Today I'm happy to welcome Amanda Flower to the blog to talk about her debut novel Maid of Murder, a cozy mystery just out in June.
Amanda's offering a $10 Borders gift card to one lucky winner, so leave your comment below with an email address for a chance to win!
Author Amanda Flower, a native of Akron, Ohio, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Like her main character India Hayes, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. When she is not at the library or writing her next mystery, she is an avid traveler who has been to seventeen countries, forty-eight U.S. states, and counting. Maid of Murder is her debut novel and the first in a series featuring amateur sleuth India Hayes. Amanda is also currently seeking a publisher for her middle-grade children’s mystery, The Mystery of the First Andora. She lives and writes near Akron.
About Maid of Murder
India Hayes is a lot of things . . . starving artist who pays the rent as a college librarian, daughter of liberal activists, sister of an emotional mathematician, tenant of a landlady who has kissed the Blarney Stone one too many times, and a bridesmaid six times over. But she’s about to step into the most challenging role of her life: amateur sleuth.
Childhood friend and now knockout beauty, Olivia Blocken is back in town to wed her bodybuilder fiancé with India a reluctant attendant . . . not just because the bridesmaid’s dress is a hideous mess, but because she’s betraying her brother. Mark still carries a torch for the bride who once broke his heart and sent his life into a tailspin.
When Olivia turns up dead in the Martin College fountain and the evidence points to Mark, India must unmask the real culprit while juggling a furious and grieving Mother of the Bride, an annoyingly beautiful Maid of Honor, a set of hippie-generation parents, the police detective who once dated her sister and is showing a marked liking for her, and a provost itching to fire someone, anyone—maybe even a smart-mouthed librarian.
India’s investigation leads her on a journey through childhood memories that she’d much rather have left in the schoolyard, but to avoid becoming the next victim, it is a path she must follow.
Maid of Murder is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud mystery set in an amusing world of academia. Readers will fall in love with India Hayes’s fierce loyalty and wit.
What's your latest book?
My latest book is my debut cozy mystery called Maid of Murder. It’s the first in the India Hayes Mystery series. The novel was just released on June 16, 2010 by Five Star Mystery, Gale Cengage Learning.
In Maid of Murder, India Hayes, a college librarian and reluctant bridesmaid, is thrown into the role of amateur sleuth as she hunts down the person who murdered her childhood friend and framed her brother for the crime.
Oo, sounds good! And love the title. And the heroine's name! What's your favorite part of the story?
I have several favorite scenes from the novel. One of my favorites is early on when India tries on her bridesmaid dress for the first time. India has a fair complexion and the dress is gold. Consequently, it looks awful on her, and of course, it is about two sizes too small for her. She is horrified. I think any woman who has been in a bridesmaid before can relate to this scene.
The worst story I can tell from personal experience is ending up with two lavender dresses, worn a week apart. Always said I was going to dye one navy, but never got around to it, LOL. (And at least they were both pretty!) What's your favorite genre to write? To read?
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 it’s my favorite genre.
I read a few of those too! Though I don't have that mystery-mindset. I'm always in awe of those of you who do! Let's shift gears, though. What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?
I live in a condo and don’t have room for a real office per se. Right now, I have a corner cubby of my bedroom dedicated to the cause. However when I was a child, my dream house was a Victorian Queen Anne with a tower, and I always dreamed that I’d write sitting on the window seat in the turret of the house. Now as an adult having a big old house like that doesn’t appeal to me anymore. That’s way too much house to take care of, but if I could get the turret added to my condo, I’d love that. The condo association, not so much.
LOL. I always wanted a turret too. Though in the middle of this heat-wave, I consider it and go, "Ugh! No way! It would be sweltering up there." Next question. If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving or gifts to charities allowed!)
If I was given $5000 to spend on anything, I’d spend it on travel. I love to travel and have been to seventeen countries and forty-eight U.S. states. One of the places I’ve always wanted to visit is India. I’ve been fascinated by the country since I was a child. In fact, I named my main character in Maid of Murder India after the country because I’m so interested in it. I’d also use the money to take my friend, Mariellyn Dunlap, who is a community church worker for the United Methodist Church, along with me. Robin Jones Gunn, one of my favorite authors, could write about it. The trip definitely has Sisterchicks potential.
We'll send Robin a note if ever you get to do that. ;-) I'm fascinated by India too, and have a historical idea that starts there. =) Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?
I remember exactly where I was. I was in my office at work. I’m a college librarian. I didn’t receive a call, I got an email. I was so excited and surprised, I yelped. I’m sure the students who were studying nearby wondered what was wrong with the quirky librarian. One of the reasons, I was so shocked was Five Star had previously rejected Maid of Murder a little over a year before, but somehow, a different acquisitions editor for the publisher got hold of my manuscript and liked it. I know how blessed I am to have my novel acquired after being rejected by the same publisher. I don’t know of any other author this has happened to. I’m so grateful!
How cool is that! I've gotten two rejections on the same manuscript at the same publisher, but your version's much better, LOL. What are you writing right now?
Currently, I am revising the sequel to Maid of Murder. 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 for her older sister, Carmen, and gets tangled up in a murder investigation as a result. At the same time, I have started writing a new cozy mystery series. I’m in the very early stages and am just getting to know my characters. After spending so much time with India and her cohorts, it’s a little strange to be thinking about a new main character, a new setting, and a new supporting cast. However, the idea for this new series just won’t let me go, and I have to write it.
Thanks for visiting and telling us about your book, Amanda! It sounds great!!
Readers, check out Amanda online at www.amandaflower.com and her blog at amandaflower.wordpress.com.
You can purchase her book directly from her or at Amazon.
Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Contest ends 7/19/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.