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Maggie Shayne | 20 Questions: FATAL FAMILY SECRETS

Fatal Family Secrets
Maggie Shayne



Fatal #3

April 2022
On Sale: April 19, 2022
Kindle: B09TY9MHV6
Add to Wish List

Also by Maggie Shayne:
Fatal Family Secrets, April 2022
Fatal, But Festive, November 2021
Fatal Fixer Upper, December 2020
The Rhiannon Chronicles, November 2015


1--What is the title of your latest release?

FATAL FAMILY SECRETS - April 19th, 2022

A rom-com ghost mystery with a Scooby gang you’ll want to join!

2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

When a boy’s guardian angels turn deadly, he needs help only the gang from Spook Central can provide. But his pretty older sister throws a twist into the budding romance between Johnny Redhawk, who’s developed a new and game-changing power, and the gang’s resident witch Maya, who thinks they should cool things off.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

Years ago, for a book signing, I drove a couple of hours east to a small town near Saratoga Springs New York called Burnt Hills and fell in love. There was a new & used bookstore, The Ballston Book House in Ballston Spa, just a stone’s throw from there, in a converted and happily haunted Victorian house. That’s the setting.

4--Would you hang out with your heroine in real life?

For sure, because I am my heroines in real life. Every one of them has a multitude of my own traits in varying combinations and levels. Some have my potty mouth. Some are spellcasters. I feel as if I am myriad woman myself. I’m a businessperson and a witch. I’m a fierce protector and a spiritual counselor. I read tarot and write books and a million other things. So, I take a dash of this and a pinch of that from me and from women I admire and create heroines strong, smart, and determined enough to handle all the crap I’m about to throw at them.

5--What are three words that describe your hero?

Deep. Spiritual. Wounded. Evolving. (I know that’s four words. Words are my life. I like words. I would like to use ten more. Kind. Wise. Strong. Passionate. Devoted. Loyal. Gorgeous. Sexy. Magical. Caring. And like most of my heroes of the past decade or so, mostly based on my husband.)

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

There’s a color called “Haint Blue” because it allegedly keeps ghosts away. (Haint being a colloquial version of “haunt” that has taken on meaning of its own.) They think it’s the color of water, and since the lore says ghosts can’t or won’t cross water, they don’t cross or enter through a haint blue porch, threshold or door.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

Totally done. The first draft is a mess, but I have to get it all down before editing. Otherwise, I’d never finish. Imagine this, chapter 5, I add a dog and then rewrite chapters 1-4 to include the dog. Chapter 6, I decide the dog is black, not brown, so I then rewrite chapters 1-5 again. Chapter 7 I realize the hero has a dog allergy, adding a fun layer of trouble to the relationship, and have to go rewrite chapters 1-6 now to make sure it’s woven throughout.

Every new element in the story must be woven throughout the entire story. The more carefully and skillfully the author does this, the stronger the fabric of the book. So, I might have twenty elements by the end of the story that I didn’t start with. Then when I go back for the second draft, I can weave them ALL in from the beginning. I have all the threads. The second draft will be deep and intricate and beautiful and smooth. Then the third is for polishing the rough edges off.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Our favorite foodie indulgences are Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” and “Phish Food” dairy-free ice cream and creamy, delicious Panda Chocolates from

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Any time I can, I write outside in my back yard, near the koi pond so I can see the fish, or over near the waterfall. Indoors, I have converted a second-floor bedroom into my office. I have a stand-up desk with a treadmill under it, two windows with views of the rolling hills that surround me here in rural Cortland County, NY.

10--Who is an author you admire?

The Annes.

Anne Rice, because she can make me feel I was standing IN the scene as I read it. And because of the way she wrote notes in marker on her office walls while writing each book, and then had the space repainted after it was finished, which I think is the height of writerly coolness. I love that she raised another author, her son Christopher. I think every author’s dream is for one of their kids to take up the art and craft of storytelling. I have five daughters. Three are nurses and two are teachers. (So Covid’s been a lot for us.) One also edits. One also formats and does cover design. Three have written books, but none are currently pursuing it. I suspect they’ll be back. However, my grandson Benny (16) has 89,000 reads on a fan fic site. I think the storytelling gift is in our DNA and is handed down to our descendants.


Anne Stuart, because she writes page-turners I cannot put down, and because she isn’t afraid to delve into the dark shadows and probe the touchy spots. She’s also been the epitome of longevity in this business, having been at it even longer than I, through all the storms of life we all experience. Her books grab me from the first page. She doesn’t waste a lot of time stringing her readers along with setup and background. She reaches out from the pages and grabs us by the neck and drags us with her into her worlds. Oh, and the passion, and the sexiness! Personally, I’m writing less explicit love scenes than I used to back in the day, and I think that’s largely because I have grandkids old enough to read my books now! But I still like a steamy read and Anne Stuart delivers, time after time.


