Who is author p.m.terrell?
The initials stand for Patricia McClelland, my name before I got married. I am often asked if I use my initials to make people think I’m a man, which always intrigues me. When my first suspense was being published, the editor didn’t want to use my first name because I lived in the same area as Patricia Cornwell and she was concerned about comparisons. She suggested we use my initials and over the years, it’s kind of grown on me.
Can you tell us something quirky about yourself that readers might not know already?
I’ve always marched to my own drummer. I could spend my life in solitude but I am a forced extrovert. Once I am among other people, I enjoy listening to their personal stories and finding out what makes them tick. I enjoy smaller get-togethers versus large bashes.
When did you begin your writing career?
My first book was published in 1984 but I began writing full-time in 2000. Before then, I owned and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. It was so demanding that I suffered burnout. I love writing and I would enjoy doing this for the rest of my life.
How do you develop your plots and your characters?
I love people watching and I often pick up characteristics from different people I meet and weave them into unique characters. The series, Black Swamp Mysteries, features two CIA operatives so I get plot ideas from reading CIA declassified information. It was from going through their records that I stumbled upon the psychic spy program that was developed during the Cold War. That gave me the idea to have Vicki Boyd, one of the series’ main characters, working in the psychic spy program.
What do you think makes a good story?
I don’t have a lot of time so I need to be pulled in from the first page. If the first sentence is a killer, it will draw me in. I don’t like a lot of backstory that stops the plot’s progress. I like movement in a story, not a lot of talking heads, and I like surprises. Grammar and good editing often make a good story great.
What books/authors have most influenced your life?
The first work that influenced me was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I loved reading a true story that was written in the same way as a fictional suspense/thriller.
I also love Daphne du Maurier’s work but I have to be very careful while reading her books that the flowery prose does not make its way into my own writing. Contemporary readers and editors often seemed turned off by a lot of romanticized description.
An author I just discovered recently is Erin Quinn; I love her Haunting series and have read all four books in the series at least twice. I love the time travel element and being from Irish descent, I love the scenes set in Ireland.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer and my second choice was a teacher. I fell into the personal computer industry in its infancy in the 1970’s. I often wonder what might have happened if I’d followed my original plan and become an English professor.
What do you like to do for fun and relax?
I love staying busy so the worst thing I can do is sit in front of the tube. Driving relaxes me so I often drive to my book signings, even if it takes 12 hours to get there. I listen to music (I absolutely love all of Alex Band’s songs) and I formulate scenes and plots in my head while I drive. I’ve been planning to go to Ireland for some time now and hope to get there soon. I’m anxious to get into the rural areas and tour the country.
Now, about your story, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. What can you tell us about it?
An Irishman, Dylan Maguire, made his first appearance in Vicki’s Key, which was released earlier this year. Fans loved him so much that he’s back and he’s now working for the CIA. His first assignment is to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it’s obvious she’s had help from within the CIA’s own ranks. Once he recaptures her, his mission is to find out why some in the highest branches of government want her killed—while others will risk everything to help her. And when he discovers her true identity, his mission becomes very personal.
What influenced the idea for this story?
Brenda Carnegie made her first appearance in Exit 22. Readers have asked me for a long time to bring her back because they loved her character: she is always on the wrong side of the law, is very streetwise and intelligent, and is a computer hacker. I knew she would have to meet Dylan Maguire because they each would have met their match. The idea in Exit 22, Vicki’s Key and Secrets of a Dangerous Woman is to have around five main characters, an ensemble cast, and depending upon the plot, one or more of these characters would rise to the forefront.
So I have Brenda, a computer hacker; Vicki, a psychic spy; Dylan, a CIA operative; Chris, a political strategist; and Alec, a detective. It provides limitless possibilities for a series. Through circumstance or blood, these characters will be tied together throughout the series.
What was the most difficult to thing/scene to write in this story?
In the beginning of the book, Vicki was separated from Dylan (through events at the end of Vicki’s Key) and it was excruciating keeping them apart, even for a brief period of time. They belong together.
Which character was the most difficult to work with – the heroes or heroine?
I didn’t find any of the characters difficult because they are each intriguing in their own way. I definitely enjoy writing scenes with Dylan Maguire the most. He comes from a different culture and his speech patterns are very different because he’s from a rural area of Ireland. He is very masculine, capable of great love, and can be strong and decisive.
