Mad for Mad?

Madelyn Alt is the national bestselling author of the witchy and hip Bewitching Mysteries, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The Bewitching Mysteries features small town single girl and fledgling empath Maggie O'Neill, her witchy boss, and an unlikely circle of ghosthunting friends, the N.I.G.H.T.S., as they investigate an increasing level of paranormal disturbance--not to mention a series of unrelated murders--in Maggie's hometown of Stony Mill, Indiana. 

In other words, they are: "Mysteries... with Hex Appeal."
After having spent the bullk of her adult life in an old Victorian home in northeast Indiana, Madelyn recently pulled up roots and relocated to the Carolinas. She now writes from her newly adopted home, a vintage Southern bungalow that she shares with her family, as well as a Rat Terrier who thinks he can conquer the world by sheer dint of will, two Siamese cats who really rule the roost, and a Shepherd-Lab sweetheart who is only too happy to let them all have their way.

New! Mad also blogs with her dear friends Kristy Robinett and Jennifer Perkins-Hupke on life, creativity, and all things spiritual. Check in and see what kinds of spirited highjinks we're up to today!

The MaJicKal Life on Twitter


Contact me at: madelynalt @
Contact my agent, Peter Miller at


Still with me?
Okay, so what you see above is the official version. The truth is, I'm just your average, run-of-the-mill small town Midwestern girl who was blessed at birth with an active imagination and a steadfast love for the written word. Writing is one of the best jobs in the world, even taking into consideration the long apprenticeship, the years of rejection, the critics eager to crush you. . . Did I mention this is the best job in the world? Truly. What other job can you think of that lets you sit around in your fuzzy bunny slippers all day and make things up for money?

Not to mention, the world is my office. Have laptop, will travel. It's a Very Good Thing.
Why I write what I do:
So what's a nice girl like me doing writing about ghosties, ghoulies, and things that go bump in the night? Truth is, I've always been intrigued by the paranormal. Certain things I've experienced myself have fueled that interest, not to mention things others have shared with me, people whom I trust. Isolated incidents can be explained away; these are not isolated incidents. They are also not the kind of things that can be proven easily by scientific methods. While that might sound like a pat answer, I've never been convinced that science has enough technology to have the right to pooh-pooh everything away. It seems the height of arrogance to say that we have all the answers. The fact is, people are experiencing things that their logical minds want to explain away, but can't. That's not to say that science and the mystical won't some day coexist happily and sensibly, but until that day I think it's possible we're not meant to understand everything. Not yet.

The most important thing about life is the journey. Only at the end should we be able to look back and make sense of the lot of it. Part of the beauty is in the mystery.
The World According to Me:
I played classical violin until my senior year in high school. Music speaks to me on an emotional, gut level. It always has. It always will.

My favorite color is a deep, amethyst purple. Second favorite, a clear aqua blue.

I have an abiding love for the British Isles, one that reaches deep down into my soul.

Life doesn't get much better than having a steady supply of kisses. Chocolate or otherwise.

Considering the subject matter I've chosen to write about, I suppose it goes without saying that I believe the spirit world to be a rich and important part of our lives. . . even when we don't realize it's there.

I know intuitive/sensitive phenomena to be real . . . but let the buyer beware. As in all aspects of life, there are a lot of scammers out there who think only of themselves.

Tolerance and compassion can make all the difference in this world.

A wicked sense of humor and laugh lines are two of the sexiest things a man can possess.

That being said, certain accents melt me. Scottish? Be still my heart.

Crowds either hype me up or stress me out, depending on the overall mood.

I cry at sad movies… commercials… books… songs… Now replace sad with happy and repeat the sequence. Get the picture?

My hands are rarely still when I'm talking.

I love to laugh and tease, and do, as often as possible.

I love silver and crystal, candles and colored glass, velvet and cashmere.

Flowers mean so much more to me in the garden than sitting in a vase on the dining room table.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an archaeologist. And, a ballerina.

By the time I was fifteen, I dreamed of becoming a novelist, but I turned my back on the dream for something “practical.” Isn't it funny sometimes how life tends to come full circle?

I really love being a mom.

I am a thinker; an intuitive; a practical person who daydreams constantly; a sometimes diva who loves to dance and sing but who also doesn't mind getting her hands dirty mucking in the flower beds.

The saddest thing in the world is someone who has lost their way and can't find their connection to the higher power that guides us all.

Love and music are universal and can overcome all barriers and all boundaries.

I'm occasionally a little on the unconventional side, but I also love tradition and history.

I love to travel, but I also love nothing more than to be home.

I tend to pick up accents, inflections, and dialect easily.

I'm a storyteller and word artisan first and forever. What drives me, what intrigues me, are the things my characters whisper in my ear. Who are they? What are their stories? Because if I can't remain true to that, then why would I even bother? And from there all I can do is hope that I am able to find some connection to the psyches of my readers. To reach out through all the words and the pages and touch them is a very powerful thing.

