Sunday, November 2, 2014

ROCCO welcomes author Maya Corrigan to the blog!



Maya Corrigan lives near Washington, D.C., within easy driving distance of Maryland's Eastern Shore, the setting for her series. She has taught courses in writing, detective fiction, and American literature at Georgetown University and NOVA community college. In 2013 she won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mystery/Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies, including the Chesapeake Crimes series. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about mysteries:



R: Welcome Maya! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!


Thank you, Toni and Rocco, for inviting me to your blog.

I became interested in writing through reading. When I was growing up, I had two libraries within walking distance of my house and visited both at least once a week. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen and enjoyed watching my friends smile or laugh as they read it. One of them laughed in the wrong places, but I forgave her . . . after about thirty years. The vocational aptitude test I had to take in high school told me to be a writer, and not to even think about being a farmer or a mechanic. Good advice.


R:  Tell us about your Five Ingredient mystery series. How did that come about?


The series features a café manager and former cookbook publicist who solves murders with help from her curmudgeonly grandfather and her friends from the athletic club café. By Cook or by Crook is the first book in this culinary mystery series. The five ingredients refer to the recipes included in the book, the five suspects in the murder, and the five clues my sleuth, Val, uncovers.


The series grew out of a traditional mystery I’d written and put aside for a few years. It was fairly dark, beginning with the deaths of two people close to my main character. When I wrote a culinary whodunit story, “Delicious Death,” for a Chesapeake Crimes anthology, I found my niche and decided to combine food and murder in a longer work. I dusted off that other manuscript, lightened it up by resurrecting the two dead people at the start, one of whom is Val’s grandfather, and revised the book as the start of a cozy series. By the way, you can read “Delicious Death” on my website.



R: Your series is set in the Chesapeake Bay area. Is that an area close to your heart?


My series takes place in a fictional waterfront town, Bayport, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I love the region’s historic small towns. Though not far from either Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, the area is a world away with its peaceful landscapes and water views. It’s a farming and fishing region now as it was in colonial times. It’s also a mecca for tourists who enjoy boating, birding, fishing, hunting, and antiquing. So you have old-timers and newcomers, year-round residents and summer visitors, people who live modestly and those who live lavishly in waterfront mansions--lots of possibilities for conflict and comedy.


R: Do you have a favorite Chesapeake Area recipe you’d like to share?


Eating Chesapeake Bay specialties often means getting your hands dirty. Hard-shell crabs make the most mess. Peel-and-eat shrimp are a close second. But they’re quick and easy to make because you don’t peel the shrimp. That’s the job of the person who eats them, not the cook.


For a pound or so of large shrimp (30-40 count per pound):

Combine a cup of cider vinegar, a cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning. Bring the mix to a boil in a large pot. Add the shrimp, stir, and cover the pot. Once the water boils again, cook for two minutes and drain the shrimp. Cook longer if you use larger shrimp, but be careful not to overcook because the shrimp will lose their taste and become tough.


Serve with a cocktail sauce, either store bought or homemade. An easy sauce has three ingredients: ketchup, lemon juice, and horseradish in whatever proportions taste good to you.  



Some recipes call for flat beer instead of water. I prefer the beer cold and open it when the shrimp are ready to eat.

Old Bay is the most common Chesapeake seasoning you will see in supermarkets, but other companies make it too or you can make your own from recipes online.


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?


I heard through Sisters in Crime about an agent willing to represent a cozy mystery series based on a proposal. I reworked that earlier book I mentioned to highlight its cozy elements, wrote a synopsis for two more books in the series, and sent in the proposal. The agent accepted it.


When I got the call about the sale, I was driving back from an appointment with my foot surgeon, who told me I could go without a cast or a boot for the first time in two months., so it was already a good day. Then it got better. The caller ID on my cell phone alerted me that my agent was calling. I knew he’d submitted the proposal five days earlier to a publisher, and I figured he wasn’t calling me to give me bad news. 


R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?


Though I work most of the time in a quiet room, I can write anywhere, including in a hotel lobby or an airport waiting area. When I write, I’m so wrapped up in my story that hours can go by without my noticing. Fortunately, my stomach reminds me to eat often. That gets me walking at least as far as the kitchen and keeps me from getting too stiff.


Sleep helps my creative process more than anything else. Sometimes I go to bed with a lingering writing problem. I can’t figure out how to liven up a conversation between two characters or where to insert a clue. The next morning I wake up with a solution to the problem because my subconscious has worked it out overnight.


R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

The second half of the nineteenth century fascinates me because of the huge social changes that took place: the freeing of the slaves in the U.S., the women’s suffrage movement, inventions in transportation, communication, and energy that changed how people lived. The vibrant literary life of that period also attracts me. When Charles Dickens went on tour in the U.S., he was greeted like a rock star and drew huge crowds.  


R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’m shy because I have no trouble speaking to a large group. Belonging to my high school debate team and teaching for 15 years gave me a lot of practice talking to a room full of people. But in smaller groups, I’m often tongue-tied though I love talking to people.


