Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Maggie Toussaint - Guest Author

I’ve known Maggie Toussaint as a fellow member of the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. She invited me to participate in forming the Lowcountry chapter of Sisters in Crime and we are both officers. She describes her writing as southern, entertaining, award-winning, engaging, and intriguing. For herself she chooses curious, resourceful, focused, optimistic, and insightful. I learned more about her from her answers; I'm sure you will as well.

You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?

Noah from the Bible – I’m curious to know how they handled all those animals at one time. Did the animals get seasick? Did the Ark spring any leaks? Did his family get tired and wish for a vacation? Did he have any regrets or was he too busy to think?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard – I was fascinated with this Star Trek Next Generation character from the moment I heard his voice. Actor Patrick Stewart’s manner and authority were undeniable and riveting. I would love to have him say to me, “Make it so.”

Sherlock Holmes – I would love to see in person how his mind works. I’d like him to brainstorm plots with me, or at the very least hear about one of his cases firsthand. There’s some risk involved, of course. I have the feeling someone as self-absorbed as Sherlock might not be good friend material.

Rhett Butler – Does this need any explanation? In Gone With The Wind, actor Clark Gable portrays Rhett as a handsome, dashing man who sees what he wants in Scarlett and goes after her. He’s also a black sheep of his Charleston family, so he has that whole rogue thing going on. I love that Scarlett’s strength of character didn’t drive him away (at first) and that he operated under his own code.

I’d invite them to the outside seating area of a seafood restaurant named Skippers in Darien, Ga., my hometown. The deck overlooks the scenic waterfront and the fishing trawlers. The discussion is bound to be lively!

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

I’m a morning person. A word count goal can be met easily in an hour or two in the morning or four or more hours in the afternoon/evening. Caffeine is my best friend, though my beverage of choice may surprise you. I drink iced tea year round and start my day with hot tea.
Afternoons are often spent on the business of writing. As a traditionally published author and an indie author, there is a lot of bookkeeping and keeping up with statements and accounts.
One of my biggest distractions is social media. I have to discipline myself to get all the heavy lifting for the day done before I dive into Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I’m not your typical reader. I have a passion for my favorite author’s books and tend to read and reread them in my spare time. Lucky for me, Jayne Ann Krentz is prolific so I have a lot of variety in my reading. Jayne writes under her own name and under two pen names, but all of her books transfix me. I can count on them for an instant getaway. And, many times when I’m tired at night, I’ll pick up a formerly read Jayne book because I know I will be able to stop reading. Sometimes.

I tend to read about four new books a month, but they tend to be clustered around snips of free time. Books I enjoy will get reviews posted at online venues.

I tend to favor blended mystery/suspense and romance in any setting, past, present, or future. I read nonfiction mostly for research purposes. I used to feel like I had to finish every book I started, but I no longer feel this way. Life is short. We should enjoy the books we read for pleasure.

My favorite book is always the last book I read, so feel free to check out my reviews posted around the net.

Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.

Polly Iyer writes suspense books about controversial subjects. Her books always challenge me to think for myself. I always root for her characters to succeed.

Tracy Weber writes books that combine two things I dearly love: yoga and cozy mysteries. Her style is light and easy to read.

Nancy Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day mysteries and futuristic romance. Her stories are delightful escapes and have engaging characters.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

I write about broken people gluing their lives together. For example, my Cleopatra Jones cozy mystery series features an accountant starting over after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Cleo faces single parenthood challenges, dating fears, and the give and take of healing. These books are In For A Penny, On the Nickel, and Dime If I Know.

I also write about community being a source of comfort and support. In fact, my Mossy Bog romantic mystery trilogy came about because a fan kept pestering me to write more about the town of Mossy Bog. Those people were so real to her that she needed to know the rest of the character’s stories. These books are Muddy Waters, Hot Water, and Rough Waters.

In my Dreamwalker paranormal mystery series, I explore life after death issues. My paranormal sleuth, Baxley Powell, regularly speaks to the dead. I confess that two family deaths pointed me in this direction, and I’ve found it cathartic and a comfort to create this fictional world. The two published titles in this series are Gone and Done It and Bubba Done It.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

The hook for my latest mystery, Bubba Done It, came about through an experience my husband had. At a golf tournament the golfers kept waiting for all the groups to report in with their scores. After some time had passed, the pro realized who hadn’t checked in with him and yelled, “Bubba!” Three men turned around and yelled back, “What?” After hearing that story, I thought how great it would be to know the killer’s name (Bubba) but to have a community full of Bubbas.

