Interview: Barbara Venkataraman, Author of Engaged in Danger

VenkataramanEngagedInDangerEveryone, please welcome Barbara Venkataraman back to the blog today. I have enjoyed her Jamie Quinn mystery series, Death by Didgeridoo being Book 1. Today we chat about modern culture in books, fictional book clubs, jobs worse than writing, and plenty more. Sit back and be entertained!

If you could be an extra on a detective TV show, what would it be?

Being a little obsessive-compulsive myself ( lol ), I think I would have enjoyed being an extra on “Monk”.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Hmmmm…well, the books would have to be fun books because life is serious enough, yet have some heft to them. The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my faves, so that’s in, also Bel Canto, a book I love love love and a new favorite of mine, “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”. As for who I would invite, it would have to be my three sisters. They love to read, they’re lots of fun and we would have a lively debate.

VenkataramanDeathByDidgeridooAre minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

I can only speak for myself, but in my books, sidekicks are an integral part of the story. They contribute information, they have their own lives going on and they add drama due to their relationships with my protagonist, Jamie Quinn. In the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Watson is the perfect foil to Sherlock and the stories couldn’t exist without him.

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

I try not to date my stories too much with current pop culture references, although I do sometimes refer to television shows. There used to be such a long gap between a book being accepted for publication and the actual publication that any cultural reference was a risk. Now, with e-books on Amazon Kindle, an author can change or correct any reference in their book and have it back up on the site within a few hours. Of course, if you’re writing a period piece or a sci-fi book like “Ready Player One” which is set in the future but has a premise based entirely on pop culture references from the 80’s, then you’re fine.

VenkataramanCaseOfKillerDivorceOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

I think the answer to that is yes. Over time, I believe that both heroes and villains have become more complex, not all good or bad, but flawed individuals. Look at “Dexter”, a serial killer who kills only wicked people.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Working at McDonald’s was the worst job ever. Writing is a dream come true, I enjoy it very much and I’ve met so many nice people as a result, people like you!

With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

This multi-genre shift hasn’t affected me at all. My test for a book is readability. If I make it past the sample and think it looks interesting, I will give it thirty pages. After that, I’m out of there.

VenkataramPerilInTheParkIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

My warning label would say: “She likes to talk, especially after a glass of wine. She will wax poetic about good books she’s read and will steal your candy when you’re not looking.”

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in mystery/crime literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

“Presumed Innocent”, Agatha Christie’s works, some Steven King, some Edgar Allan Poe, Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock-influenced books like “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I don’t have a moment when I was gushing over someone’s work in a forum where they could hear me, lol! I guess my most awkward moments are when fans get so wrapped up in my characters that they put in requests about who to keep for the next book, who should have a romance, etc. I love that they are so excited, but I can’t please everyone.

VenkataramanEngagedInDangerBook Blurb for Engaged in Danger, Book 4 of the Jamie Quinn Mysteries: 

Finally, life is good for reluctant family law attorney, Jamie Quinn–her father may get his visa soon, her boyfriend is the bomb, and her law practice is growing like crazy–but when she agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case, everything falls apart. What looked like an opportunity to work with her friend Grace and make some serious bucks has turned into a deadly game, one that could destroy their friendship and tear their town apart. Why couldn’t Jamie just leave well enough alone?

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