My guest today is p.m. terrell an award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books. Vicki's Key, one of the first books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, was one of five finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense) and 2012 USA Best Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense.) River Passage, an historical work based on her ancestor's migration to Fort Nashborough in 1779-1780, won the 2010 Best Fiction & Drama Award. The Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives determined it to be so historically accurate that they entered the original manuscript into their Archives for future researchers and historians.
Prior to becoming a full-time author in 2002, terrell founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the United States Secret Service, CIA, Department of Defense and federal and local law enforcement. Her specialty is in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence. Her experience in these areas have greatly influenced her books' plots.
She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She founded Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money to increase literacy and reduce crime.
Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with psychic spy Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a CIA Agent who disappeared in Dublin while on the trail of a known terrorist. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, he is plunged into a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His mission and the dark secrets he’d sought to keep hidden begin to merge into an underworld that could cost him his life. He must now confront his past demons and the real reason he left Ireland—while Vicki harbors a secret of her own.
Suspense Magazine says, “p.m.terrell’s writing is powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.” Midwest Book Review says the Black Swamp Mysteries series is “page-turning action, unforgettable characters, breathtaking descriptions and unexpected plot twists.” And syndicated reviewer Marcia Freespirit says the series is “riveting, spell-binding, sexy and intense!”
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1. Author name or pen name. If writing under a pen name, why did you choose this particular name?
My pen name is p.m.terrell. At the time my first suspense was published, I was living in the same area as Patricia Cornwell, and my publisher did not want Patricia Terrell to become confused with Patricia Cornwell. She suggested using my initials. When my books arrived, I saw that she had also placed my name in lower-case letters. It was her idea but when she saw the covers, she hated it. I loved it! So I’ve kept p.m.terrell.
2. When did you tell your family and friends that you were a writer? How did telling them make you feel?
I don’t recall mentioning it to anyone until my first book was published in 1984. I wrote several computer-related books before turning to suspense. And I didn’t mention that I was writing fictional suspense until my first suspense was published in 2002. Of course, there is the feeling of pride and accomplishment with each book and now that I’ve been in the industry for more than 25 years, there is also a sense of having survived it.
3. What would your grandmother think if she met the hero in your book?
I think my great-grandmother would have loved Dylan Maguire. My ancestors came from Ireland and she was in a position to have remembered the Irish accents and culture of her grandparents. My mother would also have loved him. I never saw eye-to-eye with my grandmothers, the generation in between, so I would imagine their idea of a good man would be much more straight-and-narrow than mine!
My husband is a romantic, no doubt about it. He is always buying me roses for no reason at all. He often leaves cards where I’ll find them. Though we’ve been together for twenty years, he still wants to hold my hand and open doors for me. For our anniversary once, he surprised me with a weekend at a five-star hotel, complete with the honeymoon suite, strawberries and wine chilled and waiting alongside a bouquet of roses.
5. If you were planning a seductive dinner in front of a crackling fire, what would you serve? How would you serve it? What would you wear?
Well, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so I’d have to serve steak, baked potatoes and his favorite dessert. I’d have him sit in his favorite spot and I’d wait on him hand and foot. When I was younger, I’d wear a negligee, probably black lace. And heels.
6. Clothing is an important part of each scene. A low cut tank top sparks more male appreciation than a conservative button down, rolled up sleeve shirt. From a male perspective, compare the two opposites I mentioned above or choose your own for comparison.
I had a scene in this series when Vicki slips Dylan’s shirt over her naked body. When he sees it, he says it’s the sexiest thing he’d ever seen her wear. The scene was inspired by my own husband’s remark when I wore his clothing. I would have thought wearing a low-cut top that showed a bit of cleavage would entice him more, but there is something about a woman wearing her man’s shirts that is titillating to them.
7. Besides being unfaithful, what quality in a man—no criminal acts—would be a deal breaker? Why?
A lack of respect is a definite deal-breaker. I don’t need a man putting me down.
8. Do either your heroine or hero have a vice (drugs, chocolate, expensive jewelry, cigarettes, etc.)? How important is it to the story?
Neither one has a vice because the plots in this series can stand alone without that additional element. The series also contains a love story that is woven through the suspense and action, and it was important that nothing get in the way of that.
9. You’ve been dating Mr. Practically Alright for a month. He’s been to your house several times. Finally, he asks you over to his place to meet someone who is important to him. You are thinking it’s a child or perhaps his visiting mother. Wrong. It’s a big Labrador retriever who puts his paws on your shoulders and washes your carefully air brushed face from ear to ear. The biggest dog you’ve ever been around was the size of a meatloaf. What are the first words out of your mouth? If your date doesn’t offer antibacterial face wipes and says—by the way—Fido sleeps with him every night, what’s your next move?
