Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Teri Bailey Black Author Interview

Photo Content from Teri Bailey Black

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. Girl at the Grave is her debut novel.


Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (August 7, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765399482
ISBN-13: 978-0765399489


"With its vibrant, atmospheric setting and lush, captivating prose, Girl at the Grave is a searing Gothic story of love and murder that will burn in readers' hearts and minds long after reading." ―#1 New York Times bestselling author Kerri Maniscalco

“Girl at the Grave kept me up late at night with its non-stop secrets, twists, and scandals. An entertaining homage to classic Gothic romances that will keep readers guessing until the very last chapter.” ―Cat Winters, author of Odd & True

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
I always intended to be a serious writer, but the goal took a backseat for a while when my four kids were young. 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!

Now, my house is filled with teenagers and I have a little more time on my hands, so I started writing again. I found some amazing critique partners, put in the hours, attended writing conferences, endured my fair share of rejection, and finally received that wonderful phone call of success!

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
It was amazing to share a book obsession with my kids when all the Harry Potter books were coming out—to watch them love reading as much as I do. We stood in line at midnight together at the bookstore, wearing costumes. Then again for the next book. I had to buy two Deathly Hallows because no one wanted to wait their turn. Years of bonding over BOOKS with my kids. Priceless! (My daughter won first place in the costume contest dressed as a prisoner of Azkaban.)

Another book that stands out—when I was thirteen I took a school class called Fellowship of the Ring, where we did nothing but read and analyze Tolkien all year. Pretty much heaven. I’ve been obsessed with fantasy books ever since.

In your new book; GIRL AT THE GRAVE, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It’s a story of romance and murder set in 1849 in Connecticut. As a child, Valentine saw her mother hanged for murdering the wealthiest man in town. She’s grown up motherless, fending for herself in a crumbling estate, trying to prove herself at Drake Academy and overcome her mother’s crime. But when a new string of murders strikes the town, everyone suspects Valentine, the daughter of a killer. As Valentine hunts the killer to clear her own name, she uncovers dark secrets. Oh, and there are a couple of good looking guys in her life as well—a childhood best friend and the rich, handsome son of the man her mother murdered.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
Ha! Your question reminds me—I nearly forgot. Lead boy Rowan Blackshaw was named Morgan when I wrote the manuscript, got an agent, sold the book, and went through revisions with the editor. At the final hour, a friend happened to mention that Morgan is a girl’s name. It can also be a boy’s name, but she got me thinking about the YA audience. I texted every teenager I know (quite a few since I work with the youth group at church) and every single one of them said Morgan was a girl’s name. Glad I caught that! So, at the final hour, Morgan became Rowan—and that immediately felt right.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’m a very visual person, so for me, a story usually starts as an image in my mind. This book began with the image of a little girl in the 1800’s with wild hair and dirty feet looking through a schoolhouse window. The teacher tries to draw her inside, but she runs away. Once I thought up this little girl, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I wondered why she was an outcast and decided her mother was hanged for murdering a prominent man. I wrote a hundred pages about that little girl, then realized I was more interested in the 17-year-old girl she becomes. So I started over, and it became a love story as well as a murder mystery. I thought up a few interesting plot twists and secrets—and I was off and running. Well . . . typing.

What was the most magical thing that happened while creating Valentine?
In final revisions, I was looking for a little something extra to add to the story when I stumbled across an amazing bit of research: the women’s rights movement in the United States started in this same area at the same time. Exactly what the story needed! My mind was on fire thinking of ways to incorporate it. Mrs. Blackshaw became a much more interesting character as a women’s rights advocate. And I loved throwing a little attention on the gutsy women who fought for their rights (my rights) nearly two hundred years ago.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
This question is blowing my mind, haha. Worlds colliding. Combining books feels dangerous and wrong and nuclear. I guess my imagination only goes so far.

What part of Rowan did you enjoy writing the most?
His artistic talent. I love that he hides it from the world because it doesn’t fit the lifestyle his grandmother envisions for him. I love when Valentine discovers his secret—and finds drawings of herself in his sketchbook.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I have two books in the works, both Young Adult, both too early to say much. One is a murder mystery set in Old Hollywood. The other is . . . gosh, I don’t even know how to describe it. About a brother and sister and a murder that happened years ago. It’s set in modern-day California near the beach—like me!

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
Well, the person who immediately comes to mind is J. K. Rowling, of course, because she’s brilliant, and gets to write all day, I’d love to know all those little wizarding world secrets that are in her head alone. And her bank account isn’t bad either.

