Laurie Moore-Moore was born in Hamilton, Texas, and grew up in Killeen. Her father, a fourth-generation Texan, was a post engineer at Fort Hood with the Army Corps of Engineers and civilian Corps of Engineers. And her mother, a Canadian, was a kindergarten teacher. She grew up during a time when they would have been called “free-range kids.”
During the summer, Moore-Moore and her siblings were out the door after breakfast and only came back again for lunch.
“You couldn’t get into much trouble because everybody in the neighborhood knew you,” Moore-Moore says.
After dinner, her best friend who lived next door and Moore-Moore would spread a blanket out in the backyard and lay down after dinner to watch the clouds and count the stars.
“Doesn’t get much better than that,” she says.
Moore-Moore’s small-town, freedom-filled childhood helped her fall in love with Texas and writing.
She read just about everything in Killeen’s small library of donated books. Nancy Drew and Louisa May Alcott ’s Little Women series were favorites. After majoring in advertising marketing and a graduate program in mass communication, she worked as a fashion writer at John Wanamaker ’s eight-floor department store in Philadelphia.
After a stint at an ad agency in Washington, D.C., she caught the entrepreneurial bug.
Her first company made souvenirs for America’s bicentennial anniversary. The company created an intricate to-scale map of the Washington Mall, printed on a dark brown parchment suitable for framing. And it produced a picture map of the National Zoo with punch-out characters. Neither was a big seller. Turns out the best-selling souvenirs were a plaster replica of the Washington Monument with a thermometer and a huge fly swatter.
“I learned the importance of doing your research before you start your company,” Moore-Moore says.
She launched Real Trends, a research company in the real estate industry space. It was a trend ladder for CEOs, top management teams at national franchise organizations, and the 100 largest residential brokerage firms. She sold that company to a partner and launched the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing in 2002, which she sold to a private equity group six years ago.
About the same time, she and her husband of 57 years sold their Kessler Park home to move closer to their son in Preston Hollow. Retired and living through a pandemic year with less to do, Moore-Moore sat down and wrote Gone to Dallas, the book she says she has been waiting to write.
WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS BOOK?
I’m a fifth-generation Texan. And I have always had a passion for Texas history and a really strong curiosity, I guess, about how early Texans lived. And for several decades, I’ve had this story rattling around in my head. I was always too busy to do anything about it because of my business. After I retired, I thought: OK, it ’s time to let the s tor y out. And I have to tell you, the words just simply poured out onto the page. I wrote about 50,000 words the first four weeks.
HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE THE STORY?
It’s a historical novel with a Texas twist. It features a really strong fictional woman, Sara Darnell. She’s a young newlywed, and she travels from Tennessee to Texas in a wagon train. She arrives in Dallas as a 19-year-old widow. Her dream is to open a general store. And she arrives in this tiny log cabin village of Dallas that ’s ver y much a man’s world. The big question is: Is she going to be able to overcome all the challenges that she faces? The risks are pretty high, because failure means being a single woman, young and destitute in Dallas. That makes it sound like a simple story, and it is. But I think it ’s also what I would call an enduring story of determination and the resourcefulness that it took settlers to settle the West. It is salted with actual Texas and Dallas history and peppered with some real historical characters. There’s some humor; there’s a look at the power of friendship. And, you know, what ’s life without a little love?