Guest: Mary Feliz

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Edith here. Author Mary Feliz is a fellow Guppie and a Californian, and when I heard she feliz-scheduled-to-death-coverhas a new book out in her Maggie MacDonald Professional Organizer mystery series, I had to invite her onto the blog. Wouldn’t we all love a professional organizer to come into our houses and, well, get us organized? I know I would! I read book one, Address to Die for, and loved the tale of intrigue, family, and murder in the Silicon Valley area. Now Scheduled to Death is out, too. I’ll let Mary take it from here!

Local Tour

Thanks so much to the Wickeds for inviting me and my main character, Maggie McDonald, to hang out with the cool kids today.

Several of my local friends and fans have told me they’ve taken visiting family on the “Maggie McDonald” tour of Silicon Valley, pointing out locations that appear in the books.

I thfelizphoto1ought you all might like the armchair traveler’s version of that tour.

First up is the McDonald’s house, a Craftsman-style residence built in 1901. Their home was inspired by the Griffin family home which stands on what is now the Foothill College campus in Los Altos Hills, CA. It’s a beloved edifice, but interest in raising funds to restore it waned in the recent economic downturn. Each year it looks increasingly like a haunted house.

Next is a look at downtown “Orchard View” which is a mash-up of Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Mountain View. The downtown and ethos of Orchard View most closely resemble that of Los Altos, although all the characters and most of the locations are fictional.felizphoto2

One real thing in the books is the presence of Google, one of the area’s largest employers. Google bikes, the company’s Android dessert sculpture garden, and engineers testing self-driving cars all appear in one book or another.

The McDonald’s house backs onto lands belonging to the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District, which describes its land as places “where the din of urban life gives way to the soft sounds of nature. It is the serene, unbuilt, unspoiled earth that awakens all our senses and makes us whole again … it is room to breathe.” The first properties of Open Space District land were preserved by a voter initiative in 1972.


Edith: Thanks, Mary! That view of my home state is typical of my favorite parts of California – the golden rolling hills where nobody is. And I can’t wait to read Scheduled to Death.

Readers: Which tours have you taken of places you’ve read about in books? Would you  ever take a vacation based on a book you’ve read?

feliz-book-1-coverMaggie McDonald organizes life between solving murders in Orchard View, California, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Find her adventures documented in the Maggie McDonald Mysteries published by Kensington’s Lyrical Press and available in paperback and all ebook formats. The series begins with Address to Die For and continues with Scheduled to Death (January 2017) and Dead Storage (July 2017). Organizing tips are in every feliz-jpg-smallchapter.

Mary records Maggie’s adventures and organizing advice. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. She lives in Northern California. To keep up with the Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, sign up for Mary’s newsletter at, or shoot her an email at

32 Thoughts

  1. I like books with real places in their stories, even if they are disguised, but especially if I recognize them! Regarding the question about tours I’ve taken of places I’ve read about in books, I automatically thought of the House of Seven Gables. My mother was a Hawthorne fanatic, while my father liked reading the history surrounding the area of Hawthorn’s time. Both were born in Salem, as was I, and while we lived in Salem we were never more than a few blocks away from the House of Seven Gables and other historic buildings and places that we might never have seen otherwise. It seemed natural to be near the visual things of history. I think we wanted to read books where they were featured, because it was like reading about someone you knew. Salem is always with me because of these things and the books that contain them in their stories.

    1. I love Salem. I lived in Massachusetts for five years. I also love seeing the areas in which my favorite books were set. When my kids were learning about the American Revolution in school, I made sure we made a visit to key historical sites. Without realizing I was doing it, I planned the trip for their Spring Break, and ended up in Lexington and Concord on April 18th. It was very crowded and full of costume reenactors but lots of fun.

  2. I love the books and found it delightful to get to “see” Maggie’s world. I have never intentionally toured an area based on a book but we moved frequently when I was young and 3 times we moved to a place within a month of my having read a book located at least partially there. The first town wasn’t unique but it was interesting to live on the Mississipi River in Clinton, Iowa. Two years later, we moved from Texas to Medicine Hat, Alberta; the author was about 50 years out of date on that one. I was most surprised when we moved to Catalina Island because most often the company my dad worked for built petro-chemical plants.I had never even heard of a salt-water conversion plant until we made that move. They transferred smaller from LA while they build a bigger one there. What a surprise it was for me to encounter a book in which salt-water conversion played a role in edition to the book in which the characters made a trip to Catalina, Needless to say, I read each of those books a couple of times while we lived there. I think it would be fun to make fun trips based on books I have read, hitting several sites each time.

    1. I grew up in Davenport, Iowa just down the river from Clinton. I loved reading Tom Sawyer and then visiting friends in Hannibal and going to all of those places.

    2. I did a report in 7th grade on desalinization and have remained fascinated by it. I think it’s one of the topics with the most visual diagrams! What was the title of the book? I’d love to read it.

  3. …a book in which salt water conversion played a roll in addition (not edition!!!) to the book in which the characters made a trip to Catalina.

  4. Another absolutely-have-to-read series for me. I could use the organizer tips for sure and I love the destination-driven background. I haven’t followed a book myself yet for vacation planning, but a couple of women who’d come to a book signing for one of my Witch City mysteries did go to Salem and follow Lee’s adventures by staying at the Hawthorne Hotel, dining at In A Pig’s Eye, going to the House of Seven Gables, etc. and wrote to me about it. ( I’ll be interested to meet that lovely Golden Retriever on the cover too!)

