Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Maggie Toussaint Interview by E. B. Davis

I was starting to see there was a Big Picture I didn’t comprehend.
A symphony of actions going on in the world that ensured life wasn’t
completely random. Except for the fact we humans could mess it up,
especially if we ignored our path.
Maggie Toussaint, Dadgummit (Kindle Loc. 5602)

When most people think of heaven, they look up as if heaven must be in the sky somewhere. After taking a physics class or two (admittedly not comprehending as much as I wanted to), I realized there are different dimensions, some so small we can’t see and some so large we can’t grasp. The forces that rule each dimension change. Gravity rules our world, but in smaller realms, electro-magnetic, and smaller still—nuclear forces rule.

So when I read Maggie Toussaint’s Dreamwalker Mystery series, I’m predisposed to her notions. Maggie was a scientist before she became a writer so it’s no wonder why she can write paranormal or science fiction with authenticity.

Dadgummit is the fourth book in the series, which brings many changes to main character Baxley Powell’s life and propels the story and character arc onward. She encounters other dimensions she didn’t know existed, which has personal significance for her and daughter, Larissa.

For those of you who have read paranormal mystery, there are many varieties. Some, are charming tales that bewitch, feature ghosts who haunt or terrorize, and create creatures that stalk the human race. Maggie’s series puts Baxley on the hunt via tracking down killers, but they are also character driven because Baxley utilizes her skills as a Dreamwalker to communicate to the other side helping victims and herself as she struggles with a new career (several careers), facing possible widowhood, and being a single parent.

Please welcome Maggie Toussaint back to WWK.                                                                E. B. Davis

Thank you for such a warm welcome, E.B. I enjoy coming here to Writers Who Kill and talking shop with you.

In Dadgummit, Baxley solves several murders making the book a mystery. And yet, the investigation flushes a guilty party out of hiding early on and capturing him becomes Baxley’s problem, which would indicate the book is a thriller. How do you categorize it?

From the start, my books have been difficult to pigeon-hole. Fortunately, my publishers have been receptive to my genre-bending. The Dreamwalker Series is an amateur sleuth mystery series, and the paranormal element takes it to another place, so saying this series is a traditional cozy series would be misleading. I’d call Dadgummit an amateur sleuth novel with thriller elements.

Baxley and her friend and family live on the Georgia coast. But they are on a mountain vacation. Is there a real Stony Creek Lake in GA?

My brother is an excellent amateur photographer, and his photos of the Blairsville area of North Georgia tugged at my heart. Those shots gave me a visual of where this series needed to be set. I’ve never visited this exact area, though I have visited mountains several times on vacation or camping. In my experience, folks who live at the shore like to go to the mountains on vacation and vice versa.

Why does Sheriff Twilla Sue Blair use heavy-handed tactics to get Baxley to work for her?

The job has already cost Twilla Sue her family. Now she’s career-focused and determined to be governor. One look at the latest body in her county, and she knows this could blow up in her face. A sweep of the lake’s current occupants nets her a primo crime consultant, one that her good buddy Sheriff Wayne Thompson brags about all the time. Twilla Sue needs to solve this case, and she’s gonna make darn sure Baxley can’t say no.

We learn that the army has finally proclaimed Baxley’s husband Roland dead. She’s getting assistance from the Army Survivor Benefit Program. Is this program real?

This is a real program. After waiting the longest time for benefits, the Army finally comes through for Baxley. There’s a reason for the red tape, but that has to play out in the series. I personally have never had any dealings with the SBP, but I worked for the federal government for many years. I know a thing or two about red tape.

In previous books after a dreamwalk, Baxley regains her energy via her mother’s charged crystals and her soup. Is the energy restoring capacity of the soup due to the ingredients or does her mother transfer her own energy to the soup? Do you have a recipe for the soup?

This is an excellent question. I don’t remember my original basis for the decision to have a healing broth, but it just seems right, you know? I don’t have an exact recipe for it, but it seems intuitive that you’d start with chicken stock and add healing herbs.

Baxley works with Sheriff Blair’s next-in-command, Deputy Mayes, who is of the local Cherokee tribe. He has paranormal abilities such as energy transfer and limited dreamwalking, but he also has an ability, which Baxley lacks—dreaming the future (at least a bit). He makes it known that he is interested romantically in Baxley. Why does he taunt her about a relationship at the most crucial times during the case? Can he see a romantic future with Baxley even though he agrees to a working friendship with her?

Don’t you just love Mayes? I fell in love with him from the moment he walked into the story. Like his boss, Mayes makes no bones about what he wants. He recognizes Baxley’s importance in his life before she sees him as anything other than a coworker. However, he knows a thing or two about strategy and patience, courtesy of his Native American heritage.