My Favorite movies of all time:
Dear Frankie
Phantom of the Opera
American Dreamer
P.S. I Love You
Love, Actually
Bridget Jones' Diary
Practical Magic
Pan's Labyrinth
Pride & Prejudice (the movie)
Becoming Jane Austen
Sense & Sensibility
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
All of the Harry Potters
All of the Pirates of the Caribbeans
The Princess Bride
Ever After
Young Frankenstein
Last of the Mohicans
Tristan & Isolde
Mists of Avalon
Romancing the Stone
The Gift
Stir of Echoes
The Mothman Prophecy
Favorite Woo-Woo Fiction:
My own (well -- I never said I was a saint ;> )
Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels (vintage, but the perfect ghost story).
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (also vintage, and wonderfully shivery!)
Bewitching by Jill Barnett (Love!)
The Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson (so fun!)
All of Annette Blair's Witch books (charming and witty and whimsical!)
The Charmed series by Candace Havens (Candy does kickass heroines right)
Kate Austin's tributes to Magical Realism
The Chintz & China series by Yasmine Galenorn
The Psychic Eye series by Victoria Laurie
The Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison (so inventive, I love them...)
The Women of the Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong
All of the Harry Potter novels
(all paranormal/suspense/mystery authors should kiss Jo Rowling's feet, IMHO)
The Forever King and The Broken Sword by Warren Murphy & Molly Cochran
The Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts
The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
Non Woo-Woo:
Absolutely anything by Jane Austen
Absolutely anything by Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers
The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (Jamie!!)
To Love a Dark Lord by Anne Stuart (inspired by the stage version of Phantom)
The Stephanie Plum mystery series by Janet Evanovich (hopelessly torn between Morelli & Ranger)
Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series (I love her sense of humor)
Poetry by Robert Burns
Any good travel book
Some of my favorite things to do:
Long walks (when the weather cooperates, I average 15-20 miles a week). Movies & reading. Puttering about my yard with flowers and veggies. Bike riding. Traveling. Exploring wild or ancient places. Canoeing. Not necessarily in that order.
Where I Was Born:
Landstuhl, West Germany (Yes, you guessed it. Air Force Brat.)
Other Places I’ve Lived:
Torrejon, Spain
Oscoda, Michigan
Mary Esther, Florida
Zaragoza, Spain
Midland, Michigan (a fond shout out for my home town)
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Augusta, Georgia
and for the last fifteen years, various towns in NE Indiana
Non-US Locales I’m Dying to Visit:
Scotland. Ireland. England. Wales. (Um, are we seeing a trend here?) Australia. New Zealand. Tuscany. Venice. Slovenia. France. Montréal. Vancouver.

Some Of My Favorite Serious Quotes:
Ni’l ’sa t-saghal so acht ceo. (Translation: This life is but a vapor.)

“Love, in its essence, is spiritual fire.” --Swedenborg

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” --Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator, 1890

“We look forward to the time when the power to love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.” --William Gladstone

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” –Rudyard Kipling

“Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.”--Tom Robbins

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some Of My Favorite Fun Quotes:
"To err is human . . . but it feels divine." --Mae West

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly past." --Douglas Adams

“By the time I was at book five or six, I knew I was never going to be the world’s best romance writer. I was not such a great romantic person. I was starting to run out of positions. My husband was looking really tired. All that research. He was pale, he was going bald, he was losing his hair, and he couldn’t keep up with it... Then the other thing that happened to me was that about halfway through romance writing I went through menopause and I realized I had a lot more interest in murder than I had in sex, so I moved into crime writing.” --Janet Evanovich on writing romance v. writing crime  {{Love!!!}}

"I used to be Snow White... but I drifted." --Mae West
Of Note:
On March 8th, 2006, my mom and dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Pretty cool, no?


Ransom Notes : An Interview With Madelyn Alt, December 2006

Paul Goat Allen: Madelyn, how exactly did you get into writing? And
what was the motivation behind writing a romantic, paranormal mystery?
Those kind of genre-blending books are very popular right now, and I was
wondering if the success of other authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine
Harris, Kim Harrison, et al., had any effect on you in any way…

Madelyn Alt: I wish I could say that I had the foresight to see the success
of the genre-benders you mentioned and to try my own hand at it. I actually
started out writing what I read most often in my teen years and early 20s:
historical romance. I'm a real Anglophile and I love history, so it seemed
natural for me to focus in that area. And though I have also been a paranormal
buff since childhood, it never once occurred to me to try to write it into my
historical manuscripts. Weird, I know, but true.

The truth is, years and years of rejection were the real cause of my sudden
decision to try something new and completely different. I had had enough.
Enough of the rejections, however nicely worded, and enough of the requests
to see "something else." It's amazing how incredibly freeing giving up the ghost
can be. I decided that I might not be selling, but at least I could, by God, be
happy writing something just for myself. Something that didn't follow a guideline,
that wasn't written to market or genre rules -- and if it flaunted those rules,
so much the better.

