In Murder Among the Pines, small-town police chief Maxine “Max” Benson is just settling into her new life when her ex appears on the scene. Apparently, he and his new young lover just happen to be visiting her area on holiday. Max left her marriage and the Toronto police to become chief in Port Ainslie, where she runs a three-person department with few problems and enjoys a different pace of life. That’s all about to change when Max’s ex-husband is accused of killing his young lover right in Max’s own backyard. It seems that only Max’s superior detection abilities can save him from an almost certain conviction.
This is the third book in the Maxine Benson mystery series.
How do you usually begin writing your stories?
With characters. The three primary characters in the series—Max, her only constable Henry, and her office assistant Margie—are the foundation. I simply add a few colorful characters, insert an unsolved crime and watch them go to work.
What planning or research did you do for your book?
Very little. Much of the books depend on character and location. When these are firmly established most of the rest of the story flows from their actions.
Do you have any advice you would give to an aspiring writer?
Other than “Don’t!”? Seriously, all successful writers know from an early age of their ability and their passion to tell stories. If the passion is strong enough, do it. Guidelines to writing exist, but so many successful authors have ignored or intentionally broken the guidelines that they are almost meaningless.
What’s the most prized book on your bookshelf?
A first edition of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, given to me by my Grade 9 English teacher who believed I had some talent in that field. He handed it to me on the last day of class in June, suggested I read it over the summer, give it back to him in September, and discuss its impact on me. He died the following Labor Day after returning from Europe.
What are your favorite ways to procrastinate? Why?
Listen to Jazz. Talk with my wife. Take long walks.
Do you keep books after you’ve read them, or give them away? Do you borrow books from your local library?
I tend to keep books after I’ve read them, although I have from time to time pressed my favorites on friends (and only sometimes get them back). I borrow library books now and then, but prefer to buy them.
Who would you want to play your protagonist in a movie, and why?
Holly Hunter would make a good Maxine.
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?
Discussions of the sense of place I try to create. Muskoka is a now-tamed region of deep glacial lakes set among pines and some of the oldest rock on earth. Also my success—or lack of it—at inhabiting a woman’s mind.
John Lawrence Reynolds has had many works of fiction and nonfiction published. His work has earned several awards, including two Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Mystery Novel, a National Business Book Award, and a CBC Bookie Award. His bestselling book Shadow People, tracing the development and influence of secret societies through history, was published in fourteen countries and twelve languages. He is also the author of the Maxine Benson Mystery series. He lives in Burlington, Ontario, with his wife, Judy. For more information, visit wryter.ca.