Guest Chick: Maddie Day

Leslie Karst here, pleased as rum punch to welcome my pal Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell), whose brand new mystery, Murder in a Cape Cottage, released just yesterday. Edith and I roomed together at my very first mystery writers convention, Left Coast Crime back in 2014 in Monterey, CA, and we’ve been buddies ever since. Be sure to read to the end, as there’s a GIVEAWAY of the new book! Take it away, Maddie/Edith:

[UPDATE: Congrats to Carol, who won a copy of Murder in a Cape Cottage!]

Mixing History and the Present

Thanks for inviting me back to the Chicks, Leslie!

As Maddie Day, I write contemporary cozy mysteries. As Edith Maxwell, I’ve written seven late nineteenth-century Quaker Midwife Mysteries, as well as a new 1920s book possibly in the wings. I love doing research deep dives into history, digging up details about life and language from the past.


My newest book, Murder in a Cape Cottage, is the fourth Cozy Capers Book Group mystery. After I dreamed up protagonist Mac and fiancé Tim finding a decades-old imprisoned skeleton in the walls of their cottage, I knew I needed to learn more about life around 1930 – which was when the bride had her hands chained to the wall and a new wall built around her.


This an era when my parents were children, when my grandmothers were young mothers, when other elders I’ve known were alive and shared memories with me before they passed on. I have a clearer sense of the time than I ever could have with my Rose Carroll books.

Edith’s grandparents Allan Sr. and Dorothy, aunts Ruthie and Jo, and father Allan Jr in 1932


Still, it’s the little details that matter. What would poor Della’s wedding dress have looked like (yes, the skeleton was wearing her bridal outfit)? What kind of cars did her friends drive, what did they wear, what movies were newly released? What cigarettes did they smoke? Plus slang phrases in use at the time, a special interest of mine.

The A. T. Co., Mfrs., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Westham is a (fictional) coastal town on Cape Cod, so I also had to look into fishing boats, holiday festivities, well-off people’s homes and more modest ones.


The story stays in the present, but the following passage from the victim’s friend’s diary reveal a few bits:


I spied Della’s name again toward the end of February.


Met Della when she got off work at her daddy’s office.


That explained what she’d been doing with her time.


She was so upset. We went for frappes at the soda fountain to talk it through. She said her father blew his stack when he saw she had a picture of her sweetheart. She wants to run away with him. I told her that was rash, and she should wait.


Here we see the soda fountain, slang for being angry, the word for milkshake in Massachusetts, and two girls out of high school but working in town, not away in college.


I have a number of author friends who say they would never write historical novels because they don’t want to do the research. It turns out I love it so much I bring history in my present-day books! Sure, ascertaining the details can take more time, but it’s fun, too. And I think it’s edifying to see how much we humans haven’t changed, for better and for worse, from the times of our predecessors.



Readers: What are your thoughts about a bit of history in your mystery? If you read historical fiction, what era do you like? I’ll send one commenter a signed copy of the new book. (Please include your email address in your comment.)

About Murder in a Cape Cottage: ʼTis the day after Christmas, following a wicked-busy time of year for Mac’s bike shop. It’s just as well her Cozy Capers Book Group’s new pick is a nerve-soothing coloring book mystery, especially when she has last-minute wedding planning to do. But all pre-wedding jitters fade into the background when Mac and her fiancé, Tim, begin a cottage renovation project and open up a wall to find a skeleton—sitting on a stool, dressed in an old-fashioned bridal gown . . . 

As Mac delves into the decades-old mystery with the help of librarian Flo and her book group, she discovers a story of star-crossed lovers and feuding families worthy of the bard himself. Yet this tale has a modern-day villain still lurking in Mac’s quaint seaside town, ready to make this a murderous New Year’s Eve.

“She’s handcuffed to the wall,” I whispered. “The poor thing. Somebody seriously didn’t want her to get married.” My heart broke for her, but this was also feeling like a horror movie. My own wedding was only days away.

About Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell: Maddie Day pens the Country Store Mysteries, the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, and the new Cece Barton Mysteries. As Agatha Award-winning author Edith Maxwell, she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and short crime fiction. Day/Maxwell lives with her beau and cat north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook.

