Last summer, we had the pleasure of P.M. Terrell’s company for the launch of her novel, THE BANKER’S GREED. She’s come back to us with more new fiction, but this time it’s something quite a bit different…
We’d like to thank her for being here once again to take part in our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.
AuthorScoop: VICKI’S KEY is a step outside your more conventional thrillers. Tell us a bit about it.
PM Terrell: VICKI’S KEY is the beginning of the Black Swamp Mysteries series, inspired by the success of Exit 22, which was released in 2008. Because it’s a series, I found I could spend more time developing the characters, making them so multi-faceted that it will take the whole series to explore all the various aspects.
The book begins with CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd and a mission that went so terribly awry that it sets the scene for her leaving the agency and embarking on a new life in a new town. She takes a summer job assisting an elderly woman, but when she arrives she finds Aunt Laurel has suffered a stroke and is confined to her bedroom and her nephew Dylan Maguire has arrived from Ireland to care for her. Vicki very quickly falls in love with the charming, handsome man. But all is not what it seems to be in the old, rambling home. And when the CIA comes calling for Vicki to complete one last mission, she finds her past and her future on a collision course—to murder.
AuthorScoop: What did you find out about yourself as a writer in slipping the shackles of the strictly of-this-world?
PM Terrell: I knew when I made the commitment to a series that I did not want to become a formula writer where every book was exactly the same. How many murders could one person be pulled into, anyway? By making Vicki a psychic spy based on a real psychic spy initiative that crosses several U.S. intelligence agencies, the possibilities are limitless. She could go to the most remote regions of the world, into areas where a physical presence would be impossible. And because of that twist, she could participate in CIA missions that could be incredibly diverse with each book.
AuthorScoop: Tell us more about your advocacy work in the fight against illiteracy.
PM Terrell: About ten years ago, I was having a conversation with Police Officer Mark Kearney of the Waynesboro, VA Police Department about the direct correlation between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates. We decided to start The Book ‘Em Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise public awareness of that link and to combat high crime rates while increasing literacy rates. Each year we hold at least one Book ‘Em event where we bring together around 75 authors who sign and sell their books and participate in panel discussions. The events are free and open to the public. But when people purchase books, the authors or publishers have pledged a percentage of the sale to literacy efforts in the community.
We just completed our first Book ‘Em North Carolina in Lumberton (www.bookemnc.org) and the money raised will go to raising literacy levels from the age of 1 to the oldest adult.
AuthorScoop: Has writing and publishing changed the way you read?
PM Terrell: Most definitely. I am now the slowest reader on the planet. If any scene evokes an emotion, I will go back and dissect the scene carefully to find out how they elicited that response—how they frightened me, angered me, moved me… Mistakes will leap off the page but good, tight writing will, also. I will even read genres I am not particularly interested in otherwise, if I like the way an author writes.
I do a lot of research for my books so I have to force myself to read for pleasure. And when I am immersed in my own writing, I find I can’t get too involved in another’s work or the characters will begin to blend in my mind. So I tend to use pleasure reading as a reward where I can kick back and thoroughly enjoy a good book!
AuthorScoop: What’s next for P.M. Terrell?
PM Terrell: I am currently completing SECRETS OF A DANGEROUS WOMAN, which will be released this fall. It brings Dylan Maguire of VICKI’S KEY head-to-head with Brenda Carnegie of Exit 22. And each has met their match! It is a lot of fun to write because of the strength of those two characters. Then I will be traveling to Ireland to research the next book in the series, DYLAN’S SONG, which is due be to be released in the spring of 2013. My ancestors were from Ireland so I am looking forward to visiting the country and incorporating Ireland’s history during World War II into the series—where decisions that were made then affect the characters in the present day.
I am also working on Book ‘Em North Carolina 2013 already and looking forward to impacting the community through literacy campaigns.