Friday, December 19, 2014


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

At thirteen. That's when I wrote my first novel. It was right around that time that I talked my teachers into launching a newspaper at Twin Hills Junior High in Sebastopol CA. Along with being the editor, I wrote a little serial mystery story for each edition that garnered rave reviews. Needless to say, I was hooked. Sometimes life takes a meandering path and I lost track of that dream for awhile, while I was busy living other dreams. Not regretting a single moment, because sprinkled along that path are all my experiences. many of them written about at length. There are probably a dozen leather bound journals filled with a million random thoughts, safely tucked in the back of my closet. Exactly where they belong. 

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today? 

My tastes have always been and continue to be eclectic. I love biographies about historical figures, fiction, and everything in between. Amelia Earhart's story was the first one to capture my imagination. I was sure I was destined to pick up where she left off, circling the globe, looking adorable in my little leather jacket. I had a change of heart  when I read Florence Nightingale's biography and thought perhaps I might selflessly devote my life to caring for the sick.  But then I read Gone With the Wind and realized that I was Scarlet O'Hara. get the point. Today my tastes still run to biographies, history and good fiction. I love Pat Conroy, Jan Karon, Garth Stein and Suanne Laqueur. I'm a sucker for a great line, where ever I may find it. 

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel The Bootlegger's Wife?

Real life. It's a true story, based upon my grandparents. When the idea presented itself to me, I was shocked that I hadn't thought of it before. But I'm a firm believer that things happen when they're ready to happen. So, apparently I wasn't ready to write this story until now. 

4. Will we ever see Frances and Frankie again?

The short answer is yes. But not in a sequel. They will appear in a future story when I tell the tales of my childhood years. Those two provided the solid foundation upon which I stand today. And it will be lovely for me to talk about them again. 

5. Do you think, personally, that love is worth what Frances endures?

Absolutely. Life is difficult, and hardships will fall across your path no matter which road you take. But to have a love like that, a hand to hold through it all...isn't that what we all search for?

6. What is it about Prohibition and the Depression that, you think, makes stories set then so engrossing?

It seems to me as if the country was in her teen-aged years. Quite full of herself. Testing boundaries. Embracing everything that was new. The dresses were short and flirty, the hair-styles were sassy, the champagne flowed and like I said in my book... "people had been riding high on a carnival ride that had no end when suddenly the wheels came off."  I also think we're drawn to that period because so many of us have grandparents who are not some dusty statistic in a history book, but rather people we've known and loved who lived those years. Perhaps they've shared some of their own experiences with us. Therefore the connective tissue to that era hasn't been stretched too thin yet. It's very real.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at. Were any of the characters based on real people?

I don't know about genres. I can't see myself writing something that I'm not interested in reading, so I doubt if there will be any Zombies in my future. My first novel, Back to Austen, was a regency era romance. Jane Austen would approve. And the story ideas that are lined up in the pipeline are all diverse enough to keep me excited. But there's always one common

9. What would you do if you were Frances?

I would have chosen the same path. I am her granddaughter. For me, love is the only answer. 

10. Would you like to see The Bootlegger's Wife in theaters? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

I love this question, because I have a Pinterest board devoted to The Bootlegger's Wife that provided all kinds of inspiration during the long months of writing. Mila Kunis is Frances. Her tiny petite frame, dark hair and big doe eyes are exactly what I pictured for Frances Durant. 
Frankie is a little more difficult. I really can't think of a current actor who captures his essence. But Leonardo DiCaprio when he played Jack in Titanic...there...that's the look. That lock of hair falling over his face. That devil-may- care grin. Those gorgeous blue eyes. That's Frankie Lee. [Author provided photos of chosen actors are below.--KSR]

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

I hope to still be telling stories and I hope that people are waiting in line to read them. 

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

All of the other things that I already do. Love, laugh, read, garden, cook, decorate...but I can't imagine NOT writing. I've always written. Mostly for myself. And that's fine too. 

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

My current work-in-progress is still in the development stage. Lots of research, plotting and outlining are taking place. Lucky for me...I love the entire process. I can tell my fingers are itching to get into the story. I know when it's time, because the characters start pushing harder. Talking more. They can be quite demanding. This story is set in the south in the early 1960s. This affords me another chance to delve into history. Back to Austen was set in 1815. The Bootlegger's Wife in hey, at least I'm moving forward. Ha ha. 

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

I can't imagine collaborating with another author, because writing is so personal to me. But of course there are writers I'd love to sit with and pick their brain for an hour or two. I'd have to throw it way back to Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Mark Twain. Three literary giants, who represent their time yet are just as fashionable today as the day they first put pen or quill to paper. 

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Three things? This reminds me of the picnic scene at Box Hill in Emma. Where the participants are asked to provide "One thing very clever... two things moderately clever...or three things very dull indeed." I shall strive to not be too dull. 
Number 1: I married my high school sweetheart. Like every other good love story, we have defied the odds and just celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary.  
Number 2: I love silliness. Silly words. Silly faces. Which makes me quite the hit with my grandchildren. I'm a comedian's dream audience. I'm wired to laugh. 
Number 3: I wrote my first REAL novel in my mid-fifties. More than surprising, I think that's inspirational. It just goes to show that it's never too late for your dream to find you. 
In closing I'd like to thank you Kelly, for providing such insightful questions. I loved the fact that I had to give these a little thought.  It's been a real treat. Thanks for inviting me, and I hope your audience will be intrigued enough to take a chance on The Bootlegger's Wife.

Find Terri Lee online via:

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  1. I believe that if anyone can write a love story about zombies it would be you, Terri Lee!
    : )

  2. What a great interview!!! I can totally see Mila and Leonardo as Frankie and Frances. Interesting questions...great, insightful answers. Well-done!