Friday, October 23, 2015

Edith Maxwell: How in Heck Did We Get to Indiana? #BookGiveaway!


-->
HALLIE EPHRON: It's my pleasure to welcome back to the FRONT of the blog Edith Maxwell who is launching a new Country Store Mystery Series... yup, another series with a lovely new nom de plume Maddie Day. This time the setting is rural Indiana.  She explains how that happened.



EDITH MAXWELL/MADDIE DAY: I’m so delighted to be back here on the first blog I read every morning (seriously)! Thanks for hosting me, Hallie.



So how in heck did I come to write a mystery series set in hilly southern Indiana, you might ask? It was an easy choice for me when I was thinking about a second (well, third...okay, fourth) series. I was living in Japan after college when I decided to try my hand at a PhD. Not only did Indiana University have a linguistics program that seemed a good fit with my goals: exploring language, how women speak, and attitudes about women – yeah, tiny topic, right?



But IU and Bloomington were also a homecoming in a way, even though I’d never been there. All generations of Maxwells back to my great-great-grandfather have been associated with IU. In fact, Dr. David Hervey Maxwell was the person who successfully petitioned the Indiana state legislature in 1820 for funds to open the State Seminary, the progenitor of the university.

Pictures of my ancestors adorn the Student Union. My great-grandfather was the first dean of the IU medical school. My grandfather was the captain of the IU basketball team in 1916. Daddy was an undergrad there before he was drafted into WWII. The Maxwell Hall on campus is named for my branch of Maxwells. How could I not continue the lineage?



I was accepted to the program, came back from Japan, drove from California to Bloomington in the fall of 1977 (in a 1961 convertible VW bug with a soon-to-be-ex boyfriend), and dove into graduate school. It was a glorious and heady time. Everybody was there because they wanted to be. Edith Bedou from Togo became one of my good friends. Another was Marios from Greece. Jennifer had been in the Peace Corps in Niger. Janet had been in Barcelona. Katherine in Lesotho. We had weekly (often drunken) dance parties and skinny-dipped in the quarries, and our group of friends held monthly gourmet dinners. We also studied hard and finished our doctorates.



IU is in the southern third of the state. You might think of Indiana as part of the flat midwest (like where Hank grew up). But the glacier stopped south of Indianapolis, and the lower part is hilly and pretty, a lot like New England. Bloomington is a small town with a huge university, so it’s pretty, easy to walk and bike around in, and has easy access to neighboring scenic Brown County. And I realized the way people talk is more Kentucky than upper midwest.



One student in the linguistics program dropped out of the program and, with his girlfriend, bought a rundown general store in Brown county. They fixed it up into a breakfast restaurant and gave birth to a baby upstairs from the store. We all trooped out there for the store’s grand opening and toasted to their success  (they didn’t have any murders in the store, thank goodness).

The
Story Inn is now under other management, but that was the inspiration for my series. And I love being back, even if only on the page, plus the annual visit to Brown County to refresh my stock of local phrases and scenery.



HALLIE: Thanks, Edith/Maddie - and she offers up these questions: How about a favorite dish Robbie Jordan can add to the breakfast menu with a great Midwestern flavor?

And Edith is giving away a copy of FLIPPED FOR MURDER to one lucky commenter.

Flipped for Murder: The first book in the Country Store Mysteries series features Robbie Jordan and Pans ‘N Pancakes, her country store restaurant in fictional South Lick, Indiana. When she remodels the store full of antique cookware and turns it into a local breakfast and lunch establishment, she doesn’t plan to have murder on the menu.

Edith Maxwell: Agatha-nominated and Amazon-bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries series, the Lauren Rousseau mysteries (as Tace Baker), the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Shel writes mystery fiction north of Boston in antique house where she lives with her beau and three cats. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors.
 

49 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Congratulations on your new series, Edith. I must say I enjoyed reading the story of how you came to set the series in Indiana.
As for recipes, I'd suggest anything with potatoes and cheese or, perhaps, Bacon-Cheddar-Chive Scones.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Joan! Can't lose with potatoes and cheese, right?

FChurch said...

A local diner here in northern Ohio serves up a gut-busting hashbrown breakfast--hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, onions, peppers...lots of cheese! The adventuresome add gravy to it.

Best of luck with the new series! And what a great backstory!

