It’s always inspiring to interview an author like Terrie Maue who’s realized a life-long dream of writing a mystery novel! Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and contact/buylinks:
First off, congratulations on the release of KNIFE EDGE, your debut mystery and the first book in your Zee & Rico Mystery Series. Can you share with our readers a bit about the story and what inspired it?
KNIFE EDGE is a traditional murder mystery. The entire story is told from Zee’s point of view, so that the reader has the opportunity to solve the crime along with her. Zee is a successful columnist, but she wants to be an investigative reporter. She believes her upcoming interview with a disgraced medical researcher may provide her the opportunity to realize her dream. Unfortunately, when she arrives for the interview, she finds him stabbed to death. Later, she learns she ran into the prime suspect fleeing the scene. When he begs her to help him clear his name, her inclination to speak up for the underdog kicks in, and she starts investigating. The more she learns, the more she believes the police have the wrong man.
I wrote the first version of KNIFE EDGE ten years ago, and honestly, I can’t recall what inspired it!
I thought it was interesting that you made Zee, your amateur sleuth, a satirical columnist. What made you decide to make her a columnist?
I wanted Zee to be a writer, but to have more freedom than she would have if she were tied to a job with regular hours. Also, as a columnist, she is free to pursue whatever interests her, as long as she can turn it into a column on deadline. I wanted her to write satire because I could show how she uses her particular skills to solve the murder. She’s skeptical. She notices details and puts information together in different ways—what she calls seeing the world sideways.
Rico is a seasoned crime reporter, in contrast to Zee. Was it interesting to research how crime reporters work?
I didn’t do much research on crime reporters specifically. I worked for a brief period of time as a news reporter, so I used that experience as a guide. (You might notice that I don’t spend much time describing Rico at work!) I needed someone who would have connections to the police and be able to get information Zee wouldn’t be privy to. I also needed someone who was familiar with the perils of dealing with the criminal element. Zee doesn’t always make the wisest decisions in this regard.
I read that you began your career in public relations and later spent nearly two decades in higher education. Did you always know that you wanted to write fiction?
Great question. I wrote melodramatic teenage romances when I was in high school, until the Catholic nuns told me that I offended God by doing that. I was a devout Catholic girl, so I resolved to write only non-fiction. That lasted 25 years, until I grew tired of public relations (and realized sadly how much fiction was involved). I decided one day that if I were asked whether I’d like to hear a lecture or listen to a story, I would definitely go with the story. And I had matured spiritually by then, so the spurious spiritual threat no longer affected me.
A related question: What drew you to writing mystery novels?
I like the intellectual challenge of solving the puzzle. My dad read mystery novels, and I’m sure I picked up the love of the genre from him. The definite arc of the mystery appeals to me. I also like spending time in a world where justice and right prevail, although not without a struggle.
Did you find it challenging to make the transition from writing nonfiction to fiction?
Not at all. I appreciate fiction for the control and creative freedom it gives me. Actually, I think there’s much that crosses over between the two genres. Writer Neil Gaiman said, “Fiction is the lie that tells the truth.” Though the plots and characters are invented, it is the reality, the truth about life in a story that ultimately resonates with readers. That said, I appreciate that fiction labels itself clearly.
A related question: Were there aspects of your writing work in public relations and academia that helped prepare you for your current career as a mystery author?
In a negative way, I’d say public relations prepared me by instilling in me a determination to hold people accountable for ethical language use. I quit my PR job when I realized how much I was expected to spin the facts to create a misleading picture. As a mystery author, I get to make sure my characters don’t get away with lies. I made Zee a satirist specifically so she could point out the ways in which people use language to distort and misdirect, to paint a false picture, to adhere to the letter of the law while violating the spirit.
As a university professor, I was challenged to refine and clarify my ethical stance on language. You cannot teach what you do not clearly understand.
I was fascinated to read that you hold a first-degree black belt in TaeKwon Do. Has that been helpful in creating your mystery fiction?
I’ll say yes, but not elaborate.
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I’m hard at work on book two of the series. The publisher wants the manuscript by mid-November. I’m really enjoying creating the growth arc for my continuing characters, as well as giving them a new puzzle to solve.
I’m also developing a workshop on dealing with the unexpected results of success. When I signed the contract for KNIFE EDGE, I was in ecstasy for about two days, and then every doubt, fear, or anxiety I’d ever had came crashing in on me. It was not fun; in fact, I was baffled and in pain for months. Eventually, I learned how to cope and even use these afflictions to become a better writer. The workshop is called Monsters in the Closet: Slaying Doubt Dragons, Fear Faeries, and Imposter Imps. I’ll be presenting it to Sin City Writers Group in Las Vegas on November 11. If people want more information, they can contact me via email or check Sin City Writers Group Facebook page.
Terri Maue is a retired professor emeritus from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After she retired, she decided to pursue a life-long dream to write a mystery novel. The result is Knife Edge: A Zee & Rico Mystery. In addition to offering a challenging puzzle, it reflects several of Terri’s interests:
- martial arts—she holds a first-degree black belt in TaeKwon Do;
- spirituality—she has studied many forms of religion, including Christianity, Wicca, Buddhism, and Native American and African practices;
- the intuitive arts—she reads Tarot cards and has taught dream interpretation.
Terri is a member of Henderson Writers Group, Sin City Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. She is working on the second book in the Zee & Rico series. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Eddie, her personal photographer and husband of 55 years.
Knife Edge is available in paperback and ebook. Ask for it in bookstores or order it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, bookshop, Target.com, Walmart.com, and other websites.