FEATURED AUTHOR: BARBARA BARRETT
ABOUT THE BOOKEssential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.
Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.
The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.
Author: Barbara Barrett
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Mah Jongg Mystery, book 2
Publisher: self-published (April 3, 2018)
Page count: 268
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours
INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA BARRETT
Barbara, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
The Mah Jongg Mystery series features four retired female sleuths who play mah jongg. There are three suits of tiles in mah jongg: craks, dots, and bamboos. Each title of this series will feature a different mah jongg term, in this case, the bamboos. I started with the title and then found a plot that centered on someone who was “bamboozled.”
Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
This is a standalone with background information about the four main characters in each book.
Where’s home for you?
I currently reside in central Florida seven months of the year and central Iowa the other five. This mah jongg series is set in central Florida.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in southeast Iowa in the Mississippi River town of Burlington. It serves as the locale for my first contemporary romance series, The Matchmaking Motor Coach, about three brothers who customize luxury coaches.
What do you love about where you live?
I love the sense of community. My husband and I decided to live in an intergenerational town rather than a gated, over-55 establishment so that we could be near families and enjoy a wide variety of things to do. When I first moved there, I knew no one except our real estate agent; I joined a mah jongg group to be more social and it has served as one of my favorite pastimes since.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
More about the community in which I live in central Florida. My husband continued to work for five more years after I retired and was only able to visit me in Florida every few weeks. Since I didn’t know anyone, I had to push myself out of my sometimes introvert self and meet new people. I did this by joining several community activities. I already mentioned mah jongg. I also took part in forming a book club, a knitting group, and participated in numerous events and excursions.
What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
To eat better and take better care of my body.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
When I was in high school, I played the violin and served as the orchestra’s concertmistress. My director pushed me to play a solo in the state contest. I wasn’t very good at memorizing music but attempted it just the same. A friend of mine accompanied me on the piano. I was so nervous, I had to stop and start three times. Finally, I was able to proceed by looking over her shoulder at her music. Although it was humiliating, the experience also taught me how to survive in the midst of adversity and terrible embarrassment.
What makes you scared?
The unknown. Deep down, I have enough confidence in my intelligence and ability to react to unexpected situations that I could probably survive and maybe even thrive responding to unknown situations, but I still worry. It’s probably my writer’s brain that imagines so many different possibilities that makes me uneasy.
How did you meet your spouse?
My spouse and I met during floor counselor training our senior year of college. Back then, “sensitivity” training was very popular. One of the exercises in which all the new counselors participated was non-verbal communication. Everyone was tasked with circulating through the room and letting others know who they were without saying anything. My husband stood out to me because he was freaking at the idea of not talking and wound up making goofy faces and hand gestures. Love at first sight? Not exactly. Shortly thereafter, our two residence hall floors had a mixer and we were chaperones. On the sidelines, since neither of us was into dancing, we got to talking and that led to his taking me home and asking for a date the next week. That was in the fall; not quite eleven months later, he proposed.
What brings you sheer delight?
Hugs from my grandchildren.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Romans 12:6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” I like to believe that every one of us has a special talent; the challenge is to discover it and then not be afraid to use it.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
I live in Paradise (central Florida) the way it is and Iowa to stay grounded. But if I could live anywhere else, it would be Paris. I’ve been there three times and still haven’t seen enough. But living in and visiting are two different things. I have visited England, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and soon, Canada, and all have been amazing experiences. I have also enjoyed seeing different parts of the United States, especially the Grand Canyon and Pacific Coast.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” Why does this appeal to me? I guess because it sort of says it all.
Are you like any of your characters?
I like to think there is a little bit of me in each of my four senior sleuths. I gave Sydney my leadership skills, Marianne, my analytical ability, Kat, my optimism and Micki, my inquisitiveness.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Kristen Hannah’s The Great Alone on my iPad. Trying to finish it before our Alaskan cruise.
What are you working on now?
Book 3 in this series, Connect the Dots. This time, the main protagonist is Micki Demetrius, and her attempt to help a fellow mah jongg player fight the developer that left so many items unfinished in her new condo and discover how her son really died.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
Connect with Barbara:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter
Buy the book: