CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN BYRON'S MAGGIE CROZAT
ABOUT THE BOOKChristmas in Cajun Country is magical. Elaborate decorations adorn homes and businesses, and Pelican residents come together for a raucous Christmas Eve festival featuring giant bonfires on the levee that light the way up the river for Papa Noël. But this year, there’s coal in the stockings at Crozat Plantation B&B. Someone is flooding travel websites with vicious negative reviews of the B&B. The culprit may be one of the Crozats’ own holiday guests, among which is Don Baxter, a nasty businessman who’s an innkeeper’s worst nightmare. When Baxter is found stabbed to death at Doucet Plantation, where heroine Maggie Crozat works part-time, she and her entire family are considered suspects. They establish alibis, but her boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, also a suspect, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself with an unlikely ally, longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers a viper’s nests of dysfunctional family dynamics, and puts her in the crosshairs of a murderer. She and Rufus must track down Don Baxter’s killer, or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël for those at Crozat Plantation Bed & Breakfast.
ABOUT MAGGIEMaggie Crozat is a thirty-two-year-old artist who’s moved home to tiny Pelican, Louisiana, after attending art school and living in New York City. She helps out at her family’s plantation-turned-B&B and also works as a tour guide at a plantation that belong to her mother’s family but is now run by a non-profit foundation and open to visitors. Her artist’s eye gives her a visual acuity that the average person doesn’t possess. She can spot clue and suspicious body language that even the local law enforcement professionals might miss.
INTERVIEW WITH MAGGIE CROZATMaggie, how did you first meet Ellen Byron?
I was enjoying a beer and some Cajun popcorn – that’s fried crawfish - at our favorite local hangout, Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, when she appeared and said, hey, wanna be in a mystery series?
Cool! Want to dish about her?
She’s smart, but pushy. Sometimes we get into a tussle when she wants me to do something I don’t want to do. But guess what? I always win in the end.
Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Because I’ve discovered I have a unique talent for solving mysteries. I’m an artist, so I have a knack for spotting details other people don’t see. Plus, I have the great good fortune to live in a town my author likes to call “A Cajun Brigadoon,” so it’s a great setting for a mystery series. Our family B&B is a centuries old plantation that’s just beautiful. There’s a bayou in our backyard. And the food is amazing! That’s why the books I’m in include recipes – that my mother, Ninette, is famous for. I’m more of an expert microwaver.
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I love when I go to New Orleans and have to spend time with an incredibly snobby family in the Garden District in order to pick up clues to help solve a murder. The prodigal son of the family hits on me because of my fancy Louisiana lineage. He’s horrible, but in a funny way.
Did you have a hard time convincing Ellen to write any particular scenes for you?
Yes – my author has a really hard time writing romantic scenes! She’s very squeamish about them. But hey, I’m dating the hottest guy in town, so there has to be at least a little romance. Between us, my author is kind of a prude.
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I love to draw and paint, particularly the magical scenery that surrounds our family’s plantation. I also love spending time with Xander, the seven-year-old son of my boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand. Xander has Asperger’s Syndrome and didn’t talk for three years. I started giving him art lessons and discovered he’s phenomenally talented. In fact, this almost puts him in danger in my new book, A Cajun Christmas Killing.
If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d force my author to stop being so squeamish and write some great love scenes. (See #5.)
Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people. It’s what keeps me from moving back to New York. Except for Rufus Durand, my boyfriend’s cousin, who’s also the local police chief. He thinks that about a hundred and fifty years ago, my family put a curse on his family’s relationships. But guess what? Rufus has changed since he became a father to a baby girl with his ex-fiancé, Vanessa Fleer. (That’s a whole other story you can read about in my author’s last book, Body On The Bayou.)
Do have any secret aspirations that Ellen doesn’t know about?
My dream is have a major museum purchase one of my paintings for their collection.
If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Eat tons of my mother’s great Cajun cooking, paint or draw for a few hours, and spend the rest of the day – and night! – with my boyfriend, Bo.
Tell us about your best friend.
I have some wonderful friends, but I’d have to say my best friend is my grand-mere. She’s witty, sharp as a tack, and has a great sense of humor about herself. She’s also gracious and elegant in a way I can only dream of being, and so incredibly wise.
What’s the best trait Ellen has given you?
What’s the worst?
What’s Ellen’s worst habit?
Spending too much time on Facebook!
If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Describe the town where you live.
Pelican is a small town nestled between the Mississippi River and Bayou Beurre. Its beautiful 19th century building are adorned with intricate wrought iron balconies and surround a grassy town square with a bandstand and giant, ancient oak trees.
Describe an average day in your life.
I help entertain our B&B guests at Crozat Plantation, then go off to put on an antebellum costume and give tours at Doucet Plantation. I come home, help out some more, paint or draw, then meet Bo at Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall to try and puzzle out a solution to the latest murder. For a tiny town, Pelican has a ridiculously high murder rate.
Will you encourage Ellen to write a sequel?
Absolutely! I know she’s already written a fourth book, Mardi Gras Murder. She and I both have our fingers crossed that her publisher will ask for more books in the Cajun Country Mystery series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Body on the Bayou, the second book in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery Series, recently won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for an Agatha Award in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Ellen's debut novel in the series, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards, and made the USA Today Bestseller list. Book three, A Cajun Christmas Killing, launches October 10th. TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly OddParents, and many pilots. She’s also an award-winning playwright and journalist. Ellen lives in Studio City with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs.
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