What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?

Baxley Powell, my protagonist in Bubba Done It, is driven to make money to support herself and her daughter. She has a Pets and Plants service, and she consults for the police. She’s in a financial pickle because the Army declared her husband dead and the benefits are tied up. She suspects that the death benefits won’t be coming because her missing husband is really alive. She’s driven to find him and to clear his name.

She’s a product of her back to nature hippies-style parents, but her daily influences come from the local sheriff who has multiple agendas and from a mentor of sorts from the Other Side. As someone who strived all her life to fit in and appear normal, Baxley has no clue as to the extent of her extrasensory powers. Each book in the series puts her in the position of on-the-job training with all the hiccups of trial and error.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?
Write the next book. It’s so easy to drift along after finishing a book. After living with those story characters through the brainstorming, first draft, and revision processes, those characters are as real to me as the people around me. And there’s always so much to do when it comes to promotion and marketing. There are many places on the internet where it’s possible to meet up with readers, along with in person writing groups and book clubs. A writer could spend months and years chasing discoverability.

Writing the next book is one of the few areas in the publishing world where an author has absolute control. With so many ups and downs in the market, staying true to the call of authorship serves a writer best in the long run.

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Here’s a short teaser for Bubba Done It

Amateur sleuth and dreamwalker Baxley Powell is called in on a stabbing case. She arrives in time to hear the dying man whisper, “Bubba done it.”

Four men named Bubba in Sinclair County, Ga., have close ties to the victim, including her goofball brother-in-law, Bubba Powell.

She dreamwalks for answers, but the dead guy can’t talk to her. Baxley sleuths among the living. The suspects include a down-on-his-luck fisherman, a crackhead evangelist, a politically-connected investor, and her brother-in-law, the former sweetheart of the new widow.

The more Baxley digs, the more the Bubbas start to unravel. Worse, her brother-in-law’s definitely more than friendly with the new widow.

Between petsitting, landscaping, and dreamwalking, Baxley’s got her hands full solving this case.


28 comments:

  1. Love your books, Maggie! How can you start the next book before the first has sold? It seems like it would be a waste.

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  2. I just love the concept behind Bubba Done It I hope it is a breakout bestseller, Maggie.

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  3. Jim, Thank you for featuring me at My Two Cents Worth. I'm delighted to share this "behind the scenes" information with friends and readers. Maggie

    E.B., Thanks for your unflagging enthusiasm about my projects. You asked how I could write book 2 in a series before the first has sold. Easy. Those characters are so real to me after spending an entire book with them, it would be a waste to set them aside and try on someone new. All of publishing, with the noted exception of indie publishing, has a lot of waiting involved. I've always believed in my stories, so I forge ahead, sales contract or not. It took me awhile to land in the right place with my mysteries (Five Star/Cengage) and romances (The Wild Rose Press). With the backing and encouragement of peers, editors, and fans, I have the courage/foolishness to write without a net. That makes every day an adventure for me. Thanks so much for your comment! Maggie

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  4. I always enjoy your books, Maggie, and I'm pleased you recommended me as an author to read. I do admire your versatility in writing light humor, romance, mystery, and sci-fi. Keep on keeping on. You're doing great.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Polly. I admire the depth in your writing and how you aren't afraid of writing any scene. You have guts and that's a great thing in my world, along with a dynamite writing talent. Maggie

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  5. I'd like to come to your fictional dinner to meet Jean-Luc Picard! Can't wait for your next book in the Dreamwalker series to see what escapades Baxley gets into next. I love the Southern flavor in your stories.

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    1. What fun we'd have, Nancy! One day in our dreams maybe we can hook up with these fabulous people/characters. I would probably be too awestruck to say a word, but that wouldn't matter to me. I'm a great admirer of your work, and of your success in writing in my favorite genres. Books with a mystery, a romance, and a bit fantasy/science fiction are right up my alley! Maggie

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  6. Jayne Ann Krentz is also my favorite writer, though I tend to only read the books under her name along with the Amanda Quick titles. Your books sound like the reads I enjoy, so I will be checking out your novels, soon. Best wishes for a fulfilling writing career.

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    1. Thank you, Ashantay! I'm delighted we share the same favorite author. I sincerely hope you will give my books a try. Best wishes to you!

