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An Interview with Barbara Venkataraman

 

We might be miles apart but books are what brought us closer. (sounds like a line from a romantic movie or what???) It was a happy coincidence (as Barbara called it) that Barbara emailed me, asking if I would like to review her Jamie Quinn series. How is this a coincidence? I had decided to read her books the same week she sent me the email. 🙂

A couple of mail exchanges later, we realised that we have a ‘Bangalore’ connection. How sweet is that!!  Happy, happy coincidence indeed! 🙂

I asked Barbara if she would like to be interviewed and she agreed. So before I get on with the questions, I would like to say that if you haven’t read Jamie Quinn series yet, you do not know what you are missing out. Jamie Quinn is a family lawyer but finds herself ‘entangled’ in matters pertaining to criminal law. She’s quirky, hilarious and owns a nasty cat named Mr Paws – she’s renamed him as Mr Pain in the Ass.  With her favourite P.I Duke and best friend Grace, Jamie tries her hand at amateur sleuthing.

 

Hello Barbara and welcome to The Book Decoder. Please tell me and my readers about yourself.

Thanks for inviting me, Rekha, I’m happy to be here. In addition to being an author, I’m an attorney and mediator practising family law in South Florida which provides a lot of material for my books. I’ve written ten books to date, an eleventh one will be out shortly (with a little luck and a lot of coffee). My Jamie Quinn Series are cozy mysteries and my Quirky Essays series is humorous non-fiction. I’ve also written a short story, a grammar book, and a children’s book. I even won a few awards, hooray! As an author, what brings me the greatest pleasure is connecting with readers. Knowing that someone enjoyed my writing is so satisfying. In fact, one of the best comments I ever received was from someone who said my book cheered him up when he was feeling down. Who could ask for more than that?

My biggest challenge is staying focused. I sometimes (always) have the attention span of a flea. After checking my e-mail, the weather, the news, and Facebook, I go looking for a snack. Then I start over.

 

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I started writing in second grade when I wrote a poem about ducks and the teacher liked it so much she enlarged it and posted it on the wall. I’ve been writing ever since, but what inspired my first book was when I tried to learn to play the didgeridoo. I took on that impossible task in order to deal with my sleep apnea but was wildly unsuccessful. That experience led to my writing an essay titled “Nightmare in the Sleep Clinic” and ultimately my first Jamie Quinn mystery, “Death by Didgeridoo”.

 

 

Any inspirations behind the Jamie Quinn series? (You being a family lawyer and Jamie being the same – any relation here?)

Jamie is my imaginary younger self who isn’t sure how she ended up becoming a family lawyer and doesn’t know why she keeps ending up in the middle of murder investigations. All we want is a good book in one hand and a steaming cup of tea in the other, but instead, we keep getting thrown into complicated situations and we have to puzzle our way out.

 

 

If you were given a chance to meet Jamie, what would you want to say to her?

Hmmm, well, if I helped her cure her idiosyncrasies and insecurities, she wouldn’t be as interesting to write about, lol. I guess I’d say trust yourself more and stop worrying and maybe you’ll sleep a little better. Maybe lay off the espressos too. You have talents you’re just finding out about. After all, you’re the FBI’s secret weapon!

 

 

Are you working on anything at present? Would you like to give a gist of it to your readers?

I’m working on two things at the moment. The first is a non-fiction memoir I’m writing with my son about his experience over four years in obtaining a posthumous pardon for wrongfully convicted men known as Groveland Four. If you do an internet search you can learn about that tragic story. It’s much easier to work on a memoir than fiction because the events don’t need to be invented. The challenge comes with knowing what to leave in and what to leave out and how to make the story read like a fiction narrative to keep the reader’s attention. Lucky for me, it’s a fascinating story with a cast of characters so I don’t have to work that hard to make it interesting.

