I'm happy to welcome Susan Breen to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Susan writes the Maggie Dove Mystery series. Today is the release day for Maggie Dove.
Kathy: Maggie's neighbor demands she cut down her beloved oak tree. When I bought my current house I planted several trees. I can't stand when people cut down healthy trees! Are you a tree lover too?
SB: I do love trees! I have several favorites near where I live. There’s a very gracious oak tree that I walk by every morning. Then there’s a tulip tree that looks religious to me because its branches are reaching toward the sky. I’ve got a maple tree on my front lawn that I don’t quite trust because it always looks like it’s about to die and then it erupts in leaves. And don’t get me started on the birch.
Kathy: Have you gotten into any arguments with neighbors over property issues? I admit, I have!
SB: My neighbors are lovely people and it’s possible that I did have an argument with one of them over something, but best not to think about that now. ;)
Kathy: Maggie Dove is called a "mystery with a bite". Are you able to tell us what gives it that bite and why you chose to have an edge?
SB: Part of why I like mysteries is that they deal with death, which sounds morbid and it is. Characters in a mystery are struggling with the most difficult thing you can. In Maggie Dove, the protagonist is not only dealing with the death of the murdered person on her front lawn, but also with the death of her daughter, who she lost 20 years earlier. I think Maggie Dove is basically a warm and happy person, but she’s been hammered by life and it’s made her angry. So that, I believe, is where the bite comes from.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
SB: Cozy mysteries are about so-called normal people who are thrust into an extraordinary situation, and I like that. I’m not so much concerned about blood and gore as I am about what happens to a nice lady when she discovers a body on her lawn. What do you do when all the suspects are your friends?
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
SB: I do go back and forth between mystery and mainstream novels. My first novel, The Fiction Class, was about a writing teacher, and I’ve been working on another one about a memoir coach.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
SB: Maggie Dove is a fabulous 62-year-old Sunday School teacher who runs a detective agency with two friends in a small village in the Hudson Valley.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
SB: I like all the characters, even the killer, but I am partial to Edgar Blake, who is one of Maggie Dove’s Sunday School students, and is the son of a young woman she befriends. Maybe because I was always the good little girl sitting and reading in the corner, I’m intrigued by people who get into trouble. Edgar’s a handful. He forces Maggie to be creative in her teaching. But she knows he needs her, and she needs him too, and there’s a moment when he puts his arms around her and tells her that he loves her that’s one of my favorite scenes in the book.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
SB: My first novel was about a fiction teacher. After that was published, I thought it would be fun to write a series of books, each one about a different type of writing teacher: mystery, science fiction, romance, etc. So when I started writing Maggie Dove, I expected her to have a class, but then I got swept up in her story and it turned out she really didn’t want to teach. So I said, okay, what do you want to do? We went from there.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
SB: When you publish your work, you share your story with other people. That can be scary, but it’s also exciting. There’s no better feeling than connecting with people over a story you wrote.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
SB: I love listening to people who are storytellers, so I’d choose: Garrison Keillor, Alison Weir, Vikram Seth and Charles Dickens.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
SB: So many books! Simon Sebag Montefiore has a new history of The Romanovs, which is fascinating. I’m also reading Christine Trent’s book about a Victorian undertaker, Lady of Ashes; Vikram Seth’s book, A Suitable Boy; Best American Mystery Stories 2015 and an Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
SB: I’m fascinated by Tudor England. My husband and I went to Hever Castle last year, which is where Anne Boleyn grew up. I’m a fairly active member of various Anne Boleyn facebook pages and I’m working on a novel in which she’s a character.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
SB: Milk, wine, yogurt and a bottle of champagne that I’m saving for some occasion, though you’d think I’d have opened it by now.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
SB: Absolutely! I’ve written the second book in the Maggie Dove series and I’m hoping for many more. I’m also thinking about a Tudor-oriented series. We’ll see.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
SB: I’ve always loved reading and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of the world of books.
I also like being interviewed!