My guest today is Edith Maxwell, a lady who is not only a prolific writer, she has been a guest on my other blog, Tonette Joyce, Food, Friends, Family with her lovely recipes. Among her writings are the Local Food Mystery series, the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries, and her brand-new Country Store Mysteries.
Welcome, Edith! Let’s let our readers know more about you. You have lived in both sides of the country, plus right in the middle, Indiana. How did you end up settling in New England, (Boston), from California?
I’m delighted to be here! I am a native Californian, and I lived in southern Indiana for five years earning a PhD in linguistics. I got my first job after that in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and just never left the state.
You have a family; do they live near you?
I have two sisters, a brother, and two sons – and unfortunately none of them lives near me at present. But I’m still holding out for one or both of my darling adult sons moving back to somewhere in New England. And if they don’t – well, it’s a good thing we have airplanes.
The Local Food Mysteries is about organic farming, which you have done yourself. How does a PhD in Linguistics become a farmer???
Great question. I’d been an organic gardener for a while. After our second child was born and my (now-ex) husband got tenure at Boston University, we made a family decision for me to stay home with the boys for a while. We bought a property that included a large organic garden, and I turned it into a small farm.
You have written several other stand-alone books and award-winning short stories, and you also have the Quaker Midwife stories. What gave you the ideas for these and the others, such as the Quaker linguist? Are you a Quaker? Where do you get inspirations?
Let’s see. I actually haven’t written any standalones. I have two books in the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (Lauren is also a Quaker and is a linguistics professor) from Barking Rain Press. The Country Store Mysteries debuted in October and are set in the delightful part of southern Indiana where I was a grad student. And the Quaker Midwife Mysteries are set right here in my small city of Amesbury in the northeast corner of Massachusetts – but in 1888.
I’ve been a member of the Society of Friends (Quaker) for twenty-six years. During my farming years I also taught prepared childbirth classes and was pretty steeped in childbirth, so it’s a pleasure to combine those two things in the historical series.
How do you do research for your books?
The historical mysteries require the most research, of course. I own books on Victorian everyday life, cooking at the time, language, police procedure, and more. I peruse microfiche of the newspapers of 1888. I belong to our local Carriage Museum as well as the John Greenleaf Whittier Home Museum. I check out pictures of period clothing on Pinterest. And then there’s Mr. Google…For the contemporary series, I go all kinds of places: to a local farm to check out the chickens. To my town’s Citizens’ Police Academy to learn about law enforcement. To Brown County Indiana to refresh my memory about how people talk, what the scenery is like, how the weather patterns go. And then there’s Mr. Google…
You also write under two pseudonyms, “Maddie Day” and “Tace Baker”. Will you tell us the stories behind the choices of names?
Even though the Country Store Mysteries are published by Kensington, which also puts out the Local Foods series, my editor wanted me to use a pseudonym for the new series. With the Local Foods Mysteries, my first contract with Kensington did not encourage me to publish mysteries with any other publisher, but I was close to signing a contract for Speaking of Murder with Barking Rain, so Kensington Legal said I needed to use a pen name for that. I’m grateful that the Quaker Midwife Mysteries are coming out as Edith Maxwell.
You have a scholarly book, “A Study of Misarticulation from a Linguistic Perception” which I would love to read! Can you tell us a bit about this?
That’s my long-dusty doctoral dissertation, looking at the acoustic phonetics of children called “misarticulators” in an attempt to get at what these four and five year olds really know about the English language. I doubt you’d love to read it – but it’s actually for sale on Amazon if you really feel the need.[I think I’d love it!T.]
You post with several other mystery writers in the Wicked Cozy Authors blog, with several mutual friends and past guests here. Can you tell us how you choose your topics?
