Colley, Barbara 1947–
Colley, Barbara 1947–
Born July 26, 1947, in Ringgold, LA; daughter of Charles and Doris (a homemaker) Logan; married A. David Colley, November 18, 1966; children: April, Charles, Anna Colley Alford. Education: Attended Louisiana Polytechnic Institute (now Louisiana Tech University), 1965-66, and Nicholls University, c. 1976. Religion: Christian—Protestant. Hobbies and other interests: Shopping at malls, tennis, sailing, travel, playing with her grandchildren.
Home—LA. Agent—Evan Marshall Agency, 6 Tristam Pl., Pinebrook, NJ 07058-9445. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Minden Press & Herald, Minden, LA, classified advertisement receptionist, 1966-67; Sperry Rand Corp, Minden, line dispatcher, 1967-68; Ebasco Services, Taft, LA, receptionist and filing and dispatch clerk, 1977-78; temporary clerical worker, Norco, LA, 1984-85; Ormond Country Club, Destrehan, LA, secretary and receptionist, 1985-87, 1989-91; temporary clerical worker, Luling, LA, 1987-89; writer, 1991—. Member of Malice Domestic and Bouchercon, 2002.
Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death Chapter), Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime Writers, Southern Louisiana Romance Writers (charter member; president, 1991).
ARTemis Award, Romance Writers of America, 1992; Reader's Choice Award, Oklahoma Romance Writers, 1992; named distinguished artist of Louisiana, 1996.
"CHARLOTTE LaRUE" MYSTERY SERIES
Maid for Murder: A Squeaky Clean Charlotte LaRue Mystery, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.
Death Tidies Up, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Polished Off, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Wiped Out, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Married to the Mop, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Scrub-a-Dub Dead, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Dangerous Memories, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Rachel's War, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 2007.
ROMANCE NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM ANNE LOGAN
Gulf Breezes, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1992.
Twin Oaks, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1993.
Dial "D" for Destiny, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1994.
That Old Devil Moon, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1996.
Finding Kendall, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1997.
A Dance with the Devil, Harlequin Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1997.
Barbara Colley once told CA: "Do you know how you can tell if a person is from Louisiana? The answer is, if they think purple, green, and gold colors go together and look good, then they have to be from Louisiana. Yes, I'm referring to Mardi Gras, and yes, that was supposed to be a joke.
"But seriously, I am a native of Louisiana. I grew up in the small North Louisiana town of Minden, where I worked on my high school newspaper staff and, later, on the staff of the Minden Press & Herald. At that time, though, I never really dreamed of becoming a writer.
"After high school, I attended Louisiana Tech University and Nicholls State University as a music education major. My dream then was becoming a band director. Instead, I fell in love with my husband, David, and I'm still in love with him even after thirty-five years of marriage, three grown children, and five precious grandchildren.
"After college, my husband and I moved to a small suburb of New Orleans. What a change for both of us. Most people don't realize that there is a vast difference in the cultures of North Louisiana and South Louisiana. I truly love living near New Orleans. With its Creole French and Spanish influence, New Orleans is such a unique and interesting city. Strolling through the historical French Quarter and the Garden District is one of my favorite pastimes. The city is well over 200 years old, but each time I visit, I find something new and fascinating.
"So how did I get started writing? A lot of people ask me that question, and the answer is both simple and complex. Simply, I was trying to be a good, conscientious mother. More complex, I've always loved to read and, according to my mother, I've always possessed a healthy dose of imagination as well as the belief that I could do anything I wanted to do if I set my mind to it.
"When my oldest daughter was a young teenager, ‘Harlequin Presents’ began arriving through the mail. Without my knowledge, my daughter had subscribed, and I decided I should read a few to make sure they were suitable for someone her age. I deemed that they were suitable, but a funny thing happened. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. Then I came to a point when I began to believe that I could write ‘one of those.’
"Believing I could write a book was half the battle. Actually writing one and getting published was the other half. Well, I did write one, then I wrote another one, then another, and I'm still writing fifteen years later. But even better, I'm published and get to share my stories with thousands of wonderful readers all over the world. To date, my Harlequin romances have been published in sixteen foreign countries as well as the United States and Canada.
"So how did I go from writing romance novels to writing mystery novels? Actually, it wasn't much of a stretch for me to do so. I've always loved to read mystery and romantic suspense, and all of my romance novels have a thread of mystery running through them.
"I have to give my agent a lot of credit for my decision to switch to writing mysteries. I'd been trying to write mainstream thriller novels for a couple of years, without success, and one day in a phone conversation with my agent, he suggested that I might want to try my hand at writing a cozy mystery series instead. He very gently told me that, though there was nothing wrong with my thriller stories or my writing, most publishers only wanted the big-name authors for the thrillers. He knew there was a market for ‘cozies,’ and he felt sure that he could sell in that market.
