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

May Interviews

5/5 Lynn Calhoon, Murder 101
5/12 Annette Dashofy, Death By Equine
5/19 Krista Davis, The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit
5/25 Debra Goldstein, Four Cuts Too Many

Saturday WWK Bloggers

5/1 V. M. Burns
5/8 Jennifer Chow
5/22 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

5/15 M. K. Scott


E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An Interview With Maggie King

by Grace Topping

As a Virginian, I was pleased to discover Maggie King and her novels and short stories set in Virginia. Her description of Richmond makes me want to hop in my car and drive down I-95 to visit the restaurants and shops she mentions in her books. Maggie’s membership in a number of book groups, where passionate readers often clashed, provided her with fodder for her Hazel Rose Book Group mystery series. With such a wealth of material, is it any wonder she decided to write about murder? Below is a description of her most recent release, Murder at the Moonshine Inn.

Murder at the Moonshine Inn
by Maggie King

When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia's premier redneck bar, the victim's sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks--she's a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox's husband, is the prime suspect. He's also Hazel's cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won't give her the time of day--he's still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It's not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad's son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother's death; Rox's former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox's employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn--or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox. When a second murder ups the ante, Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

Welcome to Writers Who Kill, Maggie.

In Murder at the Moonshine Inn you’ve taken a unique approach by having a group working together to solve the mystery—even having them use Skype to exchange information. Did having more than your main character working on the mystery make it easier to write or more complicated?

Maggie King
It made it much easier. The women in the book group are well connected in the community—Trudy and Eileen are librarians, Hazel’s cousin Lucy is a successful business professional, and Sarah an active volunteer. Hazel may be the best connected of all of them, as she’s now a successful romance author and people love to talk to her. Between them the group members manage to know or have a lead in to every suspect, witness, and information source they need to question. They are all personable (at least when they need to be) and know how to work their contacts.

They research, pump people for information, unearth interesting documents, and move the plot along at a brisk pace. When Hazel gets booted out of a funeral where she’d hoped to narrow down the search for the killer(s), the book group takes up the slack.

Hazel feels compelled to help clear her cousin, Brad, of murder, even though he resists having her in his life. Why the resistance on Brad’s part and Hazel’s drive to help him anyway?

When Hazel’s sister took up genealogy, she discovered many previously unknown relatives on their family tree. Brad Jones was one of the relatives. But he turns down Hazel’s requests to meet him, thinking that Hazel’s interest in him is motivated by money. During the course of the story we learn a possible reason for his fear. Despite Brad’s feelings, he’s family and Hazel believes in doing anything to help her family, no matter what.

Your books could be called cozies with some sizzle. The female characters may be women of a certain age, but they aren’t staying home and aging gracefully. Please tell us about some of them.

Hazel Rose
As Murder at the Moonshine Inn begins, it’s been eight years since Hazel’s showdown with the killer in Murder at the Book Group. Back then, Hazel dabbled in writing a romance and committed herself to the uncommitted life. It’s unfortunate that it took solving a murder for Hazel to see her life in a new perspective. She went on to become a successful romance author and married Vince Castelli.

Lucy Hooper
Lucy is Hazel Rose’s cousin and friend. Readers of Murder at the Book Group will remember that Lucy and Hazel lived together with Shammy and Daisy, resident felines. In the eight years since Lucy and Hazel faced down a desperate killer both have married, but are still close. Lucy is still perfect. She’s cool, calm, collected, manages a successful placement firm, and cooks up a storm. I’m thinking of ways to create a flaw for Lucy and round her out as a character. Perhaps a flaw will be revealed in #3 of the Hazel Rose Book Group series.

Trudy Zimmerman
Trudy is a librarian who loves her job. As expected of a librarian, she has an impressive interest in, and knowledge of, books. If the Murder on Tour book group gave prizes for the best book summaries, she’d win hands down every time. A large tattoo of a rose covers Trudy’s neck. While working, she covers it with her long mane to hide it from her anti-tat library director. Trudy’s one marriage ended in divorce. A few years later, after a whirlwind romance, she and her fiancée planned to marry onboard a cruise through the Greek Islands. But the wedding never happened—the fiancée met a New Yorker on the ship and Trudy was history. She hasn’t mentioned a love interest since. She’s content with her job, her book group, and her pets.

Sarah Rubottom
Sarah Rubottom is a retired English teacher and active volunteer in the community. At some point she transitioned from a Berkeley-educated, sixties-era hippie to conservative agnostic (she takes pains to emphasize that she’s moderately conservative). Sarah does not approve of e-readers. Except for e-mail and a flip-phone she’s pretty much a technological holdout. But when the book group decides to investigate the murder at the Moonshine Inn they share their status updates via Skype, and no one is more surprised than Sarah when she becomes a Skype fan. Sarah’s husband Den is a Vietnam paraplegic who loves women—all women. His attention to the opposite sex frequently ruffles his wife’s feathers to the point that Hazel wonders why Sarah doesn’t just leave her flirtatious husband at home.

Eileen Thompson
Eileen Thompson, another librarian, is Trudy Zimmerman’s neighbor and co-worker. She tends to be brusque and impatient at times, but is generally likable and the group values her participation. Her mother lives at an assisted living facility and is always perilously close to being “evicted.” Besides being a general nuisance with her screaming fits, the mother attacks the nurse aides with her cane. When not at the library, Eileen spends much of her time in meetings with the assisted living staff.

You give us a good sense of place with your description of Richmond, Virginia, and the many places Hazel visits. Did you use actual places?

With the exception of the Moonshine Inn, the restaurants and coffee spots are real. Sadly, Italian Delight closed its doors a few months ago. Major streets, landmarks, and the many bridges that span the James River are also real. I came up with the Moonshine Inn after visiting three bars, blending them into one, and adding a hefty measure of my fertile imagination. This is where Hazel goes undercover as a “redneck queen,” giving an Oscar-worthy performance. Also not real: organizations, such as Hamlin Group and the Alzheimer’s Research Society; the storage unit; the gym; and the funeral parlor.

Since the first book in the series, Hazel Rose has married and become a published romance writer. She comments that she is sometimes jealous of her characters. Why?

Hazel says this at the point where she’s about to investigate a murder; at the same time she’s writing a romance about a group of women who form a secret Facebook dating group, arrange a cruise of the Greek Islands, and have romantic adventures. 

The contrast between Hazel’s life and that of her fictional characters is stark: an idyllic cruise through the Greek Islands vs. hunting down a killer. Clearly, Hazel prefers the world of her imagination to her real one. 

Eight years in book time have passed since Hazel made her debut in Murder at the Book Group. Why the long passage of time?

It took me many years to write Murder at the Book Group and at one point I decided to set it in 2005 so I wouldn’t have to keep changing details, especially technological ones, to suit the time period. Also, I think that giving Hazel some years between solving mysteries gives the series a realistic quality (although now that I’m writing faster, that may not continue to be the case and Hazel may fall prey to the Jessica Fletcher syndrome). At one point Hazel even states, Thankfully, not many people clamored after my services. I guessed there wasn’t a big market for amateur detectives, aside from the fictional kind.”

You’ve made Hazel very real, even including occurrences in her life like having a breast biopsy—all without slowing the pace of your book, which was excellent. What do you find is the greatest challenge to balancing characterization and pace?

I prefer to use dialog to define my characters and advance the story. But a blend of dialogue, action, and narrative is necessary for balancing the characterization and pace that makes for a compelling story. Striking that balance scene by scene is the challenge.

Which of your characters do you identify with most?

Hazel Rose. Like Hazel, I was born on the east coast, moved to Los Angeles in my twenties and started my career as a software developer. Like Hazel, I had a calico cat named Shammy who accompanied me when I moved back to the east coast in 1996 and settled in Richmond, Virginia. Hazel and I share a commitment to the environment, we’re both frugal and unimpressed with the high life.

But there are stark differences. Hazel’s been married five times—divorced three times, widowed once, currently wed (the current union looks stable!). In contrast, I recently celebrated 27 years with my one and only husband.

Hazel and her book group frequently comment about actual books. Are the books discussed some of your favorites?

Some are favorites, such as Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs, and Susan Howatch’s family sagas. Some I haven’t yet read but they’re on my TBR list. I hope that the Murder on Tour group will get readers updating their own TBR lists. One of my early readers told me that she teaches a class in Early Western Civ and found herself jotting down the books on the ancient world that the Murder on Tour group read.

Have you considered producing an audiobook version of your books?

Dreamscape produced an audiobook version of Murder at the Book Group, #1 in my Hazel Rose Book Group series.

What book would you take with you to read while waiting for mammogram results?

Any of M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin titles. This is my go-to series for de-stressing.

Standing in a bookstore, what book couldn’t you resist recommending to a nearby stranger?

When it comes to books, I can never settle on just one. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Vanishing Point by Marcia Muller come immediately to mind.

What’s next for Hazel and the book group?

When Hazel decides to start writing mysteries, the book group members follow suit. They all enroll in a mystery writing class. As you might expect, it isn’t long before they have a real mystery on their hands.

Thank you, Maggie.

Maggie King has also contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Website: http://www.maggieking.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieKingAuthor

Murder at the Moonshine Inn will be available for sale on November 15, 2016.  You can pre-order trade paperback here. Pre-order Kindle here.


Kait said...

I love an ensemble cast, can't wait to dig in.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Maggie, for joining us. I hope we'll see another Hazel Rose book soon.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I look forward to reading your books and learning more about life in Richmond.

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

Well, Maggie, you hooked me! Now, I HAVE TO read your books. :)
Like you, it took me years to write my first Malone mystery but, since then, I've managed to write a book each year. The fifth in the series "should" be out in January.
I wish you much good luck and many sales!

Warren Bull said...

I'm curious about the time lag between murder investigations, why eight years?

Marja said...

Wonderful interview, and I must now add you to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

Maggie King said...

Grace, thanks for a great interview. I enjoyed your at-times challenging questions. And thanks to everyone for your comments and for adding me to your lists. I'm hard at owrk on Hazel #3!

Marilyn Levinson said...

Grace & Maggie,
I enjoyed your great interview. The Book Group Mysteries are great fun to read.

Maggie, I'm not at all surprised that we have many favorite books in common.

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, Maggie. I know your books are ones I want to read and I'm adding them to me TBO list.

KM Rockwood said...

Sounds like a fun series! I'll have to show my mystery book group the Murder in the Book Group.

Maggie King said...

Thanks again for the great comments and good wishes.

Amy M. Reade said...

Wonderful interview, Maggie. And since I've had the opportunity to read an ARC of Murder at the Moonshine Inn, I can tell everyone that it's great and I highly recommend it! Your taste in "books to de-stress with" is impeccable. I will read anything by M.C. Beaton, and Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth are my favorites. I look forward to more from Hazel Rose et. al.!

Maggie King said...

Amy, thanks for your wonderful endorsement and continuing support. I hope to see you at Malice.

I couldn't seem to respond to individual posts.

Maggie King said...

Warren, It took me so long to complete my first book that I decided to "freeze" the story in 2005 so I didn't have to keep changing details to suit the time period.