Maxwell, Ann 1944–
Maxwell, Ann 1944–
(Lowell Charters, a joint pseudonym, Elizabeth Lowell, A.E. Maxwell, a joint pseudonym, Ann Elizabeth Maxwell, Annalise Sun, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born April 5, 1944, in Milwaukee, WI; daughter of David William (in manufacturing) and Shirley Jane (a teacher) Charters; married Evan Lowell Maxwell (a journalist), September 4, 1966; children: Matthew, Heather. Education: Attended University of California—Davis, 1962–63; University of California—Riverside, B.A., 1966. Politics: "Contrarian." Religion: "Contrarian." Hobbies and other interests: Bird watching, beachcombing, geology, fishing.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
MEMBER: Novelists Inc., Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Just Enough Light to Kill was named one of the best crime novels of 1988 by Time magazine; Career Achievement Awards, Romantic Times, 1994, 1999; Best Historical Romance, Romance Writers of America, 1994; Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994.
(With husband, Evan Maxwell; under joint pseudonym Annalise Sun) The Golden Mountain (historical novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Evan Maxwell; under joint pseudonym Lowell Charters) Thunderheart (screenplay novelization), Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Evan Maxwell) The Diamond Tiger (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1992, rewritten under pseudonym Elizabeth Lowell as Death Is Forever, Avon (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Evan Maxwell) The Secret Sisters (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1993, published under pseudonym Elizabeth Lowell as The Secret Sister, Avon (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Evan Maxwell) The Ruby (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Evan Maxwell) Shadow and Silk (novel), Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Also author of Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women (essay), University of Pennsylvania Press.
SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS
Change, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1975.
The Singer Enigma, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1976.
A Dead God Dancing, Avon (New York, NY), 1979.
Name of a Shadow, Avon (New York, NY), 1980.
The Jaws of Menx, New American Library (New York, NY), 1981.
Fire Dancer, New American Library (New York, NY), 1982.
Dancer's Luck, New American Library (New York, NY), 1983.
Dancer's Illusion, New American Library (New York, NY), 1983.
Timeshadow Rider, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1986.
WITH EVAN MAXWELL; UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM A.E. MAXWELL
(With Ivar Ruud) The Year-Long Day (nonfiction), Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1976.
Golden Empire (historical novel), Fawcett (New York, NY), 1979.
Steal the Sun (historical novel), Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1981.
Redwood Empire (historical novel), Worldwide Books/Mills & Boon (Richmond, England), 1987.
"FIDDLER AND FIORA" SERIES; WITH EVAN MAXWELL; UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM A.E. MAXWELL
Just another Day in Paradise, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1985.
The Frog and the Scorpion, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.
Gatsby's Vineyard, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987.
Just Enough Light to Kill, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.
The Art of Survival, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.
Money Burns, Villard (New York, NY), 1991.
The King of Nothing, Villard (New York, NY), 1992.
Murder Hurts, Villard (New York, NY), 1993.
UNDER PSEUDONYM ELIZABETH LOWELL
Tell Me No Lies, Worldwide Books/Mills & Boon (Richmond, England), 1986.
Reckless Love, Harlequin (Tarrytown, NY), 1990.
Only His, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.
Only Mine, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
Only You, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
Untamed, Avon (New York, NY), 1993.
Forbidden, Avon (New York, NY), 1993.
Enchanted, Avon (New York, NY), 1994.
Only Love, Avon (New York, NY), 1995.
Autumn Lover, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
Winter Fire, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
Moving Target (first novel in the "Rarities Unlimited" series), Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Running Scared (second novel in the "Rarities Unlimited" series), Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Die in Plain Sight, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Barbara McCauley) Summer Gold, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Color of Death, Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
Always Time to Die, Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
The Wrong Hostage, Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
"INTIMATE MOMENTS" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ELIZABETH LOWELL
The Danvers Touch, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1983, expanded edition published as To the Ends of the Earth, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Lover in the Rough, Silhouette Books (New York, NY) 1984, rewritten and published under the same title, 1994.
