What Scares You, Terrie Moran?

I adore Terrie Moran! She’s hilarious and sincere and supportive and a wonderfully talented writer. I also adore Murder, She Wrote and Jessica Fletcher—and when I found out that Terrie was taking over the helm of writing the MSW books, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The first one, Killing in a Koi Pond, is already out (get it here), and her second, Debonair in Death, will be releasing in November 2021.
I miss seeing Terrie at all the crime writer conventions—she’s one of the top highlights of those events—so I decided to get my Terrie fix by asking her creepy questions about her fears. Join me in learning more…

Would you rather find an ogre or a banshee living in your house?

A banshee, of course! All of my ancestors are of Irish descent, having come to America from counties such as Derry, Cork, Cavan, Tipperary and so on. And in Irish culture the banshee, or “woman of the fairy mounds,” is a female spirit whose keening foretells the death of a member of the family that she has been following for hundreds of years. The death can occur near or far away. The banshee will know the death is imminent and her keening will announce it to the family. Other than the fact that the keening could split your eardrums, a banshee will do you no harm. In fact, I am so interested in banshee traditions that I wrote a short story called “The Awareness,” which was published in the Mystery Writers of America anthology Crimes By Moonlight, edited by the magnificent Charlaine Harris. I re-published it in an e-collection called The Awareness and Other Deadly Tales, giving the banshee top billing!    

“The banshee is a female spirit whose keening foretells the death of a family member.”

Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in spirits, which is the same in my mind. I believe that the souls of those who came before me are always keeping an eye on me and guiding me. The discussions I have inside my head when making a decision—well, those are really the ancestors hashing out the pros and cons, keeping me safe and plotting out my future.  

What is your earliest childhood memory of fear?

Until I was seven, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The apartment had a long hallway from the living room to the kitchen that was great for sock sliding. Our apartment door was at the top of the first floor staircase, so I could hear my friends coming home and going out. (“Mom, Peggy is bringing her doll house to the stoop, can I go out?”) But by the time I was five, I knew there was one thing missing. We had no chimney. How was Santa Claus going to come down a chimney that didn’t exist? I worried about this for months before I finally told my mother who, as mothers do, fixed the problem by writing a letter to Santa explaining that she would leave the living room window wide open and that his cookies and milk would be waiting on the window sill. When I went to bed on Christmas Eve, there was that one window open and the entire apartment was freezing. But when I awoke on Christmas morning, all was toasty and there were presents under the tree. Crisis averted.

Do you have a recurring nightmare?

I still, after all these years, can wake up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat because in my dream Queens College sent me a letter to let me know that there was an error in my transcripts, and I still need a few more credits to graduate. I suspect that comes from being an older student who went to school nights and Saturdays, dragged my children to class with me when necessary, and took forever to actually graduate.

Do you have any horror movie deal-breakers?

I don’t watch horror movies. Period. I saw Psycho when I was a child. That was enough. As an adult, I saw the movie Dressed to Kill, which I thought was a mystery but it turned out to have a horror element, at least to me, and it took several years before I could ride in an elevator without feeling creepy.

What is the scariest book you ever read?

Without a doubt, it was Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. Again, I don’t watch scary movies, and I don’t read scary books. Everybody was raving about Rosemary’s Baby and although I was curious, I decided to take a pass. Then a librarian told me it was not so much scary as it was a classic and I should definitely read it. Well my husband, baby daughter and I were in the process of moving from our tiny one bedroom apartment in the Bronx (not the one I grew up in!) to a three-story house in Queens. I was alone at the house getting it ready for the big move. When I finished my chores, it was late and dark. I opened my library book to entertain myself while I was waiting for my husband to come and pick me up. And, of course, the empty house creaked and moaned as old houses do and the book was Rosemary’s Baby. You can imagine the rest.

Terrie Farley Moran is co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the Murder, She Wrote series. Terrie is also the author of the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy novels, and is co-author of Laura Childs’ scrapbooking mysteries. Her short mystery fiction has been published in numerous venues. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/terriefarleymoran/