Baxley learns about the Cherokee folklore of the Little People or Nunne’hi, who lure people to their dimension by mesmerizing them to follow. Why do they want humans in their dimension? What is the benefit to them?

Another fantastic question, EB, and the answer is I’m not 100% sure. From my research, I learned the Nunne’hi are a supernatural spirit race who are friendly toward humans in general and Cherokee specifically. In the published stories I read, they seem sympathetic toward lonely hearts or underdogs, but there is often a trickster element to their friendship. It seemed to me that some of the people they took in were missing something in real life and seeking refuge in the Nunne’hi world was preferable to living out their empty lives. People are not kept against their will, but time passes differently there. The human refuges choose to live a life without heartache or responsibility. As for benefit to the Nunne’hi, I can’t say, though it seems they enjoy company.

Readers learn that Rose really is a covert angel, something we found a bit suspicious in previous books. Rose has helped Baxley in the past when she’s gotten into situations beyond her abilities. But Baxley’s payment for Rose’s help so far is three hours of her life on Earth. When Rose helps Baxley in Dadgummit, Rose exacts no payment. Why didn’t Rose have Baxley pay or did they have a mutual goal? The reader feels suspicious of Rose’s intentions when she utilizes Baxley (without her permission) during a dreamwalk and wipes her memories of the experience with the excuse of not giving her nightmares—some angel! Don’t we have reason to suspect Rose has more than heaven up her sleeve?

Rose’s thorns are a side effect of her hidden agenda. That secret motivation is what keeps my interest high when she walks on scene. She is a recurring character in the series and has turbo-charged supernatural abilities. Her bad girl persona surfaces even when she flashes her angel wings, black, naturally. Think of Rose as the rebel with a cause, only the cause is her own gratification. In Dadgummit, Baxley doesn’t ask a favor of Rose, the Nunne’hi do, and the payment is stiff. Nevertheless, Baxley feels the effect of Rose’s ire more than once in this story. Baxley is clearly no match for Rose, but they need each other. And yes, never turn your back on Rose. She’s on a mission, and maybe not a mission from God.

When Charlotte starts getting to know Deputy Duncan and likes him, why aren’t readers surprised that she’d rather explore a personal relationship than get exercised over her career? Then again, we are surprised that she is candid and honest about her life—and we hope the best for the relationship.

I wanted all the Charlottes of the world to cheer for her. Being overweight or different in any visible or invisible way often leads to isolation. In Dadgummit, Charlotte is bright and personable and clearly the brains of the newspaper where she works. She’s ambitious but she’s also lonely. She wants someone in her live who gets her, someone who will be her partner through thick and thin. In the spirit of positive thinking, her best friend encourages her to shout her need to the universe – and she does – and the result is Deputy Toby Duncan. Their relationship has an unusual start, thanks to the Nunne’hi. Does Charlotte really become one of “those” women who steps out of her life and into her boyfriend’s? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Your title, I think, refers to Baxley’s frustration with her father, the former Dreamwalker, for not giving her more information. Why hasn’t he been more forthcoming with Baxley?

Your insight is spot-on, E.B. Dadgummit taps into Baxley’s frustration with her missing/declared dead husband, her talent, her family, her job, and Rose. There’s nothing routine in any sector of her life. Readers may agree with this statement: within the paranormal world, there are many aspects. Compare that to your life experiences to date. If someone tried to firehose a lifetime of information into your head, could you tolerate it? No way. Baxley’s dad knows the learning curve on dreamwalking is wacked out, but lessons learned stick with you longer than lessons taught. He’s doing Baxley a kindness by allowing her to make her own mistakes, something any parent knows is harrowing when it is happening to your child.

Does Baxley really know why Rose internally marked her when Rose gave those in need the universal breath of life? Rose purports that she does.

At this point in the story, Baxley isn’t pleased with Rose, but there’s a mutual dependence. Rose is the dominant force in their relationship and she pushes her advantage any chance she can. Fans of the series know Baxley is special in both worlds. Rose is making sure her claim on Baxley is permanent and noticeable.

After Rose spits fire while capturing an energy vampire, Baxley’s hair turns white. What does this signify? Baxley has tried to “rock the geriatric look” with her white-hair stripe. Now what does she have to do—go with the “Mrs. Claus” look or rock the octogenarian look?

Her hair color change is permanent, plus we know she already tried to dye the stripe and that didn’t work. It’s just as well, actually. The white hair is a sign of spiritual power. By “rocking the total geriatric look” at her tender age, Baxley actually is a walking billboard proclaiming her extrasensory gifts.

Will Baxley ever get a vacation?