Summer Games, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1984, expanded edition published as Remember Summer, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Forget Me Not, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1984, rewritten and published under the same title, 1994.
A Woman without Lies, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1985, rewritten and published under the same title, 1995.
Traveling Man, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1985, expanded edition published as Where the Heart Is, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Valley of the Sun, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1985, expanded edition published as Beautiful Dreamer, Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Sequel, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1986, rewritten as This Time Love, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Fires of Eden, Avon (New York, NY), 1986, expanded edition published as Eden Burning, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Sweet Wind, Wild Wind, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Chain Lightning, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1988.
"DESIRE" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ELIZABETH LOWELL
Summer Thunder, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1983, expanded edition published as Desert Rain, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
The Fire of Spring, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Too Hot to Handle, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Love Song for a Raven, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Fever, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Dark Fire, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Fire and Rain, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Outlaw, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Granite Man, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Warrior, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 1991.
"DONOVAN" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ELIZABETH LOWELL
Amber Beach, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Jade Island, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Pearl Cove, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Midnight in Ruby Bayou, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.
ADAPTATIONS: Many of the author's books have been released in audio form, in both abridged and unabridged versions, and in large-print editions.
SIDELIGHTS: Ann Maxwell began her writing career in 1975 with the science-fiction novel Change. She and her husband, Evan Maxwell, began writing together under the pseudonym A.E. Maxwell in 1976, first with a nonfiction work, then with a crime series featuring a couple named Fiddler and Fiora. In 1982, under the pseudonym Elizabeth Lowell, Maxwell began publishing romance novels, a field in which she has won a number of awards and spots on the New York Times bestseller list. More than twenty million copies of Maxwell's books are in print, and they have been reprinted in more than twenty languages.
Amber Beach is Maxwell's (writing as Elizabeth Lowell) first book in the "Donovan" series. The Donovan brothers are gem traders, and when brother Kyle disappears, his sister, Honor, hires Jake Malloy, a fishing guide, to help her search for him in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. Kyle is suspected of having stolen a fortune in amber in Russia, as well as a panel from the Amber Room of a former czar's palace. Unknown to Honor, Jake has connections to her brother and is involved in a plot that comes complete with spies and assassins. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "the moderately paced plot, solid main characters, and an up-to-the-minute premise fortify a satisfactory, if unexceptional romance." In a Booklist review, Melanie Duncan called Amber Beach "an excellent recipe for a thrilling evening."
In the second "Donovan" book, Jade Island, the romantic pair includes Kyle and Lianne Blakey, the illegitimate daughter of Johnny Tang of a Chinese trading family. Lianne, who handles the family's jade collection, discovers that some of the priceless pieces have been stolen and inferior copies put in their place. Kyle's older brother, Archer, orders him, at the request of the U.S. government, to look into Lianne's possible connection with the stolen treasures. Kyle and Lianne meet at a charity auction, and he quickly becomes her protector when an attempt is made on her life. Booklist reviewer Diana Tixier Herald called Lianne "a marvelous heroine…. And Kyle, an ideal romantic adventure hero, is her match on all fronts." Kristin Ramsdell described Jade Island in the Library Journal as "fast-paced and frankly sensual … peopled with intelligent, larger-than-life, yet appealing protagonists and a fascinating, well-plotted story."
Pearl Cove, the third book of the "Donovan" series, is set in Australia. Archer Donovan has loved Hannah McGarry since he first met his half brother's new bride ten years earlier. Archer is Len McGarry's distant silent partner in a pearl farming operation until Hannah calls on Archer for help when Len is killed for his pearl necklace, the Black Trinity. Archer rushes to Australia to protect Hannah, who, a variety of shadowy international interests think, knows Len's secret to cultivating the precious black pearls. Archer falls even harder for Hannah as they search for the murderer and thief. Hannah is still smarting from her marriage to the unloving Len, and Archer must convince her that he is a different man. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that Lowell infuses "the minutiae of pearl diving and of international gem sales into a racy light read." "This is a riveting mix of suspense and romance, sure to increase Lowell's popularity," wrote Patty Engelmann in Booklist.