R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 

Leaving aside my youthful indiscretions, I did something most people would consider crazy as part of the research for By Cook or by Crook. To test if an incident from my first chapter could actually happen, I set something on fire that probably no one had ever before intentionally burned. I recorded the sight, sound, and smell of the blaze so that could put those sense details on the page. If you want to know what I set on fire, you’ll have to read the book.  


R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?


You’re never too old to try something new. My sleuth’s sidekick, her grandfather, is in his seventies when he takes up cooking. My father did the same thing when he was in his eighties. He was the inspiration for the Codger Cook. My fiction writing career illustrates the same idea. I had grandkids before my first mystery book was published.  

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

I’m finishing the manuscript of SCAM CHOWDER, the second of the Five-Ingredient Mysteries, scheduled for publication in June, 2015.  Financial frauds against senior citizens are central to the story. Val’s grandfather has a larger role in this book than in the first one. In fact, Val and I will have to watch him or he might take over the series.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A plotter when writing, a pantser when cooking. I do a scene-by-scene outline before I start, but it’s fluid: I’ll add or subtract or move a scene as needed as the story develops.  It’s more of a challenge for me to write down everything I’m doing when I prepare one of the recipes that are included with the book.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Never give up. The difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence.  A writer also needs feedback, so joining a critique group will push your writing to a new level.


Just for Fun:


Night or Day?  Day

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I’m too ignorant to choose, having had only one of those as a pet.   

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad every day, steak rare and rarely

Favorite Drink?  By day, tea (I drink a gallon a week). By night, almost any Italian wine or German beer.

Favorite Book?  Pride and Prejudice

Favorite TV Series?  The Good Wife

Favorite Movie?  Casablanca

Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp

Favorite Actress: Janet McTeer

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Shakespeare.

If I had just one wish, it would be that everyone sign up as an organ donor; It’s a way to save a life that costs you nothing. 

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be any author who writes two good books a year (for example., Anne Perry); I’d like to trade places for a day to learn the secret of writing fast.  


Thanks for a great interview, Maya! Folks, you can find out more about Maya here:


Website: -


Facebook: Maya Corrigan Books -


Goodreads Author Page: Maya Corrigan -


Maya will give away An Advanced Reader Copy of By Cook or by Crook to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave a comment with your email address in the comments section of this post! For extra entries, you can:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:

* Like Maya Corrigan’s author page onFacebook (1 Point)

* Signs up for a newsletter onMaya’s website: (1 point)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)


Contest open to US residents only and ends midnight, November 9! Winner chosen at random by!


Coming in November:

Eve Sandstrom, Thumper, and Twinkletoes and Krista Davis!

And on December 2: in honor of the human’s debut of Meow if its Murder…an interview with yours truly!






  1. Hey, Rocco!
    Interesting interview. It's never too ate to try something new, is it?
    I visit your blog regularly
    I'm FB friends with Toni and Maya
    I linked this to FB
    I don't tweet or blog

    libbydodd at comcast dot net

    1. Thanks for your comment. And thanks to Rocco for the interview. --Maya

  2. I was born in Maryland and you have me with anything to do with food! I wish you continued success!
    I put in a Friend Request,(we have several mutual friends)
    I am a Friend of the Human,
    I follow Rocco on Twitter
    and the Blog
    I tweeted
    I shared on FB
    Boy, do I miss Chesapeake Bay Crabs!

    1. I love crabs too. It's getting hard to find Chesapeake Bay crabs even close to the bay. So many restaurants have crabs from the other side of the world. The Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are the best.--Maya

  3. Rocco, a delightful and interesting interview. Can not wait to her what beans you will spill in December.
    I am following you, liked all the Fb pages and shared this giveaway there, sent a friend invitation (please accept me) am a twitter follower and am tweeting.

    1. Thanks for your comment about the interview.--Maya

  4. This is my kind of series. Looking forward to reading it.
    I follow the blog. I don't twitter. I liked Maya's FB page. I couldn't find anyplace to sign up for a newsletter on Maya's site. I shared about the contest on FB. I don't blog.
    dotkel50 at comcast dot net

    1. Sorry you didn't find the newsletter sign-up form. I had a deadline for submitting the next book in the series today, so I didn't get around to putting the form up on the website. However, I'll add your name to the newsletter list. Thank you for your comment, and I hope you enjoy the book.--Maya

  5. I will enjoy the sleuth's grandfather in this series because I am of the same age.
    I follow you blog by email, GFC, and twitter. I also am following on facebook.

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, and enjoy the book.--Maya

  6. It's on my TBR list for this month! Looking forward to reading it. Sorry, I don't blog or tweet. I am putting in a recommendation for library to buy series! Hope tha helps. Great interview! Thanks for giveaway chance.

    Tennisace50 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    1. Thank you for requesting the series for your library. I appreciate it.--Maya

  7. Happy Birthday, Tonio! My D-I-L's birthday is today, too! Guess I'd best go call her!

  8. Great interview. I'll definitely look out for Maya Corrigan books.

  9. Oops forgot to leave my e-mail address