Please give a warm welcome to author p.m. terrell! She's here to tell us more about herself and her writing. Get some insight into writing FBI thrillers!
What was the inspiration behind 'Dylan's Song'?
Dylan Maguire made his first appearance in Vicki’s Key, and the charming Irishman was supposed to be a transitory character. However, so many people fell in love with the series because of his character that I knew not only did he have to become a regular in the series, but I also had to return to his native Ireland and explore the mystery surrounding his decision to move to America.
The CIA mission he and Vicki embark upon was inspired by a real, now declassified, case of a missing operative.
This one takes place in Ireland. Have you ever been there?
My ancestors came from Ireland (on my mother’s side) and Northern Ireland (on my father’s side.) I always had an affinity for the Emerald Isle but it was only after researching my family’s ancestors in more detail that I became enamored of it. I’d planned a trip there in 2012 to research Dylan’s Song but the timing didn’t work out. I hope to get there soon. I have distant cousins who never left Ireland and I’d love to attend one of their annual family reunions.
My interest was piqued by the series title 'Black Swamp Mysteries.' I grew up in an area of Ohio known as the Great Black Swamp. What is the meaning of the series title?
Most of the series takes place in Lumberton, North Carolina where the black waters of the Lumber River snake through the town. When it rains, the water often overflows its banks and when the rains stop and the waters recede, it often leaves behind black swamp. It’s an area of natural beauty, of alligators and unspoiled charm—and the perfect place to hide a body.
How many books do you anticipate being in the series?
There is no predetermined number so I plan to write as many as my fans want to read. The fifth book in the series, The Pendulum Files, is due to be released in 2014 and there are already two more books scheduled behind that one.
How do you conduct research for your books?
Vicki Boyd is a psychic spy, modeled after the real psychic spy program developed by the United States Government. Dylan Maguire is a CIA ground operative. I often study the CIA’s declassified cases for inspiration. I have a number of technical experts in Intelligence and law enforcement (both federal and local) who have graciously lent their support to me as needed. The result is a plot that is completely plausible.
What other projects do you have in the works?
I’ve begun another series called the Ryan O’Clery series. The first is The Tempest Murders and I am currently writing the second one, tentatively titled After the Tempest. It follows another Irishman (my fans love these Celtic characters!) who moves to America and becomes a detective. It’s a cross between Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series and Nicholas Sparks’ romance. My agent is currently shopping the rights to this series.
In addition, I am hard at work on more books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series.
Tell us about your work as an animal rights activist.
I love and respect all animals and in my small way, I’ve tried to adopt as many rescue animals as I can provide ample love and care for. Right now, I have four dogs: a foxhound that had been seized as a puppy in a raid on a hunting lodge with deplorable conditions; a collie who was near death, having been caged and used as a breeder dog and nearly starved to death in the process; a Jack Russell who had been shot in the leg (we had his leg reconstructed with a metal plate and you can’t even tell he’d ever been injured); and another Jack Russell mix that nearly died from parvo and neglect. I wish I could adopt all the animals who need good homes!
What were the best and worst things about growing up with an FBI agent for a father?
The best thing was the respect for law enforcement that was infused in me at a very young age. I have a heightened sense of what is right and what is wrong and I try above all, to remain a decent human being.
The worst thing was a move from New Jersey to the Mississippi Delta in 1968, a particularly violent time in our nation’s history. I remembered my mother being worried sick some nights when my father was hunting down deserters from the Vietnam War or following up on Ku Klux Klan activities and Civil Rights violations. The nation has come a long way since those days.
In addition to being an author, you own a couple of computer businesses. How do those work together?
I retired from my computer businesses to write full-time in 2002, but I was pressed into service again in 2012 on a program that I had developed and only I knew it intimately enough to help with an urgent project. That was tough, as I was straddling three worlds: the computer programming environment, writing and working on a very large writers’ conference (Book ‘Em North Carolina, which I founded and co-chair.)
The work I did as a programmer (my specialty was white collar computer crime and computer Intelligence) has influenced many of my books’ plots. In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Brenda Carnegie is a computer hacker. Unlike myself, who always worked on the side of law enforcement, Brenda prefers to walk the dark side.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Vicki Boyd and Dylan Maguire pretend to be freshwater angelfish breeders while secretly working for the CIA. The job is based on my own experiences with breeding and raising angelfish. I currently own several dozen angelfish, some of which are ten inches tall. I document how they’re bred and raised on a blog, www.vickisangelfish.blogspot.com, named after Vicki Boyd. The photographs and videos are from my own private collection.
Anything else you would like to add?
The Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair that I mentioned above is an annual event that brings together more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents and promoters. It takes place on the last Saturday of February in Lumberton, North Carolina. We have panel discussions and solo talks all day and the event is free and open to the public. When people purchase books (and we hope they buy many of them) the author and publisher have agreed to donate a minimum of 40% of the book sale to literacy campaigns. My goal is to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates, to increase literacy and reduce crime. The website is www.bookemnc.org.
Thanks for your time!
Thank you! Great questions!
p.m.terrell is the 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.
For more information on Book 'Em North Carolina, visit www.bookemnc.org and www.bookemnc.blogspot.com.
She can be found on Twitter @pmterrell
On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/author.p.m.terrell and https://www.facebook.com/pages/pmterrell/129318810431554.
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!”
The bogs were no place to be during the witching hour.
Dylan had grown up with stories of the bogs at night. The ground percolated; it lived and it breathed. There had been many a time when he was harvesting peat in broad daylight that he’d heard a whisper at his ear or felt hot breath on his neck, only to find there was no one near. Now as he rode his horse in silence, he felt that presence tenfold; there were eyes watching them. The intermittent tuffs of heather swayed in the growing storm and he found himself watching them with narrowed eyes, waiting for the plants to morph into sinister creatures that claimed this land after the sun went down.
He knew there was a simple reason why animals were required in lieu of an all-terrain vehicle and he was glad Sam had taken this unique land into consideration when planning the mission. He could feel the hooves beneath him sinking into the spongy earth; a wheeled vehicle wouldn’t have stood a chance, especially as they ventured from the area farmed for its peat to one far less stable.
A mist began; a slow, fine spray that he knew well. One moment the air was still and dry and the next, as though they’d passed through a curtain, the air swirled around them, the moist haze further inhibiting their ability to see. It was said many a man lost his internal compass in the Irish mist; it taunted as it grew into monstrous shapes, turning the landscape into something foreign and active.
p.m. will be awarding a Celtic knot necklace to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!