Lynn: Do you feel that readers have high expectations from authors that receive awards such as yours?
Mariah Stewart: Do readers pay attention to awards? I really don’t know! I think the highest expectations are for those books that come to a reader via word of mouth. Your best friend recommends a book that she’s loved and you expect to love it as well, or you strike up a casual conversation with someone who raves about the book she’s reading, and you want to read it, too – and your expectations of a great read are going to be high.
Lynn: With having two dogs, does it get hard on your writing sometimes?
Mariah: Not as hard as it was when our girls were younger! But then, my daughters didn’t bark at passing cars or the mailman, and didn’t do that, let me in let me out let me in thing that the dogs do! Both dogs are fairly young so they’re active, but for the most part, they’re pretty mellow most of the day. Our hound, Sophie, is happy as long as she has a spot of sun to sleep in. Bowie, our retriever/shepherd/chow mix, is always vigilant lest the UPS man or the FedEx driver or the school bus comes and kills us all. No one drives or walks on our road without Bowie alerting us to the intruder. Both dogs are rescues, and make us laugh and smile every day.
Lynn: What, or who, do you feel is your biggest inspiration?
Mariah: Writing an extended series – such as the Chesapeake Diaries – inspiration comes from the previous books. Characters come and go through the different books and you start thinking about what their stories might be. Right now I’m working on book #9 in the series, and there’s a secondary character at the heart of this book who’s been there since book #1 but whose story I’m just coming to know and understand. It’s taken eight books, but she’s finally started to reveal her past to me, and I have to admit – I love it when that happens!
Lynn: What’s on your bookshelf? Is there a book you would love to read again?
Mariah: You mean bookshelves! This is really the house of books – my husband and I are both readers, so there are books everywhere, in every room. Just finished Lisa Gardner’s latest, Fear Nothing, which was fabulous – and Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt, which I could not put down. I rarely re-read a book, but I’ve read Anne of Green Gables a dozen times, and for years, Gone with the Wind was my summer read. If I had the time, I’d re-read the George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire Series again, starting with Game of Thrones, just to get it all straight in my mind before the 6th book comes out.
Lynn: With all the books you have written, is there one that stands out as your favorite and why?
Mariah: Moments in Time will always be a favorite, because it was my first book. Brown-Eyed Girl, because it was my first romantic suspense. Devlin’s Light, because it was the beginning of my first series. Dead Wrong, because it was my first FBI book and the beginning of that series. Mercy Street, because I love the concept. Coming Home, because it was the first in the Chesapeake Diaries. And of course,At the River’s Edge my latest – and the book I just finished, On Sunset Beach. I love stories about starting over, and both of those books have that element.
Thanks for asking!
After taking stock of her life, Sophie Enright has decided it’s time for a break. Between a law career that’s become criminally dull and a two-timing boyfriend she’s done with once and for all, Sophie desperately needs some time to think and some space to breathe. The perfect place to do both is easygoing St. Dennis, Maryland, where Sophie can visit with her brother while she figures out her options. Once in St. Dennis, she discovers a shuttered restaurant and makes a bold move that is also a leap of faith. Sophie buys the fixer-upper in order to finally pursue her dream career.
But Sophie’s labor of love becomes a bone of contention for her new neighbor Jason Bowers. The local landscaper has big plans for growing his business—until Sophie scoops up the property he’s got his eye on. And no amount of buyout offers or badgering from him will get her to budge. It’s hardly the start of a beautiful friendship. But when they’re paired up to work on a community project, they agree to put their differences aside, and sparks begin to fly. Then Sophie’s cheating ex suddenly shows up, looking for a second chance—and threatening to make Jason a third wheel just when his hotheaded feelings about Sophie were turning decidedly warmhearted. All Sophie wants is a new life and a true love. But what are the odds of having both?