What makes these people perfect for one another?
In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Vicki and Dylan are definitely a couple but Brenda would love to be involved with Dylan—and she makes no secret of her attraction to him.
Vicki and Dylan are great together because Vicki comes from a sheltered background, she’s shy and reserved, and she tends to be an introvert. Dylan is her complete opposite: he had to grow up fast and “scrappy”, he is outgoing, loves to find out everything about the world around him, and is definitely an extrovert. He brings her out and teaches her how to enjoy life.
Brenda is a lot like Dylan except she gets her kicks from committing computer crimes.
In one scene between Brenda and Dylan, Brenda says, “I wish I’d met you before she did. We would have been good together.”
Dylan’s eyes followed her jawline, her full lips, a slightly wide, upturned nose, her high cheekbones, and a mountain of copper hair a man could get lost in. Then his eyes moved to her perfect brows, one raised slightly, coquettishly, before stopping to peer into her mesmerizing amber eyes before answering. “We would have been dangerous together.”
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
The chapters leading to the climactic scene changed dramatically as I was writing the lead-up to a roller coaster ending. Sam, Vicki’s and Dylan’s CIA handler, makes the statement that he plans to use Brenda Carnegie as “bait.” From that point to the end of the book, it places all the characters on a collision course, one that could leave any one of them dead or injured.
What do you hope readers take with them after they’ve read this story?
I hope they enjoy the ride. Readers often tell me once they have started reading my books, they can’t put them down until they’re finished. That’s what keeps me writing: to know that I have entertained someone, helped them to relax and enjoyed their time reading my work.
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?
I am working now on Dylan’s Song. In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Vicki learns that a CIA operative is missing; his last known location was Dublin. Vicki and Dylan travel to Ireland; her mission is to find the operative through her psychic spy abilities and Dylan’s mission is to get him to a safe house. While in Ireland, Vicki discovers the real reason Dylan left for America, including the past he thought he’d left behind.
Fast & Fun:
Silk or satin? Silk.
Brad Pitt or George Clooney? George Clooney. He’s the Cary Grant of my generation.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Dancing with the Stars or American Idol? American Idol. Very disappointed Steve and Jennifer are not coming back next season!
Heels or running shoes? Definitely heels.
HBO’s Game of Thrones or True Blood? True Blood. I love it.
What place to travel is on your Bucket List? Ireland.
When traveling do you prefer hotels or Bed & Breakfasts? Hotels.
Where can readers contact you?
My website is www.pmterrell.com
I am on Twitter @pmterrell
And on Facebook at Patricia M. Terrell Author.
Thank you very much for being here. We all wish you the best of luck!!
SECRETS OF A DANGEROUS WOMAN
In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back in his first assignment with the CIA: to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it's obvious she's had help from within the CIA's own ranks. With Vicki Boyd's assistance, Brenda is back in Dylan's custody. And now he must find out why some in the highest levels of our government want her dead while others are willing to risk everything to help her. And when he discovers Brenda's real identity, his mission has just become very personal.
“Who are you running from?” Vicki asked.
Brenda took a deep breath. “I am in trouble. Big trouble.”
“What did you do?”
“Depends on who you ask.” She took a deep breath. “I’m tired, Vicki. Really tired. I need to get off the street. Stay inside for a day or two. Regroup.”
“I’m living in Lumberton now. The woman who owned the house where I’m staying passed away. Her nephew inherited it.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Yeah? Where’s he?”
“I live with him. Come home with me. It’s a big house, three stories.”
Brenda frowned as if she was deep in thought. “It’s just you and him there?”
“His name’s Dylan. I’ll tell you all about him on the way.”
She half nodded. “He won’t be taken aback by you bringing me home? I’m a bit more to handle than a stray cat.”
“He’d love to meet you. I promise. He’ll take care of you.”
“He will, will he?”
Vicki blushed. “He’s got a strong sense of family. Besides,” she said as she started to rise, “it’s suppertime and you need to eat. We’ll get something in your belly and you’ll get a good night’s sleep.”
Brenda hesitated only briefly before she rose from the table. “You sure you can handle the intrusion?”
As they made their way toward the door, Brenda whispered, “I wouldn’t be too sure about that.”
p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books, including Vicki's Key, a 2012 International Book Awards finalist, and River Passage, 2010 Best Fiction & Drama winner. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and the co-chair of Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference & Book Fair. For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.
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