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Erin Hart Bio

Erin Hart

Before straying serendipitously into crime fiction, Erin trained to become a theater director, and has been variously employed as a stage manager, propmaster, editor and copywriter, writing teacher, journalist and theater critic. Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and raised in Rochester, Minnesota, Erin was educated at Saint Olaf College and the University of Minnesota.

After college she also promoted the work of traditional musician friends and helped co-found a local Irish Music & Dance Association. Erin met her husband, Irish accordion player Paddy O'Brien, just after returning from a trip to Ireland—when he asked her onstage to sing.

Erin came to writing quite late, and by way of her first love, theater. Starting graduate school in the mid-1980s, the available choices were business administration or creative writing—she chose writing almost by default, and embarked on a second career as a freelance arts journalist and theater critic. Throughout the 1990s, her work appeared in print in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and Skyway News, and for several years she was the regular theater critic for Minnesota Public Radio. She also began to write memoir, essays, and short fiction. When her short story, "Waterborne," won the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers in 1996, she began to receive inquiries from literary agents.

While visiting friends in Ireland one summer, Erin heard an intriguing tale about a beautiful red-haired girl whose perfectly preserved severed head was discovered in a desolate Irish bog. That true story was the inspiration for her debut novel, HAUNTED GROUND, the first in a planned series of crime novels set mostly in Ireland, revolving around archaeology, forensics, history, traditional music and folklore. HAUNTED GROUND was nominated for Anthony and Agatha awards, won Romantic Times Best First Mystery and the Friends of American Writers Award, and has been translated into ten foreign languages, as was the second novel in the series, LAKE OF SORROWS, which was published in October 2004, and also shortlisted for a Minnesota Book Award. The third novel in the series, FALSE MERMAID, was named by ALA/Booklist as one of the top ten crime novels of 2010. THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN, number four in the Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire series, was published in March 2013, and was also a Minnesota Book Award finalist.

"People often ask why I chose Ireland as a setting, and I have to say that I think Ireland chose me," she says. "It's a place I've been drawn to more than any other ever since I was a child. There's something about Ireland's complex and contradictory nature, all those layers of history one on top of the other—that lends a particular resonance to the kinds of stories I feel compelled to tell."

Erin lives in Minnesota with her husband, Irish button accordion player Paddy O'Brien. They make frequent visits to Ireland, going to music sessions, and carrying out essential research in bogs and cow pastures and castles and pubs.

Erin is a member of the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Download a brief bio of Erin
Read selected interviews
Read about Erin's husband Paddy O'Brien
How to set up a reading with Irish traditional music