If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Interview With Edith Maxwell

by Grace Topping

Whether writing under the name of Edith Maxwell, Maddie Day, or Tace Baker, Edith writes a terrific book, or two, or three each year that will thoroughly entertain you. This prolific writer has a reputation for hard work and a commitment to her writing career that is truly inspirational. She is currently working on four separate mystery series. When once asked how she found inspiration, she replied, “Butt in the chair.”

I had the privilege of meeting Edith at a Malice Domestic Conference and later talking to her at the Fall for the Book Festival, based at George Mason University in Virginia, when she appeared as a guest speaker. She is as delightful in person as her characters are in her multiple books.

Recently, the Malice Domestic board announced that Edith had been nominated for an Agatha award in not one but two categories: Delivering the Truth for Best Historical Mystery and “The Mayor and the Midwife” for Best Short Story. I can’t wait for the end of April to hear the results.

It is a pleasure to welcome Edith Maxwell to Writers Who Kill.

Please tell us a bit about your series. I understand that you have series other than the one you are currently working on.

Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day
First, thanks so much for inviting me over, Grace. What a great set of questions you put together!

As Edith Maxwell, I write the Local Foods Mysteries, which feature organic farmer Cam Flaherty, a group of local foods enthusiasts, and locally sourced murder. It’s set in a fictional small town in Massachusetts near where I live. I also write the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, with Quaker midwife Rose Carroll hearing secrets, catching babies, and solving crimes in my town of Amesbury in 1888.

As Maddie Day, I author the Country Store Mysteries. Robbie Jordan is a chef and carpenter turning out breakfast and lunch in her country store restaurant in lovely southern Indiana, and solving a few murders along the way. Maddie Day is also writing the first book in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, which are set on Cape Cod here in Massachusetts.

As Tace Baker, I have two books out in the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries, in which a contemporary Quaker linguistics professor solves crimes in her small coastal Massachusetts town.

You amaze me writing four different mystery series. How many books are you writing each year?

I write three books a year. One series is ending but another is starting, so it evens out!

When starting a new book or series, what do you start with (character, victim, motive)?

For example, in my new, the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, my editor suggested the book group hook and I suggested Cape Cod. So in a way I’m starting with the setting and the reason a group of village business owners and other notables get together every week. My idea was for them to read one cozy mystery a week (which is fewer than many avid cozy fans accomplish) and then to be drawn into a real-life murder mystery in each of the books in my series. But then I needed a protagonist, so I decided to have Mac Almeida own a bicycle repair and rental shop, in part because I couldn’t think of any other cozies featuring that career. Cape Cod is flat and gorgeous, with many biking/walking trails, so it’s a reasonable occupation.

How do you make the main characters of your series sound different? If we were to interview all four of them at the same time how would they come across?

They sound different because they are different. It just comes with knowing my characters, especially my protagonists. Of course, Rose Carroll, the 1888 Quaker midwife, sounds the most different, with her “thee”s and “thy”s, and I have to be careful that she doesn’t utter language that wasn’t in use at the time.

Do you ever find yourself mixing up your characters—attributing habits or characteristics to another?

I really don’t. They are so clearly distinct people. For example, Robbie Jordan in the Country Store Mysteries is a Californian living in Indiana. She’s a chef and a carpenter, a puzzler and a cyclist, who has been burned badly by love not once but twice. She has a completely different outlook on life than my Local Foods Mysteries farmer Cam Flaherty, an introverted former software engineer who, over the course of five books, finds she’s able to relate to people rather than just vegetables (or code), after all.

Do you have a favorite among your main characters? Or is that too much like asking a parent which of their children is their favorite?

Yes, it is! But I might admire Rose Carroll a little more than my other amateur sleuths. Life is already challenging for a Quaker, because they dress, speak, and act differently in 1888 than most of the population. In addition, Rose is also an independent businesswoman and a forthright as yet single woman not afraid to speak her mind and ask questions to get to the bottom of the mysteries she encounters.

At what point did you feel you had become a successful writer, or have you reached that point yet? Have you had an “I’ve made it” moment?

Gosh. Every time I get a box of ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) or final copies and I hold my own book in my hands, I can barely believe it. By May my “shelfie” will feature twelve traditionally published books, some in as many as three of the possible formats (hardcover, mass-market paperback, large print, and audiobook). Also, when my twice-a-year royalty checks keep going up, or when I bank a check for an advance, that feels pretty good, too, as does being a double Agatha-Award nominee this year. But there’s always room for more success, for more challenges, for more ways to feel that I’ve “made it.”

With series with different publishers, how do you handle conflicting or overlapping deadlines?

