Meow! My guest this week is author Maggie Toussaint
Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes mystery, suspense, and dystopian fiction. Her work won the Silver Falchion Award for best mystery, the Readers’ Choice Award, and the EPIC Award. Under her name and her pen name of Rigel Carson, she’s published sixteen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. The latest book in her paranormal mystery series, Dadgummit, released August 1, 2017. Maggie serves as Chapter President for Southeast Mystery Writers of America and as Vice-President for Low Country Sisters In Crime. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.
R: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
M: I grew up in a family of oral storytellers. How I loved to listen to their stories! Later, when I tried oral storytelling, my introverted personality was a problem. Then it occurred to me, I could write stories. Even better, with writing I could smooth out all the rough places and add in just the right amount of oomph to keep readers hooked. Writing was no cakewalk either, but I kept at it until I broke through.
R: Tell us about your “Dreamwalker series”! Where did that idea come from?
M: I’m a wimp. There. I’ve said it. Scary things terrify me. But something about solving a puzzle prevents me from being scared. After the losses of two members of my birth family, my thoughts kept drifting to the hereafter. How did it work? Was it real? How did faith and ghost stories and the paranormal fit together anyway? These were some of the questions running wild in my head. The best way I knew to explore a tough, scary issue was to write about it. So I did, and I changed things around a bit to suit me. Is my take on the afterlife correct? Read the series and decide for yourself.
R: You also write several other series. Tell us a bit about those.
M: My first cozy series was heavily influenced by chick lit. Cleopatra Jones is a woman trying to get her groove back after getting dumped by her guy for a younger woman. I wrote this series to show there is life after divorce and to highlight the love of friends and family. Since Cleo is an accountant, her series titles all have money in them (In For a Penny is book one). I wrote two traditional cozy mystery stand-alones with pets before I hit upon the Dreamwalker series. I accidentally wrote an ecothriller mystery series set in the future, little thinking about that being a different genre. I adopted the pen name of Rigel Carson for my Guardian of Earth series. And in the midst of all this mystery writing, I released a trilogy of romantic suspense novels, the Mossy Bog series, each featuring different couples, sleuthing in the same small town.
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?
M: I’ve been at this for a while, so I had met several agents at conferences. That’s how I got my first agent. Not much excitement in that, other than a glorious milestone. As for THE CALL, the answer was outright euphoria! My feet didn’t touch the ground. I floated in a grinning haze for days. So for me, getting an agent was akin to getting into a difficult academic course, landing a contract was like being class valedictorian.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
M: A solid chunk of morning is what I need for writing. Interruptions are distractions and only allow me to touch the surface of what’s going on in my work-in-progress. My muse responds well to any form of the arts: singing, dancing, painting, crafting, and so on, but not in the aforesaid morning. I need radio silence for that.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
M: I’d walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969. I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut, but I get motion sickness and vertigo so a time machine is the only way to fulfill my fantasy of space travel. I’d like to be there, invisible of course so as not to mess up the actual timeline, when Apollo 11 lands. Once they leave, I’d get to walk on the moon myself before hopping back in the time machine.
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
M: For years, Sandra Bulloch was my go-to actress for strong female lead. Now I lean toward Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger in Harry Potter films). She was the real brains behind the boys in the Potter series and not much scared her. She’d be perfect for Baxley Powell in my Dreamwalker Series.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
M: I once served my parents green eggs and ham, thanks to a well-known story by Dr. Seuss. I overdid the green food color though, so don’t try this at home unless you have a light hand with color.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
M: What’s crazy to an introvert like me may not seem crazy to anyone else, but as a kid, I tried to float off roofs like Mary Poppins. Ruined all of our family’s umbrellas too.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
M: Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
M: I’m working on a new entry in my Cleopatra Jones series – a long novella to bring her into current times. Readers have been begging for more Cleo for years, so this year they get their wish! My 2018 Dreamwalker book is already in the editorial pipeline, and I’m going to polish my 2019 Dreamwalker book once I get the Cleo novella turned in. My Dreamwalker sleuth Baxley Powell is a pet caretaker also, and she is owned by three dogs and two cats. I’m also in the midst of re-issuing my novella series from 2016. The Lindsey & Ike series has two of three novellas released now; the third will be out in early fall.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
M: I’ve been both, now I’m a hybrid. Turns out I need some structure and lots of character freedom.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
M: Learn your unique writing process and don’t let anyone sway you from that self-realization. Being true to yourself shines through in your writing.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
M: I used to be a scientist. If I hadn’t caught the writing bug, I’d still be in the lab because that kind of work is perfect for an introvert.
R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
M: I prefer not to read new books while I’m writing because then I start to write like that person. However, I enjoy re-reading novels in my extensive Jayne Ann Krentz collection while writing, so I either grab one off my bookshelf or flip to one on my Kindle. I love reading these authors at other times: Charlaine Harris, Jeffrey Deaver, JD Robb, Daniel O’Malley, and Lori-Rader-Day.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? day
Dog or Cat? I love all animals, but I’m a dog person at heart.
Beach or Pool? beach
Favorite Book? Soft Focus by Jayne Ann Krentz
Favorite TV Series? Grimm
Favorite Movie? Galaxy Quest
Favorite Actor: Sean Connery
Favorite Actress: Jodie Foster
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be my father. I was too young when he died. I’d love to sit and listen to all of his stories.
If I had just one wish, it would be that people could get along.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. I love what I’m doing and the people in my life.
List all the places readers can find you
FIND MAGGIE TOUSSAINT HERE:
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