      1. Maggie is checking her calendar, Sheila! (BTW, I just learned that Dumpster is now dumpster because the legal rights to coining Dumpster ran out — that’s after carefully capitalizing every Dumpster in my last book and having the editor change them to dumpsters.)

    1. The golden retriever is based on three that have been part of my family at various times. We’re currently without a dog…but I’m hoping that won’t last long. I live on the beach now, a golden retriever’s dream!

  5. To answer the question: a friend and I went to France one summer during college, and I insisted that we go to Les Baux in Provence, because Mary Stewart had made it sound wonderful in Madame, Will You Talk? There was some reference in the book about watching the sun come up at Les Baux, and yes, I did get up at dawn to watch.

    1. I love Mary Stewart! Years ago I had a big fat paperback book called “The Armchair Traveler’s Guide to Literature.” It had a bibliography of books for a wide array of cities, states, regions, and nations. I made a point of reading something about an area whenever I visited. Sometimes the nonfiction, but always the mysteries or thrillers.

  6. I love books that are set in real places – whether a created place in addition to the real ones or just the hand-wavey versions (where it’s a totally real place but with made-up business and elements that are amended/blurred for literary effect). Visiting the literary location becomes it’s own mystery as you try to decipher to the real places from their camouflaged version.

  7. Mary, thanks so much for visiting the Wicked Cozys today and taking us on your tour.

    I like to tour places I’ve read about. I once did my own walking tour of Edinburgh based on Alexander McCall’s Scotland Street books and had a blast. And of course, here in Key West we have Lucy Burdette’s terrific Food Critic mysteries which describe real places we can track down.

    1. Barbara, after reading your books, I can’t imagine you in Key West. Even after making my forehead bleed, I’m convinced you’reholed up in front of a fire in Coastal Maine, chuckling because your charade of living in Key West has been discovered!

      1. Laughing, Mary…We are in coastal Maine in the summer, but the combo of the cold and dark are more than I want to deal with in the dead of winter.

  8. My family went to Europe for 3 and a half weeks after I graduated from college. (It was my college graduation present for all of us to go. Um… Had a great time, but still.) My parents and brother wound up planning most of it since I was in school hours away from the rest of them. But they did incorporate my two requests. Corrie ten Boom’s house where she and her family hid Jews that we’d all read about in The Hiding Place was one of the first places we went when we landed in the Netherlands. We flew out from Switzerland, and we went to Cheatu Chion (I’ve butchered the spelling and I’m late for work), which was featured in A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax which I’d read the summer before. The rest of the trip didn’t have places I’d read about, and we saw lots of great stuff, but those two stops were fun because I could see something I’d read about.

    1. I like both the books you mentioned, Mark. I think some of my most vivid memories of trips are those that had literary connections. After reading The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil T. Rathbone is it possible to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC without checking to see if Maria Antoinette’s bed has any telltale wrinkles?

  9. Oh gosh if you haven;t been to that area of Calif it is a great area along with that a little further down the highway is the Winchester House and it is a great tour. I lived in Calif for 48 years and my family still live there I am the only one who moved to eastern iowa. I really miss the los altos area but what i don’t miss is all of those employees getting off around 4 or after and getting on hwy 101 it is a jam packed mess near redwood city etc,…that is the downside so if you are out there touring try to stay on hwy 280 which in parts is beautiful and it does have its downsides but not at all like hwy 101 also try to stay off the hwy and el camino after 4 – 6:30 then it isn’t so bad. This book sounds so good i was debating but now i know it is where i am from and was born the area i should say that makes me want to read it even more,. I moved due to gettting married to a man who lived in Dubuque. Ia and also he could never get used to all the people and driving in Ca. is so diff also he has a short fuse so i thought better for me to leave my grown kids and move back also for my nerve disease as we live in a rural area which is wonderful. In ca I lived kinda downtown so it wasn’;t as nice. I love the place where i was in my foster home and that is La Honda beautiful area nice laid back place used to have wonderful crazy houses but my son said they are now richie rich houses which is too bad.

    1. There are still some very cute houses in La Honda and it is still gorgeous, but your son is right. Many of them have been placed by houses on steroids. I hope you’ll try the books…and enjoy them!

      1. my son was trying to live up there but for two beginners they have to look elsewhere and it is too bad as there used to be homes there that were perfect and they weren’t starter homes people lived in them for years. My foster brother worked at the Bella Vista and the artist and his family lived next door that house inside and out was just amazing so were a few others that we delivered people to. My foster home was 2 houses up on the right from where the Vista Del Mar used to be they had big chain gate and you could look back at the house that is where i was in a foster home for 10 years. From there we were bused to HMB for school and that took so long but i am glad as met a lot of people that i am still friends with! I am excited about this series.

  10. All the rain we’ve had on back order for the past six years has arrived all at once. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” situation.

  11. I love reading books set in real places with literary license thrown in to make for better stories. We lived in Boston for 18 years and I made a point of visiting everything I could for 75 miles around (including, of course, Salem). When traveling, I’ve looked up references in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in Toronto, in Peru, in Hannibal, and lots of underground RR sites. I love traveling through Tony Hillerman country. I have never planned a vacation around visiting a particular literary site, but I’ve made sure to visit as many as possible while on vacations.

    I loved your travelogue of Maggi’s world. Thanks. It makes it all the more real.

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