Faith Donovan is a jewelry designer in the more recent Midnight at Ruby Bayou. She is designing a necklace with, unknown to her, rubies that were stolen from a necklace in the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Also stolen was a twenty-carat ruby ring called the Heart of Midnight that the Russians want to recover, but Faith does not have it. She must deliver the necklace to South Carolina, where she will give it to her best friend, Mel, at her wedding. Faith's brothers send Owen Walker, who had previously been in their employ, to guard her and deliver the jewels. Owen follows Faith south, carrying the necklace, to find the FBI waiting. The family of the bridegroom, Jeff Montegeau, has a secret that Owen discovers—as well as the missing ring—while he protects Faith from the Russians and local mobsters. Owen, who feels responsible for the death of his brother on an expedition, and Faith, who has broken off a relationship with a man who told her she was frigid, move cautiously toward a relationship. Booklist reviewer Herald remarked that Lowell "does not stint on the romance as she brings together two deeply wounded individuals … who can't beat the heat that builds up between them."
Outside of the "Donovan" series, Maxwell still favors combining action and suspense with romance in her other novels under the Lowell pen name. In her Moving Target, for example, she writes about Serena Charters, who has inherited a stone cabin in California after her grandmother dies. Among the items in the cabin are a beautiful old scarf and a medieval illuminated manuscript that are obviously of great value. Having the work appraised by an auction house, she is surprised when the appraiser claims the pages are fakes but nonetheless offers her a million dollars. Serena decides to have a second appraiser look at the book, and thus meets Erik North; together, they discover that something is very odd about the pages and that they might have caused Serena's grandmother to go mad. Booklist contributor Engelmann praised the "intricate story, which is as finely woven as the wondrous scarf Serena inherits." While a Publishers Weekly contributor declared the plot to be "familiar," the critic added that it is "refreshed by historical and artistic detail."
Art is again a central concern in the next Lowell adventure, Die in Plain Sight, which Booklist writer Engelmann claimed to be "one of her best." This story features painter Lacey Quinn, who uncovers a bizarre mystery when she begins to research her grandfather's paintings. Some of his work features strange scenes of people dying, and Lacey is shocked when she finds out that the murders they portray come from real events. Could it be that her grandfather was a killer? Lacey teams up with investigator Ian Lapstrake to uncover the truth, and naturally a romance ensues. A Publishers Weekly contributor complained that the story is "heavy on romance and light on mystery" and that some of the situations "defy credibility," though the reviewer enjoyed the "engaging lesson on California art."
Maxwell (as Lowell) introduces a new heroine, Katherine "Kat" Chandler, in The Color of Death. Kat is a lapidary, and so the author gets to indulge her interest in jewelry again in this romantic suspense novel. The story centers on the beautiful, flawless, and valuable Seven Sins, a set of perfect sapphires that Kat has cut herself and that become the object of desire of unsavory thieves. In The Color of Death, Kat fears that her half-brother, Lee, has been kidnapped by those who want to get their hands on the sapphires, and so she sets out to investigate his disappearance. Unfortunately, a Kirkus Reviews contributor found the story, which is full of tough guys and people "skulking around in dopey disguises," to border on the "ridiculous." A Publishers Weekly critic felt it would prove to be "a diverting read for thriller fans."
With Always Time to Die, the author has a genealogist and author as her protagonist. Carly May is hired by the governor of New Mexico's aunt to write a genealogy book that only includes the women members of the family. Traveling to Taos to pursue her research, Carly finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery when her employer's brother-in-law, the wealthy and powerful Andrew Jackson Quintrell III, is killed, thus setting up a family conflict as his legitimate and illegitimate children lay claim to his inheritance. Carly teams up with Dan Duran to solve the murder, and the pair soon grow attracted to one another. Library Journal reviewer Bette-Lee Fox worried that the novel is evidence that the author "seems to have lost her flare for drama and emotional depth." However, Booklist critic Engelmann declared the book to be a "top-notch romantic suspense in [Lowell's] signature staccato style."