I am strict about my calendar, and I am disciplined about my writing, doing my best to work on one series at a time. If two books are due a month apart, I work ahead. This year I had books due in January, February, and June. I wrote the January book last summer, the February book in the fall, and am working on the June book now. But, as I’ve said elsewhere, my scheme blows up sometimes. I might be in the middle of a first draft on series A, and I get copyedits in on series B that are due back in two weeks. I drop the first draft, much as I’d rather stay immersed in it, do the copyedits, and then return. Same if I get proofs in from series C. The more immediate deadline always has to take priority, no matter which publisher it’s for.

It’s the competing release dates that are a little bit of an issue right now. Country Store #3 comes out March 28 written as Maddie Day from Kensington. Quaker Midwife #2 comes out April 8 written as Edith Maxwell from Midnight Ink. Yikes! Both publishers’ publicists set up blog tours that exactly overlap on the same two weeks in April. So I’m writing a heck of a lot of guest posts, and my launch party on April 7 is going to be Edith and Maddie interviewing each other. My local indy bookstore owner thought that would be a fun idea, so I’m going to launch both books together.

Do you ever have moments of panic juggling so many books?

Of course! But lists, calendars, and discipline are holding me together so far. And I always make time for my power walk midday, which some days is also a plotting walk. Exercise clears my brain, keeps me calm, and gets the oxygen circulating.

What is a good writing day for you?

To wake up at 5:30 well rested, get my Internet poking around, blog reading, and Facebook and Twitter posting done before 7, and then to be writing from 7 until 11 or so.  If I’m writing first draft, I don’t let myself leave the desk until I’ve written at least 1500 words, which often turns into more. Then I walk, eat lunch, and spend the afternoon doing promotional and other less creative author work.

Now that you’ve had a number of contracts, what is the most important thing you’ve learned that might help new writers?

Write the best book you can. Keep that butt in the chair and those fingers on the keyboard. Then find your tribe. Join Sisters in Crime or whatever group writers in your genre hang out in. Talk to them. Learn from them. Network your little ass off.

With a busy writing schedule, how do you find time to promote your books? Do you enjoy doing promotion?

I do and I don’t. I don’t want to go around saying, “Buy my book!” But I do want to gently let people know it’s available. So the times between releases are almost more important. I get to know my community of readers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and in person. I run giveaways and fun contests from time to time. I never turn down an invitation to visit a library. I promote my fellow authors and cheer them on. And I blog actively with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, plus once a month each on Killer Characters and with the Midnight Ink authors. By the time I have a release, people already know me (or that’s the goal), and I hope they’ll be as excited by my new book as I am.

What promotional/marketing efforts have paid off, and which ones were wastes of time?

It’s so hard to know what pays off in terms of sales. Certainly a Goodreads giveaway of five ARCs, which I get for free from my publisher, gets a lot of visibility. I just ended one for GRITS, and almost 2000 people signed up. I pay thirteen dollars to send five books in the US, but two thousand people have the book on the Want to Read list.  Does that result in increased sales? I don’t know.

What the most valuable thing you’ve learned from good and maybe not so good reviews?

From the less-than-positive ones, I’ve learned you can’t please everybody. And that’s okay.  And from the glowing ones? That I can make people really, really happy with my stories. And that’s fabulous!

What is the most touching comment you’ve received from a reader?

A fan wrote that she had to sit with a sick relative in the hospital for some time. She said my book got her through several days and helped her escape the pain. That note very much touched me.

You write both historical and contemporary series. Do you find one easier to write than the other?

Certainly the historical series demands a level of research the contemporary series don’t. I have to check all kinds of details about language, train travel, clothing, carriages, heating systems, footwear – you name it! But in terms of the mystery, the storytelling, I don’t find any era easier or harder to write.  It’s still a story about people, their motivations, their loves and hates, and the puzzle of the mystery.

With all the time you spend writing, do you ever have time to read for pleasure? If so, what are you reading now? Do you have a favorite writer?

I do read for pleasure, and read more when I’m on vacation or laid up after a surgery (as I essentially have been since the start of February this year). I couldn’t possibly say who my favorite author is, but I was so happy to h ave time to read Deborah Crombie’s latest and Rhys Bowen’s new WWII novel, and to lose myself in Ingrid Thoft, Fiona Davis, and Ausma Zehanat Khan, all of whom I discovered on the Jungle Red Writers blog.

Describe your favorite place to write.

I have an upstairs office overlooking our quiet street. My office has a rocking chair, a futon couch, and lots of bookcases. I sit on a ball chair and work at a lovely wooden desk made by a local artisan, and my commute is thirty seconds long.

To readers new to your books, which of them would you recommend they start with?

Well, of course I always think that my latest books are my best, so they could start there (see next question). But to begin each series at the beginning, they could start with A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die (Local Foods Mysteries #1), Delivering the Truth (Quaker Midwife Mysteries #1), and Flipped for Murder (Country Store Mysteries #1).

What’s next for your four series? Any books coming out soon?

