I love welcoming debut authors. There is just something about that first book being released and the excitement you feel. I also like to live vicariously through my debut authors until my day comes. Today I want to introduce you to Maggie Brogden who is starting a whole new genre with her debut book, Spittin’ Grits. What kind of genre? Spittin’ Grits is a hicklit paranormal — perfect for Halloween. It’s also an hysterically funny read.
Maggie, welcome to Teatime. What got you into writing?
When I was 5, my father decided–with severe PTSD, a wife and 5 kids–to attend USC. We moved into 2-bedroom student housing, constructed entirely from panels made of compressed roaches and hot tar. My sibs and I decided to live out of doors, as naked as legally possible, until forced at gunpoint each night to come in and go to bed. While free, I told stories to all the other barefoot urchins. Most stories featured powerful princesses who lived far, far away. Soon I had a following. In Jr High, I ran a racket, writing poems and short stories to fulfill assignments for other students ($5 a pop). Art drew my attention away from writing for many years. I served in the USAF for 3 years, got a hubby, three kids and a BFA in Philly, in that order. But when my husband’s job took him overseas a great deal, I dragged out the ogres, dragons and sentient houses for my kids. And realized how much I missed it. So I wrote The Mother Tree, which languishes and mumbles darkly beneath my bed, and two more books. Then one day, not long ago, hubby announced he had found a group for me: Carolina Romance Writers. Knowing how social-phobic I am, he stayed in the restaurant during the meetings and waited for me, every Saturday Meeting for a full year, and unjangled my nerves with inane comments when we got home. And booze when that didn’t work.
How did you come up with the idea for this book and your writing process?
I used to visit my aunt who lived in lowland SC, in a house built in 1864 on the foundation of one that burned down. It had bead board walls and ceilings, a bathroom on the back porch, bats in the attic and it made moany noises at night. I used to lie in bed in her spare room, listen to the moaning walls and chittering bats and wonder about all the folks who lived and died in that house. And what else might be in that attic. Being a pantser, I just starting writing one day and didn’t quit rewriting until hubby demanded I stop being obsessive and submit it somewhere. To my amazement and terror, The Wild Rose Press accepted it!
What are you working on now? What’s next?
I am about half-way through the sequel to Spittin’ Grits. Hettie gives her cousin Annie a beautiful spectrolite pendant from the treasure drawn up from the old well beneath the house. Annie wears it to Scotland and it gets her sucked into inter-Fae tensions about the kidnapping of a dark Fae Prince. Never mind the fellow disappeared during the rule of King McBeth. I was going to name it Hoecakes and Hand Grenades, but I’m not sure I have a use for the latter. At least not in the story. If my neighbor doesn’t start cleaning his trash out of the public area between our houses, I may find another use.
If you could only take five books from a burning house what five books would you take?
The Hobbit, The Trilogy of the Rings (that counts as one!), Oxford English Dictionary (latest edition), a Bible Concordance, and the Bible.
And finally, we are a tearoom. What type of tea do you like?
I have a shelf in my pantry for nothing but teas, all sorts. I love Orange Pekoe, Oolong, dislike Earl Grey (maybe it’s the Bergamot?) Had a cup of Yorkshire Red years ago that was so good I still long to find it again. My Brit friend recommends Salada Black tea. Hard to find around here.
A red-eyed spiteful imp awaits Hettie in the dilapidated ancestral home. He traps her inside and demands she find his Fae master’s purloined treasure. If she succeeds, she risks becoming a slave of the Fae, if she fails, she remains trapped. Her only hope lies with Declan, the hot but cynical Irish professor who comes from Dublin to investigate.
Luck of the Irish. After his personal and professional lives collapse simultaneously, Prof. Declan Kelly agrees to join his brothers in search of supposed Fae artifacts in South Carolina. Instead he finds a pretty but deranged red-head with an imaginary friend. Or so he thinks until he comes face to face with the arrogant Fae, Riordan. Now Declan must choose. Will he surrender the magic-laden treasure to protect Hettie, or betray her to secure his own future?
About Maggie: Born in lowland South Carolina, she attended USC (the one in Columbia), then met and married her favorite Yankee. They have three extraordinary kids and one obsessive calico Persian cat. She loves classical guitar music, soft jazz, and Josh Groban. She holds a BFA from Moore College of Art in Philly. After years in Pennsylvania, she persuaded her hubby to move South where the rare snowfall is pleasant and gone tomorrow, as it should be.
Excerpt from Spittin’ Grits:
A sincere tear tried to glisten in Joe’s left eye as he asked for the return of his ring. “I hope we can still be friends, Hettie, but I’ve found something so special with Missy. I hope you understand.” He licked his lips as his dark gaze wandered one last time to my unattainable 34D’s secured beneath the logo tee that read: I believe in catch and release. In other words, you can’t spend the night.
Enough said. Apparently, Missy’s push-up bra had a liberal open clasp policy.
“I hope the four of you will be very happy,” I muttered and gathered up my books. He frowned for a moment until he got it. Ah, he had the grace to blush.
My cousins tell me I have a negative mindset. Fine. Just what was the upside of this? Oh yeah, I wouldn’t have to face him again. I’d be leaving my newly ex-fiancé, my apartment, and the University of South Carolina with a measly Masters in history to show for it. Oh well, my cousins also said it would never have worked out between Joe Fiorella and me anyway. I’m a devout southern Pentecostal, and he’s a lapsed Catholic Yankee.
The next day as I packed, I donned the tired gray tee I saved for such joyous occasions. The politically incorrect one that read: Sometimes your knight in shining armor/ Is just a retard in tin foil.
My housemates found it more amusing than I did. I left that weekend and headed home to Mama. God give me strength.
She met me at the front door on her way out. Her plaster face seemed to vibrate on a high frequency as she looked me over from my braided red hair to my black Keds. But she locked it down quickly. I don’t believe Mama has allowed any sort of expression on her face since she noticed her first wrinkle shortly after I painted my bedroom fuchsia in my sixteenth year. Since then, without the aid of Botox, she has maintained a face as blank and smooth as Botticelli’s Venus.
“You look like hell, as usual. Your mail is in your livid room,” she deadpanned. “I believe you owe a considerable sum in back taxes. And stand up straight.” Before I could recover or object that she was reading my mail again, the door slammed behind her departing girdled mono-ass.
I slouched off to my room, which she kept untouched, she said, as a monument to my stupidity. Said stupidity now further confirmed by my inability to distinguish between a man and a turd.