Interview with Maggie Toussaint

Jen: Readers, please help me welcome Maggie Toussaint to Book Talk this weekend. Maggie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maggie: Sure! And thanks for having me over. I’m a deep fried southerner, but I did a 30 year stint in the North, one of those “M” states as my family likes to say. I was thrilled to make a sale after ten years of concerted effort of writing for publication. You’ll find me in three RWA chapters, MWA, and SINC, as well as Facebook, MySpace, and Goodreads. I have releases in both romantic suspense and mystery. For more info about my books and published articles, visit www.maggietoussaint.com

Jen: Tell us about In for a Penny and where it’s available.
Maggie: In for a Penny is a cozy mystery about an accountant who wishes she’d gone to work when her golf ball lands on a dead guy. Her best friend is accused of murdering the banker, and Cleopatra Jones rallies to her friend’s defense. This book is available in hardcover and large print and may be ordered through book stores or purchased online at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. In for a Penny, ISBN 9781594146466, Five Star/Cengage.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Maggie: Promise not to tell? I still have my teenage diaries. *blush* I’ve been writing for years and years but didn’t start writing fiction until the 1990s. I stumbled upon RWA in 1996. But it took another ten years to get the call. I came close several times, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen for me until October 2006. A relatively new small press offered for a romantic suspense I had shopped around. I was excited by their offer, and it was an email instead of a call. Even so, I jumped up and down for a few days. I don’t think my feet touched the ground when I walked either. It was a very big deal in my world.

Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Maggie: They are incredibly supportive. They believe in me and are my number one fans. I am so lucky.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Maggie: Coming out of the world of science, I started writing with outlines, index cards, and spreadsheets. That yielded well plotted books but I didn’t love those books as I should have. For me, there was something missing. As I learned about different writing processes, I ventured over into the go-with-the-flow world and got scared to death. Now I’ve found my happy medium. I write to a couple of key plot points, which affords me a journey of discovery as I write and yet keeps me on track.

Jen: Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
Maggie: I’m a morning writer. I work in my home office. There’s a hummingbird feeder right outside my window; beyond that is a slice of sparkling river.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Maggie: Names are important to me. I wanted something exotic and down to earth for my protagonist in my cozy, In for a Penny. Cleopatra Jones was just the right touch for a practical woman who had doubts of her sensuality.

Jen: What is it about fiction writing that appeals to you?
Maggie: You’re kidding, right? I’m a sucker for happily ever after. Plus, I get to kill off (on paper anyway, LOL!) the folks who’ve done me wrong.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Maggie: Dinner at a nice restaurant.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Maggie: The first book to completely dazzle me was Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I was captivated by that story. Afterward I read widely, seeking that same level of wonderment. Eventually I realized it was just as satisfying to create these worlds. That’s my goal for every book, to have someone say they loved it so much they had to read it straight through to the end.

Jen: Do you become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting them go, or are you happy that their story is told and you can move on?
Maggie: After such intimacy, I need a divorce. My muse enjoys time outdoors, arts and crafts, and relaxation. Oftentimes I’ll gorge myself by plowing to the bottom of my to-be-read pile as a reward for turning in a book. Then I’m ready to go again.

Jen: If In for a Penny was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the leads?
Maggie: I’d like Simon Baker (from The Mentalist) for Rafe Golden and Kate Winslet or Amy Adams for Cleopatra Jones. Simon’s charisma is exactly what I envisioned for my sexy golf pro. And both Kate and Amy are smart, passionate redheads, just like my Cleo.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Maggie: I’ve had women stop me on the street to ask who the real-life model is for my heroes. They want to marry this man.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Maggie: I’m finishing revisions to the sequel for In for a Penny, and my agent is marketing a paranormal mystery series. Please keep your fingers crossed on both counts.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Maggie: Visit www.maggietoussaint.com. My links page has a listing of my networks, groups, and professional affiliations. I’m only a click away!

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maggie: Heck yeah. I’d love to see what folks think about smart versus sexy. I’m giving away a hardcover copy of In for a Penny to one lucky commenter. Which do you like more, a smart woman who doesn’t know she’s pretty or a sexy woman who downplays her intelligence? Explain if your answer is born out of reality or book characters you loved/hated.

Jen: Maggie, thanks for being our guest this weekend. Readers, you heard her. She’s giving away a copy of In for a Penny. To enter, leave a comment either answering her question or asking one of your own. You also need to either leave your email address in your post or send an message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com expressing your interest in the contest. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 7 around 5:00 pm PST.