It varies. Each of us six Wickeds have an individual day where we post whatever we want to, plus we have three Wicked Cozy Accomplices who each post once a month. One of core six is in charge of scheduling a month or two at a time. Every Wednesday we have Wicked Wednesday, and the scheduler sets up those topics, which we all chime in on. We have occasional Ask the Expert days with an expert posting about anything from being a private detective to being the cozy mystery buyer for an independent bookstore. Our Opening Lines posts present a mysterious picture and we each write an opening to a story about that picture – and encourage our readers to add their own. We have a lot of guests, and a lot of fun. Please join us and our reader community over in the Comments section of the blog.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d just like to thank readers for being out there and for enjoying my stories. I hope you’ll stop by my web site and follow it, sign up for my author newsletter, and come find me on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and elsewhere!
Thank you for stepping in quickly, Edith. I hope our readers will stop to comment and read your works.
Agatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (as Tace Baker), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs with the other Wicked Cozy Authors. You can also find her at http://www.edithmaxwell.com , @edithmaxwell, and on Facebook.
Flipped for Murder excerpt:
My heart beat something fierce as the bell on the door jangled. It was make-or-break time. I’d been preparing for this day for weeks. I thought I was ready, but if I slipped up, I’d be in major hot water. Or financial ruin, as the case may be.
My first customer at Pans ‘N Pancakes turned out to be Corrine Beedle, the new mayor of South Lick, Indiana, all five foot eleven and layered flaming hair of her. She sailed through the door like she owned the store. My country store and restaurant, that is. I’d seen her around town during the last month since she’d won the September election, but we hadn’t actually met, and paying attention to a local race had been below the bottom of my infinitely long to-do list.
Her unpleasant assistant, whom I had met many times, followed, looking slightly disgusted with the world as usual. Stella Rogers’s puffy upper eyelids and upturned nose gave her an unfortunate resemblance to the porcine genus.
“Welcome to Pans ‘N Pancakes.” Striding toward them, smoothing my blue-and-white striped apron, I hoped my smile wasn’t slipping from nervousness. I pulled out a chair at a table for two. “Thank you for coming to our grand opening.”
“Co-rrine Beedle.” The mayor, emphasizing the “Co” as much as the “reen,” gave me a direct look and a wide smile as she pumped my hand. “Mayor of South Lick.”
I extricated my hand while I still had feeling in it. “Robbie Jordan. Owner, proprietor, and head cook. Well, the only cook, normally.” I gestured to the eight-burner industrial stove and griddle behind the counter, where my aunt Adele was aproned up and tending a dozen sizzling sausages.
“Glad to have a woman business owner in town,” the mayor said, beaming.
“I’m happy to be here. And it’s very nice to meet you, Madam Mayor.”
“Oh, hogwash.” She slid into the seat, her bony knee slipping out of the slit in the skirt of her red suit as she crossed one leg over the other. Her black-and-white heels looked about four inches high and a red-shellacked big toenail peeked out of the cutout in each shoe. “Just call me Corrine, honey.”
I’d lived in the hill country of southern Indiana for more than three years now, and I still wasn’t used to nearly every female older than my twenty-seven years calling me “honey.”
“Got it, Corrine.” I glanced at her aide, whose position as mayor’s assistant seemed to be permanent. Corrine must have inherited Stella, because I’d had to work with her over the past six months when I was applying for my building permit and other permissions so I could fix up the 150-year-old store. I greeted her, too.
“Congratulations on finally getting open, Robbie. It’s very quaint.” Stella did not look like she meant any of it—except the dig about how long it had taken me to renovate the place.
Sure, it was quaint. I’d been aiming for an amalgam of what I hoped was everybody’s dream, because it sure was mine: a warm, welcoming country store, a cozy breakfast-and-lunch place, and a treasure trove of antique cookware. The last was my particular passion, the vintage cookware lining the walls and several rows of shelves. I’d even hired a guy to restore the potbellied stove, fantasizing that a core group of locals might make this their meeting place, drinking coffee, exchanging yarns, offering advice. I’d worked my fingers off, and my butt, too, to get the place ready for today. My mom hadn’t taught me fine cabinetry for nothing. I’d sawed and sanded, measured and nailed, painted and polished, until I could turn the sign on my dream to OPEN.