Recently the mantle of co-author of the popular MURDER SHE WROTE series was passed on to Terrie Farley Moran. Many of you might remember her from co-authoring the Scrapbook Mystery series with Laura Childs! The newest Jessica Fletcher mystery, DEBONAIR IN DEATH, releases today and we caught up with Terrie to find out her thoughts on continuing this popular series!
1. Tell us what your first thought was upon learning you were going to adopt the mantle of Jessica Fletcher's co-author!
Well let me describe the scene. I had no idea that there was any possibility of an opening for a new writer for the Murder, She Wrote series. If you recall the pandemic quarantine began in mid-March 2020. On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020, I was singing and dancing to Irish music, baking soda bread and bemoaning that there were no parades. The phone rang and I answered, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!” It was my agent who asked if I would be interested in writing the next few books in the Murder, She Wrote series. Before she could even outline the details of the project I shouted a resounding “YES”. Kim Lionetti is an excellent agent, so although I kept shouting things like, “I want to do this” and “I love Murder, She Wrote” Kim made me listen to all the dreary contract details and
discuss pros and cons. Still, as a fan of Jessica Fletcher since the first episode of the television show in 1984, not to mention I’d read most of the books, some more than once, I was overjoyed at being asked. So I guess you could say I was pretty darn happy! First thought: I can do this!
2. How would you compare writing the Murder She Wrote Series to others that you've done? Easier? Harder? More challenging?
Continuing the Murder, She Wrote series is a huge challenge precisely because it has had such a long, successful life. There are more than two hundred fifty television episodes which are still broadcast around the world every single day. Fifty-two books were written in the series before I came on board. Since some of the early books were written while Murder, She Wrote was still on prime time television, the books are not successors of the television series and as the book were published there have been some character changes. For example, in the books, Sam Booth is no longer the mayor of Cabot Cove. He has been replaced by a man named Jim Shevlin and Jim’s wife, Susan is now the town travel agent, replacing Phyllis Grant who we knew as one of the “girls” at Loretta’s Beauty Parlor. In the television show Sheriff Metzger had a “never actually seen but often mentioned” wife named Adele, but somewhere along the line in the books they got divorced and he is now married to Maureen who is often present when a story line is in Cabot Cove. So, I have to be extremely careful to keep my facts and people straight. I would hate to write a character as one of Jessica’s pals in a book only to find that person was the murderer or the murder victim in a book written some time ago. (Think back to the tv shows--Preston Giles!) The other significant issue from a writer’s perspective is that in the television episodes there are many scenes where Jessica is not present but the viewer sees what happens. Jessica may or may not learn about those events later on in the episode. However, the books are written in first person so Jessica either has to see what happens or someone has to tell her what they witnessed. The reader can only know what Jessica knows.
3. Could you tell us what the future might hold for Jessica and her friends?
Certainly! Jessica will have adventures! Hmm, you want a little more? Okay. MURDER, SHE WROTE DEBONAIR IN DEATH (release date November 5, 2021) is set in Cabot Cove. So, we get to hang out with Doctor Seth Hazlitt, Sheriff Mort Metzger and the girls in Loretta’s Beauty Parlor. The big surprise is that British secret agent Michael Haggerty shows up! And then what? I can’t say any more about that but I can tell you that in MURDER, SHE WROTE KILLER ON THE COURT (release date May 17, 2022) Jessica will be at Rockaway Beach in New York City along with Grady, Donna and their son Frank, named for Jessica’s late husband. Oh and if you haven’t read MURDER, SHE WROTE KILLING IN A KOI POND, which was released this past June, the good news is, that it is now available in mass market paperback, so you can read how Jessica fairs when she visits an old college friend in Columbia, South Carolina. As you can see, Jessica Fletcher sure gets around, and we all know what happens wherever she goes.
4. You also co-author the Scrapbooking series with Laura Childs. Will you be continuing to do that and if so, can you give us a preview of what might be coming up for Carmela and her beau, Edgar?
Our publisher would like us to continue with the New Orleans Scrapbooking series. Laura and I have talked about trying to find the time to write the next book. However, we are each writing multiple books a year so time is a problem. Even if we were scheduled to write a book in the near future, I couldn’t tell you anything about it. Carmela, Edgar, (and let’s not forget Ava) are Laura’s characters and I never talk about what they might be up to until the book is on the editor’s desk because Laura is the lead on plot and character development.
5. Below are ROCCO's Fast Five. Don't take time to think, just answer with the first thing that comes to your mind! and thank you for the interview!
a. What is your favorite part of the day?
Evening as day turns to dusk and dusk turns to dark.
b. What food do you wish were calorie free?
Ice cream, especially with candy or cookies scattered in it.
c. How do you clear your head after a bad day?
Talk or text with one of my children or grandchildren about their day!
d. What smell takes you back to your childhood?
Laundry drying outdoors.
e. Who would make you starstruck?
Angela Lansbury! Of course!
Rocco, thank you so much for inviting me! I loved all the questions, especially the Fast Five. And if it isn’t too much of an imposition, would you please tell Toni I said hello!!
ROCCO: Done, Terrie! Toni says hello back and thank you!!!!!
For the next MSW release, I will interview the one and only Jessica Fletcher! Watch for that in 2022! I will review this book in my November post next week.
About the author(s)
Jessica Fletcher is a bestselling mystery writer who has a knack for stumbling upon real-life mysteries in her various travels.
Terrie Farley Moran is thrilled to be co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the long running Murder, She Wrote series. She has also written the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and is co-author of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mysteries. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and Derringer awards. Learn more online at terriefarleymoran.com.
Penguin Publishing has consented to give away a hardcover copy of DEBONAIR IN DEATH to one of our lucky commenters! To enter, just leave a comment in our comments section telling us what your favorite episode of MURDER SHE WROTE was!!!! (Mine: the Headless Horseman from season 4)
Don't forget to leave your email address so we can contact the winner! US entries only please!
Contest ends midnight, November 12.