Guest-Alyssa Maxwell

Jessie: Chained to the desk feeling envious of all those at Left Coast Crime!

I’ve gotten to know Alyssa over the last couple of years as a member of the Sleuths in Time group on Facebook where she does much of the heavy lifting. Alyssa writes books that are such fun to read and I am delighted she could join us here today! She has offered the chance to win an Advance Readers Copy of Murder at Crossways to one commenter who resides in the US!

KellyL you are the winner of the giveaway! Jessie will contact you to arrange for the delivery of the prize!

Hi Wickeds! Thanks for having me here today!

As long as I have your ear, I have a confession to make, and I’m hoping you and your readers can keep a secret, because I wouldn’t want this to get out. But here it is: I never fully grew up. Yup, it’s the truth. Specifically, I never outgrew playing “pretend.” Or daydreaming, for that matter. And I suspect this is what led me to be a writer, because I can live in my daydreams and not be criticized for it because . . .

Hey, I’m working!

Who didn’t hear, “Stop that daydreaming,” when they were young, especially in school? I did it all the time, except – and this is true – during writing time. Then, suddenly, I was the most focused kid in the class. But can we talk about the guilt that went along with fazing out (phasing out?) during, say, math? Because if we were caught daydreaming, we were led to believe we were doing something wrong, something BAD, something that didn’t accomplish anything when our attention should have been focused on boring old numbers – there, I said it! Numbers bored me. Words thrilled me!

And let me tell you, it didn’t matter how much attention I paid to my math lessons, I was NEVER going to become a mathematician. But I DID become a writer, and I’ve learned that daydreaming CAN be productive, if you channel it for the right (write?) purpose. So it’s a very good thing for me and other writers that we continued (albeit secretly) to allow those scenes to unfold in our minds while outwardly pretending to pay attention to, well, whatever it was we were supposed to be paying attention to.

So what’s my favorite game of pretend? Why, “olden days,” of course. For as long as I can remember, the past has fascinated me – all of it. The clothes, the modes of transportation, the manners, and even the challenges (except the lack of modern plumbing, of course). I’m all too happy to turn off the present and retreat into my imaginary worlds of Gilded Age Newport or post WWI England. So, whether it’s collecting antiques that put me in the mindset of life a hundred or more years ago, attending our local Renaissance fair in costume, or sitting down to write every day and being immersed in the past, I’m delighted to do it—guilt free!

Readers: Did you discover a talent or a predisposition in your youth, and did you follow through with it as an adult? If not, do you wish you had?

BIO:

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a fiction author. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband reside in Florida. You can visit Alyssa at http://www.alyssamaxwell.com

47 Thoughts

  1. I’m so excited for the new Newport mystery! Daydreaming is what we do. Also…voyeuring. When a conversation is going on nearby in a restaurant, I’m all ears, making up a story for who those people are, why they’re arguing or eating in stony silence, noticing that odd jaw or the strange cut of her clothes, and more.

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  2. Well, of sorts I have. When I was very young, I had an Emmett Kelly doll and he was may favorite one to talk to and play. Move to junior high when I was taking the required course of art. Now mind you, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. To make a long story short, my art teacher got my Emmett Kelly doll (which I didn’t realize was a collectible but evidently she did) and I got an A in art. BAD teacher!

    Then as a adult and after the death of our only child at the age of 17, we were looking for something to fill up time. Watching old home movies I saw the doll and since we were going to antique stores decided to see if I could find a doll like mine. That opened the door to clowns again. Again to make a long story short, we ended up becoming personal friends with Emmett Kelly Jr. who also clowns. After a few years, he told us to get out from behind the camera and behind the grease paint. We became Cook E. Lady and Pepp R. Mint Pal and clowned from GA to MI to AZ and also for the governor of our state of AR.

    Emmett has passed on, we have gotten older and with health issues which forced us to lay down our clown nose, but we still have an affection for the art of clowning.

    Thanks for the chance to win an ARC of “Murder at Crossways”. Sound wonderful and I’d love the opportunity to read it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. Kay, thank you for sharing your story. It’s inspiring how when facing such a tragedy, you were able to reconnect with something meaningful from your past, and turn it into a shared and unique experience with your husband.