Yes! As I mentioned earlier, When the Grits Hit the Fan, Country Store #3, comes out March 28 written as Maddie Day. Called to Justice, Quaker Midwife #2, comes out April 8, and Mulch Ado About Murder, Local Foods Mystery #5, releases May 30.

Any new series in the works?

See previous comments about the Cozy Capers Book Group series! The first book will be out sometime in 2018.

Thanks again for having me. I’d love readers to tell me, if they’ve read my books, which is their favorite – and why. And if they haven’t, which series appeals to them most. I’m happy to answer questions all day, too.

Thank you, Edith, for joining us at Writers Who Kill.

To learn more about Edith (and Maddie Day) and her numerous books, visit her at www.edithmaxwell.com. 

Here is a peak at Edith’s (and Maddie’s) upcoming releases.

When the Grits Hit the Fan (A Country Store Mystery) by Maddie Day

Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?

Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

Called to Justice (A Quaker Midwife Mystery) by Edith Maxwell

When Hannah Breed confides to midwife Rose Carroll that she’s pregnant out of wedlock, Rose promises to help her through the pregnancy and figure out a way to break the news to her family. But that night, amid the noise and revelry of the Independence Day fireworks, Hannah is found shot dead.

After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally focusing in on the culprit only to be threatened herself.

Mulch Ado about Murder (Local Foods Mystery) by Edith Maxwell

It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap . . .

May has been anything but merry for Cam so far. Her parents have arrived unexpectedly and her crops are in danger of withering away. But all of that’s nothing compared to the grim fate that lies in store for one of her neighbors. Nicole Kingsbury is the proud owner of the town’s new hydroponic greenhouse. She claims the process will be 100% organic, but she uses chemicals to feed her crops. To Cam’s surprise, her mother embarrasses her by organizing a series of loud public protests against Nicole’s operation.

When Nicole is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching another set of rosary beads—Detective Pete Pappas has a new murder to solve. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered exhusband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own mother. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. Will he and Cam be able to clear Mrs. Flaherty’s name before the killer strikes again?

Bio:
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maxwell’s award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies, and she is honored to serve as President of Sisters in Crime New England.


A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens, and wastes time as a Facebook addict north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.


13 comments:

Art Taylor said...

Fun interview! And congrats again, Edith--on all counts! :-)

Laurie I said...

What a great interview!! I love the Country Store Mystery series. I've had the privilege of reading When The Grits Hit The Fan, and as I've mentioned before, it's one of the best cozies I've ever read!! So much so that I went out and bought book 1 of the Local Foods Mysteries series, A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, to familiarize myself with those characters, and then I'll buy the latest books in the series. I didn't even know about the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries series. Definitely looking forward to that when it's released. Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day is an excellent writer and I plan to read many more of her books in the future. Thank you for such an in- depth interview.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Art, and thanks, Laurie! It's such a delight to gain a new fan to share my stories with.

cj petterson said...

Different series with different voices. . . amazing skill and talent. Thanks for sharing a great interview. Marilyn (aka "cj")

Gloria Alden said...

Edith, I don't know how you handle so many series without getting confused. I started my 9th book in my series while waiting for the cover to be made for my 8th, and sometimes got confused about what I'd written in the book I'd just finished. Anyway, I admire you and your work for managing it. See you at Malice.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Marilyn/CJ! (Marilyn was my mother's name and is my middle name.)

Gloria, well I do know that feeling. I'll be talking about a book to fans and realized I've written four books since I wrote it, including the following one in that series. Have to wrack the brain a little! Thanks for the kind words, and see you in Bethesda!

Shari Randall said...

Edith, whenever I need writing motivation I just think of you! Your discipline and creativity are inspiring. I love Rose and I'm looking forward to your new series. Congratulations on your Agatha nominations. See you at Malice!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Shari! See you in a month.

KM Rockwood said...

What a font of information for us! I have to admire your dedication and discipline.

The Quaker midwife character is my favorite.

Kait said...

Fun interview, Grace. Edith, WOW, amazing dedication, and what a wonderful ode to dedication. Your books are magnificent, I have read one from each series and now have set the goal of reading them all. See, you have created a monster. Every congratulation on your well-deseved success!

Leslie Karst said...

You are truly a force of nature, Edith, and I admire you no end. Especially since you can do so much, so well, yet be so darn fun to hang out with! Congrats on the new book(s), and keep on keepin' on!

Kaye George said...

As a fellow 4-series writer, I have to admit, your working schedule shames me! I don't write 3 a year, though. My hat is not only off to you, but I've tossed it in the air, Mary Tyler Moore style. Good luck with all the upcoming projects! I look forward to them.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, KM! I am particularly fond of Rose, myself.

Kait, but isn't it the best kind of monster? I'm so pleased you want to read all my books. Thank you!

Leslie - Thanks, and I can't wait for our next time to hang out.

No shame, Kaye! You are amazingly prolific, and whatever works for each of us, that's what we do. And thanks for the hat toss.