ABOUT FARMED AND DANGEROUS
Snow is piling up in Westbury, Massachusetts, and Cam Flaherty’s organic farm has managed to survive the harsh New England winter. Unfortunately murder seems to be the crop in season…
Cam is finding the New Year just as hectic as the old one. Her sometimes rocky relationship with Chef Jake Ericsson is in a deep freeze, she’s struggling to provide the promised amount of food to the subscribers in her first winter CSA, and her new greenhouse might just collapse from the weight of the snow. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at the local assisted living facility seems like the least of her worries—until one of the elderly residents dies after eating some of her produce.
Cantankerous Bev Montgomery had a lot of enemies, from an unscrupulous real estate developer who coveted her land to an aggrieved care provider fed up with her verbal abuse. But while the motives in this case may be plentiful, the trail of poisoned produce leads straight back to Cam. Not even her budding romance with police detective Pete Pappas will keep him from investigating her.
As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase “dead of winter.”
Please welcome Edith Maxwell!
DONNELL: Edith, welcome. I’ve known about your books for a few years now, and it’s no exaggeration you’re prolific. You have a Quaker Midwife series and a Local Food series as well. What is that makes mystery so appealing to you?
EDITH: Thanks so much for having me, Donnell! I’m delighted to be here. I also have a Country Store Mysteries series coming out in late October under the pen name Maddie Day, which is set in the hill country of southern Indiana, and my Lauren Rousseau series from Barking Rain Press, written as Tace Baker, featuring a Quaker linguistics professor solving crimes north of Boston.
I love reading mysteries of the traditional/cozy sort, and it just made sense to write what I love to read. It’s an interesting challenge to make the puzzle work in each book, and hopefully to surprise the reader.
DONNELL: One of my greatest fears is that I’ll invite someone to dinner and something I make won’t agree with them. But for something edible to kill them? What were you thinking in Farmed and Dangerous killing off an elderly resident?
EDITH: <laughing> The book takes place in the dead of winter (no pun intended) and I wanted to set it at the assisted living residence where my farmer’s great uncle lives. Having a resident die after eating food Cam grew ups the stakes for her to solve the crime, especially since Cam and the victim had been known to have conflict in the recent past. With amateur sleuths, authors need to keep finding a reason for them to jump into what, in reality, is the job of the police, not the average citizen.
DONNELL: You also educate readers in an entertaining way about organic food. Is this your background? Are you an avid gardener?
EDITH: I am an avid organic gardener, and I owned and operated a small certified-organic farm twenty years ago, so I know that world pretty well. Nobody used the term locavore back then, but my customers all wanted locally grown organic food. I love being back in the farming community again, except now I don’t have to do all the hard work! As it turns out, my 26-year-old son has become a permaculture farmer and he worked on a nearby organic farm the last two summers. He’s my chicken consultant, for example, and updates me on current growing practices.
DONNELL: Where will we find you when you’re not writing?
EDITH: In the summer I’m often outside in my vegetable or flower gardens. Year round you can also find me cooking, on the couch reading, or out at our local screening room watching indy films with my beau. I have a busy summer coming up, with visits to libraries, farmers’ markets, and bookstores, as well as two writers’ retreats. I’d like to get back to a previous hobby of quilting, something I learned from my mother and grandmother, but right now three multi-book contracts don’t quite leave time for that. I’m very happy with my decision of two years ago to leave the day job writing software documentation and focus on writing fiction full time.
DONNELL: Your reviews state that you’re great at establishing quirky characters. Where do they come from – are they completely made up? Give us an example of your favorite?
EDITH: It’s so fun inventing people. I’ll often include a quirk from one or more real person in a character, but in general they are made up. In Farmed and Dangerous a local apple farmer is also a former opera star, so he goes around singing bits of arias. I knew someone like that long ago, and just had to include that trait in Richard Broadhurst. I will say that my dear mother never got to read any of my books because she passed away three years ago. So in this new book, I included her as Great-Uncle Albert’s new girlfriend, Marilyn Muller. She’s Mommy, right down to the embroidered sweatshirts, Velcro tennis, and beating everyone at Scrabble. But her character on the page has already morphed into drinking wine and using an iPhone, things my mother never touched. Characters really do have a life of their own, whether totally imaginary or based in part on a real person.
DONNELL: Is it fun for you to write the antagonist? Do you have a favorite bad guy?
EDITH: I don’t have as much fun writing antagonists over the course of the book. I try to include a human side, because nobody (well, almost nobody) is all bad. But I struggle to show them being malicious, partly because I don’t run into that many bad guys in my life. I hope I’ve done a good job. It’s different during the climax scene – then I kind of enjoy making the villain as wicked as possible. Please don’t try to psychoanalyze me for this!
DONNELL: What comes next for Edith Maxwell?
EDITH: Flipped for Murder (written as Maddie Day) comes out from Kensington Publishing at the end of October. My first historical mystery featuring Quaker midwife Rose Carroll, Delivering the Truth, will be out next April from Midnight Ink. I’ve turned in the fourth Local Foods mystery, Murder Most Fowl, am revising the second Country Store mystery, and have just started writing the second Quaker Midwife mystery. I’m way busy but I’m living my dream, and I love it.
DONNELL: Edith, now it’s time for you to ask the reader a question.
EDITH: I’m happy to give away a signed copy of Farmed and Dangerous to a commenter. Readers – How do you feel about local or organic food? Do you have a favorite local farm stand, farmers’ market, or CSA (farm share program), or are you in a city and just feel lucky to find vegetables at the supermarket?
Bio and links:
Agatha-nominated and Amazon-bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes four murder mystery series, most with recipes, as well as award-winning short stories.
Farmed and Dangerous is the latest in Maxwell's Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing). The latest book in the Lauren Rousseau mysteries, under the pseudonym Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press), is Bluffing is Murder. Maxwell’s Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in November, 2015. Her Quaker Midwife Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 Amesbury with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help, and will debut in March, 2016 with Delivering the Truth.
A fourth-generation Californian, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (http://wickedcozyauthors.com), and you can find her at www.edithmaxwell.com, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest and Instagram, and at .