MEET THE AUTHOR(S) - EDITH MAXWELL, BARBARA ROSS AND SHEILA CONNOLLY
This latest entry into my very sporadic Meet The Author series has to be credited to the Jungle Red Writers mystery blog that I read on a daily basis.
I comment there regularly and one of the other regulars is author Edith Maxwell. Under the pen name Maddie Day, she writes the Country Store mystery series and when I first learned of the series I picked up the first book and loved it. I was only half done with the that book when I ran out to the bookstore and picked up the other three books in the series. (A fifth one, Death Over Easy, comes out in July 2018 and I'm eagerly awaiting to get my hands on it.)
Under her own name, she writes the Quaker Midwife mystery series and that's where the Jungle Red blog comes in. The most recent book in that series, Turning The Tide, was spotlighted by the blog back in April and it really got me interested in checking out the series.
When I saw that she was going to be part of an event at the West Falmouth Library in West Falmouth, MA called "What Is A Cozy?" I knew that I had to be there. I love meeting authors whose work I enjoy. Plus...SIGNED BOOKS!
I got out of work early and after a mostly easy drive (it was the first day of summer tourist traffic after all), I walked into the library and was immediately lost. I didn't know where to go.
But before we get to that quickly solved pickle, I should mention that the other part of the draw for me was that there were going to be two other authors joining Maxwell. Barbara Ross and Sheila Connolly. I must confess that I hadn't read either writer before this point. However, as soon as I learned they were going to be there, I picked up Clammed Up, the first book in the Maine Clambake series by Ross and Buried In A Bog, the first book in Connolly's County Cork series. (I love series set in Ireland!)
So back to the event...I found one of the library staff members and they directed me where to go.
As I was heading to the elevator, both Edith Maxwell and Barbara Ross walked in. The staffer asked if they were the authors and then directed us to the elevator to go up to the main room. Edith asked me, "Jay?" and we shook hands in greeting.
Once in the main room where the talk was being held, I spoke to all three authors for a bit before they got started. I was introduced to Sheila Connolly and chatted with her after Edith and Barbara went to set up their books for display. Once an extra table was brought out, that's what Sheila did as well.
As the talk got started, another of the library staff started to introduce each writer, but soon the authors themselves took over that duty and did their own introductions. In turn, they spoke about who they were, talked briefly about their books and their characters. Edith even showed the cover art for a new series she's writing as Maddie Day called The Cozy Capers Book Group. It's set on Cape Cod and the first book is due out in December. Yes, I can't wait to read it!
Once the introductions were done, they launched into the topic of the event as they talked about exactly "What Is A Cozy?". For those who aren't mystery readers, it is a subset of the mystery genre. The different takes from each other helped enlighten the audience about just what makes a mystery fall into the "cozy" category. The traditional mystery with little in the way of sex, gore or excessively foul language are big tenets. The sleuths are generally amateurs and there's a lot of recipes! This prompted a humorous bit of conversation from Barbara Ross who mentioned that she doesn't cook which made providing recipes problematic. At this point, she pointed out her husband, who was taking photos of the event, and commented how he was a good cook.
Okay, I'm doing a very streamlined summation of this part of the discussion but I really did like listening to what each of them had to say. I'm usually more of a "blood, bodies and bullets" kind of mystery and thriller reader but I've been getting more into the cozy genre lately and hearing what those who work within that field have to say gave me a better understanding. Particularly since I keep pretending that I'll ever have the time to write this fictional mystery I keep rattling around in my head.
Maxwell, Ross and Connolly also talked a little about the business side of writing and their different working styles. While Ross writes one series as well as some novellas, both Maxwell and Connolly are involved in a number of series under their own names or using pseudonyms. This means they are always working on a deadline. Edith Maxwell mentioned how she is under contract for three books a year and how a recent retreat she went on ended up with her writing 30,000 words (about half a book). Ross, by her own admission, works a bit slower than that.
After a little more than an hour talking, the floor was opened up for questions and the audience fueled more discussion asking about how they keep their stories and characters fresh with long series runs and other such topics. I was intrigued by their responses when asked about the possibilities of seeing their work turned into movies or TV shows. All three talked about both the good and the bad that can happen on that front, depending on how much of a say the author has in the adaptations.
When the conversation turned to their social media presence, I asked them to talk a little about the blogs they are involved with. Given their responses, their work on the blogs alone puts my work ethic to shame.
I should mention that there was a lot of laughter in the course of the event, even from a notorious grump like me!
Once the questioning ended, the authors returned to their display tables and the audience was encouraged to interact with them while perusing the books available for purchase. I went to Edith's table first. I had brought my copies of the four Country Store mysteries for her to sign and I eagerly snapped up the first Quaker Midwife book Delivering The Truth and had that signed as well. I also talked briefly with her about the publisher of that series, Midnight Ink, which is an imprint that I love and mentioned author Robert K. Lewis who had three books published by the company.
While waiting for Edith to talk with another reader, I took the time to talk with Barbara Ross. I got my copy of Clammed Up signed and bought Book 2, Boiled Over, for her to sign as well. I also talked to her husband a bit as he brought up the Boston Celtics since I was wearing a Celtics shirt. And I do love talking about basketball!
After returning to Edith to gather up the rest of the books she had signed for me, I then spent some time talking to Sheila Connolly. She told me about her other series and we talked a bit about Ireland with her showing me some pictures she had taken while visiting there. She signed my copy of Buried In A Bog and I also picked up Cruel Winter, the fifth book in the County Cork series which was signed as well.
This was being done as the crowd left and soon I was pretty much the only one left in the room other than the writers and the library staff. I made sure to thank Edith, Sheila and Barbara for doing the event and for taking the time to talk to me as well.
In summation, I had a blast at this event. I not only got to learn more about the authors and the cozy genre but getting to meet the authors and putting faces to names helps make my enjoyment of their work even more special.
So again, I say thank you to Edith Maxwell, Barbara Ross and Sheila Connolly. Oh, and I should also thank the staff of the West Falmouth Library for putting on the event in the first place!
If you would like to learn more about Edith Maxwell's Country Store, Quaker Midwife, Local Foods or Cozy Capers Book Club series, check out Edith Maxwell.com.
For more on Barbara Ross and her Maine Clambake series, check out Maine Clambake Mysteries.com
Finally, for more on Sheila Connolly's County Cork, Orchard, Museum or Relatively Dead mystery series, check out Sheila Connolly.com
There's a lot of good reading to be had with each of these three wonderfully entertaining authors and if you love a good mystery, this would be a great place to start!
(From L-R: Edith Maxwell, Sheila Connolly and Barbara Ross, pic used by permission)