That makes me sound like such a rebel…but all I really wanted was to feel the
joy in the creation process again.

And I did. The Trouble with Magic flowed from me, well, er, like magic. When it
was finished, I took a good look at it and thought, Huh. You know, that's not half
bad. Why not give it one last shot? By that time, I had found Kim Harrison's
wonderful Rachel Morgan series and Charlaine Harris's Dead series and recognized
that this book and my ideas for more could probably, possibly, with a teensy bit of
luck, fit in with that same readership. The success these fine authors enjoyed gave
me hope, and that was so important to me after years of struggling.

PGA: What was the hardest thing about getting the first book published?

MA: If a writer isn't blessed with an agent, I would have to say the Great Agent Safari
is probably going to be one of the hardest obstacles for a new author to overcome.
It's also absolutely necessary. With that out of the way, the next hurdle was finding
a publisher that wasn't put off by the cross-genre aspects of the series, one that had
a clear vision of how to publish it well. Berkley has been wonderfully supportive.

PGA: Predictable question here, but how much are you and Maggie O'Neill alike?
Do you have the hots for Tom Selleck, too?

MA: How did I know you would ask that? Maggie and I are like sisters. I know her
every thought, her every doubt, her every worry. Her struggles. Her triumphs. I will
admit, there are some aspects of her that are very much like me, and then there
are elements of Maggie that belong to her alone. (I think she likes it that way.) And
as for Tom Selleck.... Well. A girl has to be allowed her secrets.

PGA: Did you consciously create Maggie as an Everywoman kind of heroine so that
any female reader -- and male, for that matter -- could identify with her? You know:
an average kind of character who is kind of stumbling through life but with a ton of

MA: This may sound a bit weird, but I'm not sure I had much of a hand in creating
Maggie at all. Maggie simply IS. She came to me fully formed in a kind of "stream of
consciousness" flow of words and images, completely out of the blue. Remember, at
the time I was writing straight historical romance told strictly from a third-person
point of view. What came to me, oh-so-compellingly, was three pages straight from
Maggie's point of view. Obviously not romance, obviously not historical, and obviously
first person. I'd never done any of that. I didn't even know if I could.

This might disappoint those who see authors as mystical, creative beings, wholly in
charge of the worlds they build and the people who inhabit them. I feel very fortunate
now, looking back, that Maggie is as normal and irreverent as she is -- she keeps things
fun and fresh for me.

That being said, I love the fact that Maggie is someone that I can relate to, and I love
hearing that she resonates with others as well.

PGA: The aspect of your Bewitching Mystery novels that I just love is the pure benevolence
of Maggie and her -- for lack of a better phrase -- healing energy. In the B&N review, I
compared these novels to Janet Evanovich in that they're really "feel-good" reads at heart;
I finish one of your books feeling better somehow about the world around me. Is that your
goal with these books -- a little healing escapism?

MA: First of all, thank you. I love Maggie's energy, too, as well as that of her friends.
They're good people -- a little quirky and off-the-beaten-track, but good. One concept that
was important to me to present was that goodness is not limited to one concept of spirituality,
that you will find both good and bad in all walks of life. This is shown on a smaller scale within
Stony Mill proper. For reasons that no one immediately understands, Stony Mill is simmering
with unrest, both physically and spiritually. Its people are suffering along with it, in fear and
in doubt and in despair, and they are acting out in response to those provocations…but there
are moments of light. Perhaps they are no more than pinpricks at times, but still they are there,
and while the world goes quietly mad around them, these rays of light bring a bit of sanity to
their situations. I think that's an important lesson -- that if someone is looking for light, they
will find it. It's there. They might have to look a little harder to find it, but it's there.

So, for me, Maggie is a part of the light. She is a reminder of the core goodness of humanity,
even as they plot their way through the unseen reaches of the spirit world that most people
tend to fear.

PGA: You share a blog with some other female paranormal fiction writers, aptly called the
Witchy Chicks. How has the popularity of the blog affected your readership?

MA: The fun thing about the Witchy Chicks is the sense of camaraderie we all share, the
encouragement and support we give each other. Our blog is a "feel good" place. I love that.
Our readers come to us knowing what they can expect: a bunch of really cool chicks talking
about subjects that interest them, sometimes paranormal and sometimes not. They also
have the opportunity to make their own comments in response to our posts, and as a result
we often have a sort of dialogue going on back and forth between authors and readers that
we all enjoy. We have readers who speak up on a regular basis, and we have many who
lurk along, ever so quietly. It's all good.

PGA: What’s next on the Madelyn Alt “to write” list? Are you going to continue with the
Bewitching Mystery novels or have you thought about writing something new?

MA: Right now, I would have to say the Bewitching series is my number one priority, as
I just accepted a deal for books four through six with Berkley Prime Crime and have ideas
For so many more. But who knows? A writer always has ideas knocking around in her head,
clamoring for attention. Thank goodness! I wouldn’t know how to cope if I didn’t.