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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Saralyn Richard about her writing career, what inspires her, and the creative work that went into her new book; A Murder Of Principal.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a former educator who’s always wanted to write stories. I’ve published a children’s book, an adult mystery series, two standalone mystery novels, and many stories and essays. An American Anglophile, I admire English literature, drama, history, culture, and geography, and I once had a letter from Agatha Christie.

Saralyn Richard, author of A Murder Of Principal, interview on The Table Read
Galveston Author Saralyn Richard

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write a book. I started reading early, and I remember thinking how great it would be to create the stories people read.

When did you take a step to start writing?

When I was in high school, two teachers encouraged my talent for writing. One of them required me to enter every writing contest she could lay her hands on. I didn’t appreciate those assignments at the time, but when I started winning the contests, I understood, and now I’m grateful.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The children’s book took about two years to complete. Most people are surprised by that, since it’s only 32 pages long. My first mystery novel took three and a half years from idea to release, half of that time in the traditional publishing process.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Subsequent books have taken less time to write and to publish. One positive side effect of the pandemic has been plenty of time to write and edit.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write A Murder Of Principal?

A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL, released in February, 2021, takes place in an American urban high school. A maverick principal brings student-centered change, causing dissension, rivalry, jealousy, lust, and anger. Having spent many years in the trenches of urban high schools, I wanted to shine a light on some of the joys and challenges of working in that environment, as well as to entertain readers with a fun intellectual and emotional whodunit.

Saralyn Richard, author of A Murder Of Principal, interview on The Table Read

What were your biggest challenges with writing A Murder Of Principal?

The hardest part of writing the book was killing the principal. He was such a fully-formed character, dedicated to doing the right thing for students. I hated to kill him off, especially so early in the book, but, as a murder mystery, the book needed a murder. I did write a number of scenes after the murder where the principal’s beliefs and practices are kept alive after his death.

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Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

In real life I’ve worked with dozens of principals, hundreds of teachers, and thousands of students. I’ve formed distinct opinions of which ones served their constituents best and which ones fell short. Those opinions inspired the creation of the book’s protagonist, antagonist, and characters.

Readers who know schools tell me the characters are so authentic, they can match each one with someone they know. I believe this speaks to the universality of experiences in schools.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

See above.

What is the inciting incident of A Murder Of Principal?

The first day of school with a new principal and a new (uncomfortable) agenda.

What is the main conflict of A Murder Of Principal?

As in all murder mysteries, the conflict revolves around finding the murderer and bringing him to justice. In this case, the assistant principal also struggles to end the cycle of violence and restore the high school community to safety, success, and peace.

Did you plot A Murder Of Principal in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I’m mostly a pantser. I start with my characters and a general idea of beginning, middle, and end, but once those are established in my mind, I let the characters act out the story. As I record what they say and do, I am continually delighted and sometimes surprised, just as the reader will be.

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Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did A Murder Of Principal need?

I’m often told I’m a “clean writer.” Years of teaching English and editing the writing of others has contributed to that. Still, every writer benefits from good editors, and I’m fortunate to have feedback from my alpha reader, several beta readers, and my publisher’s editing staff.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Make sure when you write, you are enjoying the process. A joyful writer produces a joyful reader.

Saralyn Richard, author of Bad Blood Sisters, interview on The Table Read

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I have a new mystery/thriller available for pre-order entitled BAD BLOOD SISTERS, to be released March 9, 2022. Here’s what it’s about: Quinn McFarland has grown up around dead bodies…

Quinn’s always joked about death, but this summer, death stops being funny. For one thing, her brother finally undergoes transplant surgery. For another, Quinn’s estranged BFF, her “blood” sister, is brought into the family mortuary, bludgeoned to death.

Quinn’s haunted by the past, her friendship gone awry, and the blood oath she’s sworn to keep secret. The police consider her a person of interest, and someone threatens her not to talk. Quinn is the only one who knows enough to bring the killer to justice, but what she’s buried puts her in extreme danger.

Fans of Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena, and “Six Feet Under” will stay up late reading BAD BLOOD SISTERS.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Writing is at times the most fascinating, at times the most challenging, but always the most personally rewarding occupation I’ve undertaken. Every new book is an accomplishment, a new baby birthed into the world. Every book brings with it so many opportunities for personal growth and connection with readers. Interacting with readers is by far the best part.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

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Buy links for A Murder of Principal:

A Murder of Principal by Saralyn Richard, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

Buy links for Bad Blood Sisters:

  Bad Blood Sisters by Saralyn Richard, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

All books, including the children’s book, Naughty Nana, and the Detective Parrott mystery series, can be purchased on the bookstore page at

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