Sunday, July 31, 2022

G.M. Malliet--Augusta Hawke

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My editor told me that during the pandemic authors seemed to  have either written like crazy, or been totally blocked. I'm happy to say that our guest today, G.M. Malliet, was one of the former. (Not talking about where I fall on that spectrum...!) I have long been a fan of her Max Tudor (dishy former spy, now vicar--what's not to love?) books and her D.C.I. St. Just books, and now there is a new series to love as well. Now, if only some of that productivity would rub off on me...




“From you have I been absent in the spring”

by G. M. Malliet


And the summer, winter, and autumn.

That’s a quote from the incomparable Shakespeare, of course. Sonnet 98. There’s a school of thought he wrote this sonnet during one or another of the plagues that beset London, forcing him to flee, and causing his separation from his beloved, whoever that was. The Dark Lady or the Fair Youth—we may never know.  

Agatha Christie adapted the title for one of her most successful non-mystery novels, writing as Mary Westmacott.

From March 2020, officially the start of our modern pandemic, I have largely been absent from the writing scene. My husband and I, at our ages not willing to play about with this, took the official advice and hunkered down, emerging towards the end only for delayed funerals of family members and for one mystery writers’ conference.

Meanwhile, to pass the time, I wrote. Constantly and as a distraction from reality, as I’ve always done, although this was a bit more intense, more enforced, and resulted in the completion of the better part of five books.

For those who don’t know me, and I’m assuming by now that is most of you, I write as G.M. Malliet and because of all this industry, and thanks to a dynamic new agent, I'm currently juggling three series. DCI St. Just of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary was the protagonist of my first series, started about 15 years ago with DEATH OF A COZY WRITER, and he was revived last year by Severn House with DEATH IN CORNWALL, St. Just #4. 

Max Tudor is my vicar sleuth – former MI5 and devilishly handsome. I did seven of those books for Minotaur starting with WICKED AUTUMN and will do an eighth for Little, Brown next year (THE WASHING AWAY OF WRONGS).

AUGUSTA HAWKE is my new series starring a first-person female protagonist, a mystery writer who notices her neighbors have gone missing. About the same time, she is becoming bored with her writing (which should sound familiar to many authors) and decides to up her procrastination game by investigating. By the second book (AN INVITATION TO A KILLER), coming soon from Severn House, she is still writing mysteries but now she has a PI license.

I also write short stories, and I’m proud to say my story appearing in the July/August 2021 edition of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine was just nominated for a Macavity Award. Winners in all categories will be announced in September at opening ceremonies @Bouchercon2022. 

If it all seems like a lot, it is, but my husband and I recently celebrated just plain surviving with a trip to Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. I’ll spare you the millions of travel photos except for this one, which is of a place I love. 

It is Stirling Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned Queen of Scotland at the age of nine months. It was pretty much all downhill for our stubborn and willful Mary after that, who was beheaded at the age of forty-four after spending nearly twenty years of her life imprisoned. Somehow, despite her colossal lack of judgment, Mary remains a favorite. Perhaps because I can relate.

Godspeed and good luck and, as the Irish say, may the road rise up to greet you all. It’s great to be back.


Sometimes it's safer not to know your neighbors' secrets.


Where are Niko and Zora Norman? Crime writer Augusta Hawke puts her sleuthing skills to the test to solve the mystery of her disappearing neighbors in the first entry in a new series.

While Augusta Hawke is a successful author of eighteen crime novels, since her husband's death she's been living vicariously through her Jules Maigret-like detective Claude and his assistant Caroline. Then a handsome police detective appears investigating a real-life mystery.

Where are her neighbors, the Normans? No one has a clue what's happened - except Augusta. Although she isn't nosy, spending all day staring out the windows for inspiration means she does notice things. Like the Normans arguing. And that they've been missing a week.

Once the Normans' car is found abandoned, Augusta senses material for a bestseller and calls on the investigatory skills she's developed as a crime writer. But she soon uncovers long-hidden secrets and finds herself facing real-life dangers her characters never faced . . . ones she can't write her way out of.



