From Lansbury to Truman, Murder They Wrote

Don and Renee Bain are one of the cutest couples in the world.  He’s tall and lanky, she’s petite, both are soft-spoken, and both are intent on murder.

(If the video doesn’t load, please update your Adobe.)

That’s no joke.  They murder literally dozens of people each year — within the pages of the books they co-write.  In fact, they are the brains and talent behind Universal’s “Murder She Wrote” series.  With now fifty books under their belt (a few more have released since the video interview) they are the embodiment of Jessica Fletcher now that the series is no longer on the air.


Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote on TV (photo by Alan Light)


But, that’s not all the Bain duo has been up to.  Don Bain — who jokingly refers himself as the “world’s tallest, oldest, bearded stewardess” — was the real author of the sensational “Coffee, Tea, or Me,” book that once was considered steamy enough for mothers to refuse to allow their daughters to become flight attendants.  He also collaborated with Margaret Truman on her Washington, D.C. based mysteries and, until now, could reap none of the credit.



(Click on covers for more info)

With Renee at his side, they discuss how they come up with story ideas, how they work as a team, how they try to emulate Angela Lansbury’s voice and mannerisms, and the ups and downs of working within the limitations of an iconic series.

Leave a comment or a question below about ghost writing — is it a let down, or a wonderful surprise? — and Don and Renee will give one lucky reader who responds a copy of Close Up on Murder.  



Some of the upcoming titles for Don Bain include Experiment in Murder from the Margaret Truman series, Lights Out, and the rerelease of Coffee, Tea or Me.

About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel "The Spy in the Mirror" and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, "The Spy in the Harem." I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website:, or friend/follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or on my YouTube Channel: See you there!

Posted on May 20, 2014, in Author Interview, Diana Belchase and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. Such a great interview! I used to watch Murder She Wrote with my grandmother who was a huge mystery fan. But, I have to admit, I never read the the books. But now I’m off to get a few to read over Memorial Day weekend! 🙂

    • My grandmother used to love the show, too, Sharon. I think the series, whether in book or TV form, brings us to a place where — even if bad things happen — it will all be right in the end and the truth always triumphs. Can it get better than that?

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Delightful interview, Diana. You always make it seem so easy. Okay, I’m here to tell you that DH and I were faithful Sunday night watchers of Murder She Wrote. Loved the stories. Loved Angela. Loved the Maine setting. I honestly don’t believe I’m old enough to be either of your grandmothers! LOL Well,maybe. We’ll have to chat privately. Read many of the Margaret Truman books. Donald Bain must be a very humble man. I’d not be satisfied (even with tons of money) if I weren’t getting the credit for my writing. I think it’s why I write under my real name, too. 🙂 I’ll be sharing.

    • Marsha, thank you for your lovely compliments! No, I loved Murder She Wrote, too — it’s definitely not just grandmother material. It was just a nice memory that Sharon evoked about being able to share something that my grandmother loved so much.

      Thanks for being here!

  3. What a fun interview, Diana. I loved Murder She Wrote! It must be hard to write all of those books without getting any credit, but then again, if it pays well and lets you do what you love for a living, I say, “Where do I sign up?” 😉 I think all of the dedications were an awesome idea. I can’t believe no one caught on sooner.

  4. First, thanks a million to Diana for making us so comfortable during the interview, a not-easily-accomplished task. Thanks to Sharon and Marsha for commenting. Certainly there are many older readers, just as there are those who remember the show from many years back. But since the tv program “Murder, She Wrote” has been in syndication ever since it stopped being produced, there are lots of younger fans, and lots of younger readers as well. Just a note: the MSW books are all original mysteries using characters from the show; they’re not novelizations of television episodes. Hope you enjoy them.

  5. Hi Gwen, You must’ve posted while I was writing. The MSW books are bylined by Jessica Fletcher, who exists only as a fictional character, and Donald Bain, who’s his own kind of character. 😉 So he gets lots of credit for “Murder, She Wrote.” It’s true; it takes an intact ego to write for someone else without getting credit.

  6. Cora and Dean

    A delightful interview. It is such a thrill to be loosely connected to these two through a lovely daughter-in-law and granddaughters.

  7. Coffee, Tea or Me?!
    I totally snuck that off my parents’ bookshelf and read it by flashlight! How wonderful that it was written by a male~ I’m still giggling.

    As with every comment above, Murder She Wrote was quite an addictive TV show for me when I was younger. I still love Cozy Mysteries, and still laugh about all the dead bodies in Cabbot Cove. Quite a dangerous little town. 🙂

    Terrific interview, Diana and SUCH a great honor to meet you, Renee and Don!

  8. I’m so glad you loved the series as much as I did, Sarah. Yes, that was the old joke, don’t be a tourist in Cabbot Cove or the new ensign on Star Trek if you want to stay alive!

    Thanks for the laugh

  9. Great interview! I’ve never seen a video-interview before. Great stuff, all around.

  10. Welcome, Don and Renee! Diana, as usual you’ve out done yourself. Wait…can that be usual? Anyway it is with you. Renee and Don I ADORE Murder She Wrote, and now I can’t wait to read the books. It’s wonderful to learn about your personal stories. Thanks for giving us such an iconic character.

    • Wish we could take credit for Jessica Fletcher, Carey, but we came in after the TV show was a big hit. But it’s our pleasure to continue to bring her to you with new stories. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Awww shucks, Carey. Don and Renee made it easy. I think the adorable factor of Jessica — TV or book — is partly because they’ve rubbed off on her.

  11. Last fall I visited Mendocino and was so excited to discover that Jessica’s Cabot Cove home is actually in this beautiful California town on the Pacific! Loved the MSW series. And love this interview too 🙂

  12. Heather Ashby

    Great post, Diana. WOW! I had no idea of the stories behind the stories. Will have to check them out – especial Coffe, Tea, or Me. I remember when that first came out. LOL!!! Write On, Diana!

    • Ha ha, you’re such a sweetie, Heather. I can’t wait to get you on video, too. I think Don and Renee could have their own series — Ghost Writer — about the trials and tribulations of writing for famous people. What do you think, Renee?

      Hugs, for being here, Heather.

  13. What a wonderful interview, Diana! Don and Renee, it’s lovely to have a chance to meet you and welcome you to Kiss and Thrill!

  14. I don’t care for ghost writers. No matter how they try to write like the original author they never quite match up to the original author.

  15. Murder She Wrote is a favorite of my mothers and I have enjoyed watching the show since you know the bad guy will always be caught. As long as I enjoy a story I don’t think a ghost writer is an issue.

  16. Marilyn Watson

    I love Murder She Wrote I have gone through the Series several times on DVD and TV. I am also familiar with Mr. Bain and these Books but I now know Mrs. Bain was a Co-writer. Thank you for keeping Jessica alive.

  17. This video was such pure joy to watch I felt myself smiling through the entire video. I particularly enjoyed hearing how you make working together work so seamlessly. Thanks for a wonderful visit.

  18. Laurie Bain Wilson

    Oh for goodness sakes

  19. Thanks to Renee and Don Bain for being here. The contest is now closed. Watch for our next post to find out who won a copy of their fabulous book!

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