Maia Chance writes historical mystery novels that are rife with absurd predicaments and romantic adventure. She is the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal and The Discreet Retrieval Agency series. Her first mystery, Snow White Red-Handed, was a national bestseller. Her latest releases are Cinderella Six Feet Under and Come Hell or Highball.
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Like lots of genre fiction writers, I’ve got two different series cooking on the stove. Fairy Tale Fatal is a Victorian-era cozy series with a murderous take on classic fairy tales; my Discreet Retrieval Agency cozy series romps through New York’s sparkling Jazz Age.
When I first gave my agent Come Hell or Highball (Discreet Retrieval Agency #1), she said one thing she loved about it was that it was so different from my other series, yet they have the same audience. And it’s true. They’re really different (although both of them are totally me). For example, Come Hell or Highball has been described as “frothy” and “light,” and with its quick pace and sometimes absurd predicaments (issues with rubberized girdles and overeating Pomeranians, to name two) place it firmly in the “caper” category. By contrast, Cinderella Six Feet Under (Fairy Tale Fatal #2) is moody and a bit magical, although the pace still zips along. (I have a phobia of boring my readers. It’s one phobia I’m kinda proud of. . . .)
Tone aside, the two series are set in different time periods, so the language, romantic issues, and all those delicious little period details like shoes, food, and furniture are also different as a result. Crinolines vs. cloche hats, brown betty pudding vs. gin rickeys, and European chateaus vs. the chateau-like façade of The Plaza Hotel in New York. I really enjoy playing with period language, especially slang, too. Here’s a sample of some tasty words:
Fairy Tale Fatal (set in 1867):
High muck a muck: a snob
Full chisel: doing something hard and/or quickly
Cogitate: to think
Discreet Retrieval Agency (set in 1923):
Gink: a contemptible person
On all sixes: doing something hard and/or quickly
Giggle juice: alcohol
Noodle: to think
I chose two time periods whose cultural artifacts fascinate me. This was, on one level, sheer self-indulgence. My Pinterest book research boards are chock-a-block with photos of dresses and trinkets and houses that make me drool. I’m a sucker for stuff. (No, we won’t discuss my “little problem” with the vintage shops on Etsy. I’m FINE. And so is my vintage Pyrex bowl collection.)
Of course, there are certainly similarities between the two series. They both star determined female sleuths. They both have a nice dollop of romance (I HAVE to have romance in my books). Both sleuths have rather unusual and at times difficult sidekicks. Yet despite the organizational challenges I sometimes run into working on two series, I wouldn’t do it any other way . . . unless, of course, the other way was THREE series!