My guest this weekend….Edith Maxwell!
As a former organic farmer Edith knows the language and tensions of someone like Cam Flaherty, the farmer in the Local Foods mysteries. Edith lived in southern Indiana for five years and loved the slow pace and language of its natives, so it made sense to set the Country Store Mysteries there. She taught independent childbirth classes and worked as a doula for some years, giving her insight into the life of an historical midwife as portrayed in the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.
Currently residing in Amesbury, Massachusetts, she is originally a fourth-generation Californian. She has two grown sons, and lives in an antique house with her beau, their three cats, and several fine specimens of garden statuary
R: Welcome, Edith! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
First, thanks so much for having me over, and for these great interview questions. I’m a fourth-generation Californian transplanted to Massachusetts. I’m the mom of two fabulous adult sons, the partner of a very nice man who doesn’t read fiction, and the human to three great felines. I had quite a few careers behind me (and another couple in front of me) when I decided that I loved to read cozy mysteries so much, I might as well write one. It took 17 more years to have my first book published, but I kept writing and learning in the meantime.
R: Tell us about your Local Foods mystery series and how that came about. Are you a fan of organic foods?
I used to be an organic farmer (see one of the questions below) and I wrote an unfinished draft of the first book in the series, A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE, long ago. So it was a natural to come back to it and make it into a series. I think growing organically is the only way to go for the health of both the earth and the creatures who live on it – including us.
R: Tell us about your latest release, FARMED AND DANGEROUS.
Snow is piling up in Westbury, Massachusetts. Unfortunately murder seems to be the crop in season. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at an assisted living facility seems like the least of farmer Cam Flaherty’s worries—until one of the elderly residents dies after eating some of her produce. As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase “dead of winter.”
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?
My agent came to our local Sisters in Crime chapter looking for authors to work on cozy mystery proposals with. I wrote him a query letter, he called me, we developed the Local Foods proposal, and it sold to Kensington within a week. I was ecstatic!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
If I’m at all stuck, I go for a long “plotting” walk with my phone in my back pocket. I start asking myself questions, and the way forward always becomes more clear. I pull up a notes app and dictate my ideas in to my phone, and by the time I get home I’ve not only had my exercise, I know the next few scenes in the book.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
Since the Quaker Midwife Mysteries are set in 1888 in my town, I would love to go back there and really absorb how people talked and acted. The Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier lived a few blocks away from my house (where my midwife protagonist and her family live) and he’s a secondary character in the series. I’d love to have met him in person, too.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I hold a long-dusty black belt in karate!
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Oh, dear, do we really want to go there? When I was a child walking home from school, one day I lay down in the road, figuring that a car’s wheels would just pass on either side of me. Luckily it was a quiet street and I got bored waiting!
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I hope readers will find themselves taken out of their world and be plopped in that of my characters. The story will be compelling enough they won’t want to put the book down. And when they finish the book they will feel justice has been served and all is right with the fictional world again.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I very much write into the headlights. I usually know my end destination, but do not have a map for how to get there.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
No party tricks! I mostly garden, drink wine, and read cozy mysteries. I sew on occasion.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My web site, www.edithmaxwell.com, has information about all my series and my short fiction, too. In addition to the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife mysteries, I write the Country Store Mysteries as Maddie Day, and the Lauren Rousseau mysteries as Lauren Rousseau, as well as short crime fiction. One of my stories, “Just Desserts for Johnny,” was nominated for an Agatha Award this year!
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. You can’t polish what you haven’t written. Just keep writing – the story will emerge.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
Before I became a full-time fiction writer two years ago, I had careers as:
ñ Technical writer
ñ Organic farmer
ñ Childbirth educator
ñ Free-lance editor
ñ Speech recognition researcher
ñ College teacher
ñ English teacher in Japan
ñ Auto mechanic
Below: Ediths muses, her cats, Birdy and Preston!
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day, specifially morning
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat times three!
Beach or Pool? Beach whenever possible
Steak or salad? Salad, local homegrown organic by preference
Favorite Drink? Red wine
Favorite Book? Oh, no...
Favorite TV Series? Call the Midwife
Favorite Movie? Dr. Zhivago
Favorite Actor: Paul Newman (yeah, I know I’m dating myself...)
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Martini with olives. I don’t know what dirty means, but you can pretty much just pass the Vermouth cap over the glass.
Hawaii or Alaska? Wow. I’ve never been to Alaska, but would love to bask in Hawaii for a while.
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Michelle Obama. I admire that woman very much for so many reasons. I sent her one of my Local Foods mysteries, but I doubt she read it.
If I had just one wish, it would befor my sons to stay healthy, have long lives, and get cracking giving me some grandkids.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be ...me! I’m so blessed and lucky, I really don’t want to be anybody else.
Thank you for a great interview, Edith! Follks, you can find her at:
http://www.killercharacters.com/ on the third of each month
Pinterest and occasionally Instagram, too.
Edith will give away a copy of Farmed and Dangerous to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, July 12!