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Mystery Thriller Week: Author Interview with Barbara Venkataraman


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:


 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


Author Interview: JD Woodson – A Space Between Worlds Vol 1: Conception


I had the awesome privileged of speaking to J.D Woodson, author of A Space Between Worlds Vol 1: Conception. You can read my book review here. This what he had to say.

Q: An enchanting tale combining a number of interesting characters and pertinent questions. What inspired you to write A Space Between Worlds: Conception?

A: Loss, regret, self-loathing, the lack of identity, introspection and comprehension: those ideas would suffice in the reasoning of the creation of the A Space Between Worlds: Conception. All of those things, I’ve experienced and were deeply seeded into my heart ever since I was young. Not until I grew older, I had the inkling of tackling such questions. Terrifying and painful, liberating and refreshing. I wasn’t singular in facing such concepts. Those around me, people I knew and who I didn’t, struggled with the very same. I wrote the story, not only to soothe myself but others as well. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to face ourselves; it’s almost as if we refuse to. Many of us don’t know who we are. I knew someone who had the thorough understanding of those ideas but unbeknownst to me, I hadn’t an inkling of her suffering. After she departed from this world, that was the spark for me to compose this story. After three years of writing this story, it changed drastically from draft to draft, however, what I needed to express had to be pulled out of me by my own hands.

Q: Are the questions and concepts your characters work through something you consider deeply? Do you question the truths of life and death as deeply?

Inner worlds, reincarnation, cycles both broken and whole? Yes, I ponder those concepts with care. They are depthless and without shape. And because of this, there isn’t a universal answer. Some characters in the story have their own interpretations while others are trying to find their answers. I’m still seeking mine too.

Yes. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t’ve been write a story like this. I questioned life and death starting very young. The reason for that was the departure of my eldest brother not long after I was born. For some reason, I thought I wasn’t meant to be alive. I thought I stole my brother’s life. So because of that I wore a mask that wasn’t mine in order to keep my brother’s presence here, I suppose. I didn’t have an identity and I was constricted by regret. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I removed that mask and since then, I’ve been piecing together my identity. I started my life at death instead of the other way around. But this enabled me to question what those things meant to me. I can’t say I have any answers yet, much like my characters. Shanti is on one side of the cycle and Reno is on the other, but neither of them can see beyond what they do and don’t know. My true feelings on the matter are expressed through the story.

Q: This is only volume one. I am assuming you’ve got a series in the works? Will they all be related?

A: Yes, I can confirm there will be more volumes to come. Though I originally intended for A Space Between Worlds to be a duology; the change came about during the outlining of the next book, I noticed there was more of the story wanting to be told and if I confined those ideas into one last book, the execution would’ve been sloppy and what was to be covered wouldn’t be fully realized. I’m currently writing volume two and there are plans for future books. While volume one and volume two will be directly related, the others will be a separate arc in a sense. With that being said, you can expect majority of the characters to return in the next one. I wonder how they will change?

Q: Your writing style is flowery. Poetic. I know you gained a love for poetry but is this how you have always written or has there been something or someone who influenced you?

A: Wow. Flowery, huh? The majority of authors in this day and age would cringe at hearing that term affixed to their writing, indeed. As for I, I find it to be flattering. Flowers are pleasant, fragrant, and comforting. But an overabundance of flowers can be overwhelming to the senses, no? Since poetry was my background, my first love, my style transitioned into my storytelling. There was a time were my storytelling was as pungent as a perfume section of a department store when I was first starting out but I would like to think I found a proper balance and flow of what is considered flowery.  My style was influenced by Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks in terms of poetry. As for storytelling, Haruki Murakami would probably be my deepest influence in the way of storytelling and Carl Jung, Frederick Nietzsche, and Indian Philosophy as whole are some of my philosophical influences.

Q: Do you have works of poetry out there (or in your drafts folder) that we can look forward to?

A: Now that you mentioned it; I do desire to publish a collection of poetry. I’ve put all of my focus on A Space Between Worlds for the last few years so I can’t say I’ve written any poetry outside of the ones within the story. Integrating my first love into my second, I’ll continue to do that but maybe one day soon I’ll write a traditional poetry collection.

Q: I infer from your style that you are an emotive writer. Do your feelings and emotions always guide your writing? How do you manage when you’re not feeling any particular way?

A: Naturally, I’m a sensitive person. In everything I do, I go by feeling. For myself, there isn’t any other way to live but to go by what my heart tells me and that carries into my writing. If I can’t express myself without clarity, I abstain from writing until I’m enraptured by the emotion I’m trying to convey. If what I am writing doesn’t have meaning, there isn’t any reason why they should be written.

Q: Do you have any favourite authors? Music that inspires you as you write?

A: Haruki Murakami, Franz Kafka, Ray Bradbury, Natsume Soseki, and Yu Godai are some of my favourite authors of fiction.

Nobuhiro Watsuki, Masamune Shirow, Hiroyuki Takei, and Tetsuo Hara are my favourite manga-ka (authors of manga).

Yoko Shinomura, Yasunori Mitsuda, Yuki Kajiura, Shoji Meguro, Masashi Hamauzu, and Uyama Hiroto are the composers I listen to thoroughly. Symphonic, Jazz, Rock and Synth, interesting combination, huh?

Q: What does your writing process look and feel like?

A: To keep it simple, it’s a lot like gardening. Peaceful and relaxing, meticulous and intensive. I adore writing, but it can be painful. I’m mentally and physically exhausted after it’s all said and done.

Q: Who is J.D. Woodson? To the world and to yourself?

Obtaining those answers are the very reason I write.

Q: Where to from here?

A: If I had every map devised, it’ll leave nothing for me to discover. I can only continue to live and express myself moment by moment. Whatever is in store, I’ll accept and move only by what my heart tells me. All I know for certain, I’ll never cease to write.


Click here or visit Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page to enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of A Space Between Worlds Vol.1: Conception by J.D. Woodson.

Horror Writing and Alex Grecian

A guide to Pantsing_Edited

It’s been a fantastic journey so far working through my horror short stories. I must admit that it takes a special kind of mindset to write horror more than it takes to read it. Reading allows you to experience the horror from a receptive perspective. Writing puts you not only in the killers mind as the contributor, but also the victim’s body as the recipient and through each affected body part as the subject of the pain. As a visual person, my mind doesn’t just spew out the experiences of my writing without some reaction, but it affects my actual body parts – not literally of course but it sure feels that way.

The amazing thing about the writing, is how the writing has been intuitive rather than guided. It’s pantsing at its best. Discovery writing into oblivion. However, unlike a lot of my previous work when I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants, each of my stories seem like well thought out works. There’s barely any plot holes and everything just makes sense. I love it!

Looking forward to writing the remaining 8 short stories left. Who knows what the mind will come up with? Here is an interesting interview of Monday’s Book recommendation author – Alex Grecian:


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