Sitting down with Teresa LaRue
Teresa LaRue has held many professions, but currently she works as the author of cozy mysteries. Her first novel with Cozy Cat Press, Fatal Fall, explores an unexpected death in a small town along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, scenery with which she is intimately familiar from her upbringing. I sat down to ask her how she got into writing, what influences her, and what she’s working on now.
Q: What inspired you to start writing cozy mystery novels?
A: I started writing cozy mysteries mainly because I love to read them. I love the small-town atmosphere and all the quirky characters. Plus, the sleuth has to piece together who the killer is using her knowledge of the town and its inhabitants.
Q: What books and other authors inspire you? Have you taken any inspiration from other cozy mystery authors or other kinds of writing?
A: I fell in love with reading in the fourth grade, so I’ve consumed a lot of books. Each author has strengths and weakness that I try to learn from. But my biggest inspiration came from Phyllis A. Whitney. I’ve read her books since I was a kid. I even wrote her a fan letter once and received a hand-written reply.
Q: Your website says that you’ve worked in a variety of fields over the years. Has interacting with people from different backgrounds in different settings helped you better understand how to develop your characters?
A: I’ve run into all types of people working with the public and I find them endlessly fascinating. I enjoy hearing about their lives and trying to figure out what makes them tick. Of course, the downside is I’ve also had to deal with a few nasty characters, which helps me understand why someone might want to murder them.
Q: How do your writing ideas come to you? Do you get an idea for a character first, then the plot, or visa versa?
A: I usually start with a character. What they like, and dislike. What caused them to be the way they are. Only then do I tackle plot. After I figure out who gets killed, I work out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
Q: What is your writing process? Do you have a schedule?
A: I usually devote mornings to housework and errands, then write in the afternoons. After I lay out the plot, I take one scene at a time, close my eyes, and imagine what’s going on. At some point, inspiration hits and I sit down and begin to write.
Q: Has your writing process changed for Fatal Fall versus your first book, A Talent for Murder?
A: Actually, I wrote Fatal Fall before I wrote A Talent for Murder, but my process has remained consistent. I keep a notebook with all my character sketches, plot notes, etc. Unlike some, I enjoy the rewriting process. Once I have something to work with, it’s so much easier to add details that make the scene come alive.
Q: The scenery of Fatal Fall is deeply rooted in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where you yourself are from. Did having a personal connection to the setting of the story making writing easier?
A: Since I knew the landscape and history of the area, it definitely made the writing easier. While some people are at home in the mountains, others, in the desert, I feel most at home near the water. I love the tang of salty sea air, the warm sand beneath my feet, and the sound of waves rolling into shore.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished the second book in the Flower Patch series and have sketched out characters and the basic plot for another book about a woman who has to solve the murder of the business partner of her best friend’s boyfriend, while also dealing with the grief of losing her husband.
Q: What do you want to communicate to your readers?
A: That family and community are important, and sometimes you have to work a little harder to get along with difficult people.