G.M. Malliet is the award-winning author of four St. Just mysteries, seven Max Tudor mysteries, the suspense novel WEYCOMBE, and numerous short stories collected in crime anthologies or published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (EQMM) and The Strand. New short stories will appear soon in EQMM ("The Pact" and "Something Blue"). A new mystery series (AUGUSTA HAWKE) debuts in July 2022 and a fifth St. Just novel will appear in August 2023.

DEBS: Congratulations on the Macavity nomination, Gin!! And we are all certainly glad you're more than back! 

REDS and readers, did isolation make you more productive?

G.M. will stop by to chat, so maybe she will tell us her secret!

50 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new series . . . Augusta sounds absolutely delightful and I’m looking forward to meeting her.

    Did being isolated make me more productive? That all depends . . . does marathon baking count? [I did manage to make a slight dent in my teetering to-be-read pile, though . . . .]

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    1. Joan, baking and reading definitely count in my book!

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    2. I baked a lot of ugly bread. I'll never understand the impetus behind that urge.

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  2. I spent a lot of time at home before the pandemic - reading, watching TV, surfing the net. So I was doing more of the same, really, during isolation. I just had an excuse to never go anywhere those first couple of months, at least.

    Congrats on the new book and series!

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  3. G.M.: I am glad that you were able to be soooo productive during the pandemic. I LOVED your Max Tudor series and am looking forward to reading a new one, as well as finding your new books!

    Me, I was definitely NOT productive during the pandemic. Chalk it down to getting COVID in March 2020, followed by long COVID symptoms for 16 months. Fatigue and brain fog knocked me out. Prolonged blurry vision from cataract surgery last year also contributed to my dramatic drop in reading. I went from reading 175+ books a year to finishing just 30 books so far in 2022. I am still hopeful that my reading mojo will eventually come back. Some days I can read a book in 2 days, but it usually take me 1-2 weeks to finish a book lately. As a result, my TBR mountains are out-of-control.

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  4. I love the sound of this new series, GM! Congratulations. And bravo on the Macavity nom!

    Like you, I wrote my little brains out during lockdown and after. Making stuff up and being able to control one part of my life was such a respite from the scary, messy outside world. Since March of 2020 I probably wrote seven or eight books and five short stories. So far I've only been to Crime Bake and Malice (and brought home COVID from the latter), and no overseas travel. At least the pandemic was good for something.

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    1. It was all about control, yes. As if to say - I can't control the mess out there, just the mess on my desk.

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  5. Welcome, G. M., and congratulations on the Macavity nomination and on the renewal of your 2 series and the beginning of a third. You are a new-to-me author, so yippee. I can begin with any one of them! Woo- hoo!

    Besides baking and cooking, all I have done for the last 2-1/2 years is read. Hundreds of books including on Kindle, on paper, some from the library and audio books, too. If Debs recommends, that is good enough for me!

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  6. Welcome Gin! 5 books is a lot to write in 2 years! And we are the lucky recipients. Your trip sounds heavenly...

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    1. Should clarify I wrote 2 entire books and heavily expanded/rewrote 3 more. Five would I think be impossible!

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  7. Good morning! I love Max Tudor, and am about halfway through that series. I need to get to work on the other two.

    Normally I would be reading two or more books at one time, but the pandemic shutdown managed to shut down my brain, too. The past year has been especially difficult, with ongoing complications from knee replacement surgery, and more recently, the unexpected deaths of two close family members and a friend. I’m mostly rereading favorite books, for comfort. The TBR pile is waiting for me, as well as the list of books that I’d like to add to it.

    DebRo

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  8. You’re amazing, Gin!! Love your books … I’m always up for a really smart taut story with a bit of a satirical edge

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  9. Hi G.M. from another G.M. (my initials are GMB). It sounds like you were amazingly productive during the long crazy years of the start of the pandemic! Congratulations on the new series!

    When the pandemic began, I thought I would be very productive, but I wasn't. I was mostly anxious. The library was closed for a long time and (sorry authors!) I couldn't really buy a ton of new books, so I re-read a number of the books on my shelves, including some by the Reds. I learned Zoom skills and hosted many meetings for church groups that I'm involved with. I'm not really a techy person, but I was the one who a) had a paid account and b) wasn't afraid to learn. I went for walks and did pilates at home and the time went by. I'm still very careful, but less anxious about Covid and some important parts of life have come back. I can go to the library and to church, wearing a mask. It makes a big difference!