11--Is there a book that changed your life?

Yes, but it’s not fiction. Ask and it is Given by Jerry and Esther Hicks.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)

It’s my favorite story!

Picture it, a hamlet called Beaver Meadow, August 1992. Mom comes home from the grocery store with the three little girls. The two older ones had stayed home. As I came inside, the older girls were practically bouncing with excitement. “Mom, your agent called. She said it was important!”

I had landed an agent, not a very good one. (She was forced out of business by the NYS AG for referring her clients to book doctors who then paid her kickbacks.) But she was sending my work around to publishers on my behalf at that time. This was the only way to get published back then. I’d been at it for five years, writing and submitting and collecting rejection letters. So my girls knew the deal, and how important it was to me.

My intention was to take a day job as soon as my youngest started kindergarten, which she would be doing a few weeks from this fateful day. I was already skimming want ads.

But that day changed things. I walked to the phone in the bedroom, for privacy. (No cell phones, at least not in my house, in 92.) They all followed, like ducklings behind a mamma duck in a line from tallest to smallest.

I called my agent, thinking it was no big deal. The last submission had only been out for a few weeks. Publishers take months and months and months to respond. It couldn’t be anything big.

Anyway, she answers the phone and says, “You did it!”

And I’m like, “I did what?”

And she told me I had an offer on my romantic suspense, RECKLESS ANGEL from editor Melissa Senate at Silhouette Intimate Moments. $4000. My legs turned to water, and I slid slowly down the wall to sit on the floor as it came clear to me what was happening. I’d been trying for years, and it was my dream, and it was coming true in that moment. I got off the phone and confirmed what my girls by then had figured out, that I was going to be published, that my book was going to be in bookstores, that somebody was paying me money for my words, that the thing I’d been working and working and working on had finally happened. I am tearing up right now writing this for you.

They screamed. I screamed. We hugged and jumped up and down. If we had neighbors, they’d have called 911 but we are country-dwellers through and through. What a day! What a celebration we had.

Having that happen to me in the presence of my girls was priceless. “The call” couldn’t have come in any better way for me.

That book was my first RITA Award nominee (out of an eventual 15 nominations and 1 win.)

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

Spiritual non-fiction.

14--What’s your favorite movie?


15--What is your favorite season?

Autumn. No question. I love fall. I live in the most beautiful place on the planet in autumn. I don’t feel like I ever get used to it or complacent about it. I take 1000 photos of the foliage every fall and have to watch myself driving or I’ll go right off the road, gazing at the forested hillsides in the distance.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

This year’s birthday was my most important one, because of my mom. She passed away 18 days after celebrating the birthday that I just passed. So my real celebration was my birthday plus 19 days. Once I got past that, I figured I could live to 110 without much trouble.

On my birthday my hubs waits on me hand and foot, cooks for me and babies me. I don’t like to go out. Home is my haven, and I was already leaning toward hermit status pre-Covid. Now, it’s baked in. I really love my home.

My husband is a water-feature designer, so I have two waterfalls and a koi pond, and my back yard is like its own little piece of paradise. I love where I live more than anywhere else I could go.

The daughters and grands always come by to bring love and presents on the weekend closest, and I love that too. Basically, I love being home and can rarely be pried out of it.

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

Just one? We are ravenous consumers of great storytelling.

But our absolute passion here is The Walking Dead. We devour everything in the universe, Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and we can hardly wait for the promised Carol & Darryl spinoff and the Rick movie. We’ll watch it all. We own the comics and have played the video games. We’re true fans.

I am so into TWD that sometimes when I’m standing in the kitchen, cooking, or washing up dishes or whatever kitchen task it’s my turn for, I catch myself looking at the woods beside the back yard and vaguely planning how we’d secure the place against walkers in the zombie apocalypse.

That’s the kind of fictional universe I love. The kind that feels so real to me that I imagine myself living in it and spinning out my own adventure.

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

We are open to anything and everything plant-based, and there’s really nothing we can’t create that way. We stumbled on a documentary January 25th, 2021 – Forks Over Knives. And it was so compelling that we gave away every animal-based product in our kitchen the next day. We’ve been off all dairy, eggs, and meat including fish and chicken ever since. 15 months and counting. And we have never felt better or more at peace with our food.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

I run a magic shop, do tarot/channeled readings, write self-help books and fiction books, run two websites and two blogs (The Bliss Blog at and the Coffee House Blog at write professional blogs for other sites, do developmental edits from time to time at my daughter’s editing company, ( and help my husband run his business, I designed, created, and maintain 3 of the 4 websites mentioned above, too. None of this is work to me. It’s all fun. I don’t believe in work. I only do what’s fun.