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  3. Good morning, awesome Wickeds! Thanks for having me here today, and thanks for your kind words! Jessie, I’m sorry you’re chained to your desk, and I share your pain at not being at Left Coast. It’s one of my goals to get there one of these years! For now it’s work work work on the new book … After my Tai Chi class. See you all when I get back….

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  4. I had an aptitude for sewing and needlework as a child/younger adult. I do wish that I had tried to make it more a part of my life. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  5. I used to live in Newport, RI and so enjoy reading your Gilded Newport Mysteries…mentally traveling around with Emma in the city in which I grew up. I remember going to the Edward King house, an Italian villa which housed the public library (which is now a senior center), climbing the stairs to the second floor to the children’s room. There, I devoured every mystery I could get my hands on. Thank you for bringing back those memories with your mysteries.

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    1. One year our entire family gathered in Newport for my father-in-law’s second wedding. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and there were so many of us we had Thanksgiving dinner at the King Center. I’m so happy to hear the series brings back happy memories of life in Newport!

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  6. I used to live in Newport, RI and so enjoy reading your Gilded Newport Mysteries…mentally traveling around with Emma in the city in which I grew up. I remember going to the Edward King house, an Italian villa which housed the public library (which is now a senior center), climbing the stairs to the second floor to the children’s room. There, I devoured every mystery I could get my hands on. Thank you for bringing back those memories with your mysteries.

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  7. My family has always called me a “child magnet” because I relate to children so well and they all seem to be drawn to me. That led to lots of babysitting while I was growing up as well as teaching Sunday School and VBS. I don’t do much of that anymore, but that magnet still seems to be working (thank goodness) — probably because I have never completely grown up! Thanks, Alyssa for visiting The Wickeds and also for your giveaway. I love the beautiful cover (and colors) of Murder at Crossways ~

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  8. My discovery as a child was that I could take something that would be thrown away and make it into
    something else. Crafting is my pleasure as well as reading.

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  9. My aptitude for singing was evident when I was quite young, and I was heavily involved in music well into adulthood. Alas, I am no famous opera diva or Broadway star, but I continue to love it. Thank you for the chance to win.

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  10. I never fully grew up either. I still say dream sum, although I prefer to spend my make believe time in a world someone else has created for me.

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  11. Love your books and look forward to Sleuths in Time page every day. Isn’t it funny how if you aren’t “doing something” then you aren’t being productive? I actually had a boss who asked why I wasn’t typing and gave me a very puzzled look when I said I was thinking. I was a software engineer at the time and sadly sometime I had to think. Would have been great if the code just flew straight from my brain to my fingers, right?

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    1. Thank you, Sally! How strange that this manager didn’t understand the necessity of thinking from time to time. How on earth can anyone invent new things if they don’t dream them up first? Kudos to you for being able to understand and work with code, by the way!

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  12. I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grown up, and I’m 68! I’ve been a daydreamer all my life but never put it to any good use, except maybe the best – I love to read and am very good at “living” the stories. And I always was bored with numbers, too. I neither became and writer nor a mathematician, but I’ve lived a very exciting life following my dreams the best to my ability.

    Thanks for the change to win your latest book. Oh, gee, I hope I win!

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    1. I’ve always wondered about people who don’t like to read. Is it because they can’t imagine the characters and scenes in their heads? I guess we’re the lucky ones, then! Good luck with the giveaway!

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  13. Hi Alyssa,

    Welcome to the Wickeds! I hope you’ll be back regularly.

    I, too, would get in trouble in school. Not for daydreaming, per se, but because I’d MUCH rather actually be reading during reading time in class that whatever non-reading tasks the teacher assigned. In third grade, each day we would read a story in our reader. Then our teacher would write words from the story on the board. We were then supposed to write each word five times and then use it in a sentence. Even at the age of eight, I knew that such a rote exercise was a complete waste of time. At that age, my vocabulary was better than my teacher’s (although her spelling was undoubtedly better), so I would read ahead in the textbook, which I felt was a far better use of my time.

    Unfortunately my teacher didn’t agree. Even though I was reading far, far above my age level (I’d finished Tom Sawyer and was halfway through The Three Musketeers at home), I received a C in reading. My mother couldn’t understand this and had a conference with the teacher. Once she understood why I was being given a C, she finally decided that this was not the school for me, so we moved.

