Monday, December 12, 2016

Guest Post: Author Maggie King on What Made Her A mystery Writer

Maggie King is back with her new release Murder At the Moonshine Inn (November 15, 2016) - the second book in the Hazel Rose Book Group series. Last year I reviewed Murder At the Book Group and today Maggie is here to tell us what helped her become a mystery writer. Be sure to check out the details for Murder At The Moonshine Inn at the end of this post. I'm really digging the new cover style! Thank you for being a part of my blog again today Maggie!
How My Love of Reading Made Me a Mystery Writer

Readers often ask how I came to be a mystery writer. I don’t have to think about my answer: my love of reading combined with a need to see justice prevail paved the way for me. And I haven’t limited my reading to mysteries (although these days, I’m more likely than not to reach for one). My reading history includes the classics, contemporary fiction, romance, biographies, and non-fiction.

In the best fiction, the characters contend with conflict, relationships, romance, family, friendship, and often seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Most stories end on a happy note, with a triumph of the spirit. But not always.

In mysteries, one or more dead bodies heighten the conflict. Justice usually prevails in the end when the bad people are caught and punished. Usually, but not always. 

Like many young girls, I was hooked on the adventures of Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls (no dead bodies for those girl detectives, but they sure got themselves in precarious situations). Anne Emery and similar writers wrote about teen life. Their stories of conflict-ridden teenagers (oxymoron?) were especially exciting for a pre-teen. At the age of eleven, I wrote a mystery and read daily installments to my friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with the craft and it took years to get back to it.

In high school, besides required works like Great Expectations, Beowulf, and Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed the popular fiction of the day: The Prize, Exodus, Gone with the Wind, If Morning Ever Comes, A Stone for Danny Fisher, and Valley of the Dolls. (I had to hide some of these titles from my mother’s sharp eyes).

In my twenties, I was too busy partying and working long hours to read much, but I did manage to fit in An American Tragedy and Atlas Shrugged. And one day when I stayed home from work with the flu, my mother appeared on my doorstep with chicken soup and a stack of Agatha Christies. I read 13 at Dinner and remain devoted to Dame Agatha to this day.

I moved on to a very eclectic period, with romances (Helen Van Slyke was my favorite) and Susan Howatch’s sagas. I continued with Agatha Christie and Ayn Rand.

Then I entered my classics phase. I took a job near the Los Angeles Public Library and one of my co-workers visited the library during lunch. I went with her one day and discovered book heaven. I started reading, in some cases re-reading, the works of Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Sinclair Lewis, to name a few. Jane Eyre tops my list of favorite classics. Willa Cather was a revelation.

In 1993, I joined a mystery group in Santa Clarita, California. I had never stopped reading Agatha Christie, but other mystery authors were new to me. The group introduced me to Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Anne Perry, Gillian Roberts, and many, many more.

When I moved to Virginia is 1996, I found Women’s Voices, a group that read contemporary fiction by women. Margaret Atwood, Anita Brookner, Louise Erdrich, and Barbara Kingsolver are a few names I can easily recall. On my own, I discovered the joys of John Steinbeck, especially East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath.

I continued to devour mysteries … and started writing them, picking up where I’d stopped years before.

And you’ll find lots of conflict, romance, and mystery in my stories, where justice prevails—but not always the kind you expect.

About the Author:
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, 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. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Murder at the Moonshine Inn by Maggie King

WHEN HIGH-POWERED EXECUTIVE Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.



  1. Chrystal, thanks so much for hosting me today. I look forward to meeting your readers.

  2. Maggie, this was a fabulous post. You got me thinking about all the books I've read and loved. There are too many to list or even to count, but Nancy Drew books are definitely on the list. I also love Lucy Maud Montgomery, James Herriot, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, and Kristin Hannah. And thanks for some other great suggestions! My TBR list is as long as a city block, but there's always room for more. Have a wonderful day.

    1. I'm not yet familiar with Kristin Hannah, but I love the others you mentioned. So thanks for your great suggestions, Amy. My list is a long as two city blocks! But then, I'm older.

  3. You are a walking bookcase. And, you have learned a lot from all of those books, which now translates into your own series of fine mysteries.

    1. Thanks my dear. I wonder how many books I've read in 27+ years???

  4. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thank you. New mystery books hold great appeal, despite the "classic" designation. Who knows, in years to come, some of them may make the list. Good luck.

  5. "And one day when I stayed home from work with the flu, my mother appeared on my doorstep with chicken soup and a stack of Agatha Christies."

    Sounds like your mom was definitely top of the class in Mother School.

  6. Loved reading about her different book reading "phases" lol

  7. This sounds like a fun mystery, and thanks for sharing your reading (and writing) journey. I think so many readers and writers started with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys- I know I spent many happy hours devouring those books! And I love hearing about how many writers have gone through so many life experiences before finding their calling. Best of luck with the book!


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