The daughter of a man in the military, Teresa Trent grew up moving a lot. Of all the places she’s lived, however, Texas is one of her favorites. It’s one reason she writes cozy mysteries that take place in small Texas towns. Till Dirt Do Us Part is Trent’s latest entry in the Pecan Bayou series. As she put it, “You never know what the nicest people are doing when nobody’s watching. The dead guy in Till Dirt Do Us Part was a lovely man who delivered dirt for neighboring plant stores. He was easy to get along with and loved kids.”
Who would want to kill a guy like that? It may have something to do with polygamy…or maybe not. Here’s the story behind Till Dirt Do Us Part.
Inspiration, polygamy, and gossip
“I was inspired by Big Love, the HBO series about a polygamist. I can barely handle one marriage let alone multiple relationships. I was fascinated by what kind of mindset would cause a person to commit their time, love and money to a family setup like that. Of course, in a little town like Pecan Bayou, Texas this sort of thing provides fodder for gossip for years to come. And, just to be clear, I didn’t marry anybody extra to research polygamy!”
Till Dirt Do Us Part is the seventh book in the Pecan Bayou Series. The heroine, Betsy Livingston starts out in A Dash of Murder as a single mom, but by Till Dirt Do Us Part she has three children. So readers know how Betsy got to where she is, Trent suggests starting with the first book.
“I wrote in a character with Down syndrome in the book because of my own son, Andrew, who has Down syndrome and autism. I noticed there were very few characters with disabilities in cozy mysteries and if I was going to create my own world through writing, I needed to include people who are a part of my everyday life.
“Danny, an adult with Down syndrome is Betsy’s cousin. Aunt Maggie, his mother is a composite of myself, my mother, and so many mother’s I’ve known with special needs children. Danny provides some very touching moments throughout the series, but one of my favorites was the time he gave Betsy his pillow because it was full of sweet dreams.”
Real life intercedes
The completion of Till Dirt Do Us Part and the subsequent promotion of the book came at a difficult time in Trent’s life. In fact, her son was in the hospital with double pneumonia at the time, which nearly delayed publication until summer.
“I had the writing and editing finished, so many of the interviews I did for my blog tour were actually answered from beside my son’s hospital bed. Through the miracle of modern medicine and a lot of prayer from friends and family, I’m now writing the answers to this interview from my home with my son asleep in the next room. I have much to be thankful for, but it was a tough time to be a writer and a parent.”
The holidays, Texas style
Trent likes to feature holidays in her books. While she said she loves all the holidays, Christmas is her favorite. “In Happy Homicides 1, I wrote The Deadliest Christmas Pageant Ever, because I have written and directed many Christmas pageants for church over the years. No matter how many mistakes get made, they always turn out perfect. Here are a couple of things that have happened in my experiences.
Double Trouble Contest Code #OnTheBayou
“1. I was in the back of the church alerting the wise men to enter the program. One of the wise men entered the sanctuary and accidentally passed a giant cloud of gas. I found myself backing up into the lobby area to get away from the smell, but then noticed the facial expressions of the people in the pews as each one got hit by the toxic cloud. It was so funny, I couldn’t breathe, or maybe it was something else?
“2. The church I’m at now has a complete wardrobe of animal costumes for toddlers to be in the nativity procession. One year everyone was lined up to see the baby Jesus when the toddlers bolted. Cows and sheep were on the loose everywhere. Luckily, we dress up the older youth as angels, so we had the first official roundup using angels in Texas.”
Learn more about Teresa Trent at teresatrent.com.