A Conversation with Maggie Toussaint

River dons her amateur sleuth cap and sets out to discover who killed her former catering customer, Jasmine Garr — Shrimply Dead (A Seafood Caper Mystery) by @MaggieToussaint

What inspired the idea for your book? 

Several ideas converged to create this story. First, the Seafood Caper Mystery is set on a Georgia coastal island where my sleuth has lived her entire life. When an island veterinarian is gunned down in her backyard, no one can believe it. I wanted a very sympathetic victim, and who’s more sympathetic than a person who loves animals? (Note: no veterinarians were harmed in the commission of this book.) Some of the suspects are inspired by “ripped from the headlines” events. One aspect of the book, the vet’s search for a rare/extinct plant, the Franklinia alatamaha, is based on a plant of that name which was discovered in this quest in the 19th century, but no one can find any Frankinia plants in the wild now. That search continues today, with people hunting for the plant on weekends and holidays. A few other ideas came from gators turning up around here in people’s yards and of course, the Chicken Lady is part fiction-part truth.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?

 I love how secondary characters in this series shine in Shrimply Dead. It was so much fun writing about super seniors Ola Mae and her sister Valerie who hold forth at the post office and tell people what’s going on.

If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?

 Oh, I’d definitely volunteer to help River in her kitchen, to snuggle with her kitties and new dog, and to go to the beach together. River gets her complete sensory satisfaction from the beach/ocean from me, so we could sit on the beach for hours together.

What does it mean to you to be called an author? 

I love being a published author. The biggest thrill for me wasn’t having books in stores. It was having books in libraries, which played such a formative role in my early life. Being an author sure keeps me busy. It is a balancing act to keep writing new books, while editing the ones in the publication chain and marketing the earlier releases. But it’s one heck of a ride!

How do you define success as an author? 

I love getting feedback from readers, especially when they get what I wrote. I write the kind of books I love to read, something light and fast-paced. I always hope that the final result is entertaining. Throughout my writing career, I’ve won writing awards and that’s been very positive feedback and gratifying. I am very thankful many of my books are in libraries. For many years, I got my reading materials from libraries, and it is so nice to be able to “give back” to that community by writing books. That last part is a key measure of my success.

What is your author spirit animal?

 Dolphins. I’ve always had a special affinity for dolphins. I admire their sleek swimming style, grace, and intellectual capacity. Dolphins can hunt for fish individually or in their pods.

Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests?

 I love yoga, sewing, singing, playing guitar, photography, going to the beach, arts and crafts, DIY projects, flower pot gardening, listening to music, and doing puzzles. You’ll notice cooking isn’t anywhere on the list, LOL.

If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?

 Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow) would play Pete and I’ll stay in the GOT universe to select Sophie Turner (the Sansa Stark character) to play River.

When veterinarian and amateur naturalist Jasmine Garr is shot in her yard, residents of Shell Island press caterer River Holloway into investigating the homicide. River dons her amateur sleuth cap and sets out to discover who killed her former catering customer.

Between Jasmine’s estranged cousin, a rival veterinarian, a wild animal trapper, the chicken lady, and a real estate broker, River has plenty of suspects to consider. As she peels back the layers of Jasmine’s life, dangerous secrets come to light.

Jasmine’s orphaned kitty, Iris, along with River’s cat Major, and her husband Pete help River sift through the evidence. At the same time, River recently expanded her catering business. She must service her regular catering clients, plus provide fresh baked goods for Pete’s ice cream shop.

The killer follows River’s every move relishing the thought of another victim. Time is running out. Will River solve the murder before she becomes a cold dish?

buy links: Kindle  Nook  Kobo   IBooks Bookshop

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with more than twenty fiction novels published. A multi-year finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at https://maggietoussaint.com/

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