What do you do most when you are bored?
I am never bored! Seriously—never. I tend to be high energy, full of ideas, busy busy busy. I have four children, one with severe disabilities. Never a dull moment. I love to create, whether it’s writing, sewing, gardening, baking, or decorating the house. I often meet friends for lunch. I meet once a week with a critique group of 6 writers. I serve on church committees. Hopefully, a date night with my husband. And endless reading, of course.

What were you doing at midnight last night?
I’m always asleep at midnight because I’m a total morning person. I wake up at 4 or 5 every morning and immediately start writing. It’s so easy to write when the world is dark and asleep. Then the sun rises, children wake up, my husband turns on the TV news and—bleh, I’m back in the real world. I still write all day, but those golden hours come before dawn. The flip side of that is that I melt at 8 pm.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
My reoccurring nightmare is showing up for something and I’m not prepared. The scene changes, but that feeling of panic doesn’t. Everyone else is ready—except me. WHY DIDN’T I PREPARE? Ugh.

Tell me about your first kiss
Oh, such a fun question! I was at a high school party when, out of the blue, the best looking, most popular boy in my school asked me to slow dance and started kissing me. It was sort of flattering but also bothered me because he didn’t know me very well, just assumed he could do that because he was such a hot commodity. I avoided his flirtations the rest of the party—good instincts. I’ve never been interested in cool, cocky guys. Give me a nerd any day. (That’s you, Husband.)

Most memorable summer job?
I learned at age twelve that if you work and earn money, you get to shop and buy clothes! I was hooked! Shopping is my happy place. I worked many jobs throughout high school—sometimes had three jobs at once. Worked until midnight at a drug store, then woke up early to work at a real estate office. I like shopping and I’m willing to work for it.

When I was twenty, I was the inventory controller at a diamond company. I sat in the vault room and counted and weighed diamonds all day. Kept track of them in the computer.

What did you do for your last birthday?
NOTHING thank you very much. I like being ignored. I am super low maintenance. I keep telling my husband he is so lucky. That comes from growing up in the middle of a large family. One of the worst moments of my life was a surprise party thrown for me. Noooooo! I like celebrating someone else’s birthday—not mine.

  • A creepy mansion.
  • Murder. And then more murder.
  • Romance.
  • Dark secrets.
  • Plot twists. And then more plot twists.
  • Guilt and redemption.
  • The start of the women’s rights movement in the U.S.
  • Difficult choices.
  • A satisfying ending.
  • No ghosts.
Backstory: The original manuscript included a lot of Valentine’s childhood. Without a mother, she learned about life by spying through windows. I decided the window spying was creepy, so it was cut. In fact, I cut all of the childhood scenes and started the story when she was 17 years old.

I watched life on tiptoe, peering through windows: the blacksmith's wife nursing her new baby; the shoemaker coming home drunk and getting slapped by his wife; the Greene family singing around the piano, voices rising in perfect harmony; old Mr. Snow eating alone after his wife died. I saw boys crawling out of bedroom windows after dark and girls sneaking back inside before dawn.

It was through windows that I experienced Christmas: smelled roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; sang carols; watched children opening presents; listened to grandfathers read Luke, Chapter Two.

I spent hours wedged in trees, crouched on top of water barrels, and hiding in alleyways. I knew which windows were the most interesting, the most accessible, the most dangerous. I knew what time of day I could find Mrs. Greene reading aloud to her children at the kitchen table. When Miss Janet was most likely to be practicing on the church piano. The perfect hiding place to watch Judge Stoker play cards with his friends.

I knew the windows of Feavers Crossing the way most children know their own friends.

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.

You can purchase Girl at the Grave at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TOR AND TERI BAILEY BLACK for making this giveaway possible.
6 winners will receive a Copy of GIRL AT THE GRAVE by Teri Bailey Black.
AUGUST 6th MONDAY For The Love of Fictional Worlds REVIEW 
AUGUST 9th THURSDAY Here's to Happy Endings REVIEW 

AUGUST 13th MONDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
AUGUST 16th THURSDAY The Cozy Reading Corner TENS LIST
AUGUST 16th THURSDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW


  1. I've never experienced any ghostly happenings personally, just some creepy feelings once in a while. Love to read about them though, thanks for the chance to win this book!

  2. I don't have any ghost stories to share but I love to read them.