Teri Duerr

For Mother's Day this May, Mystery Scene asked some of contemporary mystery's most beloved mother-daughter/mother-son writing teams to share their thoughts on writing together as coauthors—and reading together as parent and child. To moms everywhere, Happy Mother's Day!

Charles Todd
Caroline and Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge series and Bess Crawford series

todd_charlescarolineOn writing together
Caroline: If I’d been planning to write with one of my children, genes had already decided it was to be Charles. Linda had inherited her father’s superb scientific mind, Charles had inherited my love of books and history. All that was to the good when we began collaborating. I’d anticipated it. But that was all I could take for granted.

Here was a grown man who’d lived on his own longer than we’d had him at home. He had his own opinions and tastes and way of seeing things. He was no longer the child I’d had to remind to eat his Brussels sprouts or not to track mud across the floor. I discovered we could argue and disagree without getting mad. We were equals.

He had to listen to me about some things, but I had to listen to him about others. Pulling rank was not an option. And yet in many things we thought alike. Reacted alike. Had the same wacky sense of humor. Confusing signals, to say the least. And not at all like writing with, say, Reed Farrell Coleman or Margaret Maron, where you’d expect differences to start with. Working it all out was a terrific experience.

stevenson_childsgardenofversesOn reading together
Charles: Our home was always full of books. My mother read to us when we were children, every night when our homework was finished and the dishes were done. Long before we could pick out a book for ourselves, she introduced us to the fascinating world of the library. She opened a door to my love of history, and she shared her own love of great movies and Masterpiece Theatre/Mystery!—and all these things were given freely and without strings. I didn’t realize until I was much older how they had shaped who I was and what I could do. In turn, I introduced my mother to Monty Python, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Young Frankenstein, to complete her education.

Caroline: Probably the earliest favorite was A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The lamplighter, the sick child playing on his counterpane, the swing on a summer’s day—children seem to respond to the rhythm of poetry, which is probably why nursery rhymes are so popular. Stevenson could paint the most wonderful word pictures. The odd thing was, when it came time to write the poetry that was the key to the murders in Wings on Fire, we both drew on this legacy to help us find the right words for O. A. Manniing.

Charles: And then when I was a little older, it was most certainly was Sherlock Holmes. Here was 1890 foggy, gas-lit London and Doctor Watson with his revolver at the ready, or the Hound of the Baskervilles howling in the Cornish night, or The Speckled Band slithering down the bell cord in a locked room—it didn’t matter which story was up that evening, as long as it was Sherlock Holmes. Solid excitement, and even now I like reading them again. That’s why we enjoyed collaborating last year on a short story for the anthology, A Study in Sherlock. It sort of brought Holmes full circle.

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing who share a long abiding passion for history and storytelling. Together, they pen the award-winning Inspector Ian Rutledge series set in post-World War I England and the Bess Crawford series following the investigations of a British nurse during the Great War. Visit their author site at charlestodd.com.

A Charles Todd Reading List

todd_proofofguiltInspector Ian Rutledge series
A Test of Wills (1996)
Wings of Fire (1998)
Search the Dark (1999)
Legacy of the Dead (2000)
Watchers of Time (2001)
A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
A Cold Treachery (2005)
A Long Shadow (2006)
A False Mirror (2007)
A Pale Horse (2008)todd_unmarkedgrave
A Matter of Justice (2009)
The Red Door (2010)
A Lonely Death (2011)
The Confession (2012)
Proof of Guilt (2013)

Bess Crawford series
A Duty to the Dead (2009)
An Impartial Witness (2010)
A Bitter Truth (2011)todd_walnuttree
An Unmarked Grave (2012)
A Question of Honor (2013)

Standalone Novels
The Murder Stone (2003)
The Walnut Tree (2012)

Teri Duerr

For Mother's Day this May, Mystery Scene asked some of contemporary mystery's most beloved mother-daughter/mother-son writing teams to share their thoughts on writing together as coauthors—and reading together as parent and child. To moms everywhere, Happy Mother's Day!

