Guest Author: Christy Barrit

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Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt
Kregel Publications
ISBN: 978-0825420160

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 uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes 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?

From the opening line to the final word, Hazardous Duty held my attention throughout the book. Christy’s fresh character with a unique occupation and her friends kept me laughing…and occasionally sniffling from beginning to end. If you enjoy suspense with a touch of sass, Hazardous Duty is for you.

I had the opportunity to talk with Christy Barritt about her characters and writing. Here’s what she has to say:

Gabby St. Claire is an unusual character with an unusual profession. How did her character and career choice come about?

I developed the idea for Hazardous Duty after I realized there was such a profession as crime scene cleaner. I was writing for another publication when the opportunity arose to job shadow a crime scene cleaner for an article. As soon as I heard that job title, I thought, what a great protagonist for a mystery novel! Hazardous Duty grew from there. Gabby came to me just as all my characters do—they start talking to me and won’t get out of my head until I get them down on paper!

How much of yourself is found in your characters?

There’s a little of me found in each of my characters. Gabby, for instance, loves music. So do I! I’m always walking around, singing some song or another. I think writing about different characters helps you, as a writer, discover things about yourself also. You have to dig deep in order to understand your characters. You have to be honest in how your characters think, even if it’s a reflection of you.

Where does Gabby go after Hazardous Duty?

I’m currently working on The Grim Sweeper, book two in the Squeaky Clean series. Gabby continues with her adventures in crime scene cleaning (and romance!) in this book. It all starts when she finds Elvis, dead in the crawlspace of a house. She continues to explore her curiosity about God and faith, trying to marry those concepts with her love of science.

How did you know God was calling you to write?

I’ve loved to write from a very young age. Right after college, I thought maybe editing was the path I should follow. I did that for a couple of years and found it just wasn’t my passion. I love the process of creating. It was after I left my job at a publishing house and moved back home to care from my ill father that I felt the definite call from God to write. I’m not always very confident about the things God calls me to do. But when it came to writing, I heard his call clearer then ever before. I’ve been writing ever since then.

Writing while caring for an infant is challenging. What changes have you had to make to maintain a writing schedule?

Eli has turned my little world upside down! The only way I’m able to write with an infant is because my mom watches Eli two days a week. I furiously work on those days. I also manage to work some on nights and weekends, though I try not to do that too often. When I’m with my son, I try and put writing out of my head. He’s only going to be young once and I don’t want to miss anything. As a former workaholic, Eli has really helped me to see my priorities all the more clearly.

Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?

There are so many people that it’s truly hard to pick just one. I think a turning point for my writing came when I went to a small writing conference in Richmond, Virginia. A well-known writer read the first chapter of one of my books. After reading it, he wrote with a red pen across the first page, “You are a master storyteller.” I’ve never forgotten that encouragement. I think it gave me the courage to continue.

What’s the most important bit of writing advice you’ve received?

That same writer that I just mentioned encouraged me to write what I’m passionate about. Previously, someone had told me that I should break into writing by doing category romances. I like category romances, but they’re not my passion. He told me not to sell out and to persist with the book of my heart. I did.

What advice do you offer to writers striving for publication?

Be persistent. I hear too many people saying they want to be writers, yet they never write. If you really want to be published, write as often as you can. And even when you get rejections, don’t give up. Keep pushing ahead. The more you write, the better you will get. Attend conferences. Read good books. And hold on to your determination.

Do you have a favorite life verse?

Proverbs 16:3 says: Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. I hang on to this verse often. To me, this verse is saying that if we’re doing something for the Lord, then it’s a success. This doesn’t mean our venture will be a success in the world’s eyes. But it does mean that God will be pleased with us when we serve him in everything.

What are three things readers might be surprised to learn about you?

First, I live at the beach but I can’t swim, nor do I like ocean water. Second, my mother looks just like Barbara Bush. And third, I have the hardest time making decisions! Just ask my husband!

Christy, a huge thanks for being a part of my blog. I look forward to reading The GrimSweeper. You can visit Christy’s website for more information about her life and writing.

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1 Comment

  1. angela

    I'm looking forward to The Grim Sweeper, too. Hazardous Duty was one of my favorite books of the year–maybe because my writing was compared to Christy's or maybe because her book just plain rocks. Usually I can figure a mystery out, but she kept me guessing. And laughing. What more could a reader ask for?