The Girl at the Grave
by Teri Bailey Black
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi there! I’m Teri Bailey Black, the author behind GIRL AT THE GRAVE, a YA novel of love and murder set in 1849 Connecticut. I live in Orange County, California, but feel like I spend most of my time in imaginary places. If I’m not wandering in some story, I’m probably obsessing over another creative endeavor. I love sewing, gardening, baking delicious fattening probably chocolate things, and decorating the house. And shopping! I don’t need to spend money; window shopping works too! I’m married and have four children.
2. What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve loved writing since I learned to read. I won a school writing contest when I was nine, and by the time I’d finished high school, I’d filled a small filing cabinet with my stories. Then I got married and had four children, and writing took a backseat for a while. My first child was born with severe disabilities, which brought a few extra challenges. Plus, I started a home business that took off and kept me creatively happy. Life was busy! But now my kids are teenagers, so I have more time on my hands and started writing again. I wrote aimlessly at first, trying to figure out WHAT I wanted to write, then I found the right story and some critique friends, put in the hours, attended writing conferences, endured my fair share of rejection, and finally received that wonderful phone call of success. GIRL AT THE GRAVE is my debut novel.
3. Who or what gives you inspiration?
So many ideas! They’re everywhere and endless. Any good book or movie gets my creative juices flowing. Some ideas drift away, others settle in, but the final idea is always quite different from the initial spark. For instance, I recently watched a History Channel show on World War II that really struck a chord in me. Ideas started flowing—but not war stories. Not even set in that era. But it made think up some interesting characters and situations. (I jotted notes but have yet to write that story.) I usually have several ideas started at once. They’re just vague, shadowy things, a few chapters written, no idea where the plot will go. Then one of the stories starts to fill out in my mind. I keep writing. As I come to understand the characters and fall in love with them, I want to write their story—so I do!
4. Tell us about The Girl at the Grave.
GIRL AT THE GRAVE is a story of murder and romance set in 1849 in Connecticut. As a child, Valentine saw her mother hanged for murdering the wealthiest man in town. She’s grown up feeling like an outcast, fending for herself in a crumbling estate. She’s worked hard to prove herself at Drake Academy and overcome her mother’s crime, but when a new string of murders strikes the town, everyone suspects her—the daughter of a killer. As Valentine hunts the killer to clear her own name, she uncovers dark secrets she’d rather keep buried. Oh, and there are a couple of good looking guys in her life as well. So basically—a Gothic murder mystery with lots of atmosphere. No ghosts. Not paranormal. (The spooky cover has confused some people.)
5. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
I wish I were one of those super speedy writers who pumps out books. I’m not a slooow writer—I’m probably average—but I’m definitely not a fast writing machine. For me, much of the joy is playing with the words, being creative, wandering one direction, then another, figuring out the story, changing my mind, maybe murdering a different person. I would rather take my time and get it right than get it fast. That said—I do push myself to outline and write as quickly as possible because publishing deadlines do exist. I just wrote a book in 10 months. Is that slow? I think that’s as fast as my writing brain can create.
6. What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
The time of day makes a huge difference for me. I write really well in the wee dawn hours. I actually start writing at 4 or 5 in the morning—yes, really! The world is asleep, the house is quiet, and I can disappear into my story. Then, alas, the sun rises, the house gets noisy, time to shower and make the bed and throw in a load of laundry. I still write throughout the day, but I’m much more productive in those early morning hours. The downside: my brain melts at 8pm.
About the Author
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.
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Prize: Wonderland Book Beau, size XL for a standard hardcover (USA only)