Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy, launches her blog tour!

Monday, October 19, 2009

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Therese Walsh planned to be a sleep researcher but, through the twists and turns of life, ended up as a researcher at Prevention Magazine. She began writing bits and pieces for the magazine and soon found her true passion—writing.

Therese’s love of writing led her to co-found Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of genre fiction, and begin her own novel. Her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was released on October 13, 2009 (Shaye Areheart Books).

When she isn’t writing, Therese feasts on dark chocolate to keep up with the boundless energy of her husband, two children, and Jack Russell dog.

Find out more about Therese by visiting her website:

The Last Will of Moira Leahy
By Therese Walsh

Maeve was the fun loving twin; Moira was the quiet twin. Eventually, young love began changing Moira when they were 16 years old. But then tragedy struck. After the loss of Moira, Maeve became more like her—quieter, more orderly, even boring.

After a decade of being a shadow of herself, Maeve wins a keris or Javanese dagger that reminds her of her childhood playing pirates with Moira. Not long after she finds her life plunged into chaos: anonymous notes, travel to Rome, and a strange riddle with roots in the past to unravel. Is Maeve’s adventure a gift to jolt her out of her routine existence or a punishment manipulated by a twin from beyond the grave?

Published by Shaye Areheart Books
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN# o307461572

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Therese's book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Most writers will confess to having one...or two...or three practice novels in "the drawer" that helped them learn how to write. Do you have any unpublished works in your "drawer" that helped you learn how to write?

Therese: The novel in my drawer is “take one” of The Last Will of Moira Leahy (then called “Unbounded”), which is an entirely different book and has the structure of a traditional love story/romance.

WOW: Take one! Tell us how two unpublished manuscripts equals one published novel. You began with a man-woman love story and ended up with a story of twins. Were these two separate manuscripts that you combined or was it a drastic rewrite of one?

Therese: Let me first say that if I hadn’t believed in this story wholeheartedly—not my ability to tell the story but the story itself—I never would’ve done this. But I did believe, and I had to press on and do my best.

Here’s what happened: I started writing in 2002. I’d never written adult fiction before, and I hadn’t studied my craft either, so I pretty much didn’t know what I was doing. The story drifted all over the board. It had the structure of a romance but with content that veered into decidedly unromantic territory—including the emergence of my heroine Maeve’s deceased twin sister and a Javanese dagger (keris) that insisted on being center stage. When I submitted the story to agents in 2003, some were very encouraging—they liked my voice and thought the story was interesting, some even admitted the story had personally touched them and made them cry—but the overwhelming consensus was that it would not sell as a romance. It was agent Deidre Knight who told me I should be writing women’s fiction, as the emotional tenor of the book spoke to that genre.

Drastic rewrite? Oh, yes. I rewrote pretty much every word, and changed the plot and structure of the book. I pitched some characters and created some new ones. I maintained my two prior settings—Betheny, New York and Rome, Italy, but I introduced a critical new setting—Castine, Maine, where the twins grew up. The love story component, though still important to the book as a whole, took on a lesser role.

WOW: I can't imagine having what was, in your eyes, a finished novel and going back almost to square one. Some of us have trouble just rewriting an opening chapter! Did you have pangs when you were asked to rewrite?

Therese: I definitely had pangs. I still remember the night Deidre’s email came in, how sick I felt. Because even though I’d started as a newbie, I had evolved throughout the process of writing that story—I’d embraced critique and worked for months to edit my tome, at one point trimming 30k words from its pages. I’d spent two years on that version. So, yes, pangs.

WOW: What made you come around to Deidre’s way of thinking?

Therese: I thought hard about Deidre’s advice, and considered which scenes were most central to the story and best reflected the heart of the book. Surprise! They didn’t involve the hero, Noel, but rather Maeve’s twin, Moira. That’s when I knew Deidre was right, and the book should’ve been written as women’s fiction. Before I started writing, though--I moped, I doubted. Did I have what it took to make it in publishing? Was I wasting my time tackling this story again? Should I trash the concept and start something new? But the characters wouldn’t let me be; I had to try.