Edith Maxwell said...

Gut-busting is right. ;^) I love hashbrowns when they are thin and crisy, and they soak up the yolk of an over-easy egg...

Kristopher said...

Nice to see you here, Edith. I actually started the book last night, so it was nice to wake up to some background on why you chose the setting.

Wishing Maddie the best of luck on her launch week. ;)

Edith Maxwell said...

Perfect timing, then, Kristopher! Hope you like the story.

Ramona said...

Your Maxwell heritage is fabulous! Lovely to see you honor it this way.

If the books are half as fun as the backstory, they'll be great! Good luck, Edith-Maddie.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Ramona! An early reader said the voice was much funnier than in my other books. Go figure. It just came out that way.

Mary Sutton said...

I love the history with IU. What great inspiration and connection.

I can't really think of "a" breakfast recipe, but you have to do something with pancakes. Or waffles. But I'm not sure you can bring cheese into it.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Cool story, excellent photo of you back in the day, and terrific-sounding book, Edith. A trifecta this morning! Good luck with this new series.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Hi Edith! It's great to have you here on the blog and also great to meet at Bouchercon! Congrats on your book birthday!

Edith Maxwell said...

Robbie's standard pancakes are whole wheat banana walnut, Mary - which I learned from the original renovator of the Story General Store! So definitely pancakes.

Thanks, Brenda. Yes, a picture from the "olden days." Grad school was heady glorious times for me. Lots of fond memories. I think that was part of wanting to set a book in that part of the world.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Susan! So fun to be on the "front" side of the blog, as Hallie put it.

Julia said...

Oh, Edith, I don't know any dishes with midwestern flair! I remember when I first went to Books & Co. in Oconomowoc, WI, and they took me out for custard - which was nothing like any custard I had ever had. It's nice to think there are still eye-popping regional differences in cuisine, and that not everyone's cooking like the Barefoot Contessa. Your descritopn makes me want to see Bloomington - and dine there!

Also, what a wonderful cover! I want to take it home and pin it on my dollhouse.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Julia. The area is famous for fried biscuits, and always gravy with biscuits.

Bloomington is still a delightful town. I'll be at the B&N there on November 3! Last year when I went I found my g-g-g's grave - never thought to look when I actually lived there, and one house I occupied was only two blocks from the cemetery.

Grandma Cootie said...

Another new series - congratulations and thanks, I am looking forward to reading this one along with your other books.

I grew up in Indiana (the northwest flat part) so this brought back memories, although I think you might have had more fun, and none of my relatives' pictures are on school walls (or any other institutional walls fortunately). Anyway, I can't think of a specific breakfast but it should be large and hearty. And basic. I have lived in California for many years now, but find when I go home for a visit the food is tasty, but plain and simple and we have many of the recipes I remember from growing up in the 60's.

Congrats again!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Grandma! Yes, my older sister lives in the flat part (Frankfort) between Indy and Lafayette. Even though she's lived there for years, she doesn't quite count. Like me, she's originally a Californian.

My favorite police officer in the series, Buck Bird, is tall and lanky, and he always orders just about everything on the menu, and still looks hungry when he leaves. ;^)

Sheila Connolly said...

It's so interesting what experiences, places, and times we writers mine for inspiration! If your memories are that strong, they beg to be used in books. You missed my husband at IU by only a few years--he was in Cambridge by '72, when we met. (BTW, he's currently reading a book on student activists there in the late 60s.)

Best of luck with the new series!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Sheila! I just wrote a scene in book three (When the Grits Hit the Fan), with Robbie and a friend walking by Maxwell Hall and Robbie musing on whether any Maxwells still attend IU. ;^)

Mark Baker said...

I wasn't aware of your connection to that part of the country. Fascinating.

I just finished the book yesterday, and you are all in for a great read.

TFJ said...

Wow, Edith, the new series and your personal connections to the setting sound grand. I'm a first-generation Californian and wouldn't know what to suggest for breakfast that wouldn't get me thrown out of your diner.

~Tricia

Libby Dodd said...

I like the sound of your PhD years.
The book sounds like fun, too

Deborah Crombie said...

Edith, you are amazing! The book sounds like huge fun (ordering asap) and I LOVE the backstory. (And the photo. You were--and are--adorable.) I want you to write about that, too. Surely you can manage one more series? :-) Or maybe a standalone novel?

