Tuesday, 17 February 2015

60 Seconds with Maria Hudgins

Maria Hudgins is a full-time mystery writer and a former high school teacher of oceanography, earth science and biology. She has served on panels at many mystery conferences such as Malice Domestic in Washington, DC and Bethesda, MD, Left Coast Crime in Hawaii and Denver, Bouchercon in Madison, WI and Thrillerfest in New York City. She also often attends St. Hilda’s Crime and Mystery conference, in Oxford, UK. Maria is active in local writers groups, a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, International Association of Crime Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Hampton, VA, USA with her two Bichons, Holly and Hamilton.

Tell us what genre you write in and why?

I like to call them traditional mysteries but most people call them cosies. This is not a commitment on my part to adhere to the canon of the cosy. It’s what comes out when I write what’s in my head. The mystery is the thing. I don’t aim to horrify you; I aim to befuddle you.

Where do you write?

I have always written in my den where I have my computer desk, and several comfortable chairs to shift my backside to when it goes numb in my office chair. Until then, my dogs keep the upholstered pieces warm for me. I have just finished the addition of a sunroom to one end of my house and I hope the close contact with nature will stimulate ideas. If not maybe you’ll just find more birds and squirrels in my stories.

What location most inspires your writing?

There’s something entrancing about every new place I travel. I don’t usually decide anything until I go to a new country, then I let myself get seduced by the place. I’m currently writing a story set in Istanbul. I’ve been there twice. It’s a city that captures you.

Which of your books are you most proud of - and why?

I hate to pick one, but I’ll choose Scorpion House. Set in Luxor, Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings, the story takes place in an expedition house much like one I saw near the Temple of Hatshepsut. I enjoyed mixing the modern story with Egypt’s past. I got into ancient medicine and recipes while writing it.

Tell us why you chose to write 'Dotsy Lamb' series?

When I had the idea for my first mystery, I needed a situation in which there could be a confusion of languages—a believable misinterpretation. So I decided I’d set it in a foreign country and the last foreign country I had visited was Italy. That had been on a coach tour, so I thought, aha! A small, rather isolated group of people, loosely connected. Not unlike the English Country House mystery. Dotsy Lamb is somewhat based on a woman I used to teach with.

How did you handle the research?

This is the best part. I love to travel. I start by visiting a place and taking lots of notes. Sometimes it turns into a story, sometimes not. The people I travel with have to get used to me staring out a window and paying no attention to their conversations. They say, “Oh. You’re writing, aren’t you?”

What has been your proudest writing moment?

It has to be when my best friend said, “Your books just keep getting better and better.” Starting rather late as a writer, I’m playing catch-up and trying to learn as much as I can while my keyboard fingers still work.

What book has most impressed you over the past year?

The past year? A book by a brand new novelist, Tod Goldberg, called Gangsterland. Its about a Chicago Mafia hit man who goes undercover as a rabbi in Las Vegas. You have to admit, it’s not a done-to-death premise. Tod did not pay me to say this. I’ve never met him.

Give us a potted history of your route to publication.

1. Retire from day job (2002) 2. Buy lots of books on How to write a novel. 3. Start writing 4. Throw books away 5. Attend Mystery and Writers’ Conferences and get to know as many writers as possible. 6. Listen carefully when Denise Dietz, of Five Star/Cengage says, “Send me your manuscript. I’ll take a look at it.” 7. Do silly dance when Five Star contract arrives in mail.

What are your future writing plans?

My work in progress is the sixth Dotsy Lamb Travel Mystery, set in Istanbul. I have no title for it yet. My next project will be revising my first historical mystery, Desert Gold, (working title) set in Egypt, 1955, in the shadow of the proposed Aswan High Dam. After that, I will write the Great American Novel. Just kidding. Harper Lee may have already written it.

Can you also supply website and social media links, a short introductory paragraph and an author photograph plus thumbnail of your latest novel. Thank you!




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