WOW: Any advice for writers about how to decide what is helpful criticism and what is just the whim of some agent or editor?

Therese: I think it’s important to be wide open to criticism. That can be hard, because as writers who hone in on emotional truths, we can be thin-skinned peeps. Criticism can hurt. But it’s what we need, in part, to become better writers. You have to put yourself in a Zen place to accept critique—assume that others have your story’s best interests at heart when you hear what they have to say, then think deeply about what they’ve offered you. If you’ve successfully set aside your pride, your gut will tell you if that person is right or wrong.

If you’re still in doubt, bounce professional advice around with your critique group. What do they think? Pay attention if you’re hearing the same criticism from more than one source.

WOW: What was more difficult--the original writing or the rewrite? How long did it take?

Therese: I first started writing in 2002, and that draft was much easier for me—in part because I was happily ignorant! I started the big rewrite in 2005, then scrapped everything again and started for a final time in 2006—this time with an outline. (Yes, finally, an outline. I was learning and had studied my craft over the years.)

The hardest part of the book was managing the interwoven narratives between Maeve Leahy in the present day and the twins in the past. These “out of time” sequences are their own narrative and not your traditional flashbacks (think English Patient). I remember nearly ripping my hair out as I worked to sequence everything, wanting each present-day and out-of-time sequence to share a vibe, and needing for the stories to dovetail at specific times and in important ways.

WOW: I can’t imagine juggling not only twin characters but also the present and the past—all in one book! Twins and their relationships are key to The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Tell us, are you a twin? If not, how did you come to such an understanding of this unique interaction?

Therese: No, and there aren’t any twins in my family. When I was drafting the first version of the book, Moira just popped up one day, unplanned. I didn’t have more than a common-man’s knowledge of twins until I began research for the big rewrite. At that time, I read a lot of books and online articles. One of the very best books, in my opinion, was the slim and accessible Twin Stories: Their Mysterious and Unique Bond by Susan Kohl. I loved it for its firsthand accounts of twin phenomena. So, so many of the things I’d already included in the story were supported by that book—another sign Last Will wanted to be written, I thought.

WOW: What did you do to advance your craft? Take classes, read writing books, enter contests?

Therese: I didn’t take any classes and entered few contests, but I have a library of craft books. Here are a few of my favorites:

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (plus the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman
Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

WOW: I’m sure we’ll all be devouring those books—hoping they can help us create a novel as riveting as yours. So now that The Last Will of Moira Leahy has finally been released what's next? Is there another novel in the works? More twins?

Therese: Yes, I’m writing another women’s fiction novel with elements of psychological suspense, mystery, romance and mythical realism. It’s a quirkier book than Last Will, but so far I love it. And so far, no twins. But I am still drafting. :-)

WOW: Quirkier than a journey of discovery involving a lost twin and daggers? I can’t wait!

Want to join Therese on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

October 19, 2009 Monday
Therese will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Therese's book!

October 20, 2009 Tuesday
Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy, stops by The Divine Miss Mommy to discuss: The Importance of Being True to Yourself.

October 21, 2009 Wednesday
Visit Peeking Between the Pages for a review that peeks between the pages of The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 22, 2009 Thursday
At A Book Blogger’s Diary, Therese tells us how you can manage to inject foreign lands into a book even if your passport has never been stamped. Stop by to tell where you’ve always dreamed of traveling and enter to win a copy of The Last Will of Moira Leahy!

October 23, 2009 Friday
How can a traveler have an insider’s experience at their destination? Therese stops by Suzanne Kamata's blog, Gaijin Mama, to explain how conversations with the locals can make your destination come alive.

October 26, 2009 Monday
Twitter have your head spinning? Therese Walsh stops by Whole Latte Life to give us the lowdown on Twitter. And don't forget to enter for a free copy of her novel: The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 27, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Writer Inspired today for a great interview with debut novelist Therese Walsh. Find out more about a novel that evolved from a romance to an eerie story of twins and then enter to win a copy of her book The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 28, 2009 Wednesday
Fellow readaholics unite! Bridget Hopper has invited novelist Therese Walsh to visit her blog Readaholic. First read Therese’s post and then enter to win a copy of her book The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 29, 2009 Thursday
Stop by A Book a Week today for a review of Therese Walsh’s novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Then stop by her sister site Donna’s Book Pub tomorrow for a chance to win a free copy!

