Friday, September 28, 2012

Tace Baker, Guest blogger

Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Edith Maxwell as my guest blogger. I know it says Tace Baker on the title of this post, but Tace Baker is Edith's pseudonym. According to the biography on her mystery, Speaking of Murder, "Tace is an old-fashioned Quaker name, which seemed fitting for the author of a series featuring a Quaker Linguistics professor. Edith is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and its Guppies subgroup, and is on the board of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime." It's so nice to introduce you to  Edith (and Tace), a fellow Sister.

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Thanks so much for asking me over, Lesa.

I (in my pseudonymic identity of Tace Baker) want to share with you all how I arrived at writing a murder mystery about a world-traveled Quaker linguistics professor, video forensics software, an antique boat shop going up in flames, and much more. It really boils down to Write What You Know.

I’ve had a long and varied past. We’re given long lives so we can do much with them, right? I’m a fourth-generation Californian who started my adult life living in Brazil as an exchange student for a year when I was 17. I used my subsequent BA in linguistics in the mid-70s to do a year’s stint as a car mechanic at a gas station where everybody assumed the owner was my father (and he wasn't). I went on to teach English in Japan for two years.

I then earned a PhD in linguistics in southern Indiana, spent a few years in high-tech in the Boston area, and spent a few more raising babies and organic vegetables north of the city. I attended a Friends (Quaker) Meeting on Sundays and started to write mysteries. I lived with my now ex-husband and (still-current) sons in West Africa for two separate years. When I reentered the paid work force, it was to write documentation for Avid Technology, a company that produces a video-editing application augmented for forensics by small police departments (and also used to win Oscars by big film studios). I also trained for and ran the Boston Marathon.

After fourteen years at Avid I was laid off in a so-called Reduction in Force while I was living in small-town Ipswich on Massachusetts’ North Shore. The first thing I did after polishing my resume? Wrote a short story of murderous revenge called “Reduction in Force” that was published in Thin Ice by Level Best Books in 2009. And then I realized I couldn't look for a job all day long. I might as well start writing a novel-length story. So I wrote what I knew.

My protagonist in Speaking of Murder is Lauren Rousseau, a Quaker linguistics professor. She’s a world traveler, and a runner with a boyfriend who is the local police department’s video forensics expert. She lives in a fictional town very much like Ipswich and befriends a fictional owner of the very real decrepit boat shop that actually burned down in Ipswich while I was writing the book. When she encounters her star student dead on campus, she’s compelled to seek justice for him.

Lauren Rousseau is younger and taller than me. She's slimmer and fitter, and is a real college professor, a job I never secured. But the research part of the book was a breeze because I’d already lived much of it.

Which fictional character’s experiences would you like to have in real life? Writers, which parts of your real life did you put into your books?

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Thank you, Edith!  Edith's websites are www.tacebaker.com and www.edithmaxwell.com

Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker. Barking Rain Press. 2012. ISBN 9781935460473 (paperback), 178p.

17 comments:

Ricky Bush said...

Thanks for giving me more insight into Edith Maxwell's background. My debut novel, RIVER BOTTOM BLUES, came to life through years of listening to, writing about, and playing blues music. Just needed to add a few murders for my blues playing antagonists to solve.

Edith Maxwell said...

Cool, Ricky!

Lesa said...

I find it interesting to see authors' experiences coming to life. Thanks to Edith & Ricky for sharing that information.

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