Friday, October 26, 2018

{13 Days of Halloween} D8: Interview with Teri Bailey Black

Hey guys! Its already past the half-way point of the 13 days leading up till Halloween!
It's time to pull out the big guns.
I know you're tired of the lists.

How about we pull out this awesome interview with Teri Bailey Black?
How does that sound!?


Teri Bailey Black is the author of:

Release Date: August 7, 2018


The Interview

The book world had a fad of dystopias for a while and now there seems to be lots more contemporary and fantasy, absent of "horror" and suspense novels. What made you want to write about a murder mystery?I’ve always loved reading mysteries—I have two shelves dedicated to them—but I’m also a big fantasy reader, so my first two practice novels were actually YA fantasy. As I was contemplating which story idea to write next, there were already so many amazing fantasy and dystopian books on the market, I made a conscious choice to write something else.

At first, I thought GIRL AT THE GRAVE would be straight historical fiction—the story of a girl who has to overcome the shame of a mother who was hanged for murder. Then, a few chapters into it, I realized—hey, this is a murder mystery! My brain caught fire thinking up who would get killed and why and by whom. I tossed in a few family secrets and some romance. (Must have romance.) At the time, I wasn’t aware of any mysteries in the YA market, but recently it’s been a big trend—which makes me happy because I love reading them.

I love reading mysteries myself. I even love the tv shows and movies dedicated to them documentaries especially! Is there a mentality you had to keep throughout your writing process to keep the book's eerie feel?Atmosphere is actually the fun, easy part of writing for me. I love art and design, and usually have a vivid image in my mind that I enjoy turning into words. A decrepit mansion. A creepy graveyard. The dramatic tension also comes rather easily—too easily in fact; I usually have to go back and tone it down. I’m happy to say that my real life is filled with more cookie baking and lunch with friends than dramatic atmosphere, but for some reason my imagination tends to go to a dark and stormy place.

My major in school is currently Fine Arts. I'm a lover of the arts and design myself. I love your use of that as a comparison with writing. Sometimes you forget not only is the author a creator of words but a home designer, decorator and more! You have to be good at them and love your skill in it! How did you draw the line between a suspenseful, gothic novel and utter horror?That was a natural line I didn’t think about. I love atmosphere and tension, but I’m not drawn to stories that are overly dark or horrifying. Occasionally everyone raves about a dark book or TV show, so I give it a try, but it usually ends up creeping me out and I stop partway. I want a protagonist who’s a good person stuck in a bad situation, willing to go to a dark place for a noble reason (hello Frodo). But if the protagonist is overly dark and troubled and creepy, I’m usually out.

Haha I love it! I can completely understand the natural draw to stay away from horror. Personally, I've always found myself creeped out a lot more from the horror books so perhaps this is why I have yet to read many. Lol. The book doesn't take place in today's time, instead you chose to tie in a historical time line. What interested you in taking on an older time?I knew before I wrote a single word that the story would be historical, but that still left me with lots of options in time and place. The mother was hanged quickly—just three days after the murder—so that ruled out anything in the last hundred years, when the investigation and court case would probably have taken longer. So I zeroed in on the early 1800’s. I decided on a New England setting because it had the atmosphere I wanted, with creepy old graves and a stifling social structure (unlike my own California which was still very wild west at that time). I first wrote the book in the 1820’s, then switched it to 1849 in revisions when I incorporated the start of the women’s rights movement (which was super exciting for me – so grateful for those early women who forged the way).

I love all the thought and research that went into the time era. I love history as well and always appreciate the attention to the details, work, sweat and tears going into the research to pull it off. Many props and appreciation. What is the key to keep a reader guessing within a murder mystery?It’s a super tricky, fun puzzle. A mystery needs plenty of false clues that lead the reader to suspect the wrong person (multiple times), plus enough real clues so it all makes sense at the end. It needs a few shocking reveals along the way, twisting the story in surprising directions (that’s the fun part). And, for me, even more important than the mystery, the characters have to be fully developed, with personal conflicts that force them to stretch and grow as the mystery unfolds. Oh—and the romance element needs careful handling as well, of course, with plenty of tension . . . and then hope . . . and then more tension—all with a killer on the loose. So, yeah, plotting a mystery isn’t quick and easy, but it’s a fun challenge. I’m currently replotting my next book for the THIRD time!!! I just changed the murder victim.

This reminds me of the board game, Clue I used to play growing up. It was one of my favorites. This sounds so fun! Fun, but again super impressed with your attention to research and utmost attention to detail. It really shows.Oooo yay!! Another mystery novel from you! So excited to find that out!! Creepy gothic mansions, creepy graveyards, hangings, murder...Did you have to do research to create your setting/what inspired the visuals?I’m super happy when I hit a place in my writing where I have to stop and jump into a research rabbit hole. I love it. Sometimes I look at images. (What was written on tombstones in the 1700’s? What did people wear in 1849?) Sometimes it’s reading articles on a fascinating topic—like the women’s rights movement in the mid-1800’s. For my current WIP, I’ve been researching astrophysics, which has me feeling all sorts of smart right now.

This has been such a great interview. I absolutely loved hearing all the work you put into this wonderful book. Also can appreciate the leak of more mysteries from you soon! 

Speed round:·       pumpkin pie or pecan pie? Pumpkin, but I’m not going to turn down pecan.
·       creepy grave yard or haunted mansion? Oh, haunted mansion for sure. I love creepy old houses with hidden staircases and whispers in the attic.
·       ghosts or mummies? Ghosts are so much better—people with spooky voices and fascinating stories. Mummies are just faceless and moaning.
·       spells or potions? Spells. I love words. I don’t love drinking things that taste nasty.
·       haunting or summoning? Haunting. I will not be summoning anything.
·       Freddy or Jason? Impossible question. The answer is no and definitely no.

Haha! These Halloween speed round questions are so much fun! Your answers are great xD

About Teri Bailey Black:

Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.

How great was this interview!?
Thank you again to the amazing Teri Bailey Black for participating.
This book has perfect Halloween read written all over it!

Have you read it yet?
Let me know what you thought of the interview!
Answer the speed round questions yourself down in the comments!


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