Terrie Farley Moran is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Murder She Wrote, Death on the Emerald Isle.
Welcome, Terrie. 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.
Hi Dianne, I am delighted to be here to talk about Murder, She Wrote Death on the Emerald Isle which is book fifty six of the Murder She Wrote series started by Donald Bain in the late 1980s. These books are spin-offs of the long running Murder, She Wrote television show starring the legendary Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a widowed, retired school teacher who, as it turns out has a talent for writing mystery novels and a knack for solving murders in real life. The television show is still widely viewed all over the world, and the books continue to have a broad international audience.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
As a fan of the television series and an avid reader of the books for decades, I have enjoyed seeing Jessica solve murders in her quaint home town of Cabot Cove, Maine and in small towns and big cities all over the world. Central to any Murder, She Wrote story is that Jessica Fletcher is an empathetic and engaging person. When she is traveling, the people she meets along the way warm up to her just as she does to them. So when tragedy, such as a murder, strikes Jessica’s natural curiosity and her sympathetic nature lead her to discover a solution.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
To me there is only one theme that underlies murder. For some reason the killer believes that taking the life of another human being is the only way that the killer can relieve their own personal stress due to a situation, whatever it may be, that has spiralled out of control in the killer’s mind.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
Jessica Fletcher is absolutely my favorite character in this series. Since we have been buddies for nearly forty years, I enjoy her company and love the fact that she can still surprise me after all this time. Regarding the creation of other characters let me say this: writing a book is based on a series of decisions. Once a writer decides what she wants to happen in the story, then she has to decide who the people are. In a Murder, She Wrote mystery, we know Jessica will solve the crime. But we still need a victim, a killer, several people who might be the killer, but aren’t, and ancillary characters who are affected by the crime in one way or another. So I think of these folks one at a time and have them hang around in my head for a while. After they convince me that they are right for the job, I give them a name and we move forward.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Research! Research! Research! The library is a wonderful resource. As is the Internet. Northern Ireland is a real place and I have been fortunate enough to visit many parts of it once or twice. But unless I was there on the day I was writing about say, Ballycastle and Fairhead, I never trust my memory. Things have a way of changing. So not only do I read about the places I am writing about, I go to Google Maps and drop the little man icon on a road and he and I travel along all the roads that Jessica will ride on or bypass during her time there.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
Well for this book, the primary research involved the setting and its history—the bombing of Belfast during World War Two, the myths and truths around Giant’s Causeway, exploring the Titanic Museum, and so on. In addition, since the O’Bannon family was in the business of producing cosmetics based on seaweed as a primary ingredient, I had to research that as well as the dynamics of the import-export business. And of course Jessica always enjoys a meal or two during the course of a book, so I want the food to be authentic for the region.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
This book was, in many ways, a labor of love. Angela Lansbury had Irish ancestry and a great love of the island of Ireland. For many years she owned first one and then another home in County Cork. Although several episodes of the television series take place in the Republic of Ireland, none of the books are set anywhere in Ireland, so early on, I decided that I would write a book in which Jessica would visit the island that Angela loved. Angela Lansbury passed away on October 11, 2022, just as Murder, She Wrote Death on the Emerald Isle was set to go to print. I am pleased to tell you that this book is dedicated to the renowned, never to be forgotten ANGELA LANSBURY.
Thanks for answering my questions, Terrie, and good luck with Murder She Wrote, Death on the Emerald Isle.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Terrie Farley Moran: Along with Jessica Fletcher, Terrie Farley Moran co-writes the Murder She Wrote mystery series including Murder, She Wrote: Killer on the Court. She is the author of the Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and also co-writes the Scrapbooking Mysteries with Laura Childs. Recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer Awards, Moran has published numerous mystery short stories. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren.