Cheré Dastugue Coen
Southern Writer Spotlight: Jane Tesh
Name: Jane Tesh
Book(s): "A Wild Ride," book 6 in the Madeline Maclin Mysteries
"Fatal Fantasy," book 8 in the Grace Street Series
"Ghost Light," a standalone mystery
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina. But for the past 45 years, I’ve lived in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the hometown of Andy Griffith. I live in Mayberry!
Gives us a brief description of your book(s).
There are six books so far in the Madeline Maclin Mysteries: "A Case of Imagination," "A Hard Bargain," "A Little Learning," "A Bad Reputation," "Evil Turns," and "A Wild Ride."
This series features ex-beauty queen and struggling PI Madeline “Mac” Maclin. Madeline is trying to distance herself from her pageant past and trying to reform her con man boyfriend, Jerry Fairweather, who becomes her husband as the series progresses. Jerry’s friends from his shady past often complicate Madeline’s cases. The series is set in the small fictional town of Celosia, North Carolina, where there is always something slightly paranormal going on.
The Grace Street Series is set in a large fictional city called Parkland, NC. There are 13 books planned. Eight are already published: Stolen Hearts, Mixed Signals, Now You See It, Just You Wait, Baby, Take a Bow, Death by Dragonfly, Gone Daddy Blues, and Fatal Fantasy.
Dealing with the loss of his little daughter, Lindsey, PI David Randall comes to live in his friend Camden’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Cam is a talented psychic, but has trouble accepting his gift. His girlfriend, Ellin Belton, produces shows for the Psychic Service Network and longs to be psychic. At 302 Grace, Randall meets his soul mate, Kary Ingram, and begins to hear and see Lindsey’s spirit.
Ghost Light, a standalone mystery, is set in another small fictional North Carolina town called Rossboro and set in the highly superstitious world of community theater. Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard knows nothing about stage managing a community theater show, but when the former stage manager has a mysteriously fatal accident backstage, her actor friend Will asks her to fill in. Teddy wants to solve the mystery and has the unexpected help of George, the theater ghost. But George has his own agenda.
Where does the story(stories) take place?
The Grace Street series takes place in the fictional city of Parkland, NC, which is based on Greensboro. The Madeline Maclin Mysteries are set in the small fictional town of Celosia, North Carolina, which is based on Mt. Airy, and the standalone, "Ghost Light," takes place in another fictional small town called Rossboro, North Carolina.
How does setting play in the telling of the story?
Having a boarding house in the Grace Street Series allows me to move characters in and out as the story requires and gives me a chance to showcase the more eccentric Southern folks, such as Rufus Jackson, a Good Old Boy with a never-ending supply of Southernisms, such as “He could talk a dog off a meat wagon.” It also provides my main characters with a big front porch—a Southern necessity—complete with a porch swing and rocking chairs where they can discuss Randall’s cases, Cam’s ever-growing psychic talents, Ellin’s problems at work, and Kary’s adoption plans.
What do you think makes a good story/book?
Characters that the reader cares about.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, so I’d have to say I was born a writer.
When did you write your first book? And how was that experience?
I believe I was eight. I enjoyed it so much, I wrote several more.
Is it writing your primary job or do you have another career?
Happily retired librarian here. I can write whenever I like.
What does your family think of your writing?
They have always supported me, so they’re very proud I’m doing what I love.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up! It took me over 30 years to get published. Of course, this was back in the Olden Days BC (Before Computers). Now writers have many more options.
How can readers find and purchase your books?