Thursday, May 12, 2022

5 Questions with Author Alyssa Maxwell

Today I am thrilled to share our 5 question interview with author Alyssa Maxwell. 

 1) How did you become an author, was it an overnight event or birth rite?

It took years. I’ve always been someone who loved to write, and the notion of writing fiction came into my head at a pretty young age, but I didn’t know how to get started. When I first moved to Florida, a coworker became published in romance fiction, and seeing a friend have that kind of success inspired me to give it a try. She helped me a lot in terms of introducing me to other writers and writers’ organizations. The writing community is very generous that way. We help each other. I wrote several manuscripts before making that thrilling first sale – but it wasn’t yet in mystery. Another several years had to go by before I realized mysteries were my true calling. When I thought about where I might want to set a series, though, I didn’t hesitate. Newport came immediately to mind, because of my personal connection and love for the city, as well as its intricate roots in American history. At that point, I began writing Murder at The Breakers and eventually found a home for the series at Kensington Publishing.

2) What or who inspired your writing?

In one way, I answered that question above – the friend I worked with. But as to who directly influenced my writing, well . . . As a teenager, I started reading Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and the Bronte sisters, among others. I loved how deeply atmospheric their writing was, and, although not mysteries, they taught me about suspense, pacing, and using setting as if it’s a character. When I turned my attention to writing mysteries, the works of Christie and Conan Doyle helped me understand the process of laying out clues, motives, and suspects, and how a sleuth must look for subtleties that other people miss. Another great source of inspiration and practical advice came from my longtime friend and critique partner, cozy mystery author, Nancy J. Cohen. She helped me analyze my mystery plots, characterizations and all the rest, and I can honestly say if not for Nancy I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as successful at it. Thank you, Nancy!

3) How do you keep track of your ideas?

Multiple ways! I keep notebooks for each book where I write down snippets from research, especially concerning the important secondary characters and their homes, livelihoods, etc., as well as plotting ideas. It’s from there that my synopsis first takes shape. I also often use white boards to sketch out ideas. I have one that’s a blank, and another one that’s basically a calendar, so it’s got lots of boxes I can use for characters, clues and motives. Eventually, my approximately 15-page synopsis grows out of all that, and of course that becomes my guide as I write the book. Although I started off as a pantser, I’m a plotter now. I leave plenty of room for changes and surprises, but I like to know basically where I’m going when I sit down to write each day.

4) What is the one thing you need, while writing?

I’ve really come to rely on headphones and background music or sounds. If it’s music, it has to be classical or something simple, usually without singing. Coffeeshop or nature sounds work well, too. Sometimes I even listen to “Spaceship Bridge.” That’s the Star Trek nerd in me! I find that white noise keeps me out of my own head and somehow allows me to focus more fully on my characters and what I need to achieve in each scene. I actually write much faster this way and don’t become nearly as distracted as I normally would. One other thing I need is a cup of water on my desk throughout the day, and in the afternoons I usually revive myself with a cup or two of tea. 

5) How would you end this sentence, "Every author should own at least one of these things..."

Hmm… I don’t know! I think it’s different for every author. According to Virginia Wolfe, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I have that quote on a magnet near my desk, lol. I don’t know if either claim is true, because I’ve known people who write under the most inconvenient circumstances and still manage to pull it off. Of course, every author needs to own a dependable computer. A good personal library is also helpful not only for research but for inspiration. Other than that, all an aspiring author really needs is a strong desire to want to write and tell stories. With that, the rest falls into place. 

Thank you so much Alyssa for joining us here today! To learn more about the books and series written by Alyssa Maxwell please click here for her website.  I absolutely love her book covers don't you?

Thank you to all our authors who have joined us here for the last 11 days! Thank you to you dear reader for joining us and hopefully you have enjoyed learning about some of my most favorite authors.

I have loved sharing here with you and I hope Lisa has me back again soon!


  1. Thanks, Karen, Alyssa (and Lisa).
    Happy Thursday!

    Pat T

  2. Thank you for the interview with Alyssa Maxwell! Fun to hear someone else that needs quiet noise like soft music to encourage getting the job done. I'm one that needs some sound but not a distraction to allow the brain to do what needs to be done.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Music has always helped me in the past. Lately though, I find quiet works best for me.

  3. Thank you, Alyssa for joining Karen while she hosts my blog!