October 30, 2009 Friday
Donna Volkenannt interviews Therese Walsh about the challenges of writing her first novel. And gives everyone a chance to win the book that keeps you guessingThe Last Will of Moira Leahy!

November 2, 2009 Monday
Should Therese Walsh’s The Last Will of Moira Leahy be on your To Be Read list? Swapna Krishna tell us on her blog Skrishna’s Books and also gives everyone a chance to enjoy the tale of a twin’s journey of discovery with her book giveaway!

November 3, 2009 Tuesday
Anne Walls of Word Hustler delves into the imagination of Therese Walsh to uncover how she weaved twins, daggers, and pirates into The Last Will of Moira Leahy, a book you can’t put down!

November 4, 2009 Wednesday
Cindy Hudson of Mother Daughter Book Club shows that even adult daughters and moms can enjoy books together with an interview of Therese Walsh. She also gives everyone a chance to win a copy of her novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy!

November 6, 2009 Friday
Stop by Eclectic Book Lover for a great review of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and a fascinating post on mythical realism! And don't forget your chance to win a copy of Therese's book.

November 11, 2009 Wednesday
Don’t miss a post by Therese Walsh, debut novelist of The Last Will of Moira Leahy at the blog Meryl Notes.

November 13, 2009 Friday
It may be Friday the 13th but it’s your lucky day! You get a fascinating peek into a world of Javanese daggers via a post by author Therese Walsh at Day by Day Writer.

We may have many more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Therese's page turner, The Last Will of Moira Leahy.


Jodi Webb said...

You have so many unique things in your book--pirates, Javanese daggers, twins and more...I'm dying to know how they all came to be in one book. Are you a pirate buff maybe? Do you collect daggers? If not I'm sure you had to do considerable research to portray them accurately. Do you ever find you lose yourself in the research part of writing?

Therese Walsh said...

Jodi, hmm, my husband often dresses as a pirate for Halloween... but, although he looks really cute with that scarf around his head, no, I'm not really a pirate buff. And though I have three kerises now, in the chicken-and-egg game, the book came first, so I can't say that my interest in them made me write this book. You're right that a lot of research went into writing The Last Will of Moira Leahy, and I loved every minute of it. I do have to be careful with research or it eats up too much time and my writing sits cold for too long. But research can be such a goldmine for writers--I often can't resist.

Margo Dill said...

I really enjoyed reading about how you scrapped the first version and rewrote, starting twice--the 2nd time with an outline. I think it is important for all of us to see just how much work the publication journey takes, and that we are all doing it right in our own ways. Thanks so much for sharing with us, Therese and for your thoughtful questions, Jodi.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Great interview! You worked so hard toward publication and it certainly paid off. Loved the excerpt too. Great writing, wonderful talent.


Unknown said...

I was interested in knowing the sources of writing information--thanks for provided that list of books along with the interview.

LuAnn said...

I, too, have several writing books on my desk. Now, if I could just break out of the non-fiction routine and give a novel a shot! Great interview. Thanks so much!

Julie said...

I agree -- great interview. Therese, I'd be curious to hear how you got yourself motivated to begin again from square one. When you realize that you basically have to scrap an entire book and re-write it, the task can seem so daunting. Where do you even begin? Any advice for getting over that hump?

Joi said...

I just read from The Last Will of Moira Leahy on Amazon. Beautiful writing! What strikes me most is the fact that these are characters you want to learn more about. You want to get under their skin and see what makes them tick.

Personally, I think this would be a beautifully perfect book to spend a few wonderful winter evenings with. Hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and an imaginative author make for the best evening ever.

Best of luck!

Elisa said...

Therese-- thanks so much, and congratulations! I'm both a twin and a women's fiction writer, so I'm very interested to read your book.

And I so understand the revision process -- sounds like it was a labor of love (the key word being "labor"!). It often is for me.

