Mystery Thriller Week is an amazing initiative to recognize the Mystery and Thriller genres. A number of authors, bloggers, book reviewers and more have come together for book reviews, guest posts, articles, giveaways and more. Today I interview Barbara Venkataraman, author of the Jamie Quinn Mysteries.
NM: Hi Barbara, thank you once again for agreeing to this interview. So first things first, tell us little about yourself.
BV: Thanks for having me! I wish I could tell you I live a life of adventure and excitement, of death-defying heroic acts, and mind-boggling feats of strength and agility, but, alas, I’m just a writer who lives in her imagination and likes to take a walk in the park and a swim in the summer, someone who loves to read, write and share a laugh with a friend–as well as a glass of wine!
NM: So how did you get into writing? What inspired and continues to inspire you to this day?
BV: My first published work was a poem about ducks that my second grade teacher enlarged and posted on the wall. I was so proud! I must have been since it’s my only memory of second grade. Since then, I’ve written short stories and poems but I was inspired to write a children’s book, starring my own children, when they were little and refused to stop playing video games. In the book, they are sucked into their video game and have to solve riddles to escape. My inspiration is different these days. First, I love to write and find it more creatively stimulating that anything else and, second, my readers inspire me. They are so wonderful and encouraging. Knowing that they’re waiting for me to finish the next book spurs me on.
NM: So you’ve been writing for a long time then (haha). How long have you been writing professionally for and what was your first foray into the world of writing?
BV: After I wrote “The Fight for Magicallus” (with the help of my children) I began writing humorous essays about my life experiences. I’m a big fan of Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry and love humorous writing. When I had written a number of essays, I compiled them into a book called “Quirky Essays for Quirky People” and self-published it on Kindle. I’m happy to report that it won the” Indie Book of the Day” award and has been well-received.
NM: That is fantastic. So what do you enjoy about writing, and what do you hate about it?
BV: I enjoy the creative process, the fact that ideas seem to come out of nowhere, the joy of bringing characters to life. I hate that I am so easily distracted and feel the need to look for a snack or a drink every 15 minutes, right after checking e-mail, Facebook, my blog, my ratings, and all the news of the day. I love when I start a book and I love when I finish it.
NM: I can relate to the first two parts of that (haha). Tell us about your Jamie Quinn Mysteries – as a different take on the whole Thriller genre. What challenges and joys did you experience through the process?
BV: My Jamie Quinn Mysteries are cozy mysteries, so there’s no sex or on-screen violence. Also, I’m a big proponent for gun safety and sensible gun laws, so none of my books include murder by gun. Turns out that getting clonked in the head with a didgeridoo is also hazardous to your health! Writing a mystery is very different than simply telling a story in that the author is creating a puzzle and leaving clues for the reader. Those clues must be strategically placed and can’t be too easy or too obscure. Then, there are also fake clues, a/k/a red herrings, to throw the reader off the trail. It’s tricky–like weaving a cloth with invisible thread. I love when I think of a particularly good clue and I like to imagine the reader’s reaction to it.
NM: I’m sensing that humour is a big part of your life and writing?
BV: I wish humour were an even bigger part of my life. We all need a good laugh. Sometimes I make myself laugh when I write. I was working on my new Jamie Quinn mystery, “Jeopardy in July”, trying to write a serious scene where Jamie is having a crisis and I end up with a ridiculous typo that just “cracked” me up. I also invented a new article of clothing! Check it out. 😛
Being a drama queen was so much easier than I’d thought. All those years, I’d assumed my clients had to work at it. The recipe was simple–take one mundane life, turn it upside down, shake vigorously. But, unlike my client who had chained herself to the flagpole in front of the courthouse, or the one who had smashed her husband’s prize guitar in his workplace lobby, I wasn’t into performance art. I was more brooding, angsty. When my mother had succumbed to cancer four years earlier, I’d found myself in a rut and for six months had hardly left the house. Butt hat wasn’t me anymore. Since then, I’d been through so much and faked it so often that even I thought I had my act together.
NM: Ha! I love it. Now, Jamie Quinn is a family law attorney as you are too. Are you secretly Jamie Quinn?
BV: Shh, I am Jamie Quinn… just without the crimes to investigate. Or the sleazy P.I. And I don’t have a tree-hugging, nature-loving boyfriend named Kip, but I do have a husband with those qualities.
NM: Your next instalment in the series, Jeopardy in July, what can you share with us about it and are we going to see Jamie Quinn and P.I. Duke Broussard together again?
BV: Yes! Jamie needs Duke Broussard’s help in a number of ways in the next book. With my dad living in an assisted living facility these days, I decided that would make an interesting setting. Here is the blurb:
JEOPARDY IN JULY
Old people were dying at an alarming rate at La Vida Boca, a posh assisted living facility in Boca Raton, Florida. With its sterling reputation, dedicated staff, and top-notch medical care, none of the deaths are considered suspicious, but when her friend Jessie’s great-uncle dies under strange circumstances, attorney Jamie Quinn finds herself once again embroiled in a mystery. With help from her BFF, Grace Anderson, and her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie uncovers a crime that took place forty years earlier. Can she stop the killer in time? Or is she in danger of becoming the next victim?
Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law. She is the author of “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy, “If you’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place,” a humorous short story and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course,” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of an ongoing series entitled “Quirky Essays for Quirky People.”
Her Jamie Quinn cozy mystery series includes: “Death by Didgeridoo,” “The Case of the Killer Divorce,” “Peril in the Park,” and “Engaged in Danger”. Coming out in 2016, “Jeopardy in July”. All of her books are available on Amazon Kindle.
Thank you to Barbara Venkataraman for this fun interview. To find out more about Barbara, and her not-so-secret identity as Jamie Quinn, check out links below:
Website: Barbar Venkataraman.blogpsot
Goodreads: Barbara Venkataraman | Jamie Quinn Collection on Goodreads