Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Edith Maxwell - Guest Author

Edith Maxwell calls herself short, energetic, friendly, disciplined, and optimistic. Her writing is clear, effective, comforting, informative, and fun. I know Edith and her writing and I agree. Here is what else she says about herself, much of which was new to me. What fun!
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)?

Anais Nin, Michelle Obama, and Allan Maxwell, Jr, my father (who died in 1985). Anais Nin’s diaries had a huge influence on my life at an important juncture and I’d love to meet her. I admire Michelle Obama so much for her emphasis on health, her love of life, and her great style. And Daddy loved to write, but never got to meet his grandsons or know that I became a published author. He was a smart, sweet, interesting and interested man and I’d give anything to bring him back to life.

I guess I’ll take them to the bistro down the street. The owners and staff are friendly, they cook fabulous foods from fresh local ingredients and the most amazing desserts, and they gave me a recipe for my second Local Foods mystery. Plus we can walk from here and then have time to come home for a glass of something and keep talking.

What makes a great short story?

One intriguing question and at least one unexpected twist.

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

I write in the morning starting by seven at the latest, and I only have about a half a cup of caffeinated coffee that I mix with decaf. By the afternoon my creativity is all used up unless I’m on a solo retreat, in which case I write all day and all evening.

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

I love KB Inglee’s historical short stories and how she brings the past to life.

Sherry Harris’ new Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries are a lot of fun, and let me see military life from a the point of view of a former military spouse.

Anna Loan-Wilsey writes wonderful mysteries about the very competent traveling secretary Hattie Davish in the late 1800s.

What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue? 

Since by nature I write into the headlights – that is, I’m a pantser – plotting give me the biggest challenge. I sketch out a couple of scenes and write them and then stare at my screen, saying, “What happens next? I have no idea where this is going?”

I’ve been getting a bit better at planning out the overall book, since my publisher requires a several-page prose synopsis before I start writing the next book, although that plan often changes once I get deep into the story. But since I know it always (so far) has worked out using my non-method and I’ve completed 8 ½ books, I’m not too worried about it. (See best piece of writing advice below.)

What motivates you to write?

The true answer is that writing makes me happy and I can’t not do it. The practical answer is that I have three multi-book contracts. The real answer is panic! (See the practical answer.)

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

In the Local Foods mysteries, farmer Cam Flaherty is a former software engineer. She’s great with writing code, not so much interacting with people. But she got a lot of love from the great uncle and great aunt who took care of her every summer, and who gave her the farm. She’s motivated to make go of this new venture into organic farming, even when someone is killed in the greenhouse or she’s suspected of another murder. She’s smart, she doesn’t give up, and gradually she learns that getting close to some of her customers, who become friends, can be a positive thing.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. Seriously. If I let myself take a break every time my mind wandered, I wouldn’t write anything.
Here's a bit of a blurb for Farmed and Dangerous: Organic farmer Cam Flaherty is struggling to provide the promised amount of food to her customers in her first winter in Westbury, Massachusetts, and her new greenhouse might just collapse from the weight of the snow. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at the local assisted living facility seems like the least of her worries—until a cantankerous resident with a lot of enemies dies after eating the meal.

But while the motives in this case may be plentiful, the trail of poisoned produce leads straight back to Cam. Not even her budding romance with police detective Pete Pappas will keep him from investigating her.

As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase “dead of winter.”

For more information about Edith Maxwell and her books check out her website http://edithmaxwell.com/


  1. Great interview, Edith. Nice to meet a fellow punster and your track record encourages me!! And yup, Butt in chair...it's the "secret."

    1. Thanks, Judy! So glad it's not really a secret. ;^)

  2. However you manage it, I'm so grateful for the results, good plot, characters I'd love to know. Can I join you at that pretend dinner? . . . or at least eavesdrop a little?

    1. Oh, I think eavesdropping should definitely be included in the rules!

      ~ Jim

    2. We'll put an extension in the table for you, Mary!

  3. Edith -- thanks for your interesting answers. I was unfamiliar with Anna Loan-Wilsey. Glad to have a new author to check out. (I knew KB and Sherry already.)

    ~ Jim

    1. My pleasure, of course! Thanks so much for having me over.

  4. Thanks, Edith.
    I love the phrase "write into the headlights"

    1. Me, too. Makes it easier to talk to non-writers about, too. I always say, "When you're driving to Maine at night, you can't see Maine. But you can see as far as your headlights, so you keep driving. And after a while, you're in Maine!"