First of all, I’d fall in love with him right then and there. I absolutely adore dogs of all sizes and once owned a mastiff (who has since died of old age.) The sleeping with us part, not so much! I had to wean the mastiff off my bed—a Jack Russell I can sleep with. A big dog takes up too much space. Mr. Practically Alright would have to figure out the logistics.
10. In your work, regardless of genre, do you consider the environment and do you exhibit an awareness of practices that can make a difference? It could be something as simple as motion activated lights or lights on timers.
Personally, I use lights on timers every day as well as keeping the temperatures in my house cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. All my appliances are energy efficient and I recently converted my house from propane to natural gas (natural gas wasn’t available when my house was built.) I also use timers for my dishwasher so it runs in the middle of the night. And of course I recycle. I’m thrilled to see manufacturers begin to use less packaging or smaller packaging. I don’t get as detailed with my books to mention these things but you’ve given me the idea!
11. Do you think readers would embrace a hero—not a struggling artist, sculptor or writer—who earns only a fraction of what the heroine earns? Please explain.
I think the latest generations don’t fall into the same mindset as older ones where a man was supposed to support his wife and the wife stayed home and raised children—or worked at a job with substantially less pay. I am very glad to see women doing the same jobs as men and while there is still a disparity, it’s great to see a lot of women earning big bucks. I think as long as the hero has other qualities a woman can fall in love with, what he earns shouldn’t be a factor at all—as long as he isn’t draining the woman of all she earns. There’s a difference between a man earning less at a decent job and a man who’s a freeloader.
12. Congratulations, your book has just been optioned by movie producer. Of course you’ll be a consultant to the casting director. Who would you chose to play your heroine? Hero? What song would you pick for your soundtrack? And since you’ve convinced the powers to be that you must write the screenplay, what will you be wearing to the Academy Awards to accept your Oscar for best screenplay? Include jewelry!
The heroine, Vicki Boyd, would be played by Amy Adams. Dylan Maguire, in my mind, looks just like Eduardo Verastegui—do you think he could do an Irish accent?
The soundtrack would have to be anything by Alex Band. He writes the most amazing lyrics and his music is absolutely addicting.
I love the clothes Catherine Zeta Jones wears; they are always so classy and classic. She wore a gorgeous, dazzling red dress on the red carpet one year; I’d have to tone up to wear those beautiful off-the-shoulder or sleeveless numbers! In honor of the Irishman in this series, the dress would have to be the color of the Irish Sea.
I love Celtic jewelry so I’d wear a necklace and earrings from Ireland. The necklace would be the Celtic Warrior pendant, white gold surrounding yellow gold. The earrings would be white gold Celtic drop earrings in the shape of the Celtic knot, trinity or spiral. Bracelets would tie in elements from both the necklace and the earrings. Understated but elegant.
Now what you've been waiting for... a taste
“Why are you so adamant about not going back?” Vicki said. “I don’t understand.”
He strode to the back door. With his hand almost on the knob, he stopped abruptly and turned around to face them. “The flight is a hundred hours long.”
“It’s six hours,” Sam said.
“I’ll have jet lag for weeks!”
“Two days, tops.” Sam’s voice was becoming quizzical.
“Are you afraid of flying?” Vicki asked.
“No!” he bellowed. He opened the kitchen door. “The weather there is atrocious!”
“I can’t believe you’re acting like this is such an inconvenience for you!” Vicki shouted.
“In me whole life,” he said as if he hadn’t heard her, “it’s rained once.” He held up his finger. “One time!”
“Really?” Vicki said. “Once?”
“And it’s lasted for thirty years!” With that, he marched outside and slammed the door behind him.
Vicki and Sam stared at the door for a long moment without speaking. Then she turned to him. “I’m at a loss here.”
He continued staring at the kitchen door as if he hadn’t heard her.
“Do you know why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?” Vicki asked.
“He can’t refuse a mission,” Sam said quietly. “You can’t pick and choose your missions in this line of work.”
Vicki turned to stand directly in front of him.
“Do you know,” she said in a stronger voice, “why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?”
He looked at her as if seeing her for the first time.
“You know, don’t you?”
He looked away from her. His eyes roamed the kitchen as though he was searching for something. Vicki stood her ground until he said, “No. I have my suspicions; that’s all.”
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p.m.terrell's website is www.pmterrell.com
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