About Author Maddy Hunter...
I began my writing career in the "Kathleen Woodiwiss" era, when women with good paying jobs gave up those jobs to write steamy costume dramas about pirates, highwaymen, and Vikings with hearts of gold. I broke into print with a story about a sea captain and his reluctant bride (THE WIND-ROSE), followed by the adventures of a Maine lumberjack (THE IRISH BRIDE), an English thief-taker (THE WHITE RAVEN), and a New England lighthouse keeper, his mail-order bride, and a legendary white-faced seal (SAVAGE TIDES).
As I struggled to come up with an appropriate hero for my next novel, my publisher cancelled its romance imprint, so I spent the next several years battling writer's block, penning a really long historical drama that turned out to be unmarketable, and entertaining doubts that I'd ever be published again.
Everything changed in October, 1999. A friend invited me to accompany her on a seniors' tour of Switzerland, sponsored by her bank for its travel club members. So off we flew to Lucerne, where the weather was miserable, the food was inedible, and a story started to take root.
Traveling with a group of seniors from Iowa was a genuine treat. They were inordinately punctual, exceedingly polite, and welcomed me into their group with open arms. I played poker with "the guys" in the lobby of our hotel, bought drinks for my newfound friends in Lucerne's Hotel Chateau Gutsch, then had to take out a second mortgage on my house to pay for them. Our group included a ninety-three year-old woman who was sharp as a tack, a couple of practical jokers, and a whole slew of people who were thoughtful, sincere, and quietly competent, like my one-legged character, George Farkas.
And so Emily Andrew was born. (Emily, named for my next door neighbor, and Andrew, which is the maiden name of another friend.) I envisioned my heroine chaperoning these Iowa seniors on trips around the world and running across dead bodies at every turn. Emily would be a reluctant sleuth -- always being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting dragged into situations she'd rather avoid. I figured a different international locale for each book might keep the stories fresh by providing new cultural conflicts, not to mention new characters to knock off.
I also needed to provide a foil for Emily, so I created Nana, who, with her eighth grade education, is the smartest person Emily knows.
I grew up in the same house with my own grandmother, so it was important for me to show that a person's life experience, coupled with good cable TV, can be every bit as valuable as a cartload of university degrees. Like Emily's fictional grandmother, my own Nana belonged to the Legion of Mary in St. John's Parish in Bangor, Maine, made weekly visits to the hospital to visit the sick, and set up housekeeping in the funeral home when someone died, whether she knew them or not. She never had a driver's license, lived in a time when women wore girdles and bloomers, and permed her frizzy mass of blue-tinted hair in tight finger waves. Her favorite social drink was a Tom Collins and she'd rather have played poker than breathe. When I write about Emily's Nana, it's as if I'm sipping tea again with my own.
As my website goes online, I'm writing book five in my Passport to Peril series, which takes place in Australia. So after Emily's Hawaiian cruise mystery, HULA DONE IT? (October 25, 2005), prepare yourself for an adventure Down Under. Did you know there are more things that can kill you in Australia than anywhere else on earth? Snakes. Spiders. Jellyfish. You can bet my Iowans will face plenty of adversity as they hop from Melbourne, to Adelaide, to Kangaroo Island. I loved Australia, so I expect they will too, dead bodies and all!