Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Interview with Maggie Pill

Interview With Maggie Pill:
By Pamela James

MM: Let's begin with a little backstory on you and your writing career?

Maggie’s career is an offshoot of Peg Herring’s writing. After writing about a dozen traditional mysteries, Peg wanted to try a cozy series about sisters. She stole her grandmother’s name and wrote a book that was a lot of fun, THE SLEUTH SISTERS. It was very well-received, and the series developed from there and is now available in print, e-book, and audio. In my mind, Maggie is younger than Peg and has lots more pets. And she’s way cooler.

MM: How many books have you written?

The Sleuth Sisters Mystery Series has three so far, but I’m about to get to work on Book #4. It’s starting to buzz around in my head, which means it’s ready to hatch.

MM: What writing advice do you have for readers who want to write books?

Stick with it. Some think we sit down and write a book and we’re done. I go over and over and over each book, and each time I work on it, it gets better.

MM: I love your blog tell us about it?

Maggie’s blog 

focuses a lot on animals. As kids we lived on a farm a lot like the one in MURDER IN THE BOONIES. We always had dogs, cats, chickens, and cows, but at times we also had pigs, horses, geese, and ducks. I added reindeer to the farm in the book because I have friends who raised them for years and they had some great things to add to my story.

MM: Do you ever re-read some of your favorite books? If so which ones?

I used to re-read some of the classics, because you can always find something new in them. The last one was Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but these days I don’t re-read. There’s just so much good stuff out there I haven’t read yet!

MM: What comes first the setting, the character or the plot?

With the Sleuth Sisters, it was the characters. I have two sisters, and while we aren’t really like the sisters in the book, we have that alike/different quality that I think all sisters have. We understand each other, even when we don’t understand each other…if that makes any sense.

Knowing the characters so well, it’s pretty easy to set them into a plot and see how it works out, although it’s sometimes hard to figure out who knows what, since each sister tells her own part of the story. I ask myself, “Did Barb hear Faye talking to Retta on the phone and pick up that detail?”

My setting is easy, too. I live in northern Michigan, so I simply invented a county and stuck it in between two existing ones. The town of Allport is invented, too, a cross between Alpena and Rogers City.

MM: What would your characters have to tell us about you?

Maggie wasn’t sure she could make it as a cozy writer, because she doesn’t see herself as funny. However, with the right characters, the humor comes naturally.

MM: Do you have a writing pet peeve?

I’m pretty aware of my own writing mistakes and get peevish with myself for overusing words like just, said, and really. I’m getting better.

As a reader, the things that bother me usually come down to an author not paying enough attention to wording. I always listen to my work at least once (My computer reads it to me), so I pick up overused words, awkward sentences, and even plot errors. (I once had a character leave the room twice on the same page!)

MM: Okay for some fun questions.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Anywhere I haven’t been before. We love going to new places. Alaska was great, as was Grand Canyon.

Your favorite meal

Chinese: I love every kind of chicken on the buffet!


Pumpkin pie. With ice cream, please.


I’ll date myself here, because I don’t watch many movies these days. The old musicals like West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Song: I love music, so it’s hard to pick one, but “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce has to be up near the top.

and place to write?

I do best in my office upstairs. It’s quiet, and I have a sign on the door that says, “Don’t bother me. I’m running out of places to hide the bodies.”


  1. I absolutely love the idea of listening to the book like you do - I think it is a wonderful way to make sure the book flows!

  2. I love this interview. I learned more than you know. It was great to interview you.

  3. Maggie, I love the compliment you gave us and we will do a follow up interview this fall or winter?


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