Author Interview: Terry Lynn Thomas & Gothic Mysteries
How many of you cut your reading teeth on gothic mysteries written by authors such as Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Eden, and Daphne Du Maurier? My first grownup book was The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt, and it forever grounded me in both romance and mystery. That genre is still a fan favorite, and to prove it, today I’m introducing you to author Terry Lynn Thomas, a contemporary woman with a solid grasp of the past. Her stories offer a nod to those classics of another era while maintaining the relevance necessary to make it in today’s crowded market.
In addition to being a kick-ass writer, Terry Lynn Thomas is also a friend and, god bless her, my critique partner. She’s the lady who suffers through my crappy first drafts and plot stops and starts, the one who waves a bottle of chardonnay at me when the self-doubt kicks in. I love her to pieces, and I know you’re going to love her too. She’s a genuine sweetheart. The fact that she’s the author of two stellar gothic mystery novels—The Spirit of Grace and Weeping in the Wings—is like icing on the cake. She has a third book, Neptune’s Daughter, soon to be published, and many more to come.
Without further ado, here’s Terry Lynn Thomas!
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Terry Lynn Thomas married the love of her life, who promised to buy her a horse if she relocated to Mississippi with him. Terry Lynn has loved mysteries since she was old enough to read. She devoured novels by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Georgette Heyer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dorothy Eden, Agatha Christie, and Daphne Du Maurier as a child. These gothic mysteries captured her imagination, never let go, and influence her writing today. When she is not writing or riding her horse, she visits historical houses and cemeteries, hunting for story ideas.
Thanks for hanging out with us. Tell us about yourself.
Hello, Lisa. Thanks for hosting me on your blog. I live in Mississippi with my husband, my horse, and my two spoiled hounds. Although I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I love the history in this part of the world, especially the old cemeteries! Talk about grist for the story mill. I spend my free time walking in the woods, riding my horse, gardening, and—of course—reading!
What genre(s) do you write in and why?
My books would be shelved with the mysteries, but I like to think my stories are an amalgam of mystery, historical fiction, gothics, and (as far as the Sarah Bennett stories are concerned) a hint of paranormal. I like to think my books harken back to the classic gothics of the early- to mid-twentieth century. (Think of the books with a woman in her nightgown running away from a haunted house.) I love those books to this day and still devour that style of writing. When I set out to write for publication, I decided to write this particular style of books. I love Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Dorothy Eden. I like to think my stories pay homage to these fabulous writers. And here’s a quirky thing: I will never write a story where the characters have cell phones! It’s nice to take a break from modern technology, even if it’s only in a fictional way.
What genres are you drawn to as a reader?
I love anything with gothic undertones, historical fiction, mysteries, and—my true weakness—a good ghost story. I like a remote setting, preferably in England or Scotland, and a heroine who undergoes a major shift in her psyche and grows strong during the arc of the story.
Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I read a lot of mysteries, especially fiction written in the 1920s to 1970s. I do have a few modern authors that I read religiously. In order to keep my voice authentic, I read the books that were written in the era of my stories. The Sarah Bennett Mysteries take place in the 1940s in San Francisco. I made a point to read as many of the best sellers during that era as possible. In the process, I discovered books like The Uninvited by Dorothy McCardle (which was made into a movie), The Weeping and the Laughter and Laura by Vera Caspary. Laura was made into a fabulous movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. This isn’t so much a genre choice as a time-period choice. Right now in my writing, I’m committed to the time period between the 1930s to the 1940s. Most books I read (and movies I watch) are set during this era, which helps to keep my voice authentic and imbue the nuance of the period into my writing. I really want my readers to know what it felt like to living during this era, and what I read has a great influence in that regard.
What’s next for you?
Book three of the Sarah Bennett series, Neptune’s Daughter, has been turned in to my publisher, and we are hoping for an August release date. I am now working on a new mystery series. The first book takes place in 1937, and is set in the Britain. My heroine is older and she is spunky! I am having a blast with her.
Where can readers find you?
Your readers can visit me on the web at terrylynnthomas.com, and on Facebook at Terry Lynn Thomas – Writer and Lover of Ghost Stories. If your readers will message me (on my webpage or Facebook) and mention your blog, I will send them an e-copy of The Spirit of Grace, Book One of the Sarah Bennett Mysteries.
THE SPIRIT OF GRACE
Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House. Although she allegedly witnessed the incident, she knows in her heart that she did not give her mother that fateful push. When she becomes the subject of dark whispers and sidelong glances, Sarah’s family sends her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco. Now, one year after her mother’s death, Sarah is summoned home. When she returns, another murder occurs, and Sarah is once again a suspect. In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as Sarah works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.
Available at AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
Excerpt of The Spirit of Grace
I had just put the silver away and was in the process of laying the used dish towels near the stove so they could dry overnight, when I saw Zeke in the back corridor. Something stopped me from speaking to him or asking what he was doing back here. He must have gone upstairs and come back down again on the servant’s staircase, which no one ever used except Anca and me.
I ducked behind a huge parka and watched as Zeke bent over Grace’s camera bag, unzipped it, and slipped out a black canister of film, all in one quick fluid motion. After he did that, he took another canister of film out of his pocket and slipped that into the camera bag in place of the film he had taken. He didn’t see me standing in the shadows spying on him. He headed back up the stairs, his footsteps quiet as passing time.
I walked back into the foyer and up the main staircase to my own room. Once inside, I locked the door behind me. I changed out of the black dress, fumbling with one hand. The image of Zeke switching the film in Grace’s camera bag ran over and over in my head. I tried to convince myself that he hadn’t been doing anything harmful. Maybe he just needed to borrow some film. But I knew what I had seen. I knew what I had heard this afternoon—Zeke speaking flawless German on the telephone.
The magic I had felt earlier, the possibility of a future with him had been clouded now. Our future together wouldn’t be a happy one. How could it be? I had fallen in love with a spy.
And here’s the cover for Book Two in the series:
Available at AMAZON: CLICK HERE
Thanks, Terry Lynn, for agreeing to be interviewed here at Writing in the Buff.
If you have questions or comments for Terry Lynn, please don’t hesitate to chat her up. Any questions about the historical era or how she does her research? Curious about her beloved horse (his name is Dusty)? Now’s the time to ask. Terry Lynn will be checking in here to chat with you.
Thanks for hanging out with us!
See you next week!
Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, or Kobo. Or just click the book cover on the sidebar. That works too. 🙂
In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.