Ten Years Later with Edith Maxwell #giveaway

News Flash: Janet Lehner is our lucky winner! Congratulations, Janet, and please check your email.

Edith/Maddie here, still north of Boston, and still writing!

Following is my first Wicked (Cozy) Authors post, where I was interviewed by Jessie. I add my current reflections in italic. Keep reading for a special giveaway!

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I’m here with a few questions for our own Edith Maxwell. Edith is a busy writer with two series, multiple short stories and a day job. Without further ado, here’s Edith.

So when did you know you wanted to be a writer? I’ve always been a writer. I wrote goofy poems and short stories as a child. I remember my mother telling me, “Edie, you’re a good writer,” when I was in about fourth grade, and I took it to heart. I was in journalism in high school and college, wrote academic papers and a dissertation as part of earning my PhD in linguistics, did more free-lance journalism, and then made my way into a mid-life career as a technical writer even as I was getting my fiction career going by writing short stories and then my mystery novels. But writing mystery fiction is my true love.

Nothing has changed in that answer. But crafting stories full-time (see elsewhere in this post) has confirmed that I now, finally, have my dream job.

 Which authors do you look to for inspiration? Oh, my. How much time do we have? I admire Sheila Connolly so much for writing three successful concurrent cozy series. I’ve long been a fan of Katherine Hall Page and Sue Grafton, and more recently have fallen in love with Julia Spencer-Fleming’s, Louise Penny’s, and Deborah Crombie’s books. And of course I will read anything by my mentors Hallie Ephron, Kate Flora, Roberta Islieb (aka Lucy Burdette), Susan Oleksiw, and Hank Phillippi Ryan!

We lost our beloved Sheila, alas. Lately – pandemic influence, perhaps – I have been reading darker works than I used to. Many are historical, such as Karen Odden’s Inspector Corravan Mysteries, Jacqueline Winspear’s The White Lady, and both of Wanda Morris’s amazing tales of black women in the sixties south. But I also eagerly snap up new Alaska suspense novels by Paige Shelton and anything by Kellye Garret. So I guess I’m inspired by them. Will I write something darker myself? I’m not sure.

Which events in your work or home life influence your writing? All of it? I write about Quaker Lauren Rousseau, a well-traveled linguistics professor in a small town much like Ipswich where I used to live, where video forensics is used to help solve the murder. I’m a Quaker and world traveler, and formerly wrote technical manuals for a video-editing software company. I write about a geek-turned-organic farmer in a town much like West Newbury, where I was owner-farmer of a small certified organic farm. I’ve written short stories located in hi-tech companies and in Japan.

All still true. Now I also draw from my twice-yearly retreats on Cape Cod for the Cozy Capers Book Group series, and my upbringing in California and my relatives’ knowledge of northern CA to help out on my new Cece Barton Mysteries.

How are you connected to New England? I have now lived longer in the Boston area and on the North Shore than I did in my home state of California. I appreciate the seasons, although summer could be a little warmer for my desert tastes, and I love a quiet cross-country ski on a sunny winter day with fresh snow.

All also still true. Except we don’t get enough snow anymore for regular skiing, plus a couple of physical glitches also hold me back. I’ve published seven novels and a collection of short stories set here in my small city of Amesbury, and I so appreciate living here and being immersed in the local history.

What’s your favorite thing about New England? See above about skiing! Coming from southern California sprawl, I am still enchanted with the small towns surrounded by woods and fields. Head north from Boston and you’ll see what I mean.

I adore the summer growing season. There’s nothing like the first asparagus in the garden, a vine-warmed tomato when you can’t get good ones the rest of the year, or gathering armfuls of ripe blueberries into a bucket hung around my neck. Don’t even get me started on the sweet corn! I think people who grew up here might not appreciate the distinct seasons as much as an import like me.

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Is there anything people might be surprised to learn about you?

