year-old drafty monster. It’s a benevolent looking McMansion on a typical suburban street. And the ghost? She’ll be a fresh one. Someone who continues to affect the lives of the townspeople.

So now I had my house, but I still didn’t have a main character I wanted to play with.

2. Apart from any supernatural ideas, I’d also been interested in writing about, in a subtle way, the theme of educational inequality (resources in rich towns vs. poor towns) and the immense amount of competitive pressure many students find themselves under. Teen readers are very concerned about grades, homework, and college, but you don’t often find mention of this in paranormals. I wanted to include these themes in a book, but in an organic way. Not just plopped in for the sake of it.

One day, I was lunching with a friend. She grew up in a very rural area with a graduating high school class of under thirty kids. She’s brilliant and school was easy for her. Then she headed off to a highly competitive college where everyone was smart and driven like her, and it was a shock to the system. I thought…wow, creating a character with that background could help me play around with those ideas I wanted to include. But in what kind of book?

And then I thought…the ghost book.

My main character could be a fish out of water, taken from a town where school was easy to her and placed in a highly competitive high school full of academic pressures. How would her family afford to uproot themselves and move to this wealthy suburb? By purchasing a murder house, of course. One where the Queen Bee of the high school lived until her untimely death last year. And my little fish out of water, Jade, now finds herself in the dead girl’s house and school, surrounded by the dead girl’s old friends…and boyfriend.

3. The last piece was essential. I needed my main character’s motivation. Why would she care about this ghost girl? Why risk her life to investigate her death?

What happens on page 127 (my favorite scene in the book) was inspired by a real-life middle of the night scare with my son. I can’t go into details because it would spoil what I consider a big turning point in the book. But when it happened in real life, it had a non-supernatural reason. (After you read the scene, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.) Nonetheless, it FREAKED ME OUT. But a writer’s mind always plays the “what if” game. So I thought…what if it hadn’t been [harmless thing it really was]…what if it had been [thing that happens on page 127]?

And then I had my motivation.

Three ideas, spread across months of time, finally clicked together to create The Dead and Buried. So when people ask me how I came up with the book, I say, “It’s kind of a long story.” Sometimes you just have to wait for things to come together.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Dead and Buried Contest

This contest is over. The winner is Lena!

So a few days ago I got my very own hardcover copy of The Dead and Buried in the mail, hot off the press!
And then I decided to VANDALIZE IT FOR YOU.

I did this with Clarity and people seemed to like the idea, so I’m doing it again. I spent the weekend re-reading the book and marking it up. It's now one of a kind and full of notes and secrets. Where character names came from. What scene was written last and for what reason. The true-life scary story behind that scene on page 127. What the original ending was before I changed it. And lots more. Now it's ready to be signed/personalized and mailed to one winner!

All you have to do to enter is post a comment below. However, you can earn additional entries by:

+1 tweeting this: Enter to win a signed/marked up hardcover of THE DEAD AND BURIED by @Kim_Harrington! Please RT!

+1 sharing a link to this blog post on your Facebook

+1 adding The Dead and Buried to your Goodreads shelf

+4 writing about this contest on your blog

Please let me know everything you did in your comment so I’ll know how many points to assign to you! Giveaway ends Sunday, 12/16/12. International is fine. I'll choose a winner from

Thanks! :)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Teaser #2

THE DEAD AND BURIED has started to come in stock early in a few places! *dances*

As promised, here's teaser #2:

     The air held a mixture of almost-nauseous foreboding and palpable excitement. A few kids backed away, shaking their heads. But even more stepped forward, eyes wide with anticipation.
     “No, you don’t mess with those things,” a guy said, pointing at the Ouija board like it was on fire. “My grandmother told me stories. Those things can open doorways.”
     “It’s made from Hasbro,” Faye snapped. “Grow a pair.”

