Interview with Maggie Toussaint
1. What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I love it when my sleuth, Baxley Powell, along with the sheriff and Deputy Sam Mayes meet the energy vampire the first time in Dadgummit. Having never run across such a person like this before, Baxley must rely on her instincts and wits. The first thing the thief does is try to neutralize them. Mayes and the sheriff come under his mind control immediately. Due to her many “extra” sensitivities, Baxley keeps her guard up all the time, so she is unaffected. Good thing for this party of lawmakers too, or this story would have had an altogether different plotline. Baxley realizes the others are in trouble so she uses her abilities to extend her guard around the sheriff and Mayes, and they return to being under their own control.
This scene is very telling because it allows Baxley to put the bad guy on notice, it earns her the respect of these new-to-her-acquaintance cops, and it gives her the experience of dealing with this type of entity. Like any process learned through trial and error, there are a few wrong turns and mishaps, making the adventure fun for readers.
2. If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
No doubt in my mind about this answer! I’d love to spend the day with Baxley Powell, my amateur sleuth. As a former reporter, I have many questions for her about how she does everything. As a sister and a daughter, I’d also like to know more about the hereafter. I’d like to shadow her as she goes about her day, getting her daughter off to school, taking care of her pet clients, tending to her landscape projects around town, and going on police calls. One of the many things I admire about her is how she manages to carry on when it looks like there’s no hope. I’d love to visit her parents’ cottage in the woods where the energy is just right. To sit with them around the fire at night, to hear their stories, and to enjoy their company. I’m such a sucker for an oral storyteller. Their voices mesmerize me.
3. If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I’m sure some people say they’d like to have written a profound book that has a marked impact on humanity. Or maybe they wish they had the enduring fame and fortune of John Gresham or Nora Roberts. I’m happy to be me.
In my early days as I searched for a writing style, I would mimic the styles of bestsellers in my phrasing and descriptions. None of that ever felt right. The flow always felt forced.
Further, shallow person that I am, my interests don’t lie with the betterment of humanity. I’m in this because of curiosity. I want to know and reflect how people behave in different situations. I also have a Pollyanna streak in me that wants everything to turn out okay. That’s the fiction of it all. I get to create worlds where characters face real world situations or invented ones, and I get to explore different responses in what I hope is an entertaining but revealing manner.
4. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I’m a visual learner. I have to see things to understand them, so I like to start character creation with an image. It can be a remembered image, a photograph in my collection, or anything on the web. My characters may have several characteristics of a person I know or have met, but they are an amalgamation of other characteristics too. Readers may think appearance is the best way to recognize characters. Since I carry their images in my head (and later have to layer in descriptions), I feel that I can best portray a character if I know what he or she wants. Every decision they make will reflect that personal agenda in some way.
5. What made you want to become a writer?
Fiction writing is the ultimate career for an introvert like me. Creating worlds of people, giving them problems to solve, challenging them with obstacles and moral dilemmas, and more is heady stuff. Most of us begin story crafting to satisfy ourselves. Perhaps we’ve always longed to be that mesmerizing storyteller or perhaps we want to right a wrong we couldn’t fix in real life. The opportunity to create even a fictional world is a wondrous thing. I love it.