Friday, July 31, 2015

An Interview and Giveaway with Terrie Farley Moran

An Interview with Terrie Farley Moran:
 by Terri Parsons

MM: Terrie, what inspired you to write Well Read, Then Dead?

My agent, the fabulously supportive Kim Lionetti of Bookends was my inspiration. I met Kim at Sleuthfest in 2012. I pitched my first novel, Driven to Death. Kim read the first few chapters, pronounced it unsalable but said she liked my voice and style and asked if I would write something else. And so I wrote Well Read, Then Dead as part of a three book proposal, which she sold to Berkley Prime Crime.

MM:  You have also written short stories.  Which came first?  And how does writing short stories compare to writing a novel?

I’d just finished the first draft of Driven to Death when my Sisters in Crime chapter had a call for submissions for short stories for a chapter anthology. I wrote a story called “Strike Zone” and I was thrilled when it was accepted. While writing it, I discovered that I loved writing short stories, so I continued to do so. In fact I wrote two shorts stories during the same time I wrote Well Read, Then Dead. I will say that while my novels are cozy, my short stories definitely are not. Oh and I was short listed in 2009 and 2012 for Best American Mystery Stories.
For me the difference between the two forms is that in a short story I can take an incident that is usually life altering, examine it from all sides and tell it in a way I think highlights the most important kernel of truth. While in a novel, I intertwine lots of incidents to give a more comprehensive view of the characters, how they live and how the world affects them.

MM: Caught Read-Handed just came out. Tell us a bit about it and give us some insight into your series and its characters?

 Caught Read-Handed is the second Read ’Em and Eat novel featuring Mary Sassafras Cabot, aka Sassy, and Bridgy Mayfield, two BFFs from Brooklyn who pool their resources and move to Florida. They open the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore in sunny, happy Fort Myers Beach. When a cranky library volunteer is murdered in her own hot tub Sassy is dismayed to learn that the suspected killer is a veteran suffering from PTSD who happens to be the brother of her old friend and former boss. Friendship and loyalty are so important to Sassy that she doesn’t hesitate to try to prove that the veteran is innocent. And of course she is impulsive so she isn’t always as careful as she should be.

MM: You won the Agatha award for Best First Novel. What did that mean to you?
I have been asked this question a few times and my answer remains the same. I was honored and deeply humbled. I am delighted that mystery readers love Well Read, Then Dead as much as I do. Winning the Agatha Award steeled my resolve to work as hard as I can to write quality cozies that readers will continue to love.

MM: How important do you find Writing Groups, Organizations & Conventions to be in your process?
Writing is a very solitary occupation. I research. I think. I write. I research. I think. I write. There is no “we”. I don’t belong to a writing group and no one reads my work before I submit it. But I do belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and SinC Guppies. I am physically alone when I develop a story, research it and write it, but it is important to know that there are thousands of people struggling through the process just like I am and that we can communicate through our organizations and get together at conferences like Bouchercon, Malice Domestic and any number of others.

MM: Who are some of your go-to authors when you want to read?
I love to read and re-read The Golden Age writers such as Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Ellery Queen. From an even earlier era, I enjoy short story writers G.K. Chesterton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

MM: You left your day job to write.  How did that happen and how much support did you have?

I live in New York City and I was an Administrative Manager in City government. The tragedy of 9/11 changed the way I looked at things. After more than a year of funerals and memorial services, most for people younger than I was, I decided life wasn’t infinite. I wanted to write mysteries, so I stopped work and started writing. I had no clue how it was “supposed” to be done. I wrote completely in a vacuum. Then, around 2006, I’d pretty much finished the first draft of my first novel and I didn’t know what to do next. So I Googled “How to write a mystery” and found out that Sleuthfest was taking place a few weeks in the future about twenty miles from my daughter’s house. I signed up, attended and found out that there were great organizations like Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. And I learned that conferences weren’t a one-time thing, there are a lot of them every year.

MM:  So what is a dream writing day for you?

A dream writing day would any day the telephone doesn’t ring.

MM:  So, tell us what’s next on the horizon for you?

I am writing book three of the Read ’Em and Eat series. I would also like to write a couple of short stories since I only have two in the pipeline right now, and perhaps it is time to think about developing an additional cozy series.

MM: Your favorite tv show, meal, movie, book, vacation spot, fun memory?
Well my favorite television show for a very long time was Justified, which might seem an odd pick for a cozy writer but I loved the relationships among the characters, especially Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. And now it is over. *sigh*

My favorite meal is breakfast any time of day. Eggs anyway you would care to fix them with a side of bacon and rye toast, heavy on the butter. (Please don’t tell my doctor.)

My favorite movie is The Magnificent Seven. I adore the writing and the acting (no one can say so much with so few words as James Coburn). The musical score is incomparable.

My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I am very excited about the new controversial Harper Lee book, Go Set A Watchman. My oldest granddaughter who will be thirteen in a few weeks and I both are dying to read it so we can talk about it. I’m on a tight schedule right now so I ordered it but had it sent to her. Hopefully by the time she is finished reading it, I will have a space in my schedule and can curl up with some iced green tea and the new book.

My favorite vacation spot would have to be Fort Myers Beach.

My birthday in 2014 will always be a fun memory. My grandkids decided I would be absolutely gorgeous with my face painted with cake frosting. They were right.

MM: Lastly, where can everyone find you and leave us with some writing words of wisdom.

I will share this nugget of writing wisdom from author Gillian Roberts: “Don’t write it write. Write it down.” I take that to mean that once it is on the page you can always fix it. The hardest part is getting it on the page.

You can find me here, there and everywhere on the internet.

Agatha Award recipient Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series including Well Read, Then Dead and Caught Read-Handed. Her short mystery fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies.


Terrie is generously giving away a T-Shirt – If you would like to win, just leave a comment with email addy and the winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday August 5th!  Good luck!


  1. Terrie - I love your explanation of short stories! Also really curious to know what you think of Go Set a Watchman after you read it!

  2. Hi Terrie, thanks for your hospitality. I do love writing short stories! I hope to get to read. Go Set a Watchman in September. Granddaughter is on vacation so I don't have her opinion yet. Have you read it?

  3. While I have not been one to enjoy short stories as I like a story I can get into and stay in for a while, I like your writing style and might have to fund one of the anthologies or magazines with your stories in! And it would be an honor to wear a shirt with your latest in series on it, esp including Bow. jeaniedannheim ( at ) ymail ( dot ) com

  4. Terrie - I am on the fence about the book. My friend Crystal is going to read it soon, so also waiting for her opinion. Mockingbird is her favorite book

    1. Oh yes! Then I want to hear what Crystal has to say too.

  5. Love the t-shirt!!

  6. I am looking forward to revisiting Ft. Myers with Terrie and her characters! Thanks!

  7. Love these interviews, both books and glad I discovered the short stories. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Loved Well Read, Then Dead! Can't wait to read Caught Read Handed.

  9. " Caught Red Handed" A bookstore and one of the volunteers gets murder... Sounds like a book I would find very interesting.. and I love a good who done it story?

  10. Hi, Terrie,

    I enjoyed reading your interview. Great advice to fellow writers. Getting that first draft down is the hard part. Congrats on the novels and landing such a great agent to market them!

  11. Great interview, Terrie. I love your books!

  12. And the Giveaway Winner is Holdenj! terrie will be contacting you to get your info! Congratulations and enjoy! And Thank You Terrie!


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