Look for a librarian who spends most of her free time plotting murder and you’ll find Amanda Flower. Flower’s third book, A Plain Death, the first in the three-book Appleseed Creek Mystery series from B&H Books, releases on July 4.
You might think writing would come easily to a librarian, but, says Flower, “The hardest part of writing a novel is starting a new one. I will do just about anything to avoid it, including cleaning out my garage.”
The easiest part? “Making up the quirky supporting cast. I can find humor in just about anyone, and I love to bring comic relief in my novels through the minor characters,” she says.
Flower previously authored the India Hayes Mystery series for Five Star/Gale; the first book, Maid of Murder,was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery of 2010; the second, Murder in a Basket, was released in February. After this initial foray, Flower brainstormed ideas for a new series with her agent Nicole Resciniti. When Resciniti heard that Flower had lived in Ohio’s Amish country in her twenties, she suggested trying Amish mysteries. Flower says Resciniti sold the Appleseed Creek Mystery series on only a 50-page proposal.
In A Plain Death, truth and fiction overlap for Flower when her protagonist, Chloe Humphrey, moves to Ohio’s rural Amish country because it is the only place she can find a job as an IT specialist. Although the careers are different, “that is exactly what happened to me right out of graduate school,” Flower, now 32, says. She worked at a library in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and lived among the Amish for three years. “My experience was very much a city girl moves to the country,” just like that of Chloe in A Plain Death.
But another Amish novel? “I hope readers will find A Plain Death a little different from most Amish books,” Flower says. “First and foremost it is a mystery that deals with the murder of an Amish bishop, and the Amish can have a motive for murder just as easily as an ‘English,’ non-Amish person can.” Still, the usual elements of successful Amish fiction are all in place--the Amish work ethic, a sense of community, and faith in God.
The combination of buggies, bonnets, and bloodshed continues to generate interest in Flower’s work, though there’s room for growth as a writer. She’s assuming the pen name of Isabella Alan for another three-book series, The Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, this one with New American Library/Penguin. Amish aficionados can anticipate the first book, Murder, Plain and Simple, in 2013.