The other book is Jamie Quinn number 6. It’s been on a back burner for a while because I’m in charge of a community gun safety project that takes much of my time, but I’m anxious to get back to Jamie and the gang. I miss them! Here’s an excerpt:

 

VILLAINY AT VIZCAYA

Reluctant family law attorney Jamie Quinn is loving life–and why wouldn’t she? Her boyfriend Kip is back from Australia, her long-lost dad finally has his visa and she’s about to start her dream job at an art foundation. But it all falls apart when Jamie is accused of stealing rare books from a rare book collection. If she can’t find out who framed her, she can kiss her dream job good-bye–and her law license too. Meanwhile, Kip has problems of his own. Now an environmental activist, he uncovers a deadly secret–one that just might get him killed.

Jamie’s in trouble, Kip’s in danger, and Duke Broussard has gone AWOL. How could Jamie’s favorite P.I. abandon her at a time like this?

********************************************************************** 

Chapter One

“For God’s sake, Kip, just admit it. You’re an adrenaline junkie!”

“I knew you’d say that.” Kip laughed, beguiling me with his dimples. “Come on, Jamie, you act like I’m going to bungee jump into the Grand Canyon. It’s not that dangerous–if you know what you’re doing–“

“–Which you don’t!” I pointed out. “Why do you torture me like this? Don’t you love me?” I batted my eyes, exerting all of my feminine wiles, which only made him laugh again.

He glanced at the old-fashioned clock on the kitchen wall. “Better finish my coffee.” Kip took a swig from his Save the Whales mug.

“Why, big plans today? Maybe wrestling an alligator naked?”

Choking on his coffee, Kip squeaked out, “Um, which one of us is naked?”

“Who do you think?” I said, slamming the dishes into the dishwasher. I turned to face him, hands on my hips. “Let’s recap, shall we? I wait months for you to come home from Australia–where all your love and devotion was lavished on wombats who didn’t appreciate it–and now you spring this on me? This…this…craziness.

He stood up and stretched, still waking up. “Which is the crazy part, working nights?” he feigned innocence.

I shook my head, flummoxed by my tree-hugging boyfriend’s bizarre behavior. “I never knew you had this blood-thirsty Rambo, Die Hard, Call of Duty side to you and it scares the hell out–“

Suddenly, Kip rushed me like a defensive tackle, pulled me into a hug, and spun us around. Then he set me back on my feet and kissed me. I ruffled his hair affectionately, locked my arms behind his back and squeezed as hard as I could, holding him tight.

“Are you taking me prisoner?” he teased.

“I’m showing you what you signed up for.” Then I gave him a nip on his bare shoulder.

“Ow! Is this what girlfriends do now?”

“No,” I said. “It’s what pythons in the Everglades do. You’d better get used to it.”

***

An hour later, Kip cheerfully waved good-bye as he backed his Chevy Volt out of my driveway. Still in my pajamas I returned the wave from the front stoop muttering, “This isn’t over yet, buddy”. Then I went back inside to start my morning routine: feed Mr. Paws his stinky food, scrub the coffee pot, etc. My body was on autopilot as my mind worked overtime. It was hard to believe that only a month before I had been dying for Kip to come home, praying my dad would get his visa, and deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up (if I could quit family law, all options were on the table). Now I had everything I wanted and I was feeling stressed out. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Of course I was thrilled to have Kip and my dad home, and I couldn’t wait to start my new gig as trustee for The Andrea Lowenthal Art Fund, but nothing was going as planned. Let’s just say there were a few issues, a couple of complications, and some major headaches. All I wanted was one day without a crisis, was that so much to ask?

In response to my rhetorical question the phone rang. I held my breath as I picked it up.

“How bad is he today?”

“Oh, mi amor,” whispered Ana Maria, voice fraught with emotion, “I think you should come see for yourself.”

 


 

This isn’t over yet. 😀 😀 There are a couple of guest posts coming up. If you are a budding author (or a procrastinating, wannabe author like me 😉 ) then stay tuned. Her guest posts do have some witty stuff that might rekindle the writer in you.

 

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