On the breakfasts--I didn't know they ate grits in Indiana! Actually, I didn't know they ate grits in NC, either, but Jimmy V's in the Raleigh Sheraton served grits with an omelet and I swear they were the best grits I ever tasted. So how about a farmer's market omelet with goat cheese, and organic hand-milled white corn grits? With butter:-)

Congrats on the book!

Lesa said...

Very interesting. I hope you're planning to share your family's background with the people who attend the program at the North Park Library on Nov. 2. Thanks, Edith!

Denise Ann said...

Congratulations, Edith & this sounds wonderful -- and I learned some geography today. Thank you. I love breakfast and tend toward the savory -- give me spinach and mushrooms, cheese and eggs, and maybe some bacon. I have been shredding cheese and adding it to my scrambled eggs, instead of strewing it on top.

Now I want to visit Bloomington!

Edith, I will read what you write.

Edith Maxwell said...

Mark, I'm so pleased you liked it!

Tricia: I'm a 4th generation Californian, myself. Hey, nothing's going to get you thrown out of Pans 'N Pancakes except: murder, and bringing your hunting rifle in to breakfast. ;^)

Libby - they were wonderful years, really. It was so heady to be back in school by choice, not because your parents expected you to go to college.

Debs - I had grits in the Marriott - to die for! Fabulous. But what, I should write a standalone suspense set in a college town? Hmmm.

Of course I will, Lesa! See you on Nov 2.

Thanks so much, Denise. I love savory omelets, too.

Pat D said...

Wow! Your college years make mine sound BORING! Yes, southern Indiana is beautiful. We'd drive through there coming or going from Ohio or Minnesota. One of my Cleveland Ohio friends would make a strata for a breakfast crowd when we got together. I'm still loving your Local Foods series but the new one sounds great.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Pat. Hmm, will have to check out a strata.

My friend Katherine, from New Mexico, used to make stacked enchiladas for a Bloomington brunch, with a fried egg on top. Scrumptious.

Karen in Ohio said...

How about using goetta in a recipe? Or sausage? Cheese is a natural with both, or pancakes, for that matter.

Sounds like a fun read, Edith, and you, my dear, are a woman of many parts. Thanks for sharing some of them with us.

Edith Maxwell said...

I love it, Karen. Had to google goetta, though! Cincinnati [man, is that ever a hard word to spell! All that potential for doubled letters...] isn't that far from where my series is set. I'll have somebody come in and suggest it.

Rhonda Lane said...

My husband's family is from southern Illinois. We used to pass through southern Indiana on I-64 on the way to visit when we lived in central Kentucky. Our nephew and his wife now live in Evansville, but we haven't visited them yet.

Good luck and good wishes to you and Maddie!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, dear Rhonda!

It's so funny that, as a Californian, to me everything east of the Rockies was "back east." Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio - they all ran together. And now, living in the east - a lot of people have the same confusions about the Midwest - except from the opposite direction.

FChurch said...

If you only travel through the Midwest on I-90, you get a far different impression than the reality. Ohio seems flat as a pancake as you drive towards northern Indiana, but the lake (Lake Erie, that is) sits just to the north and to the south and east, hills curve along the Ohio River. Southern Indiana is the same--north and south totally different. Grits wouldn't be an oddity on a southern Ohio menu--but you won't see them much up north.

Also, drive south of Columbus, Ohio, on 23 and watch the Scioto Valley appear--low hills sweeping to east and west of the valley itself. In Chillicothe, they have an open-air theatre show, "Tecumseh." In the opening scene, at twilight, Shawnee warriors ride towards the stage through a pond. Chills! Welcome to the Midwest!

Edith Maxwell said...

Yes, many surprises in our lovely country, FChurch.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

This is such a great story Edith! and love the photo of you back in hippie days:). I bet there are not many mysteries with this setting--if any--so I congratulate you on finding the best spot for the series.

I simply can't imagine how you're getting all that writing packed in--an inspiration for all of us!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

We used to put all the different sodas from the dispense in the same glass. How about that?

And jello with shredded carrots.

Ah, and french fries with cheese. I never understood that!

But I adore Brown County, my Dad and my brother went to IU! And you are such a genius to set your wonderful series there!

Kathy Reel said...

Edith, finally meeting you at this year's Bouchercon was such a treat. You are every bit as lovely in person as you on here. I'm so impressed with all the series you juggle, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Flipped for Murder. As you know, I featured it this week on my blog, along with Hank's What You See and Susan's Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante and a few others, in my post about the end of October books to check out. I'm so excited that you will be in Evansville, IN on Nov. 2nd, as Evansville is only 35,40 minutes from me. I'm hoping nothing prevents me from attending your visit. Lesa, it will be nice to see you there, too.

Your connections to IU are fascinating, and what a perfect choice for your PhD. I've lived along the Ohio River my whole live, and the last 39 years across from Indiana. My daughter and her family live in Mt. Vernon, IN, just a hop and a skip from Evansville, so I'm in Indiana a lot. It is indeed a beautiful state, and I'm especially enjoying the fall foliage there and here in Kentucky now. Are you driving or flying into Evansville? I do like the convenience of flying, but the drive you would be taking would be gorgeous from one end to the other. Either way, safe travels and hope to see you soon, dear lady.

Edith Maxwell said...

Hey, Hank - French fries with cheese. Just add gravy and you have Quebec's national dish: poutine!

Everybody - Hank kindly burbed this book for me. "What a terrific debut! This deliciously clever cozy–set in a deceptively charming little town–is fresh, intelligent and delightful. A winner!" Thank you, fellow Hoosier.

Edith Maxwell said...

Hey, Kathy, so great to finally meet you in person, too. And hope you can make it to Lesa's library event on the 2nd (6 pm)! My sister and I are driving down from north of Indy, but we have all day to meander down there.

Cynthia Sample said...

I love all of your series, Edith/Maddy, so I can't wait to start on this one. I grew up in the Midwest and all of my family still live in Illinois and Indiana. Hope to finally meet you at a convention sometime.

Edith Maxwell said...

You're so sweet! (But didn't we meet at Left Coast Crime?) Hope you like the story. And let me know if you do. ;^)

susan b said...

My memories involve lots of meat at breakfast. Pork sausage with biscuits and gravy. Fried ham slice with biscuits and gravy. Venison sausage. Hearty breakfasts for farm people.

Edith Maxwell said...

Ooh, venison sausage. Interesting!

I always remember Almanzo FARMER BOY eating pie for breakfast along with all the other stuff, after the farm chores. I wish I could eat a huge breakfast these days.

Hey, thanks Reds for having me over, and thanks to all the lovely visitors and commenters. Such a treat.

storytellermary said...

I love the personal story behind the book. I've enjoyed trips through Indiana, visited the lovely Evansville Zoo and have a former teaching colleague there . . . I can't think of any specific cuisine, but I think chicken and dumplings would be on many menus. Hugs!

Edith Maxwell said...

Chicken and dumplings, Mary. Good thought for a lunch special!

Roberta - I realized I never replied to your very nice comment. I also thought the setting was unique and might appeal to midwesterners - as well as to those of us who live east and west and north and south of there!

Gram said...

I have no mid-west breakfast suggestions as I have always been in New England. All of those posted so far have made me hungry - no breakfast yet. I love your other series so I am sure I will enjoy this one too.

Dee Hendershot Gatrell said...

Hi Edith,
I have lived in IN twice. Once when hubby was stationed there while in the AF, and I had baby #3 there. Then again when hubby was transferred there with his work. But both times in was in the flat lands. And I didn't have another baby there!

Good luck with your series. It sounds interesting.

Dee Gatell

Nancy Higgs said...

I'm trying to think of regional breakfast foods. We often had fried corn mush for breakfast. My grandfather often ate cornbread crumbled in a bowl with milk and sugar, at least when he wasn't eating leftover pie for breakfast. Not sure how any of those would go over in a restaurant, though.
What might sell is the cinnamon syrup my mom's family always served with French Toast - one cup sugar, one cup water, one Tablespoon cornstarch, one teaspoon ground cinnamon. Heat, stirring, until it thickens. Dip the fried bread in the syrup, and serve.
Looking forward to meeting you at North Park Branch Library in Evansville!

Judy said...

I'm looking forward to reading your new series! I'm also intrigued by the Quaker midwife series - what an intriguing (and unexplored) topic!