Wednesday, March 25, 2020

WHY CAPE COD? Guest post by Maddie Day aka Edith Maxwell

MADDIE DAY aka Edith Maxwell:
Why Cape Cod?

Janet, thank you for inviting me – and my alter-ego Maddie Day – to your blog!

My latest book, Murder at the Taffy Shop is the second Cozy Capers Book Group mystery. The series is set in a fictional town on Cape Cod. I live in Massachusetts but way north at the opposite border, half a mile from New Hampshire, a drive of almost three hours. So what do I know about Cape Cod, anyway?

Five or six years ago I learned about a Quaker retreat cottage nestled behind the West Falmouth Friends meetinghouse. West Falmouth is a quiet former fishing village on enormous Buzzard’s Bay, with a west-facing coastline. I’m a Quaker of many years, and I rented the cottage for a week during the off season for a solo writing retreat. I was able to write SO much that I started going twice a year. No wi-fi in the cottage helps, too (but the public library is across the street in case of wi-fi emergency).

Artists flock to the Cape for a reason. I don’t know why, but the light is different there, colors are more intense, skies are more dramatic. And everyone has heard of iconic Cape Cod, whether they have visited in person or not. When my Kensington editor and I were tossing around ideas for this series and he suggested the Cape, I jumped on it.

I decided to create a fictional town for all the reasons authors do: I can make up streets, stores, and restaurants. I can invent a lighthouse and a beach and not worry that readers will call me out on something I got wrong. The town of Falmouth, to the south of West Falmouth (don’t ask, I have no idea, since there’s also a north Falmouth which is to the east of West Falmouth...), is a bustling coastal town. And while Cape Cod has an Eastham, it doesn’t have a Westham. Bingo – I had my cozy village.

These days my trips to West Falmouth are for research as well as super-productive writing sprees. I love checking out what’s blooming in May and the colors in October and January. I soak up the smell of the tidal pools, the sight of ospreys soaring overhead, the hues of beach rosehips ripening and poison ivy reddening.

But the cottage is rented to a family all summer, and Murder at the Taffy Shop is set in early August, peak tourist season. I love the beach, but the Cape in August? Fugeddabout it. Still, I’ve been there in early September, and I know what beachy towns are like.

This part of the Cape features the lovely Shining Sea Trail, a walking and biking path on the former railbed. Bicyclists love the Cape, because it’s pretty and mostly flat. My protagonist, Mac Almeida, owns a bike rental, repair, and retail shop, so avid cyclists and the trail feature prominently in the books. I also knew about the Falmouth Road Race, an internationally famed seven-miler held in early August. Mac’s boyfriend Tim is a runner, so that went in, too.

And then we have the somewhat meta premise of a cozy mystery about a book group that only reads cozy mysteries. Again, my editor suggested the book group idea. I was the one who took it the extra step. In my experience – and Murder at the Taffy Shop is my 20th novel – cozy fans read a lot. I mean, a lot. The group Mac is in is named the Cozy Capers – because Cape Cod. They read and discuss a book a week, which isn’t a stretch.

Westham is a cozy town with a core group of shop owners and town officials who are part of the book group. Mac is devoted to her family, who all live in town. But that doesn’t exempt her and her fellow Cozy Capers from dealing with real social and interpersonal issues. And bodies!

I love writing this series, and readers seem to be loving reading it, too.

When bike shop owner Mac Almeida heads out for a walk with her friend, she finds a horrified Gin staring at an imperious summer person, dead on the sidewalk in front of Gin’s candy shop, Salty Taffy’s. When the police find the murder weapon in Gin’s garage, the Cozy Capers book group members put their heads together to clear Gin’s name and figure out who killed the woman whom almost everyone disliked. After the killer later invades Mac’s tiny house to finish her off, Belle, Mac’s African Gray parrot, comes to the rescue. Murder at the Taffy Shop is out March 31 in a one-year paperback exclusive from Barnes & Noble.  

Readers: What are your book group experiences, or would you rather read solo? Do you prefer seaside, mountaintop, or big city downtown?


Maddie Day – aka Edith Maxwell – is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha-nominated and bestselling author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and pens the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries and the Country Store Mysteries. As Edith she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and award-winning short crime fiction. Maddie/Edith lives with her beau north of Boston, where she’s currently working on her next mystery when she isn’t cooking up something delectable in the kitchen. She hopes you'll visit her on her web sitesign up for her monthly newsletter, and visit her as @MaddieDayAuthor on social media. 


Gram said...

I see that it is catch-up time for me. I'll be looking for the first in this series. It sounds just like my cup of tes, or glass of wine. I do not have a preference for the setting although it plays a part in most stories, a good book is a good book.
Thanks for writing.

BunnyFace said...

The Guest Post was really a good read and introduced me to a author that I have not read before. Looking forward to reading books by this very interesting and talented author. Enjoyed your new idea to share this way very much, thank you Janet!