I grow veggies and herbs, walk and jog, raise koi fish and during breaks from all the rest, I will occasionally put on really loud music and dance around the house singing into a celery stalk mic.

Oh, and I have a lovely Monster High collection taking up space in my living room that I love.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

I intend to write another thriller in my Brown and de Luca series to wrap it up. That’s what I was working on when Covid struck, and I became completely blocked for over a year. I was also working on a book in my Wings in the Night Universe, (the original vampire romance series) the second to feature a new character, Fiona. But again, Covid and the Big Block hit.

But it was the Fatal series that pulled me out of the muck and got me writing again, and I think that’s because the books are shorter and more light-hearted. Not so heavy and dark and dire somehow, even though there are still death and scares and mystery. It’s just a different energy. And too, they don’t have a lot of baggage behind them. Wings in the Night has twenty-five books. Brown and de Luca has eight.

But the Fatal series just had one. FATAL FIXER UPPER was originally a novella titled Her Best Enemy and it was my one and only RITA Award-winner. I got the rights back, expanded the story a bit, and re-released it with the new title. And very savvy editor (my firstborn) said, “There’s a built-in Scooby gang in this story. Why don’t you keep it going?”

Her words lit up my mind, as happens when you hear something you know is right on target. And I wrote FATAL FIXER UPPER, But FATAL, BUT FESTIVE, book 2 of the series, and now book 3, FATAL FAMILY SECRETS.

I will write the final Brown and de Luca novel and more Wings in the Night. But I expect the next book to get finished, edited and released will be another title in the Fatal series, since I already have it partly plotted and the momentum for this series is the current that’s flowing fastest for me right now.

When the muse is whispering a story in my head, I never find it wise to try and write something else.


Fatal #3

Fatal Family Secrets


Rom-Com Ghost Mysteries by Award-Winning Author Maggie Shayne

Johnny’s would-be girlfriend has called it quits, his newfound grandfather has pulled a vanishing act, and his odd connection to the dying has mutated into something else altogether, something he doesn’t understand. Suffice to say, he was already having a lousy week when a kid came tearing out of the woods like the devil was chasing him and right into the path of his truck.

Teenage Ryan isn’t too badly hurt, but it turns out the seventeen-year-old has a serious ghost problem. He was convinced no one would believe him or be able to help him even if they did. But that was before he met Johnny and the gang at Spook Central.

Johnny takes Ryan and his gorgeous older sister Breia to Kiley and Jack’s no-longer-haunted Victorian money pit, which is also the gang’s ghost-busting headquarters. But Kiley’s not so sure the house is phantom-free. She says she’s heard a female's smoke-and-whiskey voiced laughter a couple of times, which is weird as she's a total muggle.

Maya, their resident Wiccan, sets wards around the place to keep ghosts away while Johnny sets wards around his heart to stay in the friend-zone where she's put him. Her reasons are both practical and ridiculous since she’s as drawn to him as he is to her. Also, he’s pretty sure their fates are entwined.

Soon, however, they’re both too busy trying to protect a young boy and stay alive while doing it. Spirits the likes of which they've never encounter, unleash hellish fury on them all, and survival takes precedence over their own star-crossed journey to love.

A romantic comedy ghost mystery.


Young Adult Paranormal | Young Adult Romance | Romance Comedy [Thunderfoot Publishing, On Sale: April 19, 2022, e-Book, / ]

Buy FATAL FAMILY SECRETSKindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Maggie Shayne

Maggie Shayne

New York Times and USA Today bestselling, RITA® Award winning Author Maggie Shayne published 62 novels and 22 novellas for five major publishers over the course of 22 years. She also spent a year writing top story arcs for CBS’s Guiding Light and As the World Turns and was offered the position of co-head writer of the former. An offer she tearfully (it was lots) turned down. It was scary, turning down an offer that big. But in March 2014, she did something even scarier. She went indie. And it went so well that by July 2015 she incorporated her business, Thunderfoot Publishing Inc. She’s never enjoyed her job more. This new frontier of publishing is bringing Maggie success like she’s never seen before in two distinct areas of her work. First, her contemporary western romances, The Texas Brands series and the Oklahoma All-Girl Brands. And secondly her beloved paranormals, including the Wings in the Night series, which has the distinction of being the second vampire romance novel series ever, launching just a year after Lori Herter’s Obsession series created a new genre. This year, Maggie is writing two spin-off series for fans of both these genres. The McIntyre Men, spun from the Oklahoma Brands, launches with a special holiday anthology this Thanksgiving. She’s also written and published the first 3 of a new phase for her vampires, Wings in the Night: Reborn. Maggie is also an acclaimed thriller writer with her award winning Brown and de Luca novels, and many more. Maggie Shayne is extremely accessible to her readers, interacting with them daily, via her Facebook pages and twitter accounts.


The Portal | Wings in the Night: Reborn | Fatal







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