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Dreamwalker Baxley Powell can’t remember the last time she had such a crappy weekend.
A twilight encounter with a ghost dog left her numb and disoriented, her dreamwalker abilities are wiped out, and the sheriff just summoned her to a double homicide.
With no access to the spirit world, Baxley bluffs her way through the crime scene where a movie star’s assistant and a charter boat captain were strung up and bled dry. In a haunted house, no less. Figuring out who killed these people will be a real challenge without her ability to speak to the dead.
Just when Baxley thinks her powers are returning, her dreamwalks malfunction. With the sheriff pushing her to solve the case quickly, Baxley teams up with a dognapping medium to boost her powers.
Suspects include the captain’s good-for-nothing brother, the assistant’s replacement, and, of course, his stalker. All of Sinclair County is on edge, and the media circus isn’t helping. At stake are the movie’s funding, the sheriff’s job, and Baxley’s senses.
Can Baxley safeguard her abilities and solve the case before the killer strikes again?
Haunted houses, lost pirate treasure, conniving in-laws, supernatural baddies, and a determined ghost dog test amateur sleuth Baxley Powell’s mettle in Book Three of Toussaint’s Dreamwalker Series.
Q: Aloha Maggie, and welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about the protagonist of your new Dreamwalker Mystery, Baxley Powell?
A: Pet-sitter and landscaper, Baxley Powell is now a full-fledged police consultant. She’s a single mom of a ten year old daughter struggling to make ends meet. The military declared her husband dead on a mission but Baxley has her doubts about his fate. She’s searched for him among the living and the dead with no luck, but with so much time passed, it’s becoming harder to hope he’ll walk through her door.
Baxley has the ability to reach the dead in her dreams, and that’s not all. She also can hear when a lie is being told, and sometimes, she’s able to do touch readings of an object and have a vision. For the most part, the visions Baxley sees are reruns of an event in a victim’s life, but occasionally, the dead will talk to her directly.
Q: How much of you is in Baxley? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?
A: Baxley and I share a few traits. We care deeply about family, we like the flexibility of part-time employment, we have a strong practical streak, and we think dogs rock. Also, snakes are not our thing. Oh, and we both have hair challenges.
Beyond that, I’m not psychic like Baxley. However, I’ve known and admired several people with “extra” gifts, and I have patterned Baxley after an amalgam of their paranormal abilities. I think I’d be good friends with Baxley and her family. They are easy-going, natural gardeners, hippie-esque, and wear sandals year round.
Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
A: Absolutely! In each book, Baxley explores a new vein of her psychic abilities. She’s only been a dreamwalker for a few months. Before that, she suppressed her talent in her quest to be normal. When her father’s health became imperiled by dreamwalking, Baxley had to agree to do what he did – get justice of the dead and solace for the living – or else the power would flow to her ten year old. Baxley accepted the challenge, and in each book, she learns more about the extra-special gift she denied for most of her life.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
A: I often find inspiration in real life events. Some come from my direct experiences, some from stories I’ve heard, and some true crime I read in my daily paper. To answer your question more directly, no I’ve never killed off a real life person in a fictional way. That just would not do for me. Instead, I’ve layered their disagreeable characteristics in the villains I create.
Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
A: I fictionalize my settings. Many publishers, mine included make you go through a lot of hoops to use real places, particularly if you’re going to find a dead body there. By inventing my setting, I don’t have people writing me to tell me that the convenience store is on the other side of the street.
All of my recent books are set in coastal Georgia where I live. I only have to go as far as my window for inspiration. I’m enchanted by the natural beauty of this area and do my best to convey that in my novels and in the photos I post on Facebook.
Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: Emma Watson for Baxley, Melissa McCarthy for Charlotte, and Taylor Kinney for Sheriff Wayne Thompson.