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    1. zoom was a lifesaver! Wish I'd bought stock in it.

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  10. Congratulations on your new release! Best of luck with a new series.

    I wrote during the pandemic, every day, but very little of it makes sense. As a coping mechanism, I dropped my series characters into a pandemic setting and wrote about how they dealt with their daily lives. I also attended zoom lectures and classes (including Hallie's not-to-be-missed Guppy character classes and the 2021 virtual Career Authors workshop with Hank). My writing is now going very well.

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    1. I wonder how many of us kept a pandemic journal. I did, at least for awhile.

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  11. Max Tudor has been a favorite character for a long time, but if his series has that many books I am way behind. And I have read and enjoyed the first St. Just, so apparently need to catch up with that series, as well. This is all great news! Add a new GM Malliet series and I'm practically delirious with anticipation. Looking forward to meeting your new sleuth.

    During the pandemic I had a split personality when it came to productivity. Writing: none, for the first time in forty years. Gardening: prolific. I'm choosing to be happy about that. We did go to Africa for two and a half weeks last summer with no negative health effects. Extra happy about that!

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    1. Thank you for the kind comments, Karen in Ohio.

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  12. Congratulations on Augusta Hawke, G.M. ! As I loved your Max Tudor series, I’m looking forward to try this new one.
    Danielle

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  13. I love Max Tudor! A woman in my ersatz mystery book club introduced us to your work and it quickly became a favourite. Looking forward to the new series. What a great name.

    Productive during lockdown? I suppose I can spin it to look like productivity. I wrote a lot but it was therapeutic, not work product. Some of that writing was not bad, but stream of consciousness. Not a plot to be found. Mostly, I cooked and walked the dog. Oh, and consumed food and books!

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  14. I'm loving Augusta Hawke. A great first person snarky viewpoint. Such fun!

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  15. Augusta is snarky but I think she'll mellow over time. As I was writing, I was thinking a lot of Olive Kitteridge, fabulous character.

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  16. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 31, 2022 at 11:12 AM

    Welcome welcome welcome! Welcome to you and welcome to this marvelous news! Wow—amazing. Congratulations on everything— and I cannot wait to read!

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    1. thank you, hank! hope to see you at bouchercon?

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  17. The pandemic made me less productive. Couldn't write or read until I found Deborah Crombie's novels. Devoured them. Wished for more. And found I could write again. Thanks, Debs!

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    1. Thank you, Lorraine! That's such a compliment.

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  18. GM, I think I got Augusta confused with another book--started but could not finish. But, reading the description of the series here, I remember finishing and thinking, this series is off to a good start. I adore Max and company and didn't realize you had another series. Off to find St. Just until I can get my next Max and Augusta fixes.

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    1. thank you, so glad you like Max. I'm just now working on #8.

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  19. Oh, can't wait to dig into Augusta Hawke. She sounds like my kind of gal.

    The pandemic made me both more productive and more scattered. Lots of books and stories started, not so many completed and polished! I do hope you share that secret.

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  20. I wish I knew the secret. I suspect it's fear ;-( I had trouble reading during the pandemic - novels - instead devoured news stories.

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  21. Kathy Boone ReelJuly 31, 2022 at 1:33 PM

    Five books! That is beyond productive, G.M. I wish I had the equivalent of that productivity to report, but the last two years plus have been at times mind numbing. I think I'm getting back to more reading and reviewing now though. I'm glad you got your reward trip to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Five books and a great trip! And, a big congratulations on the Macavity nomination!

    I love Max Tudor, but I am behind just a bit. On my catch-up list. I have Augusta Hawke sitting in my short stack of TBRs, and it sounds like I'm going to enjoy it thoroughly.

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  22. Kathy, so good to see you here! Happy reading from now on!

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  23. We've just finished a Sunday task, bathing the two German shepherds. And blow drying them with the shop vac, whew. Now I'm going to curl up in the A.C. with Augusta and enjoy the rest of my Sunday!

