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Between the lines with Barbara Ross (Q&A w/ event details)

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Barbara Ross.

A featured guest at Saturday’s Mystery Writers Workshop sponsored by R.J. Julia Booksellers (see event details below), Ms. Ross is also the author of Boiled Over (Kensington, $7.99), which will be published on May 6th. She was the 2012 President of Sisters in Crime New England and co-chair of the New England Crime Bake. Ms. Ross is a co-editor/co-author at Level Best Books, which produces an award-winning anthology of crime and mystery stories by New England authors every November. She and her husband make their home in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Boiled Over is the second Maine Clam Bake Mystery following Clammed Up (2013), which was nominated for both an Agatha Award and an RT Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. Advance praise has been enthusiastic; RT Book Reviews awarded the title 4.5 stars, noting, “With quick pacing and plenty of red herrings, Ross leads readers on a thrilling ride to track down a killer.”

From the publisher:

For Julia Snowden, the Founder's Day summer celebration in Busman's Harbor, Maine, means helping her family's clambake company to prepare an authentic taste of New England seafood. Any Mainer will tell you that a real clambake needs wood for the fire . . . so why is there a foot sticking out of the oven?

The townspeople want to pin the murder of the RV park owner on Cabe Stone, a new employee of the Snowden Family Clambake Company--who bolted from the crime scene and disappeared. Julia knows having another murder associated with her family's business is a recipe for disaster . . . but who is the killer? Cooking up a proper investigation doesn't leave much time for the rest of Julia's life, and this is one killer who'll do anything to stop her from digging up clues . . .

Includes Traditional Maine Clambake Recipes!

Now, Barbara Ross reveals a few pages from the book of her life …

1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

Loud and proud, though honestly I don't remember the divide between readers and others being particularly deep in those long ago days. It was assumed everybody read.

2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

Like a lot of female mystery writers, I read all the Nancy Drews and progressed from there to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Then I took a long walk away from mysteries through contemporary American literature and came back in via P.D. James and Ruth Rendell.

3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

I'm currently reading The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and I'm loving it.

4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?

People frequently ask me for mystery recommendations, not surprisingly. The question is usually something like, "If I don't read mysteries, how should I start?" I often recommend Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series because it is beautifully written and constructed. Start with the first one, Case Histories.

5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

Clammed Up, because it is the first in my new Maine Clambake Mystery series. The second book in the series, Boiled Over, comes out May 6.

6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

Although I've been all mystery, mystery, mystery in my answers here, I read widely, particularly contemporary fiction and narrative non-fiction. The book I'll mention is Zinsky the Obscure by Ilan Mochari. It's pretty much the opposite of everything I've listed in my other answers. It's a coming of age story, it's a very male story and there's no mystery except the universal one of understanding our human heart--and I loved it.

7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

Can I say two?

One was meeting Ruth Rendell at a book signing. I was able to tell her what an inspiration she has been to me and what a huge fan I am. I gave her a copy of my first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, and she asked me to inscribe it to her.

The second was when I was working in the Sisters in Crime New England booth at the Boston Book Festival and Alexander McCall Smith came up. I gushed and offered him a free copy of Best New England Crime Stories, the annual short story anthology I co-edit/co-publish. He said, very seriously, "I pay for books," and took money out of his wallet and paid me. I thought that was a great statement of his values.

8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

I believe in celebrating and enjoying every little step. Finishing that first, first draft. Finishing that first book. Getting that first short story published. Enjoy it all. Clammed Up has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and an RT Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Novel of 2013--Amateur Sleuth and those have been big moments for me. I feel like Sally Fields.

9) What is your greatest literary ambition?

Oh, gosh. To write something memorable. To entertain and engage my readers. Time is the most precious thing humans have, and when someone gives you their time, I feel a responsibility to offer them your best. So I would say my greatest ambition is to do that.

10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

… so, so generous to have invited me to visit!

***

With thanks to Barbara Ross for her generosity of time and thought.

Ms. Ross will appear at the Mystery Writers Workshop presented by R.J. Julia Booksellers next Saturday, April 26th, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Other authors will include James Benn, Roberta Isleib (aka Lucy Burdette), Daniel Palmer, M.J. Rose, and Spencer Quinn. The cost is $50/person, and includes morning and afternoon panels, lunch, and meet & greet time with the authors. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. The event will be held at the Madison Winter Club, located at 251 Boston Post Rd. More information can be found here.

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