"He and I talked about a possible setting as well as the type of sleuth I might use. He suggested the New Orleans Garden District, and I came up with the idea of using a maid for a sleuth. With his encouragement and support, I wrote a proposal. Within two months, my agent called to let me know that a Kensington editor was interested in buying my series, but he'd like for the sleuth (my maid) to be older, in her late fifties or early sixties. I said, ‘No problem. I can do that.’ Well, that Kensington editor did buy the series, and he offered me a three-book hardcover/softcover deal. Thus my maid sleuth, Ms. Charlotte LaRue, was born, and the rest, as they say, is history.
"Besides reading and writing mystery and romance books, there are other fun things I enjoy, too. I love shopping at the malls, tennis, sailing, and traveling. But the most fun thing of all is playing with my sweet grandchildren who range in age from two to nine years old.
"For me, writing is a necessity. It took me six years and four completed manuscripts to get published, but I think I would have kept writing even if I had not gotten published. I love the whole creative process of writing. It's fun, but it's also hard work, and I can't imagine doing anything else."
In her first mystery, Maid for Murder: A Squeaky Clean Charlotte LaRue Mystery, Colley introduces readers to Charlotte, who owns a Maid-for-a-Day cleaning service. When one of her wealthy clients is murdered and the dead man's wife goes to Charlotte for solace, Charlotte decides to look for the murderer herself, much to the chagrin of the local police and Charlotte's niece. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to the mystery as a "respectable debut." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the author "has created a sensible, likable sleuth whom readers will want to put on a long-term contract."
Death Tidies Up finds Charlotte on another murder case when a body is discovered by Charlotte's cleaning crew. The mystery is that the man was supposed to have died two years earlier in a plane wreck. Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, commented on the novel's "pleasant, easy-paced narrative." In Polished Off, Charlotte discovers old bones and some identification when she accidentally knocks over an urn while cleaning a mansion. To Charlotte's surprise, the body may be the missing one-time boyfriend of the wife of Charlotte's nephew. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the novel is "full of warm Southern charm."
A new client who is not well liked at the local gardening club is murdered in Colley's next mystery, titled Wiped Out. Faced with numerous suspects among the garden club members, Charlotte finds herself on a tough case in which the killer may escape. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the mystery features "a wealth of verbal sniping." Married to the Mop finds Charlotte cleaning for the Mafia and trying to solve the murder of a top Mafia boss when he is killed in his study during a family party. Agreeing to continue cleaning the family's house, Charlotte keeps her eyes and ears open in an attempt to solve the case. However, she may be learning too much about the local Mafia, thus putting her life in danger. "I love this series," wrote Dawn Dowdle on the Armchair Interviews Web site. "Charlotte is such a fun character."
Scrub-a-Dub Dead features Charlotte now doing work for a motel through her Maid-for-a-Day cleaning service. Taking place after Hurricane Katrina has demolished New Orleans, the story follows Charlotte as she looks for the murderer of a wealthy man's mistress, who is strangled with a red scarf. The evidence all points to Tesa, the man's wife, as the murderer because she is a member of the Red Scarf Sorority and her scarf is missing. However, Charlotte has another suspect in mind. Sharon Katz, writing on Reviewingtheevidence.com, noted that Scrub-a-Dub Dead "manages to be a well-written mystery and a first-rate cozy." A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the novel is "enlivened by romantic interludes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Drood Review of Mystery, January, 2005, Mary Elizabeth Devine, review of Wiped Out, p. 9.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2001, review of Maid for Murder: A Squeaky Clean Charlotte LaRue Mystery, p. 1647; December 15, 2002, review of Death Tidies Up, p. 1805; December 1, 2004, review of Wiped Out, p. 1118; October 15, 2006, review of Scrub-A-Dub-Dead, p. 1046.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Rex Klett, review of Maid for Murder, p. 157; January 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Death Tidies Up, p. 163; January 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Polished Off, p. 164; February 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Wiped Out, p. 57; December 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Scrub-a-Dub-Dead, p. 97.
MBR Bookwatch, February 1, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Wiped Out.
Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2002, review of Maid for Murder, p. 50; January 13, 2003, review of Death Tidies Up, p. 45; February 2, 2004, review of Wiped Out, p. 63.
Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (June 4, 2007), Dawn Dowdle, review of Married to the Mop; Yuka Mizushima, review of Scrub-a-Dub Dead.
Barbara Colley-Anne Logan Web site,http://www.eclectics.com/barbaracolley-annelogan (December 3, 2002).
Reviewingtheevidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (June 4, 2007), Sharon Katz, review of Scrub-a-Dub Dead.