top of page

Gemma Halliday is the #1 Amazon, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of several cozy mystery and suspense thriller novels. Gemma's books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, two National Reader's Choice awards, a RONE award for best mystery, and three RITA nominations. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her large, loud, and loving family.

Gemma's path toward becoming a bestselling author was not a straight line—more like a zigzagging road filled with obstacles! Prior to putting pen to paper, she worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, an architect's assistant, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic. Luckily none of these panned out.  

Connect with Gemma

  • Amazon - Grey Circle
  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • BB_SocialIconGrey
NYTbadge copy.jpg

National Readers' Choice Award - Spying in High Heels 
Anne-Bonney Readers' Choice Award finalist - Spying in High Heels 
RITA Nomination, Best New Novel - Spying in High Heels 
RITA Nomination, Best Mainstream Novel with Romantic Elements - Spying in High Heels

Daphne Du Maurier Mystery Suspense Award finalist - Spying in High Heels 
Booksellers' Best Award finalist - Spying in High Heels 
Judge A Book By Its Cover finalist - Spying in High Heels 
Stiletto Chick-Thrill winner – Spying in High Heels

Anne-Bonney Readers' Choice Award finalist - Killer in High Heels

National Readers' Choice Award Nomination - Undercover in High Heels

Daphne Du Maurier Mystery Suspense Award finalist - Undercover in High Heels

Booksellers' Best Award finalist - Undercover in High Heels

Award of Excellence finalist - Alibi in High Heels 
Write Touch Readers' Award finalist - Alibi in High Heels

Award of Excellence finalist - Mayhem in High Heels 
Golden Heart Award winner – Viva Las Vegas

RONE Award winner for Best Mystery – Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Brash Blonde

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award winner for Best Cozy Mystery - A Sip Before Dying

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Readers' Choice Award winner - A Sip Before Dying

Gemma Halliday delightfully combines the best parts of chick lit with light mystery in the same vein as Janet Evanovich...Smart, funny and snappy...the perfect beach read!

-Fresh Fiction​

Halliday balances the

comedy and suspense notes well, keeping her characters intriguing and her narrative bright. Suspenseful fun.

 - Kirkus Reviews 

Awards & Praise


When my oldest son was born, I was a young, unemployed, single mom trying to figure out some way to support this awesome little person. I tried my hand at couple of online based businesses—though there were far fewer of them back then than there are now! We scraped by, but were by no means thriving. The most economical mean of entertainment for us were books...and I read a lot in those early years! One day, having read just about everything in the house, I stumbled across a paperback novel that I had gotten free somewhere. I figured "why not?" I picked up the book and dug in.


Well, I'm sad to say this book was bad. Terrible. One of the worst I had ever read. My first thought was, "Well, even I could do better than this!" Then I looked up the publisher and felt my heart skip a beat when I saw how much they were paying for novels like this. So I decided to put their money where my mouth was, so to speak, and try my hand at writing a novel.


Turns out it's a lot harder to write a terrible novel than I thought, let alone a good one! But after a couple of months of work, I had finished my first romance novel. I joined writers groups, went to conferences, and researched publishers. I sent off my baby manuscript to the publisher, in hopes of landing a nice fat book contract.


Gemma signing books in San Francisco with Kate Perry, Margo Candela, and Eileen Rendahl


Instead of a contract, I got a very nice thanks-but-no-thanks. So, I wrote another one and sent that out. More books, more submissions more rejections. But even as the rejections came in, I continued writing, knowing that this was something I could do. I wrote another book, and another, and another. I was determined that this was my stay-at-home career. However, I was realistic. I gave myself hard deadline. If I didn't get published by the time my son started kindergarten (a.k.a free child care), I would take the hint that writing just wasn't for me and look for a "real" job instead.


While my son was little, I took advantage of all the naptime, grandma-time, and Elmo-time I could in order to write. Two years went by, and I wrote a total of five romance novels. None of which were published. My son turned four that year...getting closer and closer to kindergarten age. I was starting to feel like maybe this wasn't exactly what I was meant to be doing after all.



That was when I saw advertisement for a writing contest with a category called "Chick Thrill." It was a hybrid between a sassy romantic comedy and a mystery novel. While I had been focusing all of my efforts writing romance, I was a lifelong mystery reader. I thought this sounded like a fantastic combination and decided to give it a try. The contest called for the first three chapters of the novel, so I set to work writing three chapters of a "chick thrill." I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and I sent it in with fingers crossed. Turns out, maybe I was on to something as a few months later, I won the contest and an editor requested to read the full manuscript! Fabulous... only I had to write it first. And write I did—quickly! Many sleepless nights of me clacking away at my keyboard ensued before I sent my novel, tentatively titled Spying in High Heels, off to the editor.


It would be a great end to the story if that editor had bought my books, wouldn't it? But that was not the case. She passed. As did several more editors. And agents. While it had been fun to write, and it did get some good feedback, publication still eluded me.




After a few more tears, I made my way home where I found a message waiting for me. It was my agent asking me to call him. Which made my heart sink a little. My overactive imagination instantly began turning over the names of the lingering few editors who still had Spying in High Heels on their desks... and might have rejected me so harshly that my agent felt the need to soften the blow with an actual call instead of a curt email. 


I immediately called him back.  He was on another line and had to call me back again.   So, I sat down and entered into a staring contest with the phone, willing it to ring while a big ugly knot formed in my stomach. Finally, just when my imagination and I were about to lose it, it rang. It was my agent. And it was not bad news. Amazingly, I had an offer for a publishing contract. Talk about timing! One more day, and I would've hung up my pen. Instead, just under a year later, my first book, Spying in High Heels, was published.

mysterious galaxy redondo beach march 20

Well I kept writing...and kept getting rejected. And kept writing and submitting even more. And before I knew it, the first day of kindergarten arrived. There were tears—both from me and my son that day. But after finding out where the cubbies, the blocks, and most importantly the Thomas the Tank Engine trains were, I quickly became Mom-Who?, and my son settled in for his first day of school.

As you can imagine, it was a bittersweet moment for me on many levels. He was on his own for the first time (okay, at least for four hours), and my self-imposed deadline had arrived. I had not yet been offered a publishing contract.  

Gemma at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore with her son

Gemma's Road to Publication

bottom of page