I'd like to welcome Pamela Burford to the blog today. Pamela writes the Jane Delaney Mystery series, the first of which, Undertaking Irene, was published earlier this month.
Kathy: The Death Diva business is certainly unique. Where did you get the idea of this career for Jane?
PB: Undertaking Irene was inspired by an article I read in the New York Times about a woman who is paid to deliver flowers to graves and scatter ashes. I’d been looking for the ideal career for my sleuth, and knew right then that I’d found it! Of course, Jane Delaney gets a bit more adventurous with her Death Diva business. In the beginning of Undertaking Irene, for instance, she’s been hired to liberate a brooch from a corpse during the wake!
Kathy: While I have heard of professional mourners, my experience with them comes from television and historical non-fiction books, not in real life. Have you had an opportunity to meet any real life professional mourners?
PB: They still exist in some cultures, but I haven’t met any. In Undertaking Irene, Jane does a job that comes under the umbrella of professional mourner, but with a twist: She’s been hired by a dying man to play the role of his sexpot mistress during his funeral, to stick it to his philandering wife.
Kathy: Sexy Beast sounds like a fun partner. Is he based on a real animal?
PB: Sexy Beast was inspired by my own dog, Murray the Wonder Poodle. I just amped up Murray’s physical features (such as his buckfang) and neurotic personality. Sexy Beast’s original owner in Undertaking Irene was a movie buff who named all her dogs after her favorite films, including Dr. Strangelove, Annie Hall, and Jaws.
Kathy: In addition to mysteries you also write romances. Does one genre come more easily than the other?
PB: Writing is never easy if you do it right, so I’d have to say no. The genres do require different approaches, though. Writing a mystery is like crafting a complicated puzzle. For me, it’s a labor of love. I intend to stick with my Jane Delaney mystery series from here on out—I’m enjoying it too much to stop!
Kathy: Your twin sister is also an author, and also writes mysteries and romance. Who started writing first? Did one success spurn the other on? Is there a healthy competition between you?
PB: Our writing careers began with a bet. We challenged each other to see who could write, and publish, a romance novel first. This was back in 1992. I won the bet by writing and selling my book first, but then the publisher went out of business before it saw print! Meanwhile my identical twin sister, Patricia Ryan, aka P.B. Ryan, wrote a Golden Heart Award – winning book and sold it. So in a sense, we both won the bet and are now award-winning, best-selling authors. I’d say that qualifies as healthy competition. J
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
PB: I love the insular world they take place in, usually a small town where everyone knows one another, such as the fictional Crystal Harbor in Undertaking Irene.
Kathy: You write mysteries and romances. Do you write in any other genres?
PB: Not unless you consider romantic suspense a separate genre. My backlist includes five romantic suspense and nine contemporary romance novels.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
PB: As the local professional Death Diva, Jane Delaney finds herself confronting suspicious death on a regular basis. How convenient! ;) Following Undertaking Irene, Jane and her sidekick, the seven-pound furball Sexy Beast, will continue to get involved in all sorts of entertainingly bizarre adventures, which will be spiced up by the involvement of Jane’s ex, Dom, and the mysterious and possibly dangerous Martin. Hey, every female sleuth needs both a good boy and a bad boy in her life!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
PB: How can I not adore Sexy Beast? He even has his own Twitter account! Follow him at @SexyBeastTheDog.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
PB: What writer doesn’t want to share her stories with the world? Of course, making the decision to publish is the easy part. Getting a publisher to agree? Not so easy! Nowadays many authors, including yours truly, self-publish their books. That route has both advantages and disadvantages.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
PB: William Shakespeare (mainly to find out whether the theory that his work was written by someone else is true!)
Mark Twain (could you imagine a wittier dinner guest?)
Elmore Leonard (recently deceased—what a remarkable storyteller!)
Jeffrey Eugenides (one of the greatest living authors)
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
PB: The Fame Thief by the wonderful mystery author Timothy Hallinan. Loving it!
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
PB: I enjoy yoga, cooking, and (wait for it) reading.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
PB: Olives, vermouth, and vodka. Oh yes, and cocktail onions for when I’m in the mood for a gibson instead of a martini.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
PB: Absolutely! I’m working on book two of the Jane Delaney mystery series. The working title is Uprooting Ernie.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
PB: I love connecting with my readers and getting feedback about my work. There’s a contact form on my website, as well as a newsletter sign-up!
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