Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes mystery, suspense, and dystopian fiction. Her work won the Silver Falchion Award for best mystery, the Readers’ Choice Award, and the EPIC Award. She’s published seventeen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. This interview takes us behind the story of her new Dreamwalker Mystery, Confound It.
All life matters
“Oftentimes, people have the perception that because they don’t live in the right neighborhood, wear the right clothes, or have the right skin color that they do not get priority from the police when things go wrong. Also, some people accused of crimes get a deal for a reduced sentence if they provide insider information about the criminal enterprise.
“Given those perceptions and facts, I wanted to write a book where this happened. In Confound It, a single mom is trapped in a bad lifestyle because it’s the only way she can provide a future for her son. When she’s found dead, the police investigation veers off into a drug investigation.
“Baxley Powell, my psychic female sleuth and single mom, is outraged that a person’s life matters less than catching drug kingpins. So my underlying message in Confound It is all life matters.”
One step away from…
“This book is as close as I get to ‘ripped from the headlines’ types of stories. A meth lab fire in a nearby county sparked a lot of conversation in a gathering I attended. One person there, a cop, mentioned that meth labs can be anywhere. Further he said that some kids in the larger cities have portable meth labs in their bookbags. I was horrified. It’s bad enough that adults make poor decisions, but kids? Shouldn’t they have childhoods?
“I realize I am naïve and a bit Pollyanna-ish, but why should this be all right? I had no intention of writing a book about a meth cook victim, but the story wouldn’t let me alone. In the end, Baxley has to get justice for the victim despite her lifestyle.”
Maggie said that with so many people today, including vets, becoming addicted to painkillers, her goal wasn’t to glorify the illegal drug trade, but to create awareness for those trapped in a hopeless situation.
“I know addiction can happen to people with surgical procedures, with joint replacement, and with other medical conditions. We hear about addiction happening to others. It’s easy to believe addiction couldn’t happen to us. I thank God that I’ve never had such debilitating pain that I had to rely on narcotics. If something happened to me and I needed those drugs – could I break free of them? Several in my extended family have struggled with substance abuse, so the thought stays in my mind.
“My thought-and I hope it’s your thought too-there but for the grace of God go I. My next thought is that good people in the world still care about others. They don’t consider lives as disposable.”
“For me, a good story balances light and dark. The meth lab part of the story is certainly from the darker, seamier side of life. To bring in light, I spent more time on healing circles and on developing the ongoing relationship between my sleuth Baxley Powell and Deputy Sam Mayes.”
This is the fifth book in the series and the series arc question has always been, “Who is Baxley’s watcher in the woods?” The answer to the question has remained unanswered until now. In Confound It we discover the answer—and more.
“I didn’t envision I’d growing up to be a paranormal mystery writer, but here I am. Some of my research forays have led me to police ride alongs, to take gun classes for women, to join bird watching expeditions, to play golf courses, to tour historic Savannah, GA, and spend quality time at beaches everywhere.
“Even though it’s the places or activities I intend to learn about, I find research is about the subject matter experts I meet. They impress me more than the research knowledge. Their stories inspire my creativity and open new ways of thinking.”
Visit Maggie Toussaint at www.maggietoussaint.com.