Best of luck and much success to you. I'll be sure to give you an extra plug on my blog.
Elisa Lorello

Mary said...

Very intriguing plot -- and I'm so impressed with the persistence and discipline to develop and redevelop the story!! I'm looking forward to reading it!

Beth C. said...

I just had to scrap a year of work and rewrite most of a novel, so I know how painful and difficult that process can be. I find your publication story very inspiring.

Now for the important question - which version of Whose Line is It Anyway? do you prefer: British or American? That remains one of my favorite shows of all time, and I still watch clips on YouTube every so often.

Therese Walsh said...

Thanks so much for your well wishes, everyone!

Julie wrote, Therese, I'd be curious to hear how you got yourself motivated to begin again from square one. When you realize that you basically have to scrap an entire book and re-write it, the task can seem so daunting. Where do you even begin? Any advice for getting over that hump?

It didn't happen right away; I grieved for the failed manuscript. I was roughly halfway through a completely different manuscript, too, and so I considered letting book #1 be the one that would live forever "under the bed." But there was just something about that story and its characters that wouldn't let me rest. Once I knew I had to try, it still wasn't easy feeling motivated. There were plenty of dark moments of the soul when I doubted if I could/should do it. Something that helped tremendously was finding new excitement for the story by marrying what I already knew about the characters and their tale with new possibilities. I still remember sitting outside as my kids played in the pool and working through Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel workbook, and having a major revelation about one of the characters. Could I really do that to her? And I realized, YES, I could, and YES, I should, and how cool would it be if it really worked...? So when you tackle an old project anew, make it new for yourself too. You may want to try a new voice, mix up the sequencing, add new layers to the story and/or lean more heavily on theme by introducing new subplots. Oh, and definitely check out the Breakout Novel Workbook. I hope that helps!

Beth said, Now for the important question - which version of Whose Line is It Anyway? do you prefer: British or American?

I love them both equally. Ryan + Colin = my personal happiness. (Wasn't the Richard Simmons episode the funniest thing ever?)

drew said...

Great interview and great inspiration. I'm especially impressed, in the age of the MFA, that you had no 'real' writing training. And that you persevered, and did a complete rewrite, en route to publication.

Congratulations! I'm eager to read the book.

Renee (aka ShakespeareFrost) said...

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of "The Last Will of Moira Leahy" - I'll finish it in 2 days max, I guarantee it. =)

Anonymous said...

What a great interview thanks for sharing all this information with us.

Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Great interview, Theresa! I think you have shown us all how tenacity does reap its rewards. Reading your story, has given me a push to keep going with the books I have in various stages of beginning. There are three children's books, and two poetry books. Keeps me out of the pool halls!

Congrats and keep writing, I love your style. Linda

Dawn Herring said...

Fascinating discussion on how your novel evolved from what it was to what it became. But your persistence paid off. Writing about twins and researching the topic shows that you wrote about what you didn't fully know. I have always found twin interaction and information interesting. Yes, we should always be open to what others share with us concerning our WIP; you can never know what you will miss out on if you don't, especially if the advice is coming from more than one source.
Thanks for inviting us on your blog book tour. Look forward to the next one!
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
Be Refreshed!

Kristan said...

As many have expressed, it's amazing how you stuck by your book even when you had to rewrite practically every word. I'm certainly in awe. I'm also glad that you DID stick with it, though, because now you have this beautiful book that I'm sure we're going to love. :)

Thanks for being an inspiration, and good luck to you and the twins!

Therese Walsh said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words and support. A special thank you to Linda who said this made her feel inspired to stick with her own works; nothing could please me more!

Write on. :-)

WOW! said...

Thank you all for your comments!

We held a random drawing for Therese's novel by writing all your names down on a slip of paper and picking one out of a bag.

Congratulations goes to Mary! You won a copy of The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

Please email and send us your mailing address. :)


And for those of you who didn't win this one, check out the other stops on the tour--there are several giveaways. Good luck!

Beth said...

I enjoyed reading the preview for the book. It seems like such a unique idea. Although the book isn't particularly scary, I still got shivers down my spine just reading about Moira.

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