Why Do I Write Mysteries? The short answer: I love reading them. The long answer is much, well, longer!
Like many young girls I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls. I’ll never forget the day my mother brought home The Hidden Staircase after a trip to the P.M. Bookshop in Plainfield, New Jersey. My friends and I started swapping tales of those intrepid girl detectives like mad. We loved the puzzles and the adventures. My parents were great role models for mystery reading with the stacks of Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner paperbacks atop their nightstands.
In sixth grade I started writing my own girl detective mystery and read installments to my friends while walking home from school. They enjoyed my creative efforts. I wish I still had those stories, for posterity.
By high school I had drifted away from writing and reading mysteries, finding an outlet for my considerable adolescent angst in poetry and journal entries. The journal entries (as well as the angst) continued throughout my life but it wasn’t until the nineties that I took up mystery writing again.
I joined my first mystery book group in Santa Clarita, California in 1993. I’d been devouring anything by Agatha Christie for years but there was a whole world of other mystery authors out there and I was ready to dive in. The women in the group were lovely—almost too lovely. I hadn’t yet started my writing career but I knew I was on my way when the what-if scenarios came to me unbidden—
What if these women weren’t really so nice?
What if this was all for show and they harbored secrets, agendas, hatreds?
But it wasn’t until 1996 when I moved to Virginia and took a creative writing course at the University of Virginia that I started writing in earnest. I didn’t forget those nice women—or were they?—from the Santa Clarita book group. I gave them backstories and they became the story prototypes for Murder at the Book Group.
Like many mystery writers, I have a strong need to see justice done and set the world right. Mysteries are the perfect vehicle for that. Mysteries are about relationships—relationships that have gone awry. I’m fascinated by family dynamics and how memories of my own family experiences have popped up throughout my life, sometimes in good ways and sometimes in disconcerting ways. Love and obsession intrigue me to no end, as does sin and how we’re impacted by it.
My short stories are morally ambiguous and I sometimes explore vigilante justice. I’m a law-abiding citizen, but sometimes I wonder if justice is better served outside the boundaries of the law. That’s why I write. It keeps me out of prison and my victim(s) safe. And I can create interesting characters I’d never want to know off the page.
It’s unlikely that I’ll ever solve a mystery—and I have no desire to—but my sleuths can do anything. Just like Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew was intrepid, talented, bright, and flawless (Okay, she was a bit uppity at times, especially in the early stories). My characters, like most modern day sleuths, are flawed but I get to pick and choose their flaws and their virtues.
To circle back to the original question, “Why Do I Write Mysteries?”
Because I love reading them.
And I love writing them.
Blurb for Murder at the Moonshine Inn:
WHEN HIGH-POWERED EXECUTIVE Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere 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.
Buy link: http://amzn.to/2dtozWa
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.
Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.