*Insert Applause Here*
First off Amanda, how did you get started writing mystery novels? Is it a genre you enjoy reading?
I was a kid in the 1980s and early 1990s at the height of the Baby-sitters Club craze. I too was a huge fan of the series, and my dad would always buy the latest book for me when he was out grocery shopping. At some point, the author Ann M. Martin decided to start a companion series called the Baby-sitters Club Mysteries. The spinoff series had the characters I loved, but they were crime solvers. They found lost dogs, jewelry, and money. It was the mysteries I loved the most, and they started my love of the mystery genre. As a teen and then adult, I gravitated to the mystery section in my local library. When I decided to write my first novel, I knew it would be a mystery because the genre is what I most enjoy reading.
What authors would you say have inspired or influenced you?
I read many different kinds of mysteries, not just funny cozies like I write. One author I particularly love is Nevada Barr. Now, our writing styles have nothing in common aside from the fact that we both write mysteries. However, I find her descriptions of America’s national parks and nature to be inspiring. She has a wonderful talent of evoking a sense of place in her novels.
I loved that Maid of Murder was set in Ohio. With so many books using New York or LA as a backdrop it was great to read something with a Midwest flair. Did you ever consider a different setting for the book? What prompted you to keep Maid Of Murder close to home?
I’ve lived in the Akron area most of my life, and I really love where I live. In my novels, I wanted to show off some of my area’s quirks. For one thing, this part of Ohio is part of the Western Reserve. The Western Reserve is an area that was sold to Connecticut farmers in the early 1800s to entice them to move to present day Ohio. It compromises most of the northeast corner of the state. Because of this, Northeastern Ohio has a little bit of an identity crisis. It’s in the Midwest, but some of the older families living here consider themselves to be more New Englanders than Midwesterners. When I was in college I worked a living history museum, Hale Farm and Village, and had to learn a lot of Western Reserve history as part of my job. I found it fascinating and knew it would be the perfect backdrop for my mystery series.
India Hayes is a multi-faceted heroine and I found her to be easy to relate to and realistic. From your author bio, I see that she shares your background in Library Science - what else do the two of you have in common? How would you say she is different from you?
Admittedly, India and I have a lot in common. She grew up and lives in suburb of Akron, Ohio, I grew up and live in a suburb of Akron, Ohio. She’s a college librarian, I’m a college librarian. Where we differ the most is in our personalities. India is much more phlegmatic than I am. All these crazy things, including murder, happen around her and she takes most of it in stride. If I were in half the situations she finds herself in, I’d have a panic attack.
Are there more adventures in store for India and her friends?
Yes, there will be. In the second book, India, much to her chagrin, is working at a folk art festival as a face painter. She does it as a favor to her older sister, Carmen, and gets tangled up in a murder investigation as a result. I am in the revision stage of this novel and have begun to research the third in the series. If all goes well for the third book, India and her eccentric landlady, Ina, will go to Ireland to find some of Ina’s long lost relatives.
Anything else you'd care to share about your work at this time?
In addition to the India Hayes Mysteries, I have written a middle grade children’s mystery called, The Mystery of the First Andora. I’m currently looking for a publisher for this title. It was important to me to write a mystery for children because I enjoyed them so much as a child.
Where can we find out more about your upcoming work, book signings, etc?
To find out of about my upcoming events, click on the Upcoming Events tab on my website http://amandaflower.com/. You can also follow me on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/ejquq or Twitter at http://twitter.com/aflowerwriter.
Thank you so much to Amanda for agreeing to this blog interview and hopefully plenty of people will check out Maid of Murder on sale June 16th, 2010! (author photo used with permission)