Deb Richardson-Moore is a former journalist who had a second career as pastor of a church that included homeless parishioners. Now a full-time author, she writes murder mysteries that fall somewhere between cozies and gritty psychological thrillers.

Her six titles include the three-volume Branigan Powers series, the stand-alones Murder, Forgotten and Through Any Window, and a memoir about her early years as a pastor, The Weight of Mercy.

Deb and her husband live in Greenville, South Carolina, and are the parents of three adult children.

In Deb’s newest release, Through Any Window, 25-year-old Riley flees to her cousin’s upscale home in a gentrifying Southern neighborhood where ritzy houses rise beside crumbling boarding houses and homeless people live in nearby woods. When a double murder explodes, detectives are left wondering: Are the deaths personal or the result of the neighborhood’s simmering economic tensions? And is Riley to blame, as someone has so meticulously planned?

 

Do you write in more than one genre? Not anymore. After my memoir about my harrowing early years as a pastor to street dwellers, my publisher in England asked if I’d write a sequel. But that didn’t interest me. I wanted to write a murder mystery like those I’d read all my life. He encouraged me, and I combined things I’d learned about homelessness with the mystery genre. In The Cantaloupe Thief, The Cover Story, and Death of a Jester, a homeless man helps a news reporter solve crimes by seeing and hearing things most of their townspeople don’t.

What brought you to writing? Voracious reading. As far back as second grade, teachers challenged me to write stories for extra credit. I veered into journalism early, editing my high school and college newspapers, then wrote for The Greenville (SC) News for 27 years.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in a bright sunroom with five uncovered windows overlooking my backyard. My latest purchase is a metal riser that lifts my laptop so I don’t hunch over to read the screen. It’s a back saver! As far as distractions, I allow them all – coffee with friends, yard work, televised thrillers. I’m not writing for money at this stage, so I can take my time and enjoy the process.

Tell us about your writing process. Well, it’s inefficient, I’ll tell you that. I just jump in and start a scene or a book. As the characters and setting gain clarity, things occur to me. So, I go back frequently to add necessary scenes and plant clues. In Through Any Window, I was more than halfway through before I realized that I wanted the relationship between two sisters to be fleshed out. It meant moving some chapters around and adding flashbacks, but I think the novel became stronger.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on a book set on a fictional South Carolina barrier island. In The Last Beach Town, a prickly young woman inherits her family’s seaside home but arrives to find that her aunt’s murder is complicating the bequest.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I did this once, and it opened up an entirely new line of action. I loved the freedom it gave the manuscript. However, I had to defend the decision – vigorously – to my writers’ group. One member complained that I’d broken a contract with the reader. I was gratified that she cared enough about the character to object so vociferously!

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? You have to have subplots, I think. There’s only so much tension and “fear gripping her” that can be sustained within the main plot. The trick is to weave subplots in without losing sight or veering too far from the central storyline. My subplots crop up as I flesh out characters, and I try to be open to them. But in the book I’m writing, I have a subplot that I’m having trouble resolving. It may not survive the rewrite.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? Ah, the $64,000 question. I grow weary of books where the protagonist is forever being chased or stalked, but you do need her in a certain amount of fear and trepidation. Maybe you can plant worry about several things simultaneously. Perhaps you can hint at danger from a character she trusts. Or, my personal favorite, maybe you can have her pet behave oddly. (See Murder, Forgotten.)

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I use a mix of real and fictional locations but sometimes change the names of the real ones. That way, I have something in my head to describe, but I don’t have to worry about getting everything exactly right. In Murder, Forgotten, I used two real seacoasts I was familiar with – Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and the fishing village of Crail in Scotland. In Through Any Window, I use an urban park in my hometown but call it by a different name.

What is the best book you have ever read? Oh, my, what a difficult question. But certainly among the top five is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I finished it as my husband was driving me to guest preach in another city. I was so shell-shocked by the ending that I could hardly get out of the car.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write what interests you, not what others tell you is hot or marketable. I think it’s impossible to predict what agents or publishers will be looking for 18 months from now. And writing a book is so laborious that you want to enjoy the world and characters you create. Also, know that your inner critic will raise her ugly head from time to time. Her presence is part of the process. Ignore her.

How do our readers contact you?

Email richardsonmoored@gmail.com
Web site www.debrichardsonmoore.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/deb.richardsonmoore/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debrichardsonmoore/
Publisher https://redadeptpublishing.com/
Just for fun https://booklisti.com/booklist/5-mysteries-twisted-me-into-knots-deb-richardson-moore/lx3x96y
Books are available
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/stores/Deb-Richardson-Moore/author/B008ALE12Y?
Fiction Addiction https://www.fiction-addiction.com/
M. Judson Booksellers https://mjudsonbooks.com/local-authors/
Facebook groups:
Upstate Sisters in  Crime: https://www.facebook.com/groups/upstatescsistersincrime
South Carolina Writers Association: https://www.facebook.com/groups/51934904087
Southern Authors and Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1284419714917352
Partners in Crime Writing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226018664078743
Friends and Fiction: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsandFiction
Bookish Bibliophiles: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aliterarycoven