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Home-grown mystery novelist holds book signing in Conyers

Mystery novelist Mary Anne Edwards, who lived in Conyers for 50 years, recently published her first book, “Brilliant Disguise.” (Special Photo)

Mystery novelist Mary Anne Edwards, who lived in Conyers for 50 years, recently published her first book, “Brilliant Disguise.” (Special Photo)

CONYERS — Novelist Mary Anne Edwards’ fictional characters keep her up at night. To assuage them, she fills notebooks with outlines of chapters about their lives and lists their biographical profiles — names, birth dates, what they look like, their interests.

Then, in the morning, after working out, eating breakfast and tending to social media, she puts the characters into motion.

“When I sit down to write, the story writes itself sometimes. They don’t come out like I thought they would. They surprise me sometimes,” said Edwards.

A nearly life-long Conyers resident who relocated to Smyrna two years ago, Edwards recently published her first book, “Brilliant Disguise,” the first in a series of murder mysteries that she said could span 10 books.

The story centers on detective Charlie McClung, an Irish Catholic in his 40s, who finally meets a woman he wants to marry, while on a murder investigation. The woman, Marian Selby, is instantly attracted to McClung as well, but still cannot get over her affection for her late husband. As McClung moves closer to solving the case, the murderer decides to pursue Marian as his next victim.

Edwards said the romance in the book appeals to women and that the detective work will entertain male readers.

The novel is set in 1982, a time when solving crimes was more challenging because technology had not advanced to DNA testing, cell phones and computers, said Edwards.

“It was a time when solving crimes took more brains and skill,” she said.

Edwards said the relationship between the two main characters, Charlie and Marian, will be the kernel in all the subsequent books she plans to write in the Charlie McClung mystery series, the second of which, “A Good Girl,” is due out in September.

“Every time he gets into a nasty case, she gets in the line of fire,” explained Edwards. “He comes in at the last minute and saves her.”

The story of “Brilliant Disguise,” takes place in a small town similar to Conyers or Covington, said Edwards, because that’s what she knows best.

Edwards moved to Rockdale County at age 6 and called Conyers home for 50 years. She graduated from Rockdale County High School in 1976, and worked as an accountant for Covington’s C.R. Bard, and its credit union, over a span of 23 years.

She and her husband of 33 years relocated to Smyrna due to his job, and since then, Edwards has dedicated herself full-time to writing.

A member of the Sisters in Crime Atlanta Chapter, a networking group of crime and mystery novel writers and fans, Edwards is influenced by writers such as Agatha Christie, Anny Perry, Caroline Graham and Elizabeth Peters.

The author weaves her personal experiences into the novel, including her work with the special needs population, both as a caretaker and on the board at Rockdale Cares, a non-profit for the developmentally challenged, for which she still serves.

Edwards said she’s been writing since high school but, prior to the novel, had published only two short stories, in Evangel and The Associated Reformed Presbyterian magazines.

She decided to self-publish her novel after networking with other writers at Killer Nashville, a mystery writers conference. Edwards said it was more economical to hire an editor and graphic artist and market the book herself than it was to try and go through an agent.

Edwards will have copies of her book for sale at a book signing at Holly’s Cupcakes, 1706 Ga. Highway 138, Suite D, in Conyers, from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The paperback book sells for $11, and can also be purchased on Amazon.

The main character in the novel, Marian, is a baker and Edwards is not, so she thought a bakery would be an apropos location.

“My characters do all the things I want to, but can’t,” she said.

To learn more, visit www.maryanneedwards.com.