Find her at EdithMaxwell.com, wickedauthors.com, Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and on social media:
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

37 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Maddie Day

  1. None of those expressions seemed odd to me. I probably heard them when I was young…and for others who do not know a milk shake here in much of New England is a flavored milk drink stirred up on the machine whereas a frappe has ice cream in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love those details and like to try to compare to anything I know of my own grand or great grands. Esp the 30s, with the Depression, there are fewer photos etc.
    Looking forward to reading your new book, thanks! Jholden955(at)gmail(dot)com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maddie, your story sounds fascinating–I’d love to win a copy. My Natalie McMasters Mysteries are contemporary, but I enjoy historical fiction as well. I write canonical Sherlock Holmes stories, which require much research into Victorian England. Even though I know that many people had it much worse then, I think it’s a time to which I’d be well-suited. I also wrote a standalone horror book entitle Legacy of the Unborn, which is set in New York City and environs in 1931. tom@3mdetectiveagency.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy history, so some details in a book really set the stage for me. I don’t know why then, I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction, but the time periods I like are usually 1920-30s gangster era and WW2.

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  5. Congrats on the new book, Edith! I was surprised how much fun I had doing the research when I started my historical series. How cool you get to bring a little of it into this series.

    And interesting about the shake/frappe: in WNY milkshakes always had ice cream in them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I went to college in Western MA, Edith, and the Friendly’s in North Adams called them “frappes.” (I’m not sure they had much local competition.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am definitely reading your new book! I am an 11th generation New Englander. I live in MA and am very familiar with frappes, although I grew up in RI and both parents are from CT.
    My parents were married in 1931. (They had me quite late in life, I am a child of the 50s/60s.) My mom made her own wedding dress and it was not fancy at all. I love reading mysteries, especially cozies, and I especially like it when history is added. Learning about how life was years ago and what events shaped the way they lived has always been fascinating to me. I will read all types of cozies, and I love it when they can transport me to a different place, and or time. I can’t wait to read “Murder in a Cape Cottage”
    Carol meezermum2@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fascinating premise! Congrats, Edith! (For the record, I’m one of those authors who shy away from historical because I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong.)

    Cheers for your newest book! And double congrats on your other two simultaneous releases: a short story in Christmas Scarf Murder & the novella, Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Edith, what a fabulous (and chilling!) premise for your new book! I, too, love both historical fiction and historical elements in contemporary fiction. I’d think finding a skeleton bride right before one’s wedding might be a tad off-putting–yikes. My grandmother kept elaborate scrapbooks from the 1910s through 40s. Photos, set carefully on stiff black paper pages with captions in some kind of white ink. She even pressed the corsages from my mom’s wartime wedding into them, and I now own the life-sized bisque German baby doll in the photos of my grandmother as a teenager. (Yes, 2 16 y.os having a picnic with their dolls. She had her own baby, my mom, in 1919 a few years later.) Almost all of the people pictured are unknown to me, but clearly they were important to her, so they live on in my office.

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  9. Great post, and I look forward to reading the new installment in this series. I’ve just finished a Cape Cod mystery is set in 1982, and a few folks have suggested that’s an awkward time – not quite long enough ago to qualify as historical, but not contemporary either. So where’s the cutoff date? My co-author and I enjoyed the research, from pay phone locations to radio communications to vintage Subarus, and including a fun timeless question: is there any place on a lobster boat where a couple could have sex in privacy?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love historical fiction, a close second to cozies for me. My favorite era right now is WWII and since I can be a bit contrary, I enjoy those that incorporate current time to that era, usually through a common ancestor or something like that. Congrats on all the releases this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Edith, I love this!! You’re an inspiration. I had to research New Orleans in the 1930s for chapters in my stand-alone, and I loved it. (I’m also lucky because a lot of NOLA still looks like it did then.) Can’t wait to read this. and your covers are GORGEOUS!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love any historical fiction as long as it’s well-written, as it’s such a wonderful way to learn about the past and about different cultures, yet still get a good story along with it! I remember reading a mystery set in ancient Rome some time back (can’t remember the author) that I truly loved.

    Congrats on the new books, my dear, and so happy to have you visit us today with the Chicks!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, I do love a bit of history in my mystery. I would prefer historical mysteries around the mid- 1700’s and later. I do like the 1920’s era as well as books in the WWII time frame. I have enjoyed reading numerous books is your assorted series!

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  14. You’ve always been inspirational to me, Edith! I love the idea of this book … very evocative. Like Jen, I’m terrified I’ll get something wrong. I wrote—and put aside—a standalone set in 1972, (a time I was a sentient being, I might point out), but it still seemed scary getting those “telling details” just right. I love reading historical fiction set in all eras, though, so I’m glad others are willing to write them!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congrats, Edith, on another great book!

    I love to read historical and am tempted to write one (for the slang alone!), but like others, I’m worried about getting something(s!) wrong. Love all of the research and love you’ve put in!

    Like

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