Happy New Year and welcome back Mysterista emerita Theresa Crater!
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I wake up knowing exactly where my story is going today and write easily for two hours. We eat a perfect lunch, I spend some time playing with the cats and walking with my partner. In the evening we watch the latest episode of Travelers or The X-Files.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?
Rose oil from Egypt.
Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
Doris Lessing remains my favorite author. She experienced many of the things that I did, but in different ways. She wrote honestly about women’s lives. She explored spirituality in interesting ways. I still go back to her books.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No, but I’ve been thinking of trying it.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Bitter chocolate with some surprising nuggets of cacao and dried cherries.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
This story has been hanging around a long time demanding to be told. There are remnants of it in my journals from way back. I attended a workshop with memoirist Beverly Donofrio in Bethlehem, PA a couple of years back and this is what poured out from the exercises she had us do. It’s different from my usual paranormal mysteries, but it was an important book for me to write.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I often write about ancient artifacts and spiritual adventures in ancient archaeological sites, but this book is historical Southern fiction. It’s about overcoming childhood trauma and about the loss and regaining of children.
Tell us about your main character.
There are two. Raised on a decaying plantation in 1890s North Carolina, Maggie Winters sees it all—a woman beaten nearly to death, hidden in the barn, and healed by her African-American mother; a man lynched; and the machinations of a white woman hired to teach her to read but who has become determined to marry Maggie’s widowed white father. When Maggie’s father is forced by his Virginia family to marry someone more appropriate, Maggie and her mother are left without protection.
In the 1950s, young Caroline Hauser copes with her mother Lily’s descent into madness by reaching out to the spirit world. Caroline’s mother, married to the grandson of Maggie’s rapist, begs her to help save her child from damnation. Maggie can’t say no. As Caroline grows into her teen years, she falls in love with a young black activist, becomes pregnant and is also forced to give up her child. Caroline gives birth in the same hospital where Maggie lies dying.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Maggie is part Whoopi Goldberg, part Celie from The Color Purple, and Angelina Weld Grimké, a Harlem Renaissance writer who was biracial and a lesbian.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Doris Lessing, because she remains so important to me
Dion Fortune, because she writes fantastic occult fiction
Jodine Turner, Visionary Fiction Alliance founder
Kathleen McGowan, who writes so beautifully about Mary Magdalene and her descendants
Rumi, Sufi mystic
Hafiz, Sufi mystic
What’s next for you?
I’m going back to my Power Places series and finishing Return of the Grail King. Anne Le Claire, now married to Michael Levy, is pregnant, but there are forces in the world that don’t what her baby to be born.
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Theresa Crater grew up in the middle of the civil rights movement, an experience that left her believing anything is possible. At the age of seven, Theresa Crater announced to her parents she was going to be a writer. They promptly told her no one could make a living doing that. But like most kids, she didn’t listen.
Now a best-selling author, Theresa brings ancient temples, lost civilizations, and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. Her novels include The Power Places series, Under the Stone Paw and Beneath the Hallowed Hill, School of Hard Knocks, The Star Family and God in a Box. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The Star Family won best fiction in the Indie Spirit Book Awards in 2015. She blogs here, and is a member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance, Sisters in Crime, and the Independent Authors Network. She also teaches creative writing, British literature, and does free-lance editing.
She lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner, who writes and leads tours to Egypt, and their feline overlords.