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    1. And they put up with the shop vac? Amazing. Thanks for hosting me, Deb. GIn x

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  24. I'm so happy to see you back, Gin, and to find out you've been a whirling dervish during the pandemic shut down! Just reading about your writing accomplishments makes me tired. I'm excited about AUGUSTA HAWKE, but I have to confess I'm most pleased to hear Fr. Tudor will be back. We still need to figure out a way to get him and the Rev. Fergusson together...

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    1. It’ll happen one day! Gin x

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  25. Coralee the pudgeJuly 31, 2022 at 3:21 PM

    oh my after reading all your comments I must log in as a slacker. I am in the doldrums whining about the heat, writing at night when it is still 81 degrees in the house.. and so on. and yes I think the pandemic pudge finally caught up with me. So happy I can post late and honestly here .. Congrats Gin, good to here the voice of one of my favorite authors.

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    1. Writing in a heat wave is the worst! Best of luck with it, Gin x

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  26. I'm so happy to read more Max and more St. Just, and now Augusta! As for pandemic accomplishments, no. I just had a good excuse to become more of a hermit.

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    1. Pandemic brought out my inner hermit. I still resist the rush back to “normal.” Gin x

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  27. GIN: Congratulations on the nomination! I remember meeting you and your husband at several mystery conferences. You also met my Mom when we were at the mystery conference in Vancouver. I love photos from your travels. I feel a kinship with Mary Queen of Scots because we both have very blonde fathers while we (the daughters) got our mothers' dark hair.

    QUESTION: Was it a coincidence that the name AUGUSTA HAWKE was similar to the first child of Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank? The child was named Augustus Hawke Philip Brooksbank.

    The pandemic had a big impact. The isolation prompted me to buy an iPad so that we could borrow ebooks from the library while the library was closed. And I signed up for my first online mystery writing class.

    Look forward to reading your new Augusta Hawke novel. I love Max Tudor. Kind of like Pierce Brosnan ? And the St.Just series too.

    Diana

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    1. Hi, Diana! Of course I remember you. I had no idea about Augustus Hawke etc. Great minds? Gin x

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  28. Oh my goodness! I am so impressed by all you've done, G.M. And jealous, of course. I used my unexpected free time to finally get my arse in gear and finish and publish a few books, but I also found ways to linger longer and longer over reams of emails, newsletters, etc., with the primary result being a TBR list higher than the Himalayas. Now I need to add your books to that list as they sound terrific.

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    1. Meg, thanks for kind words. It sounds like you didn’t slack off at all! Gin x

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  29. Lovely to have a new series to start by the creator of Max Tudor. Thank you, Gin. As for the two-and-a-half years of pandemic, I know it's hard to believe, but I don't think it affected my writing at all. I sat at home and wrote before it struck, I sat at home and worked during it, and I sit at home and work now. There were changes: lots more time spent walking along the river (five minutes from my apartment), more time spent on my balcony, less time spent on vacation, and no dinner parties with friends, which I missed a lot, but I don't think my life changed very much. I certainly wasn't more productive, that's for sure, but I wasn't less productive, either. I feel guilty writing this, when so many people were suffering, but that's how it seemed to me.

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    1. Good habit picked up during pandemic was walking along the river almost every day. The way I see it now, those of us who stayed home and tried to mitigate the damage to others needn’t feel guilty. We did the best thing we could do. I do feel privileged that I had the option of staying home to work when others could not. That must have been scary.
      Thanks for your nice comments! Gin x

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    2. I feel exactly the same way. I worked mostly from home before the pandemic. It did not affect my work products in terms of productivity or quality. I’m fortunate to live in California, where we can be outside comfortably twelve months of the year, My gym moved everything outside, and was able to completely reopen after three months. I did start running more outside and my daughter has joined me three times a week. My husband now works permanently from home, eliminating a two hour daily commute. Other than socializing, our lives were not affected very much. We are incredibly lucky in that respect!
      We vacationed in Maui in February of this year. Life is pretty normal now, except we wear masks in crowded closed spaces.

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  30. Eliminating a two-hour commute is in the plus column. gx

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