Like my black belt in karate (1983) or my (slow) finish of the Boston Marathon in 1998? Or maybe my year-long stays in Brazil, Japan (more like two years), France, Mali, and Burkina Faso? Or the fact that I worked as an auto mechanic for a year?

These days I think people are surprised when they hear I sleep, because I do so much writing. But I do sleep! Usually around seven hours per night, which is enough. Sometimes I sleep fewer, unfortunately, and occasionally I get caught up by grabbing eight.

So which projects are you working on right now? I’m polishing the second Local Foods mystery, ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part, which will be out next winter and thinking about the plot for the following book. I’m designing a historical mystery series set in my town in the late 1800s, with a young Quaker woman who works in the textile mill and solves mysteries. And I’m itching to get back to the second Lauren Rousseau book.

My first entirely new answer. I’m madly typing away at Murder in the Rusty Anchor, Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries #6. Next up is the second Cece Barton mystery, as yet untitled. And I’m brewing up a short story for the San Diego Bouchercon anthology.

Why cozies? Do you write anything else additionally? I love reading cozies. And having a contract for a cozy series helps! My first mystery, Speaking of Murder (published under the pen name Tace Baker) is a traditional mystery but is a little darker than a cozy. I have written and had published a couple of non-mystery short stories, but traditional and cozy mystery is where my heart lies.

Wow. I now have seven historical novels in print and two more completed (in a different project), plus about twenty published short crime stories. But I am still in the traditional and cozy realm, so that’s a constant.

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 If you were stranded on a desert island, which five literary figures, dead or alive, would you want with you, and what meal would you choose (appetizer, dinner, dessert, drink)? Dorothy Sayers, Nevada Barr, Simone de Beauvoir, Anais Nin, and Barry Eisler. We’ll dine on stuffed mushrooms on bed of greens, a fresh seafood bouillabaise, triple-chocolate mousse, and a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’m happy with those first four and the meal, but I’d like to now swap in Greg Herren for Barry Eisler. Greg is a brilliant writer, doesn’t abide fools, and is a really fun person to be around.

Which are the top five books are in your to-be-read pile? I’m currently reading Deb Crombie’s latest, Sound of Broken Glass. Next up, our own Liz Mugavero’s Kneading to Death, then Hallie Ephron’s There Was an Old Woman and Lucy Burdette’s Topped Chef. I want to read Kaye George’s Eine Kleine Murder and James Mongomery Jackson’s Bad Policy, their new releases from Barking Rain Press, catch up on Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series, read some more Joe Finder and Barry Eisler. So many books, so little time!

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks. The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver. Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust by Mindy Quigley. It. Goes. So. Fast. – the Year of No Do-Overs by NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. And Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay (which is printed in a special dyslexia-friendly font by request of the author, since her heroine is a dyslexic chef).

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Now, in 2023, I’m going to ask myself – and answer – another question: what were your biggest changes in the last decade?

I left the day job to write fiction full time, and no work has ever made me happier.

I joined the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog. And served as President of Sisters in Crime New England and co-chair of the New England Crime Bake (two years each).

I received eight Agatha Award nominations and Charity’s Burden won the teapot for Best Historical Novel.

I learned I could write a first draft in about two months and then need another month or two to polish it, which enables me to write three or four books a year. That’s good, because in that decade I wrote all seven Quaker Midwife Mysteries and started all three of my ongoing Maddie Day series: the Country Store Mysteries, the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries and the Cece Barton Mysteries.

I added a paragraph to my most recent manuscript about how I wrote the book without AI assistance in the ideas or words. I never thought I’d have to do that. (Read my recent post about it here.)

On the personal side, I saw each of my sons happily marry their perfect partner. We buried several senior cats, tried out a kitten we ultimately had to give back because of his incurable biting habit, and have settled in nicely with a big, sweet, calm adult cat named Martin. I made it through several surgeries, and Hugh and I and all our family members survived the pandemic.

It’s been quite a decade!

Readers: what has been your most momentous decade, or the one with the most changes?

I’ll send one commenter a mousepad picturing one of my latest shelfies, and your choice of any of my published books.

