Maggie King’s, Hazel Rose Book Group is charming, funny, and sexy. They first entertained me in Murder at the Book Group and now they’re back with a fresh new mystery to solve in Murder at the Moonshine Inn.
When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premier redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks–she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day–he’s still family.
Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn–or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.
When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.
Maggie has a gift for writing characters that pull you in and keep you guessing! Today, I’m getting to know her a little better and hearing about what inspires her.
When did you first discover your love of mystery?
One day in fourth grade, my mother went to the P.M. Bookshop (Plainfield, NJ’s wonderful used book store) and brought home two Nancy Drew mysteries. I was hooked in no time. I also enjoyed the Dana Girls and Connie Blair. In my twenties I had a bout of flu and my mother showed up with chicken soup and a stack of Agatha Christies.
As you can see, my mother paved the way to my becoming a mystery writer.
When did you decide to write your first book and what made you go for it?
As a devotee of Nancy Drew, I wrote mysteries in grade school and them to my friends while walking home from school. But I abandoned mystery writing for many years. During the last year I lived in Los Angeles, three of my co-workers took creative writing courses at UCLA Extension. I read their work and was impressed by their talent. I also thought, “Hmm. If they can do this, so can I!” At the time I belonged to a mystery book group (it was the model for the Murder on Tour group in my Hazel Rose Book Group series) and felt confident that I could turn out a mystery. When I moved to Virginia in 1996 I took a writing course at the University of Virginia and reawakened my love of writing. I took more classes and started writing on a regular basis.
And just how long did it take me to publish that mystery about book groups? Quite a while—Murder at the Book Group was released to the world in 2014.
Are there any special rituals you have or places you go that inspire your writing?
My daily walks let me charge up my creativity and allow for a free flowing of ideas. I work out sticky plot points and come up with new ones.
Where do your plot ideas come from?
That’s the #1 question I get from readers. Ideas come from everywhere: newspapers, especially advice columns; eavesdropping (big one!).
Social media is a gold mine of ideas, a modern day gathering around the water cooler. It seems like everyone has something to say (some way too much). And, if you’re a fiction writer, you don’t have to worry about “fake news.”
Frequently ideas are a collage of memories and characters from my life—or someone else’s life—to which I add a hefty measure of my fertile imagination. The result is a kind of Picasso-like creation.
Who is your favorite detective character (book, tv, or movie) and why?
Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s famous detective. I love Kinsey’s non-conformist nature, her organizational skills, thriftiness, and determination.
Y is for Yesterday, Kinsey’s 25th adventure, comes out in August.
Who is your favorite mystery author and why?
My list of favorite authors is a long one and include Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Susan Wittig Albert, Robert Crais, and Michael Connelly. But if I must pick one it would be Rochelle Krich.
Not only is Rochelle a wonderful writer, she’s a great person as well. I had the pleasure of meeting her several years ago when she visited Richmond. She was a pioneer blogger and I still consider her blog one of the best around.
But Rochelle has “disappeared.” She was on a roll, having published two series, several standalones, and a number of short stories. Then she stopped. From what I understand, the reason is publisher-related. Rochelle was the subject of the first of what has turned into a series of blog posts I’ve published on “missing” authors.
But she keeps her website and blog online, albeit in a dormant state. Check it out at http://rochellekrich.com/
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Write every day even if it’s just for fifteen minutes—that’s how you maintain momentum; get away from the computer occasionally and engage in physical activity like walking, gardening, working out, etc.;
Consider reading and writing poetry to make your fiction come alive. Acclaimed mystery writer Walter Moseley considers poetry to be the basis of all writing and suggests that reading, writing, and studying poetry gives fiction writers a deeper appreciation of the nuances of language (a poetry class is on my to-do list).
Read a variety of genres. Pick two or three authors whose style you like and study how they structure their stories and create characters. A good book about mystery writing is You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian Roberts (I studied her Amanda Pepper series
Take classes; write short stories—that’s how many authors, myself included, first got published.
Never let anyone discourage you from writing, no matter how wise you consider the person.
What would we find in your mug first thing in the morning? Tea? Coffee? Something else?
Coffee, most definitely!
Where do you like to spend time with a good book?
On my screened porch or in bed.
If you were given an entirely free day, no responsibility or tasks, what would you spend the day doing?
Any guilty pleasures?
Pistachio and coconut gelato.
Tell us about an item on your bucket list.
Travel. I want to visit every American state and every continent. So far I’ve been to thirty five of the fifty states and two of the seven continents. I need to get a move on!
Of special interest are Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, South America, Italy, and Antarctica (Antarctica would be the ultimate adventure).
Thank you, Samantha. I’ve enjoyed this interview. Great questions!
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the Moonshine Inn. Her short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries, Virginia is for Mysteries, Vol. II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and James River Writers. She lives in Richmond with her husband, Glen, and two cats, Morris and Olive.
Buy link: http://amzn.to/2dtozWa