Maxwell once told CA: "I write to bring joy; intelligent people don't need to be taught that life often is discouraging. As I have been an avid reader all my life, it is impossible for me to sort out particular influences on my own writing. My appreciation for and understanding of natural science informs my fiction. John McPhee has my admiration for the precision and rhythms of his language.
"I believe that language informs thought; therefore, my thinking and writing is shaped by the whole of western civilization. Shaped, but not determined. I am now and have always been profoundly 'antimodern.' The older I become, the more important are the themes of resilience, continuity, and regeneration. For me, writing itself is an act of faith in the future.
"When beginning to 'grow' a novel, I decide upon and research the backdrop setting and time period. Because my writing has always been character-driven rather than plot-driven, my characters come next. I create a sketch for each character, to bring them up to the moment the book will begin. I do not try to recreate an historical 'slice of life' (the use of modern language alone would make that impossible), but I do try to create characters my readers will respond to. After the cast of characters is in hand, I plot the book. Then I turn off the phone and set a daily page requirement for myself.
"My fiction deals with problems of strength rather than problems of weakness. There is no appeal or purpose for me in reading—or writing—fiction that portrays incessant, excruciating, and pointless pain in the lives of characters.
"I have been most intrigued by Medieval Britain, particularly the period after 1066 A.D., and the postCivil War period in the American West. In both cases it was a time of expanded possibilities for individuals, regardless of birth or heritage, to create a better life and, ultimately, a better world, from chaos. These people were individuals with a vision and the will to create something enduring—a new life and a new nation.
"My starting point for my science fiction is always the question 'what if?' For example, 'What if all our myths were true? What kind of world would I live in then?' Science fiction is a playground for the imagination. When writing mystery, suspense, or thrillers, I build my fiction on the view that logic can solve problems and bring justice. My romances are built on the abiding belief that a man and a woman who are strong enough to stand alone can create a very special world if they choose to stand together. The love they share won't solve life's problems, but it can make them bearable.
"Advice for new writers? Begin as close to the end of your story as you possibly can. Modern readers don't have the time or the desire to read everything the author knows about the backdrop and characters in his or her book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1997, Melanie Duncan, review of Amber Beach, p. 7; September 1, 1998, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Jade Island, p. 6; May 1, 1999, Patty Engelmann, review of Pearl Cove; May 1, 2000, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Midnight in Ruby Bayou, p. 1588; December 1, 2000, Laurie Hartshorn, review of Midnight in Ruby Bayou, p. 743; April 15, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Moving Target, p. 1508; May 15, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of Die in Plain Sight, p. 1619; June 1, 2005, Patty Engelmann, review of Always Time to Die, p. 1764.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Color of Death, p. 352.
Library Journal, August, 1998, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Jade Island, p. 72; February 1, 1999, Jodi L. Israel, review of Jade Island (audiobook), p. 136; June 1, 2001, Jodi L. Israel, review of Midnight in Ruby Bayou, p. 246; July, 2002, Jodi L. Israel, review of Eden Burning, p. 142; June 1, 2005, Bette-Lee Fox, review of Always Time to Die, p. 117; August 1, 2005, Jodi L. Israel, review of The Color of Death, p. 132.
Publishers Weekly, August 25, 1997, review of Amber Beach, p. 45; May 17, 1999, review of Pearl Cove, p. 57; July 2, 2001, review of Moving Target, p. 52; December 16, 2002, review of This Time Love, p. 46; May 26, 2003, review of Die in Plain Sight, p. 46; May 24, 2004, review of The Color of Death, p. 44.
Elizabeth Lowell Home Page, http://www.elizabethlowell.com (December 29, 2005).