Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man" by Claudia Mair Burney
This book is a laugh out loud, mystery that will keep you going from beginning to end. I love the characters, the dialogue is absolutely brilliant and this book and it's sequel "Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz" are fantastic. You start with a single 30 something forensic psyshologist who has never actually been to a bad crime scene, her 40 something sister who is a medical examiner and then throw in a good looking, tall drink of water named Jazz who just happens to be a homicide detective. Mix that up at a crime scene and come away with Amanda Bell Brown starting in on an investigation dealing with cult leaders and their influence over people while crushing on some Jazz. There is some deep insight into some dark stuff while some amazing flirtation and sweet nothings between Bell and Jazz and her sister Carly is there to protect her. What a great book!
The description reads:
Amanda Bell Brown knows that life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But when she turns thirty-five with no husband or baby on the horizon, she decides she's gotta get out and paint the town -- in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime -- and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes -- especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wreaking havoc on her birthday, but will her sleuthing leave her alive to see past thirty-five?Now let's meet Claudia...
1) I was blown away when I read "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man", I have never laughed out loud so much while reading a book - ever! I had to keep stopping and reading sections out loud to my husband so he'd know why I was giddy. Who did you base this fantastic character on? And are they really that funny or is that you coming through?
Thanks for your kind words, Janna. I love to imagine readers cracking up when they read my books. They actually ended up much funnier than I intended them to be, but what can you do? Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man was my first book, and the opportunity came to me very quickly. I so cheated and gave Amanda the name of my great-grandmother, and as far as character goes, she was essentially me! Life is very funny for me, even when I don't want it to be.
2) Now lest my readers get the wrong idea and think that these are just funny "ha-ha" books, I should clarify that the dialogue is hilarious, but the situations - not so much. The first book deals with cults and how the leaders gain control over others, that was some pretty heavy stuff. How did you research that?
Jazz and Carly were absolutely built on people I know. Carly is my sister, Carly. As for Jazz, the way he looks and talks is like a certain fine man in my life, but the Catholic thing was something I added, I had no idea why at the time. I guess I just wanted to write about someone with a different take on spirituality, because so much Christian fiction is the same old, same old. I wish I knew more about the subject of Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage when I broached it in those books. I never meant to have that thread. In my original story, Jazz was still married but separated from Kate, and fell in love with Amanda by mistake. Couldn't sell the book like that, so I made him divorced, but it changed the nature of the conflict considerably. I hadn't expected that. I also wrote a Catholic character without knowing a great deal about Catholics at the time. I did too much assuming, I'm sad to say. Divorce isn't the unpardonable sin, and remarriage doesn't doom one's soul, but marriage is a sacrament. Not to be taken lightly, just like Jesus taught. There is healing, and forgiveness, and circumstances that genuinely merit divorce, but yes, devout Catholics would feel very strongly about that. Any Christian should.3) I love the secondary characters that round the book out - Amanda's sister and Jazz, the detective. Some of the scenarios they are dealing with are pretty interesting - like Jazz's ex-wife. This leads to some theological discussion (Can you remarry after divorcing...) that made me think. Do you find it difficult to show both sides in a discussion like that?
4) I've recently read "Wounded" and it is in a whole different vein than the Amanda Bell Brown books. How did that book come about?
For some reason, the phenomenon of stigmata fascinated me. It both drew and repelled me. I didn't understand this bloody, bizarre way to share in Christ's suffering. I didn't understand sharing in Christ's suffering, but I wanted, no, I needed to explore it. Like Gina Merritt, I'm bipolar, with constant pain from fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndrome. I wanted to deal with the fact that God wasn't healing me, but rather, loving me in my affliction. I wanted to let people know it was okay if they were suffering. It didn't mean they lacked faith.
5) Did I read somewhere that I have another Amanda Bell Brown book to look forward to?
Yes! The third in the series picks up six weeks after the second left off. We see Rocky reaching out to reconcile to Bell, and unwittingly plunging her into what my great-grandmother would call, "a world of trouble." We get a very different kind of villain in this, and you get to see if Amanda gets her man or not.
6) What other projects can we look forward to from you?
I have two more books in my Exorsistah series coming out, and I'll be writing my first non-fiction book, a fun book about the teachings of Teresa of Avila. I may have comic books in my future. A long shot, but anything is possible, right? Some things are in the works. That's really all I can say about it right now.
7) Where can readers find you online?
My net home is my blog, http://ragamuffindiva.blogspot.com, but if you don't want "too much information" you probably shouldn't go there. It gets pretty personal. I do have a dot com, simply claudiamairburney.com. You can find some info about my books there, and my book blog, http://claudiamairburneybooks.blogspot.com
If you would like to win a copy of "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man" from Claudia then leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what book has made you laugh recently and you will have 1 entry in the drawing!
If you tell someone else (especially your best friend) about this interview with Claudia and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck! And to sweeten the pot - we will have a 2nd drawing for the other book we talked about in the interview "Wounded" so there will be 2 winners!