Interview With Author Teri Bailey Black

Meet Teri Bailey Black.

Teri Bailey Black - headshot.jpg

Social Media links:
Twitter and Instagram: @teribaileyblack


Welcome Teri! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there! I’m Teri Bailey Black, the author behind GIRL AT THE GRAVE, a YA historical 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, and decorating the house. And shopping! I grew up in a large, happy, rather quirky family of creative people (seven kids). Three of my sisters went to art school, and I love art too, but my real obsession has always been books.

I always intended to be a serious writer, but the goal took a backseat 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 their hungry friends—who borrow from my enormous pile of YA books and take over my dining room with gaming laptops and Dungeons & Dragons. With a little more time on my hands, I 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 amazing 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.





The Interview.

Do you have a favorite imaginary world, whether it is of your own creation or someone else’s, that you find yourself visiting when you lack inspiration or are burned out?

Recently, a friend scolded me because I never wave when our cars pass on the road. I just had to laugh because driving is one of my favorite times to daydream and think out the details of my story. My head is far, far away.

Too many wonderful imaginary worlds to pick a favorite. Reading any good book or watching any well-done show or movie, no matter the genre, gets me excited about my own project.

I always love reading fantasy and historical because they sweep you away to a different time and place.


How did a lack of social media and television during your childhood strengthen your writing?

When I was about eight, my mom got rid of our TV—the best thing that ever happened to me! Some kids thrive on a packed schedule of sports and lessons, but a creative kid needs plenty of empty time to stare into space and imagine the possibilities.

My mom used to say, “Bored people are boring people.” I was never bored. Our house was a busy hive of reading, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, hammering, cooking, planting, playing the guitar or piano.

Nowadays, it’s hard with smart phones. When life slows down for a nanosecond, I pick up my phone just like everyone else. Kind of sad—but I’m not giving up my phone!


Did any of those stories you wrote as an adolescent and teenager appear later to shape your debut Girl at the Grave?

Hm . . . no. I wrote a little of everything in my teen and college years—contemporary, historical, fantasy. I even went through a regency romance phase, ala Jane Austen! When I was 14, I had a school class called The Fellowship of the Ring where we did nothing but read and analyze Tolkien all year—pretty much heaven.


Gothic murder… sign me up! What elements caused you to decide on a Gothic inspired 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. Most of the kids call her names, but one boy watches her with piercing attention. I wondered why that little girl was an outcast and decided her mother was hanged for murdering a prominent man—the father of the boy who watches her.

I wrote a hundred pages of that little girl’s story, then realized I was more interested in the 17-year-old girl she becomes. So I started over. And the handsome son of the murdered man still watched her, 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.


From attending writing conferences to finding and sharing with critique partners, do you wish you would’ve done anything differently as you grew as a writer?

I wish I’d studied the rules of writing earlier on. I’m a rule breaker by nature (like a lot of creative people). When someone says, “This is the way it should be done,” a creative person tends to think, “Okay . . . but what if I do it another way?” So, for a while, I ignored writing craft books and relied on natural talent. Then I started reading them and went—oh, wow, sure wish I’d figured that out earlier.

My advice—learn the rules of writing first, then break them as needed. Although—that said—the best teacher of writing is time spent at the keyboard. And I’ve always been good at that. I love writing for endless hours.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I know there are a lot of closet writers out there, so here are some quick and sloppy tips:

Keep it fun. Join writing groups and go to conferences and make personal connections—that’s the good stuff. I know . . . most of us are closet introverts, but it’s worth the effort to find some writing friends. My critique group meets once a week and we have a blast. In the past, I had a critique group that met online (living across the globe, literally), and that was also very rewarding and helpful.

Get critique partners and DON’T BE OFFENDED. Listen and improve. My group has a grand old time praising and ripping apart, wailing and supporting. You want critique partners who point out both the good and the bad. It’s not very helpful if they only say, “Wow, this is great.” And it’s discouraging if they only say, “Um . . . no.”

Publication seems like an obvious end goal, but that adds a truckload of pressure, both getting there and then getting through it, so decide if you’d rather just write for personal enjoyment—which is a worthy goal. I repeat: keep it fun.


Thank you Teri for stopping by!

Girl at the Grave is available now!

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