Marilyn, thanks so much for inviting me over today!
I wanted to share my new project with your readers. I wrote a short story called “Breaking the Silence” last year. It came out in Best New England Crime Fiction 2014: Stone Cold from Level Best Books in November, and also won an Honorable Mention in the Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction contest.
In the story, I imagined a young Quaker woman in 1888 in my small city of Amesbury, Massachusetts. She walks to Friends Meeting on Sundays, where she worships with John Greenleaf Whittier and a hundred other Quakers, and during the week she works as a mill girl. A real fire burned down much of the town’s carriage industry, and in my story Faith Bailey solves the mystery of who the arsonist is. I am also a Quaker and I walk to the same Friends meeting as Faith did. Faith and her family live in my house, built in 1880. The mill buildings she worked in are a block away, but now house a hardware store, a Flatbreads pizza restaurant, and offices.
When I finished the story, the characters didn’t want to go away. I imagined more of Faith’s family. Her friends. Other mysteries in town. Now I’m proposing a series. Faith’s aunt will be the protagonist, because she’s a bit older and can be edgier than the sweet but resourceful girl that Faith is. Here’s the first paragraph of the proposal.
The historical Carriagetown Mysteries feature Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Her elder and mentor in the late 1880s is the actual Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, who lived in Amesbury and attended Amesbury Friends Meeting until his death in 1892. Rose resides with her late sister’s husband Frederick Bailey, his daughter Faith, and four younger siblings in a house built for the mill workers in 1880. Rose is in her mid-twenties and is unmarried, although over the course of the series she becomes fond of a young doctor who works at the newly built Anna Jaques hospital in the nearby city of Newburyport. She attends births of the rich and poor alike, being called to attend the wife of the richest carriage maker in town as well as the impoverished French-Canadian mill workers who live on the Flats by the Powwow River. This gives her the opportunity to listen in on the business of the town from behind the scenes as well as to the stories women tell during the travail of giving birth.
I write two other mystery series that are contemporary: the Local Foods mysteries and the Speaking of Mystery series. But I’m a full-time fiction writer now and am looking forward to starting this new effort. I’ll be starting to write the manuscript of the novel also called Breaking the Silence next week. And I can’t wait!
Readers: do you like to read historical mysteries? What are some of your favorites? Or do you prefer your stories set in the issues and environment of today?
Edith Maxwell's A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die in the Local Foods Mystery series (Kensington Publishing, 2013) lets her relive her days as an organic farmer in Massachusetts, although murder in the greenhouse is new. A fourth-generation Californian, she has also published short stories of murderous revenge, most recently in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold (Level Best Books, 2013) and Fish Nets (Wildside, 2013). The Stone Cold story, “Breaking the Silence,” won an Honorable Mention in the Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction contest.
Edith Maxwell's alter-ego Tace Baker authored Speaking of Murder, which features Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau and campus intrigue after her sexy star student is killed (Barking Rain Press, 2012). Edith is a long-time Quaker and holds a long-unused doctorate in linguistics.
A mother and former technical writer, Edith is a fourth-generation Californian but lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the rest of the Wicked Cozy Authors (wickedcozyauthors.com). You can also find her at @edithmaxwell, on Facebook (), and at www.edithmaxwell.com.