Monday, May 9, 2011

"Singing in Babylon" from Ann Gaylia O'Barr

Clash of The Titles

Meet Former Clash of the Titles Competitor Ann Gaylia O’Barr,
guest post by Amanda Flower
Ann Gaylia O’Barr is a former Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department. She had several assignments overseas, including one in Saudi Arabia, which certainly influenced her novel, Singing in Babylon.

Clash of the Titles featured Ann during our Best Description of an Antagonist Week, and she was the Clash champion! Her villain kept our readers jumping!

In Singing in Babylon, recent grad Kate McCormack, saddled with college debt, has limited options…until she accepts an offer to teach English in Saudi Arabia. Plunged into a foreign world, she’s homesick and lonely, stuck in a gilded prison where women aren’t even allowed to walk around the block by themselves. The future stretches before her like a leaden sky.

Journalist Philip Tangvald, on the trail of a story about illegal immigration routes through the Middle East and North Africa, is intrigued by the feisty Kate, but wonders if he deserves to find love again. Too much loss and betrayal has burdened his life. First, his father, when he was eleven. And, a year ago, his wife. Now he’s free of everything—except the guilt from his past—and wants to stay that way.

Two worlds, two hearts in exile, are about to collide. And when they do, might they find a new song to sing … in Babylon?

We posed a few more questions to Ann, which she was kind enough to answer.

Who is your favorite character you've created and why?
I think Philip intrigues me the most. Kate is pretty clear cut in what she wants. Philip has so much to learn about forgiveness and being able to grow beyond childhood hurts and yield to the love he so wants to express but has difficulty doing. He’s a complex character.

Have you learned anything new about God's character through this book?
As I developed the male protagonist, Philip, the passage in the Bible about God removing our sins as far away as the east is from the west came alive in a new way. Philip’s deep need is to see God as one who yearns to love him despite his failings.

If you could interview one character in your book, which one would it be? What shocking or interesting thing might that character say? Why?
Actually, I have Philip, the journalist in the story, carry on a conversation with a citizen of Saudi Arabia who lived in the U.S. for some time. In that conversation, or interview, the Saudi surprises Philip, an American Christian, with the question of why Saudi Arabia would want the American way of life, given the hedonistic life style that he witnessed while in the U.S.

When's your favorite time to write?
When I get up in the morning (I tend to rise early). I have a short devotional period and then settle in to write. How much time I can spend with it (all morning, a couple of hours) depends on family needs, meetings to attend, household chores that can’t be put off any longer, and so on.

Share something about the book that you think readers would like to know.
Some of the perspective for Singing in Babylon came from the insights I gained while living in Muslim-majority lands. I saw America as Muslim Arabs might see it. I began to differentiate between America the country and American Christians. The years in those countries also strengthened my core Christian beliefs. I began to see Jesus as our living revelation from God, as contrasted with the Quran, which Muslims believe is God’s revelation.

Thank you so much for stopping by Ann. We enjoyed having you on Clash of the Titles and look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Singing in Babylon was published by OakTara Publishers in 2010, and Ann has two more novels under contract: Quiet Deception and Searching for Home.

You can visit Ann at her website

Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, is an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and the first in a series featuring amateur sleuth India Hayes. Like her main character, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime and on the Clash of the Titles staff. Her next mystery, Murder in a Basket, will be released in January 2012. Visit her online at


  1. The title is very intriguing and I would love to read what is inside the book. Stories that take place in different cultures appeal to me. I'm impressed that Amanda has had the opportunity to live her Christianity in a non-Christian environment. Thank you for offering your book as the giveaway and to KD the chance to win it. As always, I hope I win!

    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

  2. Oh my goodness!! I referred to Ann as Amanda. I apologize and hope that Ann will take the apology in the spirit it was made. Now, I need to win Ann's book so I can keep her name straight! LOL

    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

  3. Not only did the story catch my eye, but the setting in Saudi Arabia is appealing, particularly with all that's going on in the world these days. I would love knowing more about these people and their culture. Thanks for writing books that honor the Lord, & help us to better know God's character.

  4. What a lovely name for an author!:)

  5. This sounds like a good read, especially with the inside knowledge of what it's like to live there. I know several missionaries who spend time in Muslim countries. Praise God for them, I sure wouldn't want to live there!

    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

  6. Sounds like a wonderful story!

  7. Thanks for the wonderful comments! My time as a Christian in a Muslim-majority countries caused me to understand how necessary it is for American Christians to keep up with the rest of the world. The recent unrest in North Africa and the Middle East may impact Christians in those countries. Also, the choices we American Christians make impact the way, favorably or unfavorably, that the world looks at us---witness the Quran burning by the Florida pastor.

  8. @Mommy, I'm glad you're intrigued! I LOVE writing about Wisconsin. My second in the series (releasing in Oct.) involves the Great Peshtigo Fire.
    @Melissa, thanks for voting for TGV!
    And thanks ALL OF YOU, for stopping by and entering.

  9. thanks for the chance to read this novel....

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  10. From Ann Gaylia:
    Thanks for your comments, Folks!

    I read the news about the unrest in the Middle East with more understanding after having lived there. As a Christian growing up, I don't think I had ever heard of Coptic Christains. Now, they should be objects of our prayer as they deal with changes in Egypt. Christianity is more than ever a worldwide religion, and I encourage all of you to keep up with our brothers and sisters in other countries.

  11. What an interesting lady! I love the setting
    of her book, Singing in Babylon...
    Many thanks, Cindi

  12. I would like to be entered in this contest please!! =)

    Tvaleros18 @ gmail [dot] com

    Thank you!!

  13. Interesting topic...would love a chance to win! margie at mijares dot net

  14. I pulled workamper2530 out of the hat to win Singing in Babylon. Thanks for all your comments, folks!