Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Please join us between Thanksgiving and New Year's when our authors present original holiday short stories. We hope they will add to the season's festivities! 11/28 Annette Dashofy, 12/3 E. B. Davis, 12/8 KM Rockwood, 12/13 Korina Moss, 12/18 Tammy Euliano, 12/23 Warren Bull, 12/28 Paula Gail Benson Have a wonderful holiday! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amanda Flower-Chat 1

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.

EBD: Maid of Murder is your first published book. How long did it take to write it, and did you have critique partners?

AF: I started writing Maid of Murder in 2001 while I was a college student, and I worked on it off and on while in college and graduate school. I didn’t start submitting it until 2004. From beginning to end, it has been a nine year process to see the novel published.

While I was working on the book, I joined the Guppies, the Internet chapter of Sisters in Crime. The Guppies placed me in a critique group, and my partners there were a huge help to me in the early stages of the novel. Later, I became critique partners with Melody Steiner, a very talented fantasy writer. Critiquing with Melody has been wonderful because she doesn’t write mysteries and questions things that I take for granted in the genre. In the same way, I don’t write fantasy, and I can critique her work without any preconceived ideas about the genre.

EBD: Your main character, India Hayes, is a reference librarian at a college and you are a librarian at a college. Did you base the character as well as the vocation on yourself?

AF: It’s true India and I share the same occupation, and I do see some of myself in her. For one, we both share a heartfelt affection for flip-flops. As far as her occupation goes, many things that happen to her in the library have happened to me. We differ the most in our personalities. India’s phlegmatic and takes all of the craziness that happens around her in stride. I wouldn’t be that calm about it. I certainly would never try to solve a real murder. I’d happily let the police do that.

EBD: There are references to Ohio’s Western Reserve. What is Ohio’s Western Reserve and what style of architecture does it have since you refer to it in the book?

AF: The Western Reserve is the northeast corner of Ohio. Before Ohio was a state, the northeast corner belonged to state of Connecticut. That’s why it’s called the Western Reserve because it’s west of Connecticut. In 1786, Connecticut gave up its claim and a land company managed the area. The land company, the Connecticut Land Company, settled the region by selling the land to New Englanders. Many of the early settlers of this region are from Connecticut, so this part of the state has a New England look and feel. It’s especially noticeable in towns like Hudson and Tallmadge, Ohio.

The architecture mimics what would be found in Connecticut at the turn of the nineteenth century. Greek revival, Georgian, and Federal are the most prominent.

Can you tell I like talking about this subject? I love Ohio history and did a lot of research on the Western Reserve while writing the book. I became interested in it while working at a living history museum during college. When I was forced to take Ohio history in seventh grade, I wasn’t such a fan.

If you interested, you can learn more through the Western Reserve Historical Society website.

EBD: I have to admit that the title of your book led me astray because I’ve read a few series in which the main characters were cleaning ladies, so I just assumed…how did you name the book?

AF: Since the mystery is centered on a wedding and India is a bridesmaid in the novel, the title, Maid of Murder is a play on the maid of honor. My publisher asked me to think of a new catchy title for the novel, and I thought of the title while driving home one night from the library.

EBD: Is this the first in a series?

AF: Yes, this is the first in the India Hayes Mystery Series. In the second novel, India is helping her sister out at an arts and crafts festival. As part of the festival, she has to wear a pink gingham pioneer dress. Of course, she hates that. I know I’m mean to keep putting her in these awful outfits like the bridesmaid dress in Maid of Murder, but I can’t resist. It’s just too funny.

EBD: Do you have a deadline for the second book?

AF: I just sent my editor the sequel a few weeks ago, but I don’t have a publication date yet for the new book. I hope to hear news soon.

EBD: You also write young adult manuscripts. For a writer, the audiences are quite different. Why both markets?

AF: As a kid, I fell in love with reading through chapter books and young adults novels. I just gobbled them up. I wrote the middle grade mystery with the hopes I could help another child become a lifetime reader. I’m indebted to Ann M. Martin, Robin Jones Gunn, and Patricia Rushford for helping me love to read. I still enjoy young adult literature. I love Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, and Sarah Mlynowski.

Next week, Amanda shares her insight into the publishing process, and tells us how she chose her publisher. Maid for Murder proves Amanda as a gifted and witty writer, and I’m looking forward to reading this new series.

To learn more about Amanda and Maid of Murder, visit her online at You can also follow Amanda on Facebook at or Twitter at


Ramona said...

Just when you think the worst fashion moments happen to bridesmaids, Amanda comes up with a pink gingham pioneer dress. LOL!

Best of luck with the series. And aren't the Guppies fabulous?

E. B. Davis said...

I read Maid for Murder prior to the interview. There is no way one would suspect that this is a first effort. Amanda is an accomplished writer, and I enjoyed the book very much.

Pauline Alldred said...

I think writing for young adults has to be a daunting task because their world and interests change so quickly. It's great that you can keep up and encourage young readers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! I recently heard from my publisher that the second novel in the series will be released in early 2012.

Ramona, The Guppies are wonderful! :)

E.B., I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

Pauline, Thank you for the encouragement!