Charles Todd
Caroline and Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge series and Bess Crawford series

todd_charlescarolineOn writing together
Caroline: If I’d been planning to write with one of my children, genes had already decided it was to be Charles. Linda had inherited her father’s superb scientific mind, Charles had inherited my love of books and history. All that was to the good when we began collaborating. I’d anticipated it. But that was all I could take for granted.

Here was a grown man who’d lived on his own longer than we’d had him at home. He had his own opinions and tastes and way of seeing things. He was no longer the child I’d had to remind to eat his Brussels sprouts or not to track mud across the floor. I discovered we could argue and disagree without getting mad. We were equals.

He had to listen to me about some things, but I had to listen to him about others. Pulling rank was not an option. And yet in many things we thought alike. Reacted alike. Had the same wacky sense of humor. Confusing signals, to say the least. And not at all like writing with, say, Reed Farrell Coleman or Margaret Maron, where you’d expect differences to start with. Working it all out was a terrific experience.

stevenson_childsgardenofversesOn reading together
Charles: Our home was always full of books. My mother read to us when we were children, every night when our homework was finished and the dishes were done. Long before we could pick out a book for ourselves, she introduced us to the fascinating world of the library. She opened a door to my love of history, and she shared her own love of great movies and Masterpiece Theatre/Mystery!—and all these things were given freely and without strings. I didn’t realize until I was much older how they had shaped who I was and what I could do. In turn, I introduced my mother to Monty Python, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Young Frankenstein, to complete her education.

Caroline: Probably the earliest favorite was A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The lamplighter, the sick child playing on his counterpane, the swing on a summer’s day—children seem to respond to the rhythm of poetry, which is probably why nursery rhymes are so popular. Stevenson could paint the most wonderful word pictures. The odd thing was, when it came time to write the poetry that was the key to the murders in Wings on Fire, we both drew on this legacy to help us find the right words for O. A. Manniing.

Charles: And then when I was a little older, it was most certainly was Sherlock Holmes. Here was 1890 foggy, gas-lit London and Doctor Watson with his revolver at the ready, or the Hound of the Baskervilles howling in the Cornish night, or The Speckled Band slithering down the bell cord in a locked room—it didn’t matter which story was up that evening, as long as it was Sherlock Holmes. Solid excitement, and even now I like reading them again. That’s why we enjoyed collaborating last year on a short story for the anthology, A Study in Sherlock. It sort of brought Holmes full circle.

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing who share a long abiding passion for history and storytelling. Together, they pen the award-winning Inspector Ian Rutledge series set in post-World War I England and the Bess Crawford series following the investigations of a British nurse during the Great War. Visit their author site at charlestodd.com.

A Charles Todd Reading List

todd_proofofguiltInspector Ian Rutledge series
A Test of Wills (1996)
Wings of Fire (1998)
Search the Dark (1999)
Legacy of the Dead (2000)
Watchers of Time (2001)
A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
A Cold Treachery (2005)
A Long Shadow (2006)
A False Mirror (2007)
A Pale Horse (2008)todd_unmarkedgrave
A Matter of Justice (2009)
The Red Door (2010)
A Lonely Death (2011)
The Confession (2012)
Proof of Guilt (2013)

Bess Crawford series
A Duty to the Dead (2009)
An Impartial Witness (2010)
A Bitter Truth (2011)todd_walnuttree
An Unmarked Grave (2012)
A Question of Honor (2013)

Standalone Novels
The Murder Stone (2003)
The Walnut Tree (2012)

Page 2

Victoria Abbott
Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini
Book Collector Mystery series

maffini_maryjanevictoriaOn writing together
Mary Jane: Victoria showed me how to lighten up, take more chances, and enjoy more wimsey in the writing (and Wimsey too, but that's the next book, The Sayers Swindle).

Victoria: In the course of writing The Christie Curse, my mother taught me about using the peaks and valleys of plotting in order to keep people engaged.

On reading together
When Victoria was just learning to read, we enjoyed Frog and Toad are Friends (an I Can Read book by Arnold Lobel ). We loved these gentle, funny characters and their collaboration. We still do. Later, we shared the Narnia series, especially The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe, read together in the "good" living room on the sofa. This was such a special time cuddled up together with books that were magical, memorable, and a little bit scary.

Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the always funny and creative artist, photographer, and short story author, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories. Their three miniature dachshunds are understandably outraged that a pug and some Siamese cats have wiggled their way into the series. Visit their sites victoria-abbott.com and maryjanemaffini.com.

A Victoria Abbott Reading Listabbott_thechristiecurse

Book Collector Mystery series
The Christie Curse (2013)
The Sayers Swindle (2013)

Page 3

Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson
Mysteries in Our National Parks series

skurzynski_gloriaalane_fergusonOn writing together
Gloria: By middle school I was able to borrow my neighbors’ National Geographic magazines and learn more about the great big world out there. Who could have foreseen that decades later, Alane and I would write children’s mysteries for National Geographic? Alane is much better at creating the interaction between the characters. She understands social signals more than I do—it’s a gift she carries into her writing. I rely on Alane’s social instincts; she relies on my science research about endangered species in nature. We make a good team.

Alane: I'd say the best team ever! Watching my mother create her own fictional worlds as a published author, I witnessed firsthand her amazing work ethic. She taught me to never settle for good, but to strive for great. As we wrote the parks mysteries together, the lesson was underlined even more: Always give your best while writing harder, climbing higher.

spyri_heidiOn reading together
Gloria: I was seven years old, living in a steel town that was just emerging from the Great Depression—and I’d never owned a book. Then, as I lay in bed with whooping cough, my mother's friend brought me a copy of Johanna Spyri's novel Heidi. For me! To keep! Joy! A generation later I read the book to Alane, and now it’s hers to keep.

Alane: I, too, remember falling in love with Heidi. When my mom gave me the book, I realized that through the magic of reading, I could walk hand-in-hand with Heidi over flower-strewn Alps while sipping fresh goat milk and nibbling goat cheese. (It was only later I discovered the goat-thing wasn't nearly as delicious as Heidi made it sound!) Through that book, as well as many others, my mom taught me to love the written word.

Children's book author Gloria Skurzynski and Edgar-Award winning author Alane Ferguson collaborated from 1997-2003 on 13 National Geographic children's novels based around science, nature, and the US National Parks system for their Mysteries in the National Parks Mysteries series. For more information visit National Geographic and Skurzynski's site gloriabooks.com and Ferguson's site alaneferguson.com.

Mysteries in Our National Parks series

ferguson_nightoftheblackbearWolf Stalker (1997)
Rage of Fire (1998)
Cliff-hanger (1999)
Deadly Waters (1999)
The Hunted (2000)
Ghost Horses (2000)
Valley of Death (2001)
Over the Edge (2001)
Running Scared (2002)
Out of the Deep (2002)
Escape From Fear (2002)
Buried Alive (2003)
Night of the Black Bear (2007)

Page 4

Mary and Carol Higgins Clark
The Holiday Mystery Books series

higginsclark_marycaroline_cr_theresaartigasphotographyOn writing together
Mary: Carol had her first book contract before I knew she was even considering writing. Her ability to translate everything she had studied as an actress into creating bestselling novels delighted me.

On what I learned from my mother
Carol: An important lesson I learned from my mother was how important it is to be optimistic and have a sense of humor. After my father died, it wasn't easy raising five children alone, but she worked hard, believed in herself, and four and a half years later had her first book published, Aspire to the Heavens, a biographical novel about George Washington. When that book didn't sell, she didn't become discouraged. Instead, she decided to try writing suspense. That worked for her!!!

On reading together
Mary: A book I remember that became such a favorite that she could recite it by heart was Little Sally Mandy by Helen R. Van Derveer.

Carol: The book she was referring to was actually The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge. We even used it as a clue in the first Christmas book we wrote together, Deck The Halls.

Mary Higgins, the "Queen of Suspense" and Carol Higgins Clark, author of the Regan Reilly Mystery series, are both well-established forces in the mystery writing world, but have been collaborating together on seasonal holiday mysteries since 2000.

Photo credit: Theresa Artigas Photography

The Holiday Mystery Books series

higginsclark_dashingthroughthesnowDeck the Halls (2000)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001)
The Christmas Thief (2004)
Santa Cruise (2006)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008)

most-mysterious-moms-and-the-kids-who-write-with-them
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