Author Terrie Moran dropped by ePen for a lovely visit. I baked cookies, brewed tea, and settled in.
Hello Terrie! Before we settle down to tea and conversation, I love to ask authors what odd item is on their desk. What would we spy if we were peeking in on you?
There are two Irish coins sitting at the base of my computer screen. The larger coin is an Irish Punt and is a remembrance of my first trip to Ireland in the 1990s before the Republic of Ireland became part of the European Union and switched over to the Euro. The smaller coin is a Euro emblazoned with an Irish harp. I brought that home from my most recent trip with my entire family in 2017. I made a few trips to Ireland in between, but alas, no coins came home with me.
I see you’ve brought me a gift. You’re the sweetest! She looks familiar.
This is a small statuette of the woman who looms large in the World of Mystery ~TA DA~ I present Jessica Fletcher!
I love it! I’ll have to put it up on my bookshelf so my dog doesn’t think it’s her new toy! I’ve brewed some black tea and coffee. Are you a tea or coffee fan?
I drink coffee and various types of tea throughout the day. Right now I happen to be drinking Twinings 100% Pure White Tea. No milk, no sweetener. No lemon.
You are an accomplished writer with many awards. Let’s go back in time to the first book you wrote. What is its name, and knowing what you do now, what would you do differently if the next book you wrote was the first book all over again?
My first novel was book one of the Read ’Em and Eat series, Well Read, Then Dead. I cannot think of one thing I would do differently. Writing is a difficult, often tedious job. I just keep going until, at least in my head, I get it right. That is how I started writing and that is how I still do it.
You’ve written many short stories. Do you have a favorite and why?
My favorite short story is called “Meet Me by the Priest,” and takes place in midtown Manhattan in the closing days of World War Two. The priest in the title is the statue of Father Duffy that stands between Broadway and Seventh Avenue at the north end of the New York Theatre District, and since Father Duffy was chaplain to the “Fighting 69th” in World War One, his statue became a touchstone for service members who were home on rotation but scheduled to soon return to the war.
The main characters are two local lads who have been friends since childhood. One is home on rotation, the other assigned to a local Army base. They are befriended by a delightful group of Canadian sailors who they introduce to Father Duffy’s statue and take along on a visit to famous boxer Jack Dempsey’s restaurant. They are lucky enough to meet the man himself. Of course for the story to be a mystery, there has to be a crime, and in this case—there is a murder. I love this story because I am a native New Yorker and an American History buff. “Meet Me by the Priest” is a reflection a time and place that enchants me.
The story was originally published in a charity anthology that raised money for Homes For Our Troops, a wonderful organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives. You can find out more about HFOT here: https://www.hfotusa.org/
As an author, I’ve noticed the support you give other authors. Has someone’s support in the past made a difference in your life, and why is it important to lend the support you do to others? Some authors feel it’s a competition, but clearly you feel using your position as an author is an outreach to help others.
Thank you. That is a terrific compliment. And you are correct. I do not see writing as a competitive field. That may well be because when I first started writing short stories, two wonderfully supportive writers, Ed Gorman and Bill Crider, encouraged me to continue and to expand. They were cheerleaders for so many new writers, and I suppose many of us took the “pay it forward” mantra seriously. I know I did. Sadly Ed and Bill are no longer with us. Their legacies live on.
How were you chosen to write with Jessica Fletcher?
The short answer is: I have no idea. On Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020, we were in quarantine. I was baking soda farls and dancing around the house to Irish music when the phone rang. I answered and it was my agent who wanted to know if I was interested in writing the Murder She Wrote series. I practically shouted “yes.” Of course Kim Lionetti is a top-notch agent, and she was not going to let me accept without knowing the facts of the deal, so she explained the contract requirements, the financial aspects, etc. I barely listened. (Sorry Kim!) I had been a fan for so long that I only had to hear Murder, She Wrote and “Jessica Fletcher” to jump in with both feet. Of course the publisher did not pluck me out of thin air. Over the years I had written or cowritten a number of novels under the Berkley imprint, so they were extremely familiar with my work. And I have no idea if I was the first author they approached or the fortieth. All I know is I am busting my buttons to be Jessica Fletcher’s sidekick.
Was it hard to step into a series such as Murder, She Wrote? It appears by what we’ve read that you did it flawlessly. What also were the pitfalls and how long did it take you to write Murder, She Wrote: Killing in A Koi Pond?
I will answer your last question first. I have a contract that requires me to hand in a book every six months for two years. I never miss a deadline, so it took me less than six months to write, revise, and submit Koi Pond.
The pitfalls and the difficulties of stepping into the Murder, She Wrote series stem from the fact that I came in as the author of book number fifty-three. The books began being published even as the television series was still in prime time and continue until this day. There are more than two hundred fifty episodes of the show still being aired in syndication every day all around the world. So with that large accumulation of history behind the series, I work very hard to be factually correct, to follow the changes that previous authors have made, and to not make mistakes. Hopefully, I succeed.
This has been a delightful conversation. So many questions and so little time. How about a couple more, and then let you recuperate? As a mystery writer, authors tend to have mystery secrets. What are yours?
The biggest mystery in my life stumps even me. Every morning I wake up with a song in my head, and before I am completely out of bed, I am singing, or at least humming. Generally, it is a different song each day although some songs tend to hang around for a while. The songs are not ones that I heard recently or that connect to my life in some way, they are just in my head, so I sing and hum along. In case you are wondering, this morning’s song was “Bang on the Drum All Day.”
I only know the chorus, but that never stops me. Want to sing along? Here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO17hN-YvBc
How will you recuperate after this barrage of questions? What is your go-to for relaxation?
I have four primary sources of relaxation. First and foremost: visit with, text with, or hang out with any or all of my seven grandchildren. Second: go for a walk. Third: ride my bike. Fourth: gab with a friend.
I’d love to have you back soon and want to make sure I bake your favorite cookie. What gooey treat is your favorite?
Double Stuffed Oreos!
We have to do this again, Terrie. We look forward to your next book. What might that be and where can we find you?
Thanks so much for inviting me. This has been great fun.
Terrie took a last look at the Jessica doll, slipped the remaining cookies into her handbag, and smiled on her way out. I hope she comes back soon!