Interviews with Writers

Historical Thriller | The House of Secrets | Terry Lynn Thomas

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I’m delighted to be hosting Terry Lynn Thomas in my hot seat today as part of the tour for The House of Secrets, the second story in the Sarah Bennett Mysteries.

Find out Terry’s inspiration , the scene she enjoyed writing the most and more.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her.

As Sarah struggles to cope with the ghostly presence, she runs into Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is recovering from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead.

Unsure who she can trust, Sarah must solve the mystery of the soul determined to haunt her, and save Dr Geisler and herself from an unknown threat.

This book was previously published as WEEPING IN THE WINGS

The House of Secrets by Terry Lynn Thomas is published by HQ Digital and is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.

| Amazon UK | Amazon US |

The House of Secrets is 99p throughout June as part of the June Kindle Monthly deal.   The Spirit of Grace, book 1 in the series is also .99 throughout June. 


Hi Terry, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.

Please summarise The House of Secrets in 20 words or less.

The House of Secrets is a Gothic mystery told in the style of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel Terry?

When I wrote the Sarah Bennett novels, I set out to pay homage to the great Gothic mysteries of the mid-twentieth century. A passionate reader, I found myself reaching for those paperbacks depicting a woman running around the moors in her nightgown on the cover. I think I like those books because it harkened back to a more simpler time, when we weren’t so plugged in yet disconnected. Full of Gothic tropes, The House of Secrets is a tribute to those books of the past.

What scene did you enjoy writing the most?

My absolute favourite scene is when Sarah – who is finally coming to terms with the fact that she can see ghosts – has an encounter with the weeping ghost that has attached itself to her. Here’s an excerpt of this scene:

A tray with the dirty dishes from Minna’s last meal sat on a footstool near her vanity. Without a word, I picked it up and left, closing the door behind me with a resounding click.

The weeping filled the hallway. Alysse’s ghost waited for me there. She paced back and forth in the corridor. She fidgeted with her hands, the expression on her face one of worry and concern. No colors shimmered around her now, just a veil of sadness, desperate sorrow that broke my heart.

“Can you hear me?” Her disjointed words sounded as though she were speaking to me under water. She stopped crying and stared at me, as if noticing me for the first time.

I nodded.

“Stop taking the drops. You can’t see when you take them. She is not what she seems. I need to tell you things, but I can’t come through the fog when you take the drops.”

“I won’t take them tonight.”

“You’re not doing things fast enough. You need to save my brother. Do you hear me? You must…”

Alysse’s image got weaker. She faded to a whisper, to an ephemeral outline in the morning light.

“I need to know what you want me to do,” I called out, my voice frantic.

She appeared again, clear and strong. Her mouth moved, but I couldn’t hear her words.

“I can’t hear you.”

A deep chill surrounded me. I shivered as my frantic breathing created curlicue clouds in the space between us.

Alysse appeared to shout, but her words couldn’t penetrate the shimmery field of energy that separated us. She reached out to touch it. Upon contact, her hand glowed with the unmistakable red of anger.

An icy wave of energy crashed into me. My feet flew up into the air. I landed on my side with a thud.

The tray crashed to the floor, smashing the crockery into pieces.

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use? 

Since my books take place during World War II, I pulled on various sources for my research. I really wanted to have my readers understand what it felt like to live in the US during the war. When I’m writing a book in a specific time period – The House of Secrets takes place in March of 1943 – I turn to old radio dramas, newspapers, diaries, and magazines for my research material. The San Francisco Public Library provided a cornucopia of archived materials. Although I read plenty of books on actual history and war-time strategy, I mainly focused on issues that ordinary civilians had to deal with. My favourite pastime while writing the Sarah Bennett Series was listening to old mystery dramas on the radio. In today’s busy life, it’s interesting to imagine a family sitting together in silence for an hour, listening (a lost art in itself) to the old radio shows. Of course, the key to incorporating research into any book is to sprinkle it with a light hand. I certainly don’t want my readers to get bored or bogged down with information that doesn’t move the plot forward.

Do you have a most creative time of day Terry?

Mornings, for sure. When I was working, I would get up at 4:30 a.m. and write until 6:00. Now that I’m lucky enough to write full-time, I carve out mornings to write fiction and spend my afternoons working on the business end of writing. There’s something about sitting down to the computer with that first cup of coffee in hand. Great way to start the day!

Favourite places you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

I absolutely love being outdoors. The beach and the ocean are my favourites. My practice at home is to write for an hour and then go for a one mile walk outside. I do this three or four times a morning, ensuring not only that I get my steps in, but that I process what I’ve written. It’s amazing the plot problems that sort themselves out when I’m away from my desk and not thinking about them.

Panster or plotter?

I’m definitely a plotter and actually spend more time plotting, devising settings, and composing character sketches, than I do writing the novel. Once I get my outline organised, writing the books usually flies. First I start with detailed character sketches and then I marry that into a cohesive plot. When I get about half way through my work in progress, I usually regroup and rework the outline. Mapping out the plot helps me write a strong story and keep track of loose ends. I’m always open to changing things as I go, but my outline serves as my guide.

Can you share what you are currently working on?

I am currently working on the third book in the Cat Carlisle Mystery Series. I’m about 150 pages in and am loving this book! This will be the last Cat Carlisle book for a while, as I’m setting this book aside to write a new mystery series set in modern times.

Any tips you could share with new writers Terry?

This is a good question, and I’m going to share the secret to a satisfying life as a writer: Don’t give up! It takes a long time to learn to write fiction. (At least it did for me.) Most people write a book (or three), and if it doesn’t get them an agent or a publishing deal, they give up. You need to keep writing. Have a canon of work behind you, even if it’s not yet published. In order to do that, you have to take joy in spending time alone to craft stories. Writing can be a lonely job, unless you really love it. Keep working, keep developing your craft. Do it because you love it and enjoy the journey.

Finally, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

No doubt the people. There’s something about the writers/readers/bloggers tribe that is just amazing. So many authors have been generous with their time and knowledge. Bloggers – who do so much for the publishing industry – never cease to amaze me. When I hear from readers who have somehow been touched by my books, my heart sings. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing I love more than making up stories and writing them down. When I get up in the morning, I say to myself, ‘I get to write today!’ That’s pretty awesome.

Thank you for being my guest. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

The House of Secrets is 99p throughout June as part of the June Kindle Monthly deal.   The Spirit of Grace, book 1 in the series is also .99 throughout June. 

Author photo Terry Lynn Thomas

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Twitter @TLThomasBooks

Don’t forget to check out the other hosts on tour.

Family comes first! I'm married with two son's in their 20's and have a little more time now to follow my passions. I love my role as an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and I'm passionate about early help. I'm a member of Bournemouth's Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth. I'm also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for eight years at Jera's Jamboree.

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