Edith Maxwell is the author of Speaking of Murder (Barking Rain Press, under pseudonym Tace Baker) featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau. Edith holds a PhD in linguistics and is a member of Amesbury Monthly Meeting of Friends. The book was first runner up in the Linda Howard Award for Excellence contest.
Edith also writes the Local Foods Mysteries. A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die introduces organic farmer Cam Flaherty and a colorful Locavore Club (Kensington Publishing, June, 2013).
A mother and technical writer, Edith is a fourth-generation Californian but lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats.
It’s such an honor to be a guest here again!
I wanted to talk a little about backstory. We writers learn to reveal the story of how our characters got to where they are only when necessary. Sometimes it comes out in dribbles, sometimes in flashbacks.
In Speaking of Murder, Elise Chase is the best friend of the protagonist, Professor Lauren Rousseau. Elise and Lauren had lived in Japan together some years earlier, and there are minor references to some trouble Elise had while there. They now both live in Ashford, a small town north of Boston.
Jackie Rousseau is Lauren’s sister. She’s a software engineer, a superb cook, and has a relationship with Officer Natalia Flores on the local police force.
Lauren has trouble with commitment. She alludes briefly to the disappearance of her father when she was 19 and how that might have partly caused her current issues.
Where did all this come from? Well, I wrote a short story of murderous revenge almost ten years ago called “Obake for Lance.” In it, a character named Elissa finally gets back at the person who caused her great hardship while she was teaching English in Japan. She ends up living in a small town north of Boston. The story was published in a Level Best Books anthology called Riptide in 2004.
Elissa IS Elise in Speaking of Murder. Frankly, the only reason she isn’t called Elissa in the book is that I didn’t go check the exact name in the short story.
What about Jackie? In 2008 I wrote another short story of murderous revenge called “Reduction in Force” in which a software engineer named Jackie gets back at someone after her job is eliminated. That story was published in a Level Best Books anthology called Thin Ice in 2009. Yep, she ends up as Lauren’s sister in Speaking of Murder.
As for Lauren’s issues with commitment, you’ll have to wait until the sequel to Speaking of Murder to learn about them. Bluffing is Murder is about two-thirds written and awaits only my non-copious free time to be finished, but the back story of Lauren’s father’s death is integral to the plot.
Do you like it when backstory is given to you in bits and pieces? Have you discovered characters in a book you liked popping up in short stories or books elsewhere?
Speaking of Murder:
The murder of a talented student at a Massachusetts college thrusts linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau into the search for the killer. Lauren is a Quaker with an ear for accents. Her investigation exposes small-town intrigues, academic blackmail, and a drug cartel that now has its sights set on her.
Convinced that the key to the crime lies hidden in her dead student’s thesis, Lauren races to solve the mystery. Her department chair behaves suspiciously. A century-old boat shop is torched. Lauren’s friend goes missing – and the unsettled relationship with her lover threatens to implode just when she needs him most.