One of the best things about being a writer is not sitting in my office staring at my computer screen all alone for hours on end. It’s about the people I’ve met as a result of writing books.
I first knew Maddy when she was someone else entirely (well, not entirely, but she had a different ‘nom de plume.’) Back in the day she was Mary Mayer Holmes, author of some of the most lovely, warm, charming, passionate – and occasionally blindsidingly funny -- historical romances you would ever want to read.
The WInd-Rose, Savage Tides, The White Raven and, my all-time favorite, The Irish Bride are on my keeper shelf to this day.
But for a number of years, Maddy didn’t write.
And then, all of a sudden, her brain was taken over by aliens. I mean, Iowans. A tour group full of senior citizen Iowans to be exact – and long-suffering Emily Andrew who, shanghaied by her grandmother into accompanying the group, ended up solving a murder in Switzerland – and Maddy’s new Passport to Peril mystery series was born.
To say I was surprised that lurking inside Maddy was a laugh-out-loud mystery writer along with a score of obstreperous Iowans wouldn’t be wrong. Maddy – as Mary – always had a delightful sense of humor (I recall several coffee-snorting moments in The Irish Bride). But in Alpine For You, the first book about Emily and her Iowans, I heard a whole new voice. It was delightful.
Since our first Passport to Peril jaunt to Switzerland, Emily has hauled me and the Iowans to Italy, Australia, Norway, Ireland, Hawaii, and most recently, to the Netherlands this past February in Dutch Me Deadly. Along the way she attracted the attention of Interpol investigator Etienne Micelli. And, being a romance junkie, he attracted me!
Emily and Etienne married when Maddy thought the series was going to end (she’s a sucker for a happy ending, too).
But then, happily, reader demand brought Emily and the gang back – with a new publisher and a new lease on life (not to mention a new husband!).
The Iowans have a treat in store for them after that, too, because Maddy and her real-life spouse took a river cruise in France this summer.
Of course the virtual Iowans stowed away on the trip to check out the potential for a little mayhem and murder in the French countryside (not that they’d be perpetrating it, of course! They all look so innocent.)
It’s been such a treat to follow Maddy and her new mystery books on their way around the world. I wonder where she’ll go next. I’m trying to talk her into Venice (and I want to go along on the research part of that trip!)
Every time I think that looking at pictures of Hugh Jackman and calling it work is a pretty good job, I remember that Maddy can take her virtual Iowans anywhere she wants and write them into a book. That’s not a bad job, either.
Best of all, though, even better than the books is the friendship I’ve enjoyed with her for so many years. She’s brightened my life, put up with my kids and my dogs. Yes, even my dogs. One of them, Jake, and I were at the veterinary hospital where she lives (a good distance from where I live) one winter day when the ice came down. And down. There was no driving home for me. So Mary invited us to stay. Her lovely husband came home – on his bike in the ice! -- saw the wholly unexpected but very grateful Jake lying under the kitchen table of their dogless house and said, “Well, hell really did freeze over.”
Like I said, she’s a very good friend. And so is her husband.
Writing has brought me many joys over the years, but the greatest is the friends I've made. Maddy is one of the best.
I can hardly wait to go to Scotland with her and the gang in February. If you’re hankering for a fun trip, join us – and catch up on Maddy’s backlist before we go. It’s a hoot!
And by the way, please join me in saying, “Happy Birthday, Maddy!” to a very special person.