Welcome back to a new blog series from the Virginia Center for the Book, in which we highlight the work of one Virginia writer each week. This week’s spotlight is on Mary Ann (Maya) Corrigan, author of The Tell-Tale Tarte, the latest novel in her Five- Ingredient Mystery series. Mary Ann has also taught college classes in writing and literature, written nonfiction, and designed courses for online learners.
How did you get your start as a writer?
I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen, pecking it out on a manual typewriter. After finishing each chapter, I gave it to my best friend and was delighted when she smiled and laughed as she read it. Knowing I created a story that entertained someone made me want to be a writer. After teaching literature and writing at Georgetown University and Northern Virginia Community College, and developing training manuals and online courses, I am thrilled to be writing fiction again. I hope my books are as entertaining as what I wrote when I was thirteen.
Describe your work in three sentences or less.
In my Five-Ingredient Mysteries, set in a historic Chesapeake Bay town, a café manager and her live-wire grandfather, the Codger Cook, are caught up in crimes and pursue justice, armed only with quick thinking and courage. With a strong puzzle element, each book in the series has five suspects, five clues, and Granddad’s five-ingredient recipes. I’ve also written short stories published in anthologies, including Chesapeake Crimes 3 and Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’.
How does living in Virginia influence your writing?
I set my mysteries along the Chesapeake Bay, which washes the shores of Virginia and Maryland. Though beautiful, the bay is also a place of death. The spirit of Edgar Allan Poe hovers over Virginia, where he grew up, attended the university, and got his first job. Poe’s stories and his fascinating life inspired my latest book, The Tell-Tale Tarte. The murder victim and the suspects are all Poe enthusiasts: an actor famed for his one-man Poe show, a scholar, and a bestselling author of Poe knockoffs. Living in Virginia has influenced my writing also because of its active and generous community of writers who support each other.
I enjoyed incorporating Poe’s stories into The Tell-Tale Tarte. My sleuth gains insights into the murder suspects by reading Poe’s works. Themes that Poe explored in his writing emerge in The Tell-Tale Tarte: the double or look-alike character, guilt, and vengeance. With a climax that takes place in the Baltimore cemetery where Poe is buried, the book suggests a solution to a real-life mystery–the identity of the elusive Poe toaster, who, annually for decades, left roses and cognac at Poe’s grave on his birthday.
What are you working on next?
I’m writing the fifth book in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series, S’more Murders, which will come out in June, 2018. Just as The Tell-Tale Tarte has an iconic author at its heart, S’more Murders has an iconic event from the early 20th century as its centerpiece.
To learn more about Mary Ann (Maya) Corrigan, visit her website at mayacorrigan.com.
Through this series, we hope to showcase the depth and breadth of our state-wide literary community while also encouraging readers in the Commonwealth and elsewhere to challenge themselves to read more books by Virginia writers. If you have an author you’d like to suggest for this series, please email [email protected] with details. Our focus is on writers with books that have been published in the past two years (self-published is welcome as long as the writer’s most recent book is held in at least one public library in the state).