Edith M. Maxwell, a software technical writer, lives on the Massachusetts north shore. “Obake for Lance” appeared in Riptide (2004); she has two other published short stories, as well. Speaking of Murder, a mystery featuring Linguistics professor and Quaker Lauren Rousseau, is in search of an agent. Edith, mother, world traveler, and PhD in Linguistics, also gardens and tends cats. Her blog is Speaking of Mystery and her Facebook fanpage is http://www.facebook.com/EdithMaxwellAuthor
Your story in Thin Ice, Reduction in Force is a very timely tale about layoffs and outsourcing. What inspired you to write this story?
After several decades working in hi-tech, I had to go through the “your position has been eliminated” experience for the first time a couple of years ago. It is a scary and depressing turn of events, especially in a bad economy. I managed to land another good job in my field just months later, but I understood the anger some could feel toward the company and the managers who deliver the bad, I mean really bad, news.
Your narrator is a petite woman who gardens and works in high tech. How do you think about creating a character who has some similarities to you, but who also is different in some important ways?
Jackie is a software engineer, she lives alone, and she differs from me in many other fundamental ways. But I do enjoy imbuing my characters with knowledge about areas in which I happen to harbor expertise, like gardening or linguistics. What was more fun was then bringing Jackie into my novel, Speaking of Murder, as my protagonist’s sister, who we find out is an excellent cook and who dates the female police officer on the case.
Tell us what else you are working on.
I’m just putting the finishing touches on Speaking of Murder. A traditional mystery, it follows Lauren Rousseau, a Quaker Linguistics professor, as she uses her ability to analyze regional speech and foreign accents to track down her star student’s murderer. Her boyfriend’s expertise in video forensics and clarifying murky surveillance video helps clinch the case. It’s set mostly in small-town Ipswich and has been a lot of fun to write. I’m looking for an agent for it as of now.
I’m also about a quarter of the way through writing the sequel, also featuring Lauren, local political conflicts, and a body at Crane Beach in Ipswich. Stay tuned.