    Unfortunately, my teacher at my new school also had her own ideas about how I should be spending my class time. Her notion was that the students would read aloud, one by one in our reading textbook. Now if she had just gone down the rows in order, all would have been well. But no, she felt it necessary to call on us randomly. And because I couldn’t then (and today still can’t) think of anything more tedious than sitting, following along in my reader as another classmate struggled to read the story aloud, I would be off reading other stories in the book. And when the teacher would call on me, I wouldn’t know where we were in the story. Thus I would find myself subject to her expressions of displeasure.

    As for discovering my “talents,” (as I finally get around to answering today’s question), when I was very young I was sure I was going to be an actor. Thank the Lord I was disabused of that notion. I truly could not have survived the constant and continual rejection actors must deal with every day. After that I was certain I was going to be a doctor. I’m very glad that I didn’t go down that path as well. I don’t think I could have distanced myself emotionally from my patients (as physicians must do to be able to do their job well and effectively), and I think the resulting toll on both me and my patients would have been unbearable. I actually found my calling quite by accident. In the second week of my second semester of college, I came down with appendicitis and missed two weeks of school. There’s no way you can make up two missed weeks of a a lab class, so I dropped my Chemistry class. I thus had an extra free hour.

    The community college I went to for my first two years offered two half-semester classes. One was a class in using your slide-rule. (For any of you reading this who don’t know what a slide-rule is, think of it as the non-electronic precursor to the calculator. It had capabilities somewhere in between the abacus and the Cray Supercomputer.) I was thrilled when I saw this because, while I could multiply and divide, I knew that the expensive slide rule I’d received as a high-school graduation gift could do much, much more.

    Unfortunately for me, the slide-rule class was offered in the first half-semester, so the only class available for me to add was a beginning class in FORTRAN programming. I knew nothing about computers and programming, but I had nothing better to do with my vacant hour, so I enrolled in the class. The instructor structured the class with a beginning week of lectures (with a computer problem to be coded given out at the conclusion of each week’s lecture) followed by eight weeks of computer lab time to write and debug the programs to solve each of the five problems he gave us.

    Well, I had completed each of the problems given me before the start of the next lecture. It was as if the sky had opened up and said, “This is what you were meant to do.” When I turned in all the exercises at the beginning of the second week of class, the instructor offered me more and more complicated problems to solve and I jumped into it with more joy and pleasure than I’d experienced in any other academic subject. Clearly, I’d found my vocation, and the satisfaction I experience to this day in writing a good program tells me how fortunate I was to have had that appendectomy and for the slide-rule class to have been unavailable and to have had that instructor who recognized that talent in me and nurtured it.

    Without that experience, today I’d either be an alcoholic, suicidal actor or an ineffective, mentally unstable doctor. I think I make a much better computer geek than either of those.

    And, if I can ever get my book finished to my own satisfaction, I might even be a computer geek/author.

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    1. What a great computer instructor! If all teachers could be like that, we would have much happier and better prepared graduates.

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  14. Wow, that’s some story! And it just goes to show that things do happen for a reason. Then again, maybe if you had entered the educational field you might have been able to implement some badly needed changes in how children are taught. I remember those rote classes too . . . off I’d be into another daydream . . .

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  15. I love both your series. I was a daydreamer, too. My mother taught me to read before I started school, and I always had my books filed in alphabetical, chronological, and genre order so I guess it was good that I was a file clerk during my working life. Now I’m retired, I read!

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  16. I love your Newport series. Can’t wait for the next one. I actually really loved Math in school. Even thought about majoring in it in college. I settled on Computer Science instead, which is a fairly close cousin. Programming does have a creative element to it, though. Code can be elegant just like a well written sentence can. I thought about being a cartoonist when I was young. Sometimes I wish I had pursued that more. My creative outlet now is writing mysteries.

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  17. I’ve always liked the relationships of numbers so I decided to follow some mathematical field. My true love was computer programming, but I ended up in accounting instead because the field was easier to get into at the time.

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  18. I always loved books and reading and could lose myself in a book. I became a librarian where I can pass on my love of books to other people. I’m looking forward to reading the latest Newport book! Thanks for the chance to win.

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  19. I recently toured the Breakers, and what better souvenier to buy in the giftshop than your book ! Not only was it a great way to remember my visit, but it was also an enjoyable read and intriguing mystery. I look forward to now reading more in your series, and would love to win a copy of your latest. Fingers Crossed !

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