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: The best and worst advice are the same thing, and it comes under the heading of “write what you know.” There’s a certain comfort in writing what you know. If you are familiar with it, then you feel at ease writing on a topic/place/character. But if you only write what you know, you limit your choices. For instance, I’d never fired a gun until recently, but guns often appear in my novels. I wrote a book (Rough Waters) about treasure from deep sea salvage and diving – I don’t do either of those things. But I also wrote about a golf pro (married one of them), a long haired St. Bernard (my first granddog), and crazy relatives (take your pick. We all qualify!).
The trick seems to be to approach everything you write with fresh eyes and enthusiasm every time. If you’re excited about something, readers will be too.
Doggone It Excerpt
I stared at my best friend, alarmed. “We’re going in the haunted house? Count me out. I didn’t sign on for breaking and entering. I can’t do that. I’ll lose my job as a police consultant.”
Charlotte shone her light on the weathered façade of June’s Folly. “No breaking required, Baxley. The front door is open.”
I added my beam to hers. Sure enough, the paneled door with the centrally located doorknob gaped on its hinges. “Dang. You’re right. Still, this place belongs to someone. We don’t have the right to stroll inside. We’ll be trespassing.”
“Just a peek inside. If the ghost is here, it should repel us at the door, or so goes the legend. Speaking of ghosts, is anyone talking to you? Maybe shaking some chains or speaking in French?”
“All I’m hearing is a desperate reporter.” Cautiously, I touched the banister to see if it was secure. It was. I used the railing for support as I carefully trod the rotten, squeaking steps. Drifts of thickened air stirred my hair and sighed through the pines. Charlotte halted. “You hear that?”
Her voice sounded too high. “The wind?”
“Chains clanking. And a sad, mournful song in another language.”
“Truly?” I heard nothing of the sort. Was Charlotte’s imagination getting away from her? Was there a ghost?
Charlotte sank to the porch decking, her gear clunking as she landed heavily on her rear. “I, uh, need a minute.”
“Okay.” I sat on the top step beside her. Other than feeling dread and a shiver against the elements, I seemed normal with no sign of sensory overload. I marveled that I was still functioning. A little maturity and a little extrasensory training and I had a whole new perspective on this place.
“Don’t you feel it?” My friend’s teeth chattered. “I’m freezing.”
I estimated it was nearly eighty degrees and humid enough for spiders to dance on the air. Puzzled, I touched Charlotte’s arm. Her skin felt cold to the touch. Ordinarily, Charlotte would be griping about the heat and the humidity. Something was crossing her wires.
“Look at you! Working those earlier ghost sites must have unleashed a latent talent.” I gazed at her with frank admiration. “You’re the ghost detector tonight, Char. I’m not picking up anything.”
“Are you looking?”
She had me there. “Nope. I don’t want to have to call my father to come get me again. That would be embarrassing.”
“I thought you were doing this to prove yourself as a full-fledged dreamwalker.”
“My main thought is that you have your answer to the ghost question. Chains and mournful singing support the drowned slave legend. Time to go home.”
“There’s more to this, I know it,” she insisted. “Help me prove it. You can handle whatever it is I’m feeling. I haven’t passed out or anything.”
Like that would reassure me. But there was a certain logic to her claim. I was being a wimp by keeping my senses and my body shielded.
Charlotte had called me out. Worse, she was right. Just because I never heard ghosts before was no reason not to listen for this one.
My talents and my shielding abilities were much more finely tuned now. I’d been talking to the dead for months. I didn’t have to let childhood fears dictate my actions. And, the sooner I gave Charlotte what she wanted, the sooner we could go home.
With that, I closed my eyes and opened my senses to the night. Immediately, I plunged into a freezing fog bank.
About The Author
Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, mystery and suspense author Maggie Toussaint has thirteen published books. Her recent mystery releases include Gone and Done It, Bubba Done It, Death, Island Style, and Dime If I Know. Her latest mystery, Doggone It, is Book Three in her dreamwalker series about a psychic sleuth.
Maggie won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy/Traditional Mystery. Additionally, she won a National Readers’ Choice Award and an EPIC Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She was twice nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and finaled in the Beacon and the Readers’ Crown Contest.
Maggie lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.