p.m. is giving away a gift basket of goodies from the real town of Lumberton, where Vicki's adventure takes place to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/Canada only please), so comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!
Thanks to the author for answering all my prying questions!
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
My father was an FBI Agent and I think from an early age, I was interested in crimes and the people who committed them. Though he couldn’t talk much about specific cases, I often heard bits and pieces that intrigued me. I originally wanted to become a criminal psychologist but life got in the way and I ended up in computers instead. So I combined the two—using computers to commit white collar computer crime, which ended up being my specialty in the computer field (working for law enforcement, of course) as well as my suspense/thrillers.
Later, I realized that I love reading romance and I began to add more of a romantic element to my suspense/thrillers, which I believe have made the whole experience much richer and more satisfying.
What research is required?
In my latest book, Vicki’s Key, the main character is a psychic spy, which is based on the real-life psychic spy programs conducted through the CIA and the Department of Defense. I conducted in-depth research, not only of the types of missions these spies have been engaged in, but also in the personal toll it takes on them. The side effects suffered by Vicki in my book are actual side effects reported by the real psychic spies. The method she uses to induce a self-hypnotic state that enables her to travel around the world in her mind was also based on real-life experiences. A few years ago, I probably would not have been able to write this book or conduct this type of research. But fortunately, many of the cases in which the psychic spies were engaged are now in declassified government documents.
In Vicki’s mission, she must travel in her mind to a remote village in Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border. I conducted in-depth research into that region, as well as the uranium that is mined in Afghanistan, which makes it a strategic stronghold for both Russia and China.
Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.
Believe it or not, I learned that the side effects suffered by psychic spies are similar to those I have experienced when I am immersed in writing. My books take me around the world and to different cultures and times in history. I often can tell you exactly what my characters are doing at any given moment in my book but I have to reorient myself to what is happening around me in my own world.
I spoke to a reader recently who said she becomes immersed in a book and can’t put it down, even when she knows she has things to do around the house or with her job. I am the same way. But because I am writing the book, that feeling of not putting it down can continue for weeks or months.
Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
I do believe if you are meant to be a writer, you will find the time to write. It might mean giving up a social life, television time or a hobby, but the passion of writing can have such a strong pull that it is difficult to impossible to ignore. I have been writing since 1970 and I cannot imagine a world in which I am not able to write. I often perform research in the mornings and then write for a minimum of three hours a day. Often, when I am completely immersed, I will write for 14 or 16 hours a day. It does become easier, the longer a person writes. My goal used to be to write one book a year. This year, I am doing three books and I hope to write at least two books per year going forward.
Plotter or pantser?
I plan the crime first. I remember having lunch with a chief of police once; I asked him how I could poison someone without anyone detecting it. He looked at me for a long moment and then said, “You’re writing another book, right?”
I line up my technical experts and I plan the crime right down to the details. Then I decide whose point of view would best serve the plot. In my series, Black Swamp Mysteries, I actually have five main characters and depending on the crime involved, the book will be written through any one of a combination of those five characters’ eyes.
I also know what pivotal scene will be in the mid-point of the book. Many writers sag in the middle; they have a beginning and an ending but a lackluster middle. I know that midway through my book, something is going to happen that is going to propel the rest of the book forward like a roller coaster.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
My closed circuit television screens. Because I write suspense all day long, I can be quite paranoid! I have closed circuit cameras all the way around my home and I frequently glance in the cameras to make sure all is right in my world.
And just below those cameras, I have two dogs asleep on their pillows: my rescue collie and my rescue Jack Russell. They usually remain in my office with me all day while I write, even though I have doggie doors everywhere and they have the full run of the house and the back yard.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
This fall, the next book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series will be released. In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire returns in his first CIA assignment—to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie, the main character from Exit 22. But when he discovers her true identity, he realizes his mission just became very personal.
Do you have a question for our readers?
Thanks for asking! Yes, I would love to know where your readers purchase their books. Is it in a big box store like Barnes & Noble? Online at amazon or other online retailers? Or with independent book stores or anywhere else?
Facebook: p.m.terrell, author and Patricia M. Terrell