For the first teaser, click here

If you'd like to order or pre-order the book, you can do that here:

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Thank you!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Clare vs Jade

The title makes it sound like this is a main character smack-down. But it's not. It's about leaving someone behind...and learning someone new.

The Dead and Buried was the first book I wrote after Clarity and Perception. (The Sleuth or Dare books, even though they came out first, were actually written after The Dead and Buried). In my first draft, I had a hard time letting Clare’s voice go. Jade would slip into Clare now and then, and I had to get a handle on how to make Jade's voice her very own. So, to fix it, I intentionally made Jade very different from Clare.

And I’m not talking just superficially. Yes, they look different. Have different families (and troubles). Have different interests. But I’m talking more about who they are inside.

When we meet Clare at the start of Clarity, she’s already strong. She’s snarky, tough, and defensive (because she has to be). When we meet Jade, she’s extremely non-confrontational and more, um, kind. (I feel bad, like I’m calling Clare unkind. She’s not. She’s just…Clare.) They’re both funny. Though Clare’s humor is often at the expense of others while Jade’s is more self-deprecating. But the biggest difference to me, is that while Clare is brave from the start, Jade has to become brave.

And what do they have in common? They both have family that they will do anything to protect.

Once I found Jade’s voice, I loved her, and she became real to me. I miss Clare. I always will. But the two of them have become my children in that I love them equally.

And I hope you will too!

I can’t wait for you to meet Jade. She’s waiting…not long now. :)

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Dead and Buried Reviews

I'm delighted with Publishers Weekly's review of The Dead and Buried and happy to share it with you guys!

Having moved from rural western Massachusetts to an upscale Boston suburb, 17-year-old Jade Kelley thinks her biggest problems will be making new friends and putting up with her stepmother. She didn’t count on being haunted by the ghost of Kayla, the popular mean girl who died in Jade’s new house under suspicious circumstances earlier in the year (that’s why the house was a steal). Jade ends up in the middle of a romantic triangle with two boys tied to the dead teen, but the real race is to figure out what really happened to Kayla before the impatient and vengeful ghost takes out her anger on Jade’s family. As she did in Clarity and Perception, Harrington continues to demonstrate her gift for threading paranormal elements into thrilling mysteries—haunted old estates are a dime a dozen, but there’s something especially creepy about ghosts lingering in suburban cul-de-sacs and McMansions. Harrington’s crisp prose, humor, and fluid storytelling serve the mystery well, and coded diary entries from the deceased Kayla let readers play detective along with Jade.

Kirkus also gave it a great review, calling it "spine-chilling" and "lively and fast-paced." Kirkus says readers "will keep trying to guess the real murderer until the final pages. Downright, satisfyingly creepy."


Also, don't forget to read the first teaser from the book, posted here on the blog yesterday, and come back every Sunday until release for a new teaser.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Dead and Buried Teaser #1

THE DEAD AND BURIED will be out in less than a month! *happy flails*

I'm going to post a teaser every Sunday until release and here's #1:

     An icy breeze traveled past me, slightly lifting my hair. I glanced at the window. It was closed. But there was definitely a draft coming in from somewhere. Goose bumps rose on my skin, but I couldn’t stop now. I felt something urging me on. 
     My shaky fingers opened the folder. The feeling in the room changed slightly, from anticipation to satisfaction, as I saw the paper on top. The title, DISCLOSURE STATEMENT, glared up at me in all caps. Exactly what that girl Faye had told me to look for. 
     And there, at the bottom, was what she had wanted me to find. 
     Death by unnatural causes. 
     I was living in a murder house.

What do you think? I'm so excited for this book to be out in the world!

Here's a tip. If you know that you want THE DEAD AND BURIED, please pre-order it from your favorite bookstore. That way, the book will be waiting for you on release day (most likely before then). No wasted trips, no disappointments. It just takes one quick phone call or online order. And it really, really helps.

Here are links to store finders to help you get the phone number to your favorite store:

Or here are links to pre-order online:

Thank you!