Sadly, the answer is no. Vacations do not make good fodder for mystery novels, not unless there’s a mystery or two thrown in.

What’s next in your writing career?

Fans of my Cleopatra Jones series will be delighted to know I’m working on a new entry in her story world. No Quarter, a longer novella, will issue in the Sleuthing Women II anthology collection later this fall. Also, the next Dreamwalk book, Confound It, is tentatively scheduled for a June 2018 release. Book six in that series is awaiting final edits from me before submission to my publisher, Camel Press.

Are you planning your next vacation to the beach?

Like Baxley, I’m too busy for a vacation this year! Being president of an MWA chapter takes a lot of my time, as does writing, editing, and promoting my books and novellas. Lucky for me, I live on a tidal creek in coastal Georgia. There’s only salt marsh and a barrier island between me and the beach. I delight in watching the birds, raccoons, and squirrels who call my yard (and the marsh) home.

Dadgummit Jacket Copy

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.

Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?


  1. Love DADGUMMIT, love Baxley and Sam. Maggie has a winner with the Dreamwalker series. Wishing you great success with this one and your new publisher, Maggie. And as usual, kudos to Elaine who is the best book interviewer in the business.

  2. Dadgum! That one word hurtled me back to fifteen years in Georgia. Looking forward to reading my first paranormal novel.

  3. The title of the book caught me immediately -- the description intrigued me - and this interview (which is extremely well done) put Dadgummit at the top of my TBR list Of course, knowing there is another Cleo tale coming doesn't hurt, either - I became acquainted with your writing through her when you first were a panelist at Murder in the Magic City.

  4. Thank you, Polly. And thank Elaine for asking such insightful questions. She always gets me to think harder about why I did things the way I did. Sometimes I know. Sometimes the answers blindside me.

  5. Hi Margaret, I am glad that you connected with the book title of my latest release. I have a light hearted theme going on with the titles. I enjoy stretching the meaning of things too. I have many Dadgummits in my life, and I'll probably have many more such moments. I hope you enjoy the story.

  6. Thank You, Debra, for your kind words about this series. In my writing, I try to explore new areas and in some cases, to fix wrongs I've observed. While my sleuth doesn't always get the regular kind of justice for the bad guys (and gals), there is a certain karma that occurs through her involvement that helps me feel like the scales of justice get balanced. Though it is hard to deny that when a beloved family member or friend dies (from any means) we survivors wear our hearts on our sleeves. Nothing can replace that loved one. In time we seem to settle for solace, but I get a certain pleasure through my sleuth's success in uncovering what happened and seeing justice served. Good grief! That's awfully deep for morning time!

  7. It is always interesting to hear writers talk about their craft and how their backgrounds end up in their writing.

  8. This sounds like a fascinating series and one that I'll definitely add to my list to read. My mother came from Georgia and I remember her saying Dadgummit. Sure sounds a lot better than some of the language that has been bandied about by some politicians recently.

  9. Maggie, I've read several of your books and now want to read more.

  10. Thank you for your kind words, Warren. I'm glad to have an outlet like writing books to download some things so my brain doesn't explode. And I take my inspiration from wherever I can get it! Sometimes from blog comments.

  11. Hi Grace, Ever since I realized I used language that was a little rough for cozies (standard swear words) and incorporated a find-and-replace edit for swear words in my cozies, I try to use milder words for that swear moment. As Elaine already teased out in the interview, Baxley has many Dadgummit moments in the book. To her credit she doesn't bust out in heavy-duty swear words when the unexpected happens. Now if I could just clean up my potty mouth...

  12. Gloria, You're sweet to say you've read my books. Paranormal isn't everyone's cup of tea, so I can understand if the more cozy among us shy away from this series. But if you like stories that explore boundaries and have happy endings, this fits the bill.

  13. Hi Maggie, so glad you are here. I'm not letting myself read the interview. I've got book 3 of the Baxley series racing to the top of my TBR and I don't want any spoilers! This is one of my favorite series. I look at it as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. Always refreshing. Keep 'em coming!

  14. Thanks so much for your kind words, Kait! I'm so glad you enjoy the series!

  15. Thanks for having me here, Elaine. It's always a pleasure to rub elbows with Writers Who Kill!

  16. Your welcome, Maggie--anytime. I love all of your series. They are a pleasure to read. Sorry I haven't been around. We just got our power restored on Hatteras Island. It's a big day--but there have been power interruptions while they tested our new permanent line. I liked the break from the tourists, but our businesses were hurting. Thanks for the interview!

  17. I heard about your power outage. They were saying a construction malfunction occurred. Anyway, once they get it right, you should be disaster proof, right??? Have a great "rest of the summer."