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  7. Pure Maggie. I enjoyed reading your interview answers as much as I enjoy your cozy mysteries. The story about your husband's golf group having 3 Bubbas is so funny. Amazingly, Bubba is not a popular Texas nickname. You might hear it once in a while, but it's rare. However, Booger is somewhat common. One of the wealthiest families in town call their grown married son who has two babies "Booger." He was that in high school, and he's still Booger. Now, his mother is more refined and calls him by his full name-first and last. Often his father--who was once a Texas Representative--will drop the Booger and call him D.P. So, there's a new name for you. One family calls their beautiful daughter Cissy Belle, which is not her name. I never have figured this out. See how I love quirky names? I just don't use them in my stories--they would not fit. Congratulations on Bubba Done It.

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    1. HI Celia, I love hearing about Texas! I don't think I've ever met anyone named Booger, but I have met Puddin', Tater, Junior, Tank, Chip, Sissy, and Chunk. Names can be so telling and regional. My heart goes out for the child who had to go through life named Booger.

      FWIW, I had to stop and think which names were different around here since I am so used to all of them. Thank you so much for stopping in! Maggie

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  8. This was a great interview, imaginative questions so well answered. I'll be thinking all day about who I'd like to have dinner with.
    Love the whole Bubba idea. Good luck and great sales, Maggie!

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    1. Hi Sandra, I truly enjoyed the questions Jim posed, and I did my best to answer true to myself. For the dinner guest question, I had a list that I added to and deleted for about two days. These particular guests, in total, speak to all of my interests, where they be mystery, romance, or science fiction. Thank you for stopping in! Maggie

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  9. Thank you so much for mentioning me, Maggie! I absolutely LOVE the idea of Bubba done it. So creative! I'm off to buy it now....

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    1. You're quite welcome, Tracy. I fell in love with this story concept as well. It grabbed ahold and wouldn't let go. Sometimes the universe is like that! Thanks for your friendship, and keep writing those Downward Dog Mysteries! Love 'em. Maggie

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  10. Another wonderful interview! When Noah answers your questions, I hope you let us know. I grew up with a Bubby, but never knew a Bubba--love the golf club story and the way you're using it!

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    1. Thanks, Kaye! I don't know which of my guests will awe me the most. I'm just so curious about things! I like the name Bubby. We don't hear that much down here in my area of the coast. I appreciate you stopping in for a visit and a comment! Maggie

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  11. Let me know what Noah says, Maggie. I'd love to know who had the task of cleaning the stalls. I love your books, and this one is definitely going on the TBR pile.

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    1. Yeah, I hear you. Noah has a lot of 'splaining to do. Given the details we have about the Noah's Ark story, an editor would rip it to shreds... So glad you enjoy my books. I am swimming in someone's medieval adventure right now, and the water's great!!!

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  12. FWIW, my brother used to own a restaurant not far from Paramount studios, and Patrick Stewart was a frequent diner (along with others of the cast). I didn't live there so I never got the chance to see him, but when my son was at UCLA, he often helped out in the restaurant and did have that opportunity. I SO agree about his voice.

    (And in Orlando, when we lived near a huge Bass World, my husband nicknamed it "BubbaLand". I worked at a convention once where I made name badges and I think I made at least five for "Bubba." (It was a truckers' convention!)

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    1. I have a trucker in the book I'm working on right now, but he isn't getting Bubba-fied. He's a murder suspect...

      OMG. I wouldn't know how to act if I worked in your brother's restaurant back in the day. Sure, I know famous people are people same as the rest of us, but still. I would have a quadruple fan-girl moment.

      Thanks for stopping in!

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  13. Hi, Maggie (*waving madly): and I love your fantasy dinner and Patrick Stewart does have a wonderful voice. Good choice. And call me clueless because I'd never thought of those questions for Noah. lolol Hugs!

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    1. Hi Vicki!

      Thanks for dropping over here to see me. I'm tickled to have been a draw! Anyway, sounds like we have a group of women who love Patrick Stewart's voice. So rich. So resonant. So in charge.

      I actually had a lot of questions for Biblical figures, but I figured I'd start with Noah because he seemed fairly gentle and loving.

      Thanks again, Maggie ((waving madly back))

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  14. I too want to tag along when you dine with Capt Picard! Great interview, and great book, Maggie. I really enjoyed Bubba Done It (and Gone and Done It also).

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    1. Thanks, Jane for your kind words. If Patrick Stewart ever comes my way, you better believe I'll let people know! What fun that dining adventure would be!

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  15. Look forward to reading. I know a few Bubbas myself!

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    1. Hi Vickie,

      I've know one other Vickie with an "ie" my entire life. All the rest have been "y" Vickys! That makes you unique in my world! Thanks for your interest in my writing!

      Maggie

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