Paula Matter tells us about her debut novel which introduces the feisty Maggie Lewis. Over to Paula:
My debut mystery, Last Call, is now available.
The main character Maggie Lewis is a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) bartender who gets framed for the murder of her least favorite customer. I started writing the book after getting fired from my job as a VFW bartender.
Write what you know? Oh, yeah.
Did I have a least favorite customer? Of course not, I loved all of my customers and treated everyone with the same level of courteous, friendly, efficient and professional service.
Except for the murdering part, there are bits and pieces of actual truths in Last Call? I wanted to provide the reader with a realistic view of how the VFW works and show how important it is for veterans to have a place to go for camaraderie. I wanted the reader to know about the POW-MIA table.
How strong the loyalty is among the military members? Along with all of the good stuff, I needed to add a murder to write the mystery. That’s where it got tricky. I needed to come up with a victim which was difficult. I had to make up a character who deserved to be murdered, and I’d never wish that upon any of my customers. They were all wonderful, kind, patient, loving people. And I had to create a villain. The same level of difficulty presented itself, but I somehow managed it. None of my customers were ever grumpy, impatient, loud, or obnoxious, but it is fiction, after all, I made stuff up.
My protagonist, Maggie Lewis, was also hard to create and is absolutely nothing like me. She’s a forty-six year old widow (I’m neither of those) a red-headed 5’2” (which makes her four inches taller than my mousey-brown-haired self ) smart ass. Well, four out of five ain’t bad. Maggie Lewis has been around for a long time. She was a somewhat minor character in another novel I’d written a number of years ago. At that time I belonged to a critique group and the members always commented on how they wanted to see more of Maggie Lewis. They liked my protagonist, a private detective whose name I don’t even remember, but they loved Maggie. The weird part came when Maggie decided she liked the attention and demanded a larger role. She’s pushy like that. I don’t know where she gets it.
I didn’t make any headway with the Detective Whomever novel, so I started to focus more on Maggie Lewis. She definitely did not want to be a professional detective in any way, shape or form. She went from being a tall, lanky blonde to a short middle-aged redhead. She wasn’t happy living in Miami, Florida which is where I’m from, but whatever. She needed a job, so I gave her the one I’d just lost.
Because none of the characters were based on any real, living or dead person, I had no problems coming up with their names. It was easy to not use names of any of my customers. There are no Jacks, Sams, JCs, Kevins, Pams or Dianes in the VFW where I worked. Not that I’m aware of anyway. And there certainly weren’t any Dicks.
Now that Last Call has been released, I’m letting the world know of its existence. (Thank you Crime Thriller Hound for this opportunity). After telling family and friends, I let my beloved customers know the book was available to order at Amazon (US and UK). Advance reader copies were available for reviews. Bloggers were asking for me to contribute to their wonderful sites. Some fabulous authors gave blurbs for Last Call. Those critique group members I mentioned earlier? They were right and I’ll forever be grateful. And so is Maggie.
Most early reviewers love Maggie Lewis. She’s been called a “misfit heroine,” “vulnerable and spunky,” “perfectly imperfect,” “feisty and sometimes downright funny,” “Carla from Cheers.” I’m guessing describing her as a smart ass wasn’t allowed in print in those reviews. (Thanks again, Crime Thriller Hound!)
When I shared the news of the release of Last Call with my former customers, one of the first questions many of them asked was if they were in the book. I assured them they were not. All of the characters were figments of my imagination. Mostly. Probably. To make sure they weren’t in Last Call, A Maggie Lewis Mystery written by Paula Matter from Midnight Ink, they’d have to read a copy. Preferably purchased from wherever fine books (or otherwise) are sold. Here's a link to the Kindle version.
About Paula Matter
Matter (it rhymes with otter) is the author of the Maggie Lewis mysteries which take place in a small town in North Florida. Paula’s short crime fiction stories have been published in USA and German anthologies. After losing her job as a catering server, Paula decided instead of getting yet another job as a waitress/bartender/activities director/etc., she’d tackle her mystery novel again.
Originally from Miami, FL, Paula kept moving north until she settled in north central Pennsylvania. A proud mom of one son, she lives with her husband The Saint, and worthy-not-spoiled rescue dog in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains.