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Frequently Asked Questions (please read before you e-mail me!)

I'm always happy to hear from readers, but it would be nice if correspondents checked out the FAQs before writing. At the very least, it will cut back on the number of replies that state: "Please read the FAQs."

Do your books need to be read in order?

That depends on the reader. If you normally read series in order -- then, yes. If you're comfortable with moving around in time and encountering the occasional spoiler -- then, no. Click on the "Books" link to find a full list of titles, listed in the order they were written. (This list includes some short story anthologies.)

How can I get you to appear at my bookstore, library or other speaking event?

For book tour appearances, please contact Sharyn Rosenblum at William Morrow. For speaking events, please contact Jessica Fee at the Greater Talent Network.

Will you waive your speaking fee under any circumstances?

I donate my public speaking fees to my local library system, the Enoch Pratt, and other nonprofits, so I prefer not to waive them. However, I do not charge to speak at events that fall within my book tour. The tour window is the month after a book's publication date. If your event falls within that month, please contact my publisher.

Do you donate items to auctions?

Because of the volume of requests, I cannot donate signed books or other items, and cannot even respond to most requests. However, I can make an exception when someone purchases a book and sends it to me for my signature, with paid return postage. However, to do that, I need to set up an account at a local postal services store.

Where can I get a personal copy of my book signed?

Since Mystery Loves Company closed its Baltimore store, this has gotten trickier. Please indulge me as I try to work out a solution.

Are the restaurants in the Tess books real?

If Tess likes the food, the restaurant is real. If the food is bad, the place exists only in my imagination. Bear in mind that Tess's shellfish allergy keeps her from eating some signature dishes at some of Baltimore's finest restaurants.

What about the Beacon-Light, aka the Blight? Is that based on The (Baltimore) Sun?

Obviously not. The Sun is on Calvert Street, while The Blight is on Saratoga Street.

Is Tess your alter ego?

The relationship is more like Patty and Cathy on the old Patty Duke Show. I'm Cathy, the cultured one who has traveled widely, while Tess has only seen the sights a girl can see from O'Donnell Heights.

When/how do you write?

I wrote my first seven books while working fulltime at The Sun. I spend most weekday mornings at a local coffeehouse, intent on writing at least 1,000 words. At that pace, I can usually finish a first draft in four-five months, which leaves time for quite a bit of redrafting. The other hours in the day may involve more writing, research, or ancillary tasks.
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Do you have a newsletter or a message board?

Not right now, but that could always change. So go ahead and give me your e-mail address anyway.

Did you do this site yourself?

No, the site was designed by Beth Tindall of Cincinnati Media, who sends me traffic and search statistics on a regular basis. (So watch what terms you search for because it's seriously freaking me out.)

Will you put a "Tess Tour of Baltimore" on this site?

There are 2 links on this site that that may interest you -- The Streets of Baltimore (Bouchercon 2024 primer) and Tessworld (Baltimore tour).

Can I get in touch with David Simon via your email link? Will you forward email to him or anyone else associated with The Wire?


OK, I've read the FAQs, but surely you'll make an exception to some of these hard-and-fast rules once I explain --

No, no exceptions.

For all the verbiage on this site, there's a surprising lack of hard facts. Are you married? Do you have children? What personal information are you willing to share?

I live in Baltimore. I am not a natural blonde.

Checked above to make sure your question isn't already answered?
Then e-mail me.