Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Q&A with Maddie Day



Maddie Day is the author of the new mystery novel Murder Uncorked, the first in a new series. Her many other novels include the Country Store Mystery series. She also writes under the name Edith Maxwell, and she lives north of Boston.


Q: What inspired you to write Murder Uncorked, and how did you create your character Cece Barton?


A: First, thanks so much for inviting me over, Deborah. You ask some great questions!


My editor asked me to write a new cozy mystery series set on the west coast. I’m a fourth-generation Californian (despite long ago being transplanted to Massachusetts), so I was delighted to say Yes.


Cece came, as all my characters do, from my overactive imagination. I’ve written a number of protagonists in their 20s and early 30s, and I thought I’d push her age a bit older.


I try to never write a main character who is anything like me in appearance or age, and – spoiler alert – I haven’t been in my 40s for a long time.


Then, to shake things up, I made her a widow, a twin, and a mom whose daughter is in college. She’s an outsider to town, always a plus for an amateur sleuth, and has always felt like an underachiever compared to her twin sister. Not that those emotions can’t change, but she struggles with feeling like a failure.


Q: The writer Ellen Byron said of the novel, “Maddie Day's writing is so vivid that I can envision the rolling hills of California's Wine Country and taste the delectable vintages that Cece pours at Vino y Vida Wine Bar.” What do you think of that description, and how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: I love what she said, of course. Ellen is a master of writing evocative settings! Where a series is set is everything, and here’s how I chose mine. My aunt and uncle built a vacation home in the Alexander Valley north of San Francisco over 50 years ago, which I have visited a number of times since then.


Plus, who doesn’t love wine country? The setting seemed like a good fit. And I loved crafting Cece’s neighbor Richard in the mold of my own Uncle Dick.

Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: No! I almost never know how a novel will end when I start writing it, and this one was no different. I mostly follow my characters around and write down what they do.


That means things absolutely change along the way. One of my many rounds of revision is to fix the puzzle and to make it all work.


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Cece and her twin sister, Allie?


A: As fraternal twins, they are in a way no different than any other sisters. They nudge each other a bit about habits and faults. But being twins gives them a special kind of closeness.


It was Allie who urged Cece to move north from Pasadena and live in Colinas with Allie and her family. Cece loves being near her twin and her twin fraternal nephews, age 10 – and also having her own cottage and garden and job.


Q: This is the first in a new series--can you tell us what's next?


A: I’m currently putting final touches on the first draft of the second Cece Barton mystery, Deadly Crush. After Josie Jarvin, the vintage-car mechanic who takes care of Cece’s sixty-six Mustang, becomes a suspect in her ex-husband’s death, Cece gets to work figuring out the real killer before someone else – or Cece herself – is fatally crushed by violence.


My 12th Country Store mystery, Deep Fried Death, will be out at the end of December, and Murder at the Rusty Anchor, the sixth Cozy Capers Book Group mystery, releases in late spring, 2024.There’s never a dull moment in my writing world.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I hope readers will find me and all my writing at the web site I share with my alter ego,, where people can also sign up for my author newsletter and contact me via email. I love hearing from fans!


I’m on Facebook at my author page, and please also check out our popular Wicked Authors blog and Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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