Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Terry Lynn Thomas to the blog to talk about her latest book The Silent Woman and her writing.
I have had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember, but life got in the way. I dabbled a bit, wrote some screenplays and a few novels. (They have since been burned on a bonfire under the full moon.) I spent most of my adult life working as a litigation paralegal, wishing that I had the time and energy to pursue writing.
When we relocated from San Francisco to the southern US, I was able to dedicate my time to my craft. I wrote a series of ghost stories fashioned after the great Gothic mysteries of the mid-twentieth century. These books take place in San Francisco during the 1940s. They are my homage to Mary Stewart, Dorothy Eden, Patricia Wentworth, and Agatha Christie, the grand dames (in my humble opinion) of the old-school mystery.
In 2017 I submitted a story to HQ Digital in response to a submission call on Twitter. The story was rejected. Several months later, HQ reached out and asked if I could turn the story into a novel. I jumped at the chance. This time I wrote an older, edgier, more sophisticated protagonist named Cat Carlisle. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, released in April of 2018. I am under contract for two more books in this series. The second book (still untitled) is slated for release in 2019.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Silent Woman, what would it be?
This is such a great question! Before I start a novel, I always polish my elevator pitch. It’s the hardest thing to do but it is so helpful as I’m plotting my story. I’m going to edit the ending, so as not to provide a spoiler. (Elevator pitches reveal the ending.) Okay, here goes:
When Catherine Carlisle discovers that someone in her household is passing her husband’s classified air ministry documents onto Nazi sympathizers, she agrees to switch the originals with forged documents in an effort to thwart the dangerous espionage efforts. But when her husband’s body is discovered in his study, she is afraid that her covert activities will be discovered. As she sets out to clear her name, she discovers long held family secrets. Soon Cat finds herself pitted against a cunning foe who grows more desperate as Cat gets closer to the truth.
There are so many historical thriller and saga stories currently being set either during or in the lead up to WW1 or WW2, why do you think wartime fiction has become so popular? And what attracted you to writing in this era?
I have given this a lot of thought, as I wonder if WWI WWII fiction will go the way of vampire stories and slip away from the limelight. I think the world runs in cycles, and the generation that fought these wars is no longer around to give witness. Global events seem to parallel the circumstances that led up to WWII, so it stands to reason that people are curious about this time. While I love history, I do not hold myself out as an historian. My historical fiction is not designed to report and manufacture a story based on true events. Rather, I want my readers to remember what it felt like to live during this particular time period. I believe that the lines were more clear during this era, as such, people were more united in their fight to thwart the enemy. I also have to say what a treat it is to write characters who are not so connected technologically. No Internet. No computer!
How much research did you need to do before you could start writing The Silent Woman?
I do a lot of research to immerse myself in the time period. I read newspapers and novels of the era. (The personals are the equivalent of our social media. Interesting reading for sure.) I watch film and spend hours trolling the national archive. Diaries and letters of the period are always helpful, too. The trick is to sprinkle the research in with a light hand.
If you had to describe Catherine in three words, what would they be?
Intuitive, reckless, and loyal.
Would you sell your secrets?
Catherine Carlisle is trapped in a loveless marriage and the threat of World War Two is looming. She sees no way out… that is until a trusted friend asks her to switch her husband’s papers in a desperate bid to confuse the Germans.
Soon Catherine finds herself caught up in a deadly mixture of espionage and murder. Someone is selling secrets to the other side, and the evidence seems to point right at her.
Can she clear her name before it’s too late?
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
Coffee and toast! I usually get up in the morning and write from 4:30 to 6:00 or 7:00 before I head off to the day job. I could not function without a strong cup of coffee.
What would you say is the best thing about writing? And on the flip side, what is the hardest?
I just love to write. I’ve tried to quit several times, but have always come back to it. Since I’ve been published, it’s been wonderful connecting to readers and other writers. Every day I am amazed at the generosity of bloggers and reviewers who do so much for the publishing world. So in short, I would say the best thing about writing has been that I’ve found my tribe!
On the flipside, while this isn’t true for everyone, I believe that it takes a long time to learn to write good fiction. It’s a thankless job filled with long hours, a steep learning curve, and lots of rejection. It’s really difficult to push through the inevitable frustration.
What novel have you read that you wish you had written?
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. That book amazes me. I read it over and over and never tire of the gorgeous prose. I also love The Discovery of Witches, the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. And, of course, there’s Carlos Ruiz Zafon… oh, wait. You said one book, right? I read these books and I’m amazed by the structure and the lush sentences. There are so many talented writers. My TBR is burgeoning.
Do you treat yourself to something to celebrate the publication of your books?
I make it a point to celebrate each step on this wild ride. A good meal with my husband and friends is my favourite.
And finally what can we expect from your next?
I have two Cat Carlisle books in the pipeline. The next instalment is slated for release in 2019.
All book titles in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.