82 Thoughts

  1. I would say the last decade was the biggest change for me. My last siblings pasted away, I bought a house and moved out of NYC where I lived all my life and now live in Tennessee.

  2. The 1970’s. I graduated from high school. Went away to college for a special course for a semester. Had my only child, a son. And learned my love of reading mysteries from my mom. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  3. Enjoyed reading the previous interview with Edith and the comments of additions or changes to it now.

    The decade with the most changes and was the most challenging has to be from 2010 to 2019. It was during that decade that my Mom’s battle with Alzheimer ended and left us after being 24/7 caregivers in our home for the previous 5 years “empty nesters” again. It was also the decade that, much to mine and everyone else’s astonishment, because I normally don’t take to change easily or at all, that we sold out and moved to our dream destination. In doing so, it was a time that we disposed of “stuff” that we had inherited from my parents (and in turn their parents) and the vast amount we had collected over the past 30 some years.

    Thank you for the chance to win this fabulous giveaway. Love Edith’s books and would love the opportunity to read another that had slipped through my fingers so far. The mouse pad would be an awesome bonus. Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. I would have to say this last decade has been my most momentous! My kids have grown, moved away,, and have their own careers and lives. I have 3 grandchildren now instead of one. I got remarried, retired, and slowed down my busy life.

  5. This past one for sure! I’ve moved several times, edited my career path, got married, and became a mama!

    Congratulations on all of your successes! Life is not for the faint of heart.

  6. Congratulations, Edith, on your decade of change as a mystery author.
    For me, it was the 1990s. I was working full-time in the Canadian federal government but changed jobs four times. This required me moving 5 times between 4 cities (Toronto, Burlington ON, Hull QC, Toronto ON and Ottawa ON). I doubt that I would be up to so many moves again!

  7. Definitely this last decade has been a big one for me. I retired in 2020 and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life all over again.

  8. Gosh! Each of my adult decades has been a rollercoaster of changes. Enjoyed them all. Congratulations on all your success, Edith. You bring readers everywhere so much joy.

  9. Since I’m only a little over 3 decades old anyway it’s hard to say. I’m sure there will be much bigger things coming, but here’s what I’ve got so far. Starting in 2006- school trips but still my first trip anywhere (and out of the country yet too), then another the next year (only to the next state), high school and college graduation, working, tried some new things, faced some new challenges, some fun times, then lost my dad in 2016. Some changes at work a few years later but 2006-2016 was the biggest ten years at the moment.

  10. The most changes and incredibly difficult was the last 11 years. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had chemo, radiation and resumed my life but when I thought I was fine I was diagnosed with RA and had to have surgeries related to that difficulty. Better and recovering now from the effects.

  11. The most changes in a decade occurred in the last decade, when I moved cross country to the place where I was born to help Mom, started the gardens, buried Mom, discovered WPA, began the two websites, finished a novel, discovered the magic of Portugal, and had to give up golf, travel, and my Mustang because of the knee injuries. It’s also the decade when I met you at WPA and bought your first book (out of a suitcase, as I recall). 🙂 Happy 10th!

  12. 1980’s. I was able to get out of an abusive relationship, and met the man who would become my husband – 40 years married, come October!

  13. Congratulations! I’d have to say my forties. Lost a job, got a job, got published, and rounding it out with breast cancer. I know how to end with a bang, don’t I?

  14. The last decade and a half for me. Many changes. My husband died suddenly. I retired, moved and started over in a new setting. Travel and grands have made life interesting and fun.

  15. First and foremost: A heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS on a stellar life…not just the last 10 years :-)!!!! What a blessing you have been to so many, including lil’ ol’ me. Your visit to our book club last fall is still a much talked about event for all of us. As a fellow linguist, I do so appreciate getting to know you more through your posts…it is very heartwarming to me. I always say that I have been blessed with anextraordinary, exceptional and exciting life. In the last 10 years, the most life-changing event that has transformed my life in an even more positive way is that my wife and I decided it was time for me to retire from my career in the airline business. I retired April 30, 2017, and my weekly business trips around the world stopped, but I continued sharing my travel expertise (54+ years) with others as I joined one of my former clients’ travel business, bought an avocado and tropical fruit farm, and now I have time to travel for pleasure, and READ the cozies that you beautifully write! Kudos to you and my Wicked friends for making my life even more exceptional! …and your Cece Barton series may slightly be my favorite of favorites that you write 🙂 Thank you, gracias, merci, grazie, obrigado, kiitos, ευχαριστώ, благодарим ви !!! Luis at ole dot travel

  16. Congrats on all of the wonderful changes in your life and career over the past decade. That is absolutely fabulous! In terms of change, the last decade has been pretty momentous. My first book was published in 2013, but that’s also the year my older kiddo attempted to take their own life. Since then, I also changed careers, saw both kiddos graduate high school and get engaged to be married and one kiddo graduate from college. I’ve also published fifteen books over that period. Lots of ups and downs. Life in a nutshell!

    1. That’s a lot to navigate, JC, especially your child’s situation. Sounds like they are both doing well now, as is your writing career! Life is a series of slopes, for sure.

  17. The last decade for me. Two of my kids moved out and started their careers. Love your books! Thanks for the chance!!!

  18. My most momentous decade began with the year 2000. I got married to the most wonderful man in the world. My family loved him immediately! I can only guess what his family thought of me, and I don’t like to think about it. (He has adult children and young grandchildren.) Yes, it was a decade of change for me!

  19. congratulations on all your books.
    I’m not i think of time in terms of decades but rather that it just keeps moving forward.

  20. Edith, yours is a journey I’ve admired. We must have met shortly after you began with the Wickeds because it’s been 10 years for that, too. I’ve followed your career, you’ve mentored me, and now I try to do the same for others. As a fellow Guppy, I think the next best thing to getting published is helping others along that path. Thanks for being there for so many others.

    1. I agree about paying it forward, Claire! And you’re doing a great job of it these days. I’m so glad to have been friends with you for so long.

  21. Wow! You have written a lot of good books. The last decade has been one full of changes. It taught me that I’m very content with my life and my family and pets.

  22. I’ve lived in enough decades that they all have had a big impact on my life. If I have to choose just one, I would say the 70s. I got divorced, moved across country, got married, moved a couple more times, and started college. And along the way, I grew up!

  23. I would have to say the decade of 1980. I graduated from high school. My parents divorced. I married my fabulous husband. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  24. What an eventful time! The decade that sticks out for me was the 1990s, My highest highs and lowest lows, work promotions, downsized, career changes, master’s degree, family events, family illnesses, my much longed for first trip to Hawaii. Overall, worth every minute! Congrats on that fabulous line-up of books and thanks for all the hours of reading pleasure!

  25. I think 2000 was a huge time of change for me. That year I left a job I loved to marry my hubby and moved to the other end of the state from my family, an 8-9 hour drive. Then in 2002 I suffered a miscarriage. In 2003, I gave birth to our son. Then in 2006, I gave birth to our daughter. The early 2000’s were definitely crazy busy.

  26. Love your books! And your interview was so inspiring then and with your updates now. I’m in the midst of making a personal transition, and what you shared has given me food for thought. Thank you. Speaking of thoughts…when I think of a busy decade, I think of the 90s when we had our daughter – who is grown up now and what a woman! So creative! I’m a super lucky mom.

  27. Love reading the old/updated interviews! Thanks for sharing that. This entire AI issue is disappointing/scary/disturbing. My last ten years …. are feeling quite boring. I feel like suddenly I started to age up to my actual age and not the one I tell people I am….I will have to work on that. I think it is all in the mind.

  28. It would be the 1980s for me. I got married, moved to a different city, started a new job, bought a house, and had my children between 1983 and 1987. It was definitely a time of a lot of change, but all happy ones.

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