Speaking of Murder with Edith Maxwell

Please welcome Edith Maxwell (writing as Tace Baker) to the blog today. She’s talking about her book Speaking of Murder. It sounds very intriguing.

Here’s Edith!

At several author events since Speaking of Murder came out, people have asked me how I came up with my main character in the book, why I set it in the town where I did, how I dreamed up the story.


My protagonist in Speaking of Murder, Lauren Rousseau, is a linguistics professor at a small college. We find out that she speaks Japanese and Bambara, a language spoken in Mali. We see her teaching a class on Japanese phonology and learn that she’s writing a paper to present at the East Asian Linguistics conference. She’s pretty good at identifying regional and foreign dialects and accents, and in fact uses that ability to help solve the murder. She pops up with a smattering of greetings in languages like Russian and Greek.


She’s also a Quaker, and uses her own quiet form of prayer to guide her through a couple of tricky situations. We see her sitting in Friends Meeting and read about her holding her friend “in the Light.”


Lauren’s boyfriend, Zac, is a video forensics expert, and helps solve the murder through his expertise at clarifying surveillance video.


As it turns out, I am also a Quaker, and several decades ago earned a PhD in linguistics, although I didn’t end up teaching in a college. I have lived and worked in Japan and Mali. I write technical documentation for my day job and in fact wrote the user guides for the video-editing product that Zac uses in his work.


The book is set in Ashford, a small town very much like Ipswich, Massachusetts, where I lived when I wrote it (I have recently moved a few towns north but still live in the area called the North Shore), as well as in a small city I made up called Millsbury.


So in terms of the characters, I incorporated a lot of what I know and have experienced in my life. The characters are fictional, of course. Lauren is taller and younger and fitter than I am and the only character closely modeled on a real person is her colleague and friend Ralph Fourakis.


As for the place, I had first used the actual town of Ipswich. But when I started to write the second book in the series, Bluffing is Murder, I addressed a real conflict that was going on in the town at the time and decided I’d better change the name of the town and some of the landmarks to protect the innocent, or rather, to protect myself against lawsuits!


But where the story in Speaking of Murder came from? That’s a great question. I don’t plot ahead. I just sit down and write down what my characters do. Lauren’s star student is killed. Her best friend goes missing. A mysterious Frenchman keeps showing up. And her department chair behaves suspiciously.


What experiences do you have with linguistics or video editing or, for that matter, Quakerism? Do you prefer to read books set in real places? I’ll be stopping back in to answer questions all day.

 About Edith:

Edith Maxwell is the author of SPEAKING OF MURDER (Barking Rain Press, under pseudonym Tace Baker) featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau. Edith holds a PhD in linguistics and is a member of Amesbury Monthly Meeting of Friends. The book was first runner up in the Linda Howard Award for Excellence contest


Edith also writes the Local Foods Mysteries.  A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE introduces organic farmer Cam Flaherty and a colorful Locavore Club (Kensington Publishing, June, 2013).


A mother and technical writer, Edith is a fourth-generation Californian but lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats.


Find her at http://www.facebook.com/EdithMaxwellAuthor , @edithmaxwell, and www.edithmaxwell.com . Tace Baker can be found at www.tacebaker.com , @tacebaker, and http://www.facebook.com/TaceBaker

Cindy here again!

Thanks so much for being here today Edith. The book sounds fascinating. I do like books set in real places. It’s especially interesting for me if I’ve been there because then I can picture it much better.

Until next time…