Today Teresa Trent is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Die Die Blackbird, her latest novel in the Piney Woods mystery series.
Welcome, Teresa. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
TT: Die Die Blackbird is the third book in the Piney Woods Series. Piney Woods, Texas, is an oil bust town that was saved by warehousing. When Nora Alexander first comes to town, she finds that a place that is new to her is her home and comes to love the people in it, including the handsome lawman Tuck Watson. Nora and Tuck’s relationship is becoming serious, but she is having a problem with the idea of them moving in together. She becomes part-owner of the historic Tunie Hotel, which becomes the central setting in the series. In Die Die Blackbird, paranormal investigators have come to town to try and have a conversation with the ghost of Sam Houston. They believe he has gold left from the battle of Santa Anna and wouldn’t mind getting their hands on it. The local merchants find themselves at the mercy of the Alamo Runners, a local biker gang. On top of all that, Nora spends much her time trying to keep the peace between a quilting group and the paranormal investigators who are all wanting to use the same spaces in the hotel.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
TT: The idea for this mystery stems from my love of watching paranormal investigators on the Travel Channel and constantly asking myself, is they for real? I have a passage in the book where the ghost hunters have garbled background noise and attribute to a full-blown sentence. Yeah, right. I believe in the paranormal because I’ve lived in a couple of haunted houses, but that doesn’t mean I’m a patsy for every “investigator” with an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorder.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
TT: This is going to sound hokey, but they come to me. Suddenly, I see a person in the scene, and sometimes I even get a name. I ask myself, how does this character further the plot and support the protagonist or antagonist. Can this character make me smile or cry? Those usually turn out to be my favorite characters. Every cast has to have a heart, whether it is an older person who gives patient and wise advice or someone else who has seen trouble but still chooses to do the right thing.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
TT: I try to make my settings come to life by using the five senses. I have a sensitive nose, so I try to think and describe different smells as well as colors, weather, and light. The environment in a small town is nothing like the city, so I try to bring that in. People are more likely to have hung their own Christmas lights, mow their own lawns, and that casserole on the table didn’t come from the grocery store ready-made.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
TT: My research varies from the method of murder to how you run a small-town hotel. My brother has been in the hotel business for over twenty years, so he is my involuntary research assistant. In this book, I watched paranormal tv, learned a few things about Sam Houston, researched dentistry, and visited a garage repair shop.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
TT: I hope you enjoy Die Die Blackbird. I had fun building the relationship between Nora and Tuck. Every time I write a book in my fictional Piney Woods, I enjoy visiting with the characters and growing them just a little. Yes, doctor, I do have people talking to me in my head, but it’s okay. If I don’t like them…
Thanks for answering my questions, Teresa, and good luck with Die Die Blackbird, the latest book in the Piney Woods mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Teresa Trent: Teresa writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. The Piney Woods Series came to be because her older brother worked in the hotel industry for over twenty years and would relate all the things and people he had experienced. Because Teresa loves history and a little bit of the paranormal, the Tunie Hotel was born! Teresa is also the author of the Pecan Bayou Cozy Mystery Series.