Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Author Interview: Terry Lynn Thomas & Gothic Mysteries

Posted on Jan 25, 2017 by Lisa Ricard Claro   25 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

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, 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.


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:



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. 🙂

Ricard_websize logo  In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.

25 Responses to "Author Interview: Terry Lynn Thomas & Gothic Mysteries"

  1. Comment by Rena McDaniel
    January 25, 2017 at 10:47 am  

    I’ve not read any of her books, but I love this genre. I will definitely be reading her stories now!

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm  

      Sioux: I have loved and owned horses since I was young. We bought Dusty as a two-year old. He is a Quarter Horse, very smart and athletic. I broke him myself, which was really easy because we spent a lot of time together. (Imagine me sitting at the dining table writing on my computer, while Dusty is outside the window, looking in.) My favorite horse flick is My Friend Flicka.

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:29 pm  

      Rena–I realized I just posted a reply to Sioux under your comment. (I am a dork!) I hope you like my books. I love this genre, too, and always like finding new authors.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:02 am  

      You’ll love them, Rena! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    January 25, 2017 at 11:17 am  

    Oh, how I loved Daphne DuMaurier!Now that I think about it, I LOVE Gothic ghost stories and I rarely read them anymore. So Terry Lynn, which of your books would you recommend for me?

    And Lisa, you can add your two cents, too! 🙂

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:26 pm  

      Cathy: My first two books are currently available. The first one, “The Spirit of Grace” is on sale right now for Nook, Kindle and Kobo for .99. The second book, “Weeping in the Wings” is also available at e-book retailers. If you like this particular genre, I recommend Susanna Kearsley, Simone St. James, and Kate Morton — all fine modern Gothic writers. I love the old school books, too, such as Dorothy Eden. Happy reading!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:03 am  

      Definitely start with The Spirit of Grace as it’s the first in the series. But you’ll love Weeping in the Wings, too. The books are standalone, but like most series books, it’s more fun to read them in order.

  3. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    January 25, 2017 at 11:47 am  

    Terry Lynn Thomas, your excerpt hooked me. I recently finished a period piece ghost story set in the south. I think I might be hooked on this genre. Thanks Lisa for hosting.

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:27 pm  

      I do love a good ghost story!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:04 am  

      You bet! 🙂

  4. Comment by Sioux Roslawski
    January 25, 2017 at 1:02 pm  

    Lisa–Thanks for the interview.

    Terry Lynn—Aaargh! Lisa will tell you I am NOT a romance reader, but your blurb and your excerpt intrigue me.

    Since I love horses, I’ll ask: Have you always loved horses? What is Dusty like? What’s your favorite movie about horses? (Mine is “Hidalgo.”)

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm  

      Sioux: I responded to your comment under Rena’s comment because I am a fool! Love your horse’s name!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:05 am  

      No worries on the romance end, Sioux. Terry Lynn’s books are more gothic mystery with a lovely romance in them. They aren’t genre romances, so you’re safe on that score. 🙂

  5. Comment by Pat
    January 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm  

    I spent my adolescence reading books by Mary Stewart, and adored her novels. The closest match I’ve found so far among contemporary writers of this genre is Susannah Kearsley, but I’m certainly willing to expand my horizons!

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm  

      Pat: I love Mary Stewart! Touch Not the Cat and The Ivy Tree are my two favorite Mary Stewart books. Have you read Dorothy Eden? Her books are very similar.

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
      January 25, 2017 at 2:32 pm  

      P.S. I am a Susanna Kearsley fan girl!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:06 am  

      As Terry Lynn said, she’s a Kearsley fan girl herself, so you two have something in common.

  6. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    January 25, 2017 at 7:47 pm  

    Thanks to you both for a great blog post! This is a genre I’m not real familiar with, but you have definitely piqued my interest. I especially love the 30’s and 40’s time period, and just want to give Terry a virtual fist bump for leaving cell phones out of her stories. Love it! 🙂 I’m going to add several of these suggested books on my Goodreads “to read” shelf now, and will be looking Terry’s books up on Amazon. Thanks again for a fun, informative post!

    • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas Author
      January 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm  

      Thanks, Debra. I love the 30s and 40s, too. Interesting time period. And the clothes…

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:07 am  

      Thanks, Debra. I’m happy to have introduced you to Terry Lynn. 🙂

  7. Comment by Sioux
    January 26, 2017 at 6:40 am  

    Terry Lynn–If you have not seen the movie “Hidalgo,” you need to rent it/stream it (or better yet, buy it) today. It’s a wonderful movie. Plus, Viggo Mortensen is the star, so the “scenery” is gorgeous.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 8:08 am  

      You raved about that movie when it came out. I guess it’s time I watched it. Maybe this weekend!

  8. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    January 27, 2017 at 1:50 pm  

    I used to enjoy reading a good mystery but it’s been a while. It maybe time to give one a try again.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 27, 2017 at 4:25 pm  

      There is a little romance in there—the beginning of a wonderful relationship that grows over the course of the books. (I don’t think that’s giving too much away.)

      • Comment by Terry Lynn Thomas
        January 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm  

        My hero has green eyes! (Very James Bond-ish.) Have a good weekend.

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