A Conversation with Author Teresa Trent

IR – Can you tell us a little about the story?

TT- The year is 1962 and Dot Morgan is a secretarial student who is helping her dad run for a seat on the city council. In order to do this, Dot decides she will join the local ladies’ club to further her father’s career. This group of women overburden her with tasks they don’t want to do and, on top of that, another candidate joins the race. He is the no-account brother of the local D.A., Morton Manning, who practically runs the town. Her father is a down-to-earth guy who pales in comparison to the political machine of the Manning family. Dot starts out as a meek, young secretarial student, but finds herself growing as she must overcome the ladies’ club and unfair treatment at her school after she finds herself in the middle of a murder.

IR- What inspired you to write this book? 

TT- I wanted to write a historical mystery about the emergence of a young woman going from the sixties to the seventies. So many things change for the better for women during this time!

IR- Who was your favorite character in this book and what was her side story?  

TT- I loved the character of Dot’s cousin, Ellie. She’s been dating the same man for five years, which in 1962 is unheard of. They have become comfortable with each other, and romance has taken a back seat. Ellie wants to get her man to the altar and starts coming up with ways to rev up their love life through the lens of the fifties and sixties. I think she epitomizes women taking more control of their lives during this time. I’m working on the second book in the series and Ellie just keeps coming at me!

IR- What was the defining moment that made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to write a book that I will publish.”

TT- Back in 2011, I decided if I was ever going to write a book, this was the time to do it. I started with a “how to” guide of sorts, “The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery” by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick. This was the first time I had seen writing broken down into achievable units of time and effort. I might not be able to figure out an entire story, but I could focus on my heroine and what motivates her. Then I can concentrate on the villain. My first book started out in bits in pieces, but then the story started forming within the desires and needs of my characters. Now, don’t for a minute think this first effort was any good, because it wasn’t, but by breaking the process down, I had more confidence in myself that I could actually do this thing.

IR- What has been your favorite reader feedback?

TT- For The Twist and Shout Murder, a reviewer on Net Galley said, “Dot Morgan is perfect. I want more of this series, now!” 

IR- What is your all-time favorite book or author?

TT- This is a tough one because I read so many genres. Probably the first author who really grabbed me was Fannie Flagg. I loved her towns and her characters and wanted to know everything about them. Lately, I’ve loved Kristin Hannah with her book The Four Winds, Patti Callahan with her book, Once Upon a Wardrobe, and Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. There are so many outstanding writers out there and every time I read one of their books, I learn something for my own writing.

IR- If your book were made into a movie, what actors would play your characters?

TT- In order to play this game, we need to assume that I can have these actors at any age, not the age that actually are at this time. So here is my cast list.

Dot Morgan: A twenty-something secretarial student, part-time crime solver- Amanda Seyfried

Arlene Clark: Dot’s landlady who also helps Dot investigate and plays stage mother to her niece. – Jean Smart

Ellie: The thirty-year-old virgin dressmaker- I’m having trouble coming up with an actress. She’s tall, brunette, on the thin side, a little awkward, not a beauty on the outside, but one on the inside. Suggestions?

Morgan Manning: The town’s evil D.A.-Vincent D’Onofrio from Law and Order Criminal Intent- I’ve seen this guy in my head from day one!

Anson Manning: The D.A.’s “Failure to Launch” brother-William Holden

Barb Manning: The D.A.’s wife and head of the Camden Ladies’ Club- Reese Witherspoon

Ben Dalton: A reporter for the Camden Courier- a young Tom Hanks 

About The Book

The Twist and Shout Murder: A Swinging Sixties Mystery

In 1962, Dot Morgan was told the best thing she could do besides being a nurse or teacher was to learn to type. While attending secretarial school, she decides to rub elbows with an elite ladies’ club to help her father with a struggling campaign for city council. Instead of getting the help she sought, Dot is thrown into a world of adultery, deceit, and murder when one of the town’s sons is found dead.

Time to put that 45 on the record player and bring out your best dance moves in The Twist and Shout Murder.

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

About the Author

Teresa Trent writes historical mysteries, cozy mysteries, romance, and short stories. She lives in South Texas with her husband and son with Down syndrome and splits her time between writing and caretaking.

Author Links

Read More From Teresa Trent

Book Review: Till Dirt Do Us Part by Teresa Trent

This book is why I read cozies. It is full of great character driven story. It is not so hung up on the mystery that it forgets to be about the people. Betsy is an everyday mom with everyday problems who just happens to find a dead body in her garden. Okay, she handles it…


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