The following is an interview with Agatha Award-winning author Maddie Day regarding the upcoming release of the murder mystery novel, Murder Uncorked, through Kensington Cozies. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Day about her creative process in bringing the story and characters to life, how she approaches each new murder mystery project, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Murder Uncorked! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Maddie Day: Thank you so much. I’m excited about this new series. The book finds Cece Barton in her first year managing a wine bar in the fertile wine region of the Alexander Valley north of San Francisco. Her twin sister and her family live in Colinas, and Cece has made a few friends, including her ninety-year-old gardening neighbor, Richard. But when a local man Cece has had public arguments with is found murdered, she has to clear her name and evade being attacked by the killer. As someone with a self-image of having failed at nearly everything she’s done, the investigation is a challenge for her.
My editor asked me to write a new cozy mystery series set on the west coast. I’m a fourth-generation Californian (long ago transplanted to Massachusetts), so I was delighted to say, “Yes.” My aunt and uncle built a vacation home in the Alexander Valley over fifty years ago, which I have visited a number of times over the decades. Plus, who doesn’t love wine country? The setting seemed like a good fit. And I loved modeling Cece’s neighbor on my own Uncle Dick (a.k.a. Richard Reinhardt), a San Francisco writer and journalist.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in crafting this murder mystery? It’s always thrilling to follow your mystery stories as the reader, but I would imagine that crafting the narrative and staying 3 steps ahead of your reader is quite the challenge!
MD: I don’t plot out every scene ahead of time, so I have only the haziest of ideas about where the book is going as I write. I like to say I follow my characters around and write down what they do. I write the scenes in order and prefer to charge straight through and get the first draft down. Then I start fixing, making sure the puzzle part of the mystery works and that I have dropped enough clues – and the false clues called red herrings – throughout the manuscript so the reader can go back and say, “Aha, that’s why that was there.”
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that this installment of Cece’s story will connect with and impact readers?
MD: I think readers will relate to the strong family relationships that are the backbone of Cece’s life in Colinas. Armchair travelers who’ve read the book but can’t get to beautiful northern California are already reporting that they felt they were right there in the wine country and in the town, which has a diverse, multi-cultural population.
I always strive to take readers out of their daily lives and provide an intriguing tale with a satisfying ending. Justice will be served and balance restored to the community by the time you close the book. My pact with readers, beyond playing fair with the mystery, is that you won’t feel worse about the world when you read one of my stories.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MD: I’m currently writing the first draft of the second Cece Barton mystery, Deadly Crush. My twelfth Country Store mystery, Deep Fried Death, will be out at the end of December, and Murder at the Rusty Anchor, the sixth Cozy Capers Book Group mystery, releases in late spring, 2024.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Murder Uncorked and your other work?
MD: Please find me and all my writing at the website I share with my alter ego, edithmaxwell.com.