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

June Interviews

6/02 Terrie Moran, Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

6/09 Connie Berry, The Art of Betrayal

6/16 Kathleen Kalb, A Final Finale or A Fatal First Night

6/23 Jackie Layton, Bag of Bones: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery

6/30 Mary Keliikoa, Denied

Saturday WWK Bloggers

6/12 Jennifer J. Chow

6/26 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

6/05 Samantha Downing

6/19 Lynn Johanson


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. It will be released on June 21st.

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 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, August 12, 2020

An Interview with Author Maggie Toussaint by E. B. Davis

A Jane Doe jogger homicide near the swamp mystifies Dreamwalker Baxley Powell. The petite woman carried no ID, and no one recognizes her. Worse, a shadow passes from the body to a deputy, rendering him unconscious. The deputy and the corpse are dispatched to the hospital and morgue, respectively.

With summer heat and pending childbirth on her mind, Baxley’s dreamwalks into the spirit world fail to yield leads, frustrating Baxley and her deputy husband, Native American Sam Mayes. Days later, Jane Doe’s description matches a missing Mississippi woman. Turns out, her new husband is missing too. Jane’s sketchy brother-in-law and her aunt arrive, full of secrets. At Jane’s campsite, the team encounters a terrifying anomaly, nullifying Baxley’s senses. With such danger present, they must protect their unborn child. No more dreamwalks will occur until Baxley gives birth.

When her friend Bubba Paxton vanishes, Baxley sights him in a mirror, trapped between worlds with other souls.

Meanwhile, the shadow invades other hosts, demanding to see Baxley. Mayes and Baxley ignore the shadow as they rescue Bubba, untangle the Jane Doe case, and handle missing persons reports.

To free the trapped people, Baxley must outwit a powerful foe. Can she stop this super villain before he steals her soul?

In this 7th Dreamwalker Mystery, female sleuth and psychic crime consultant Baxley Powell works a homicide case that leads straight to an evil force in the spirit world. The stakes? Her soul, her unborn child, and humanity’s freedom.

Perhaps because both of my children were born in August, I identified with main character Baxley Powell’s ninth-month pregnancy condition. The hot and humid coastal Georgia weather played a role in All Done With It, and I read it during continuous days of plus ninety degree heat of NC. Perhaps Maggie has children born in August too because Baxley’s physical condition was very well portrayed.

Baxley’s extended family also have roles in this story that comes full circle—laying some ghosts to rest and bringing new life into the family legacy.

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

The victim, later known as Fabrina, was found in the swamp. What is it about the swamp that unnerves Baxley? For Baxley and her dreamwalking family and friends, the swamp wreaks havoc with their senses. And the more extrasensory perception one has, the more disorientation occurs. She’s had to be in the swamp in another book in the series (Doggone It) and something terrible happened then too. In this story world, the swamp represents a thin line between the living and the dead, a line that can be breached.

While assessing the crime scene, Sheriff Wayne confesses that Baxley and her husband Mayes have caused him marital issues. How do they have anything to do with the Sheriff’s marriage? We’ve all seen couples in the flush of love. They always meet each other’s glances and often are physically touching. The glow of love envelops them so much that it radiates from them in a tangible way. In the case of Mayes and Baxley, that’s exactly what happens, and the sheriff’s wife wants her husband to look at her that way. Only, he’s never felt that way about her, and he can’t make his wife happy.

Wayne’s wife has taken out a restraining order against him. Baxley gives him strong advice. Most people would keep their mouth’s shut. Why doesn’t she? Wayne seeks her out to ask her advice, and since Wayne helped her out in a similar situation in another book, she owes him. Wayne, a former high school football standout, is hurt by his wife’s betrayal. Baxley tells him to man up if he ever wants to see his kids again. Further, she reminds him that this is no time to ignore an unpleasant situation. He needs to act now, for his kids’ sake.

But after trusting Baxley with marital advice, when she sees a shadow cross from the body of the victim to Deputy Ronnie’s unconscious body, Wayne discounts her sighting thinking she’s a hysterical pregnant woman. Obviously, something happened to Ronnie. I remember getting that response from people when pregnant. (“Pregnancy hormones,” said with a dismissive tone.) Why do people do that? I have two responses to this. Here’s the easy answer: People tend to get uncomfortable when the status quo alters. Not all men, but a good many, are skittish around pregnant women, fearing they will suddenly be required to deal with childbirth. The deeper answer is that not only does a pregnant woman’s body accommodate a growing baby, other bodily changes occur as well. Elaine already mentioned pregnancy hormones, which are a biological way the body makes that child-on-board accommodation, but sensory perceptions change too. Strong scents, loud noises, and bold flavorings trigger negative reactions from non-sensitive women. In Baxley’s case, her extrasensory perceptions ramp into a higher gear, which is her body’s response to protecting herself and her baby. Men who are already squeamish about very pregnant women are reluctant to accept enhanced psychic abilities from said women because it is out of the realm of everyday explanations. And, for the record, I did birth an August baby during a heat wave a long time ago. It’s not something I’ll ever forget.

Baxley and Mayes have dreamwalked with their unborn son. They know he identifies with the wolf as a symbol. How does an unborn child communicate? In utero, a baby moves around in the womb. Some babies kick when distressed, so that’s a means of communication. In the case of this fictional infant who is also a sensitive, he doesn’t have the use of language but he shares images with his parents in the slipstream of consciousness.

After the shadow goes into Ronnie, a tattoo on the victim’s hand disappears. Why do Mayes and Baxley think the shadow wants their unborn son? As mentioned above, the swamp isn’t a sensitive-friendly environment. In addition to disorientation, Baxley’s normal perceptions fade, and she can’t feel her baby. Her stress level is off-the-charts high. Plus, Baxley and Mayes have a strong association with tattoos and an otherworld figure named Rose, who served as Baxley’s mentor as she came up to speed in her Dreamwalker abilities. When they see a tattoo vanish on its own, they think of Rose and her kind.

During a dreamwalk using the victim’s clothing, Baxley encounters the Wolf. Why do they decide it’s too dangerous for Baxley to dreamwalk? In general, wolves are wily creatures in nature and legend. (Who doesn’t remember quaking in fear at the Big Bad Wolf as a child?) Wolves are tenacious, aggressive, and avid hunters. In this story, Wolf is a supernatural creature. Given his ability to imprint his tattoo on humans from beyond this world, Baxley and Mayes were right to fear him. In a sleeping dream, Wolf threatened Baxley. As the story unfolds, we learn he’s threatened other dreamwalkers who have subsequently perished. Baxley’s dreamwalks put her and her baby in jeopardy, and that’s a risk neither Baxley nor Mayes are willing to take.

Why are Baxley, Mayes, and Baxley’s daughter Larissa living with Baxley’s parents, not in her home? The Nesbitt cottage in the woods is a safe haven for all, and it’s where Baxley intends to deliver her baby. With an elevated paranormal event occurrence rate in Sinclair County, her parents’ home is the safest place to be.

Baxley’s parent’s friends Running Bear and Gentle Dove are the last Cherokees left on the Georgia coast. How vast was the Cherokee nation? A few historical facts first: In 1838, over 60,000 Cherokee in the southeast were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi on the infamous Trail of Tears. Not all Cherokee were forced to move, as those in marriages with whites, especially with whites as head of the household, were allowed to stay. Consequently, the tribal remnant clung to their traditions, mostly in private, for generations, and a large segment of that population in Georgia congregated in northeast corner of the state. They are officially recognized as the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee. I used those facts, along with the fact that the original settlers of the Georgia coast were Native American, to create the characters of Running Bear and Gentle Dove. It seemed quite natural to me that people who live in close communion with nature would befriend Baxley’s dreamwalker family.

After the shadow in Ronnie goes after her unborn son and Mayes protects her, the shadow crosses into Doctor Sugar, a doctor whose license was revoked. Once hospitalized, he starts drawing circles, similar to what Larissa drew in art camp. What do the circles symbolize? The circles are meant to add depth and intrigue to the mystery, but since you asked, I will do a mini-reveal here at Writers Who Kill. The spirit-inspired images are depicted individually and in overlapping positions. Baxley didn’t recognize them as clues to disappearances at first, merely a strange coincidence. Then she’s shown a glimpse of the Wherever, a closed chamber full of frightened people, and the darkened heads resemble circles. She realizes the circles link to that chamber of horrors and that the threat to humanity is dire.

How did Baxley’s mother end up with the right to name their son? While Baxley and Mayes bring different cultures to the marriage, they’re united in their desire to blend those cultures. The Cherokee tradition is that the maternal grandmother names the couple’s child. This sets up conflict in the story and helps propel the plot.

People in the county start to disappear, including Bubba Paxton. Baxley sees Bubba in a mirror. He is in a place where people amble about, but can’t communicate with each other. Where are they? To access the chamber where Bubba is being held, Baxley must use her paranormal abilities. Hence, she realizes the location is not on earth and not on the Other Side but in a tween space. None of her family or friends has ever encountered this particular space between worlds, so Baxley coins a name for this place, the Wherever.

Why does Baxley’s mother continuously monitor the weather? Ah, this has been a series-long secret. I’ve already revealed one secret of the book and this one will remain hidden, though I will say that sensitives tend to embrace things that make them stronger.

Although Baxley no longer dreamwalks, she sees the victim, who they’ve identified as Fabrina, and communicates with her in regular sleep dreams. Fabrina has a rose tattoo like Baxley and has a white stripe of hair. Is she a dreamwalker, too? This is a story point as well, though not a pivotal one. Fabrina is a Dreamwalker, but unlike Baxley she grew up in a culture where she had to hide her abilities and lived in constant fear of discovery. Denying her nature for so long made her easy prey for the man she married, the man she thought had money to burn and offered her a life of travel to escape her repressive life.

I had sympathy for Fabrina’s Aunt Inez, even though she is demanding and aggressive. Baxley, too, has her sympathy. Aside from losing her niece, why? Inez is a complex character who has had more than her fair share of pitfalls in life. Like Fabrina, she inherited dreamwalker abilities, but she hid them her entire life, fearing she’d become the victim of a witch hunt. She had a hand in raising Fabrina and loves her like a daughter. All she wants is to take Fabrina home. Losing Fabrina is a huge blow, and she’s hurting. As a mother, Baxley empathizes with her.

Are a lot of babies born during storms? Does it have to do with barometric pressure changes? I was raised with this old wives’ tale that babies are often born during storms. In addition, growing up in a coastal area with frequent thunderstorms and several hurricane threats a year, I couldn’t help but notice how I felt when a storm came through. (High barometric pressure on sunny days, low barometric pressure during storms) To this day, I stop what I’m doing to watch a storm, not because they fascinate me but because I don’t want to be caught unaware. The scientific community isn’t convinced of the positive correlation of storms/barometric pressure drops and onset of childbirth. They suggest that it’s the stress of preparing for a storm that increases birth rate during storms. In any event, I am a believer in the if-then convention of storms leading to childbirth.

What is a skinwalker? It is a Native American shapeshifter legend. Though this is typically associated with the Navaho culture, I used artistic license to have the Cherokee in my series familiar with it. A Navaho skinwalker is one of several types of witches who live alongside tribe members by day and prowl at night, though a skinwalker is considered the most volatile and the most dangerous of these witches. It is a tradition among The People that there are places where good and evil may be harnessed and those powers can be used at the person’s discretion. Skinwalkers often transform into animals such as wolves, bear, coyote, and dogs to do a task or to escape a predator. In All Done With It, I didn’t hold strictly to that specific convention, but I believe you’ll be interested in my variation.

You’ve brought the series full circle. Is this the last Dreamwalker book or is it a new beginning? This one completes the series arc. Though I’ve enjoyed lingering in this story world for nine years, I’m moving on with a new culinary cozy series set on an island. In a recent bout of introspection, I realized my mystery protagonists are justice-seeking women who stand up for underdogs and the oppressed. They have no investigative training, just a network of associates and a heart for the task. This realization prompts me to suggest that if you enjoy one of my series, you’ll most likely enjoy others I write. I invite you to browse at my website, https://maggietoussaint.com/books

Thank you, Elaine, for another wonderful interview packed with insightful questions. It is always a pleasure to be here with you and the other authors at Writers Who Kill. 


Jim Jackson said...

Congratulations, Maggie, on what sounds like another terrific entry in the Dreamwalker series.

~ Jim

Kait said...

Congratulations on the latest!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your new release!

Susan said...

Congratulations on a series that keeps on moving forward.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Thanks, Jim, Kait, Margaret, and Susan. This series in some ways exemplifies "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beetles, with my Muse being the Winding Road. I'm so glad to have taken this Dreamwalker journey and to have found myself at your door! Thanks again, Elaine, for a fab interview that made me delve beneath the surface to respond to the whys.

E. B. Davis said...

I've enjoyed seeing the character arch in this series. Baxley starts out as a single mom who gardens and dog walks, but then must take on the mantle of Dreamwalker from her father. There are personal tribulations along the way. We see how her boss, the sheriff changes. And then she meets and marries her long awaited spouse. Her parents support and sacrifice. It's been a lovely journey, Maggie. Thank you!

KM Rockwood said...

Sorry to see the series end, but I expect to be pleased with the outcome when I read this final book.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Elaine and KM, y'all are going to make me cry again. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful journey with me. It is so much more special to have found so many friends along the way!