Deadly secrets surface in debut crime thriller

Set in small-town Louisiana, perfect for fans of “A Flicker in the Dark” and “Sharp Objects”

An atmospheric debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Broken Bayou had me hooked from the first page!

— Ashley Elston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of First Lie Wins 

SHREVEPORT, LA – In this compelling murder mystery, Dr. Willa Watters, a celebrated child psychologist facing the looming threat of a career-shattering scandal, seeks refuge in the embrace of her childhood sanctuary, Broken Bayou. However, her quest for solace plunges her into an intricate and perilous web of long-concealed secrets.Broken Bayou” (Thomas & Mercer, July 1, 2024), by Jennifer Moorhead transports readers to Louisiana’s darkest corners, as Watters confronts her past to evade a deadly threat.

“People in small towns don’t forget.”

Dr. Willa Watters is a prominent child psychologist at the height of her career. But when a viral video of a disastrous television interview puts her reputation on the line, Willa retreats to Broken Bayou, the town where she spent most of her childhood summers. There she visits her aunts’ old house and discovers some of her troubled mother’s belongings still languishing in the attic—dusty mementos harboring secrets of her harrowing past. Willa’s hopes for a respite are quickly crushed, not only by what she finds in that attic but also by what’s been found in the bayou.

With waters dropping due to drought, mysterious barrels containing human remains have surfaced, alongside something else from Willa’s past, something she never thought she’d see again. Divers, police, and media flood the area, including a news reporter gunning for Willa and Travis Arceneaux—a local deputy and old flame. Willa’s fate seems eerily tied to the murders. And with no one to trust, she must use her wits to stay above water and make it out alive.

Broken Bayou

Jennifer Moorhead | July 1, 2024 | Thomas & Mercer | Thriller

Paperback | 9781662518775 | $12.78

Ebook | 9781662518768 | $4.99

More about Jennifer Moorhead

Jennifer graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Geaux Tigers! She has written and produced three indie short films that each made top 20 at the Louisiana Film Prize and were awarded at festivals around the world. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two needy doodles, one very un-needy shelter kitty, and a plethora of farm animals. Her grown daughters are off creating their own life stories. When she’s not writing, she’s photographing the swamps and winding trails in her backyard or she’s on a tennis court laughing and providing job security for her coach. You can learn more about her at her website.

Follow Jennifer Moorhead on social media:

Facebook: Jennifer Moorhead Author | Threads: @jen_moorhead

Instagram: @jen_moorhead

In an interview, Jennifer Moorhead can discuss:

  • How she taps into the ambiance of her Louisiana surroundings, infusing real-life inspiration into the atmospheric setting of the book
  • How the story was shaped by true crime stories, and weaving that into her novel
  • Writing a story heavily based on how our past experiences shapes us
  • What every new writer should know about traditional publishing
  • What it’s like to transition from stay-at-home mom to debut author and the importance of finding passion
  • How failure can lead to success and defining what success means and how it is achieved

An Interview with

Jennifer Moorhead

1. Where did your love of writing come from, and what has your writing journey been like up to this point? How did it lead you to write Broken Bayou?

My love for writing started with my love for reading. I was the kid who loved the summer reading list. I wrote short stories and poems in college then started writing novels in my late 20’s after taking a creative writing class. I went on to write three novels, all of which fall into the practice of making a perfect pile. Then I read an article about a missing school teacher and the premise for Broken Bayou started taking shape. 

2. How has your real-life home of Louisiana inspired your writing and the atmospheric setting of the book?

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved exploring in the woods (Poison Ivy be damned!). I live in Louisiana on a wild piece of property where I get to experience swamps, woods, and trails as well as all of the critters that live in those places. I’m immersed in the sights, smells, and sounds of Louisiana every day and I love sharing those things in my writing. 

3. How was Broken Bayou shaped or inspired by true-crime stories, and how did you weave those similar events into the story?

It started with a newspaper article about a missing school teacher in south Louisiana who the police believed drove her car into a bayou. Divers were brought in to search the bayou and they did ultimately find her but they also found something else buried in that murky water. That’s what piqued my interest. So I took the idea of a missing school teacher and used it as a catalyst to uncover the real story of Broken Bayou.

4. Why did you choose to write a story so heavily focused on how past experiences shape us? 

Because I have always been fascinated by the idea that past behavior predicts future behavior, even when we know better. The psychology behind that and behind how to break patterns is something I wanted to explore through my protagonist.

5. What are three things you’d say helped make this book a reality?

Perseverance, failure, and collaboration are my ingredients for success in publishing. Traditional publishing takes a long time. You have to be willing to grind through it and keep going despite how many times you hear the word no. It’s also good to embrace failure. It’s going to happen. I had a book that failed to sell and because of that I turned my attention back to Broken Bayou. Lastly, find your people. I believe there is strength in numbers and my writing group is my strength.

6. What advice would you give a writer who wants to traditionally publish?

Hone your craft with online courses, books, podcasts, and/or in-person conferences. Read books in your genre. Edit but don’t over-edit. This is a tricky balance. Join writing groups in your town or online and start networking. And start researching agents. They are the gatekeepers to traditional publishing.

7. What was the journey like from stay at home mom to debut author?

It was wild! I wrote books while my daughters lived at home but I didn’t try to sell a book until they left for college. Something strange happens when your “job” drives away from the house and doesn’t come back. It’s the perfect time to step outside of your comfort zone. I’d hidden my writing for so long it was hard at first to even talk about it, much less allow someone to read it. But I did and after years of editing, networking, learning, and querying I caught a dream I’d been chasing. I highly recommend moms find something out there that is just for them. It’s freeing.

8. Can we expect anything else from you in the world of writing?

Yes. I’m working on a companion book to Broken Bayou. I’m following the story of another character from the book who would not leave me alone!

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