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P.M. Terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 14 books, including the Black Swamp Mysteries series. Formerly the founder of two computer companies in the Washington, DC area, her specialty is in computer intelligence and white collar computer crime. Her clients included the U.S. Secret Service, Department of Defense and the CIA as well as local law enforcement. A full-time writer since 2002, she uses her expertise in plots that often involve computer crimes and cyberintelligence. She makes her home in Lumberton, North Carolina, which is the location of the Black Swamp Mysteries series.
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, PM.
Please tell us about your newest release.
In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back and in his first role as a CIA operative: 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 psychic assistance, he captures Brenda again—but this time his mission has changed. Now he must find out why some in the highest government offices want her killed—and others will risk everything to help her. And when he discovers her true identity, his mission has just become very personal.
What inspired you to write this book?
Brenda Carnegie first appeared in Exit 22, which was released about four years ago. Since then, my fans frequently asked when I was going to bring her back and what happened to her after she disappeared at the end of that book. Brenda is a computer hacker who prefers to operate on the wrong side of the law; she’s savvy, street-wise and as capable of navigating alligator-infested swamps as she is the cyberworld.
Dylan Maguire, the Irishman I introduced in Vicki’s Key earlier this year, was such a hit with readers that I also knew I had to bring him back. He is resourceful, an opportunist, good humored but with a secretive past. And I knew getting the two of them together would be explosive. They each have met their match in Secrets of a Dangerous Woman.
Excerpt from Secrets of a Dