Today on Reade and Write I welcome Maggie King, author of Murder at the Book Group. I’m thrilled to have her here to discuss her book!
Tell me about Murder at the Book Group.
Murder at the Book Group, set in Richmond, Virginia, is the story of two women. Carlene Arness is a mystery writer who dies after drinking cyanide-laced tea at a meeting of her book group. Hazel Rose is an aspiring romance writer who decides to find out who killed Carlene. In the process she uncovers many scandals and secrets about Carlene. She also finds out a lot about her fellow book group members that amazes her.
Hazel is a reluctant investigator. She isn’t brave and she didn’t especially like Carlene. But Hazel has a strong sense of justice. And she was once married to Carlene’s husband and he has a special place in her heart.
Hazel’s also in a rut. She’s in an on-again, off-again relationship and as the story opens it’s clearly off again as her sometimes lover has been seen in the company of a fiery redhead named Molly. Hazel’s trying to write a romance but finds it hard to be inspired when her own love life is non-existent.
It’s unfortunate that it takes murder to get Hazel’s life back on track. Which just goes to prove that old adage: every cloud has a silver lining.
Who is the audience for the book?
Anyone who enjoys traditional mysteries that focus on relationships gone awry; anyone who loves learning about new authors; anyone in a book group.
Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
I chose Richmond, Virginia, because I live here. I didn’t have to do much research beyond verifying distances and temperatures. As the story was published in 2014 but set in 2005, I needed to be sure that any references were not post-2005.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Finding the time amid juggling responsibilities. Also, I had to make writing a priority—ironically, it took giving up my two book groups to finish Murder at the Book Group!
If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
Hazel Rose: Melina Kanakaredes or Andie McDowell.
Vince Castelli: Joe Mantegna (with white hair and blue eyes), George Clooney, Jonathan Goldsmith, or David Strathrain. My true preference is a younger, and living, George Kennedy.
Lucy Hooper: Madolyn Smith, Jaclyn Smith, or Rachel Ward (but I really picture the late novelist and actress Jackie Collins for my Lucy character).
Kat Berenger: Jean Kasem.
Have you written any other books?
Murder at the Moonshine Inn, #2 in the Hazel Rose Book Group series, comes out in November, 2016.
I’ve contributed stories to two anthologies: “A Not So Genteel Murder” is featured in Virginia is for Mysteries (2014) and “Reunion in Shockoe Slip” in Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II (2016).
Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?
I have a group of readers, but no formal group. I’d like to find a small group of 3-4 writers who understand the mystery genre.
Do you write every day?
Generally, I write five days a week. But I think about writing 24/7.
When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?
My list of favorite authors is a long one and include Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Susan Wittig Albert, Robert Crais, Rochelle Krich, Jane Austen, and Barbara Pym. I mostly read mysteries (cozies, police procedurals, and PI sub-genres), but also enjoy contemporary fiction, classics, and biographies.
Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?
It’s hard to pick one place. I want to visit Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, South America, Italy, and Antarctica (Antarctica would be the ultimate adventure)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write every day even if it’s just for fifteen minutes—that’s how you maintain momentum; walk daily to clear your head and encourage inspiration; take classes; never let anyone discourage you from writing, no matter how wise you consider them to be; write short stories—that’s how many authors, myself included, first get published.
Consider reading and writing poetry to make your fiction come alive. Acclaimed mystery writer Walter Moseley considers poetry to be the basis of all writing and suggests that reading, writing, and studying poetry gives fiction writers a deeper appreciation of the nuances of language (a poetry class is on my to-do list).
What is your favorite movie and why?
Double Indemnity. It’s the ultimate film noir—dark, steamy, loaded with atmosphere and sizzling dialog, with characters sleazy as all get out.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Listen to my heart and follow my dreams. Stand tall and be confident.
Describe yourself in three words.
Caring, conscientious, courageous; how’s that for alliteration?
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?
Why did I write Murder at the Book Group? I like to write and read about people at a crossroads in their lives. In Murder at the Book Group both the sleuth and the victim are standing at a crossroads—Hazel Rose is at loose ends in her life, stuck in a rut. She isn’t unhappy but she isn’t fulfilled either. As for Carlene Arness, the victim, she’s recently published her first mystery but her marriage to Hazel’s first husband is falling apart. Carlene wasn’t cut out for monogamy and her eye has started to wander.
Unfortunately, Carlene doesn’t get to cross the road—but solving her murder gives Hazel the opportunity to grow and get out of her rut.
Where can readers connect with you?
Where can readers find your books?
On Amazon or wherever books are sold.
Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime 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.
Thank you, Maggie, for visiting Reade and Write today!
Until next week,