Monday, November 13, 2006

Interview with Christy Barritt

Captain’s Log, Stardate 11.13.2006

Today I’m joined by my fellow ACFW member (and fellow debut novelist) Christy Barritt! I’m glad she could join me because she only just had a new baby a few months ago!

Christy's latest novel is Hazardous Duty.

Buying a gun to kill your wife: $3,000
Hiring Trauma Care to clean afterward: $1,500
Having that same cleaner uncover evidence that frames you: priceless

On her way to completing a degree in forensic science, Gabby St. Claire drops out of school and starts her own crime scene cleaning business. “Yeah, that’s me,” she says, “a crime scene cleaner. People waiting in line behind me who strike up conversations always regret it.”

When a routine cleaning job leads her to find a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is a powerful foe . . . and willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet.

With the help of her new neighbor, Riley Thomas, a man whose life and faith fascinate her, Gabby plays the detective to make sure the right person is put behind bars. Can Riley help her before another murder occurs?

“Christy Barritt’s novel, Hazardous Duty, is a delightful read from beginning to end. The story’s fresh, engaging heroine with an unusual occupation hooked me, and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend Hazardous Duty.”
—Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer, book one of the Fire Jumpers Series

"With Gabby St. Claire, Christy Barritt has created a fun sleuth in a unique profession. Hazardous Duty provides both humor and an engaging mystery. The twists and turns of the whodunit are matched only by the surprises of Gabby's spiritual growth and romantic entanglements."
—Sharon Dunn, author of the Ruby Taylor mysteries including Cow Crimes and Mustang Menace.

"Christy Barritt is a bright new voice on the fiction scene, destined to rise above the others with her fun, intriguing mysteries. . . . Stay tuned and watch for more from this gifted, talented author..You'll love it."
—Cheryl Wolverton, multi-published author, award Winner, The Choice of Readers (IRCC Winner)

"The next time you're tempted to watch CSI reruns, read this book instead! Spunky, sassy Gabby St. Claire sparkles in this new series. She'll keep you turning the pages."
—Siri Mitchell, author of The Cubicle Next Door

And now, here’s Christy!

How did you come up with the idea for Hazardous Duty?

One of the publications that I used to write for asked me to write a profile on a crime-scene cleaner. As soon as I realized that was actually a career, sparks began flying in my head. Before long, Gabby St. Claire was born. I was in the middle of writing another book, but I had to stop and write her story right then. She wouldn’t let me rest until I did! I’m working on book number two right now and the gal still won’t let me rest. What can I say? She’s a very demanding girl!

Your bio says you had "a short jaunt in the independent Christian music field." Tell All!

You may regret the “all” part. :) Here goes … At the end of my college career, one of my girlfriends and I began playing and singing together—me on the guitar and she on the piano. A local producer heard us and really liked our sound. He’d produced another album, which had been picked up by a big label and one of the songs got to number one on some music chart (I could have told you five years ago but now I’m drawing a blank!).

This producer liked us so much that he wanted to cut an album for us. We worked with him for awhile but ultimately decided to part ways. By this time, we’d already written a lot of our own songs. We’d also invited another friend of ours who played the viola to join us. Someone once called us the Mod Squad of Christian music: we were one white, one black, and one blonde. Okay, I have no idea if that’s PC, so moving on…

We ended up doing an album on our own. We had a great time together playing at coffeehouses, churches, camps, retreats and concert venues. We got to open for some Christian groups that we really admired. I remember one two-week period where we did 12 concerts—all while working full-time. What can I say? We were dedicated!

It’s kind of a long story what happened from there, and it’s a little sad. The short of it is that my father became very ill, so I moved back home to Virginia from Cincinnati. The good news is that through moving home and the emotional toll my father’s sickness took on me, I had to have a release. That’s when I turned back to writing—something I’d always loved. I wrote one of my first books while sitting by my father’s bedside. A small press ended up picking it up, and I dedicated that book to my father, who passed away four years ago last month.

You lead worship at church! (So do I--I play an indifferent guitar and mostly on-key singing). What do you play?

I play the guitar and sing. We do a lot of songs from the Passion projects. It’s funny because I never thought I would be a worship leader. I just didn’t think it was my thing. But the doors kept continually opening and I finally got the hint. Once I started doing it, I absolutely loved it! I still love it. There’s just something about being before the throne of God and singing his praises with other believers that’s unlike anything else on this earth.

To be honest, though, I’m at a place right now where I’m backing off from doing it every Sunday. I have a four-month-old, which complicates things quite a bit. I’m really searching for God’s voice as to what I should do. I miss leading worship, but I’m also learning that I can’t do everything … or, at least, I can’t do everything and do it well.

Finish this sentence: Writing a novel is like...

Having a baby--painful but rewarding. Believe me, I know. This year I gave birth to my first baby and had a novel released! :)

Do you have a favorite scripture verse for your writing?

Proverbs 16:3: Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. This helps me not to define success in earthly terms but in heavenly terms. In earthly terms, success would be not only having a book published, but having it go on to sell lots and lots of copies. Of course I would like for this to happen. But more importantly, I want to listen to God's sometimes still, small voice. Faithful obedience to my Creator is the biggest success I seek in my life. It’s also an easier virtue in theory than to actually live out.

I love ethnic food--give me anything I can't pronounce and I'll at least try it. Do you have a favorite ethnic food? Do you cook anything you're particularly proud of?

Oh, I love Middle East food. My current favorite is baba ganoush. It's so yummy! And I think it's healthy, though I can't be sure. I'll just assume it is to make myself feel better when I eat it. :-)

As far as something that I cook, I have to say that whenever I make my Stromboli, it gets rave reviews. I don’t make it very often because, for one, it’s fattening and two, it’s involved. Usually I make it when we’re having friends over to eat. I think it’s one of the reasons my husband keeps on inviting people over—he knows that’s the only way he’ll get me to make it!

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be and why?

Fun question. I’d have to say Wonder Woman. Even as a little girl, I would dress up like her. I made little wrists cuffs and a tiara out of paper and I taped them in place. Then I’d fight the bad guys and fly away in my invisible jet. What can I say? Wonder Woman rocks!

Camy here: Thanks for joining us, Christy! So can I come over to have some of that stromboli?


Bible in 90 Days: Days 13 & 14. My Life Application Bible has a list of why the second generation of Israelites turned away from God to worship the Canaanite idols.

Well, first of all, they hadn’t completely driven the Canaanites from their land. That was their foremost problem. So the foreign gods were still being worshipped by the slave Canaanites.

But the list is interesting because it looks so much like the excuses people give today: Immediate self-gratification, sensuality approved, low ethical standards tolerated, neighbors’ sins approved, selfishness condoned, freer and less ethical business relations, compromise and cooperation practiced rather than an ethical stand taken.

Worshipping God is hard. But He also never said it was easy. And I’m seeing the parallels between my generation and the Israelites, apart from all the weird stuff like bowing down to idols, Asherah poles, and sacrificing children.

Writing: I posted another article on developing your writer’s voice at my Story Sensei blog, and a Health and the Writer column at WriterQuotes blog.

Wrote some on Saturday, but not near as much as I wanted to. I had so much time and I just wasted it staring at the blinking cursor.

Diet: I exercised 5 days last week and I exercised yesterday! Now for another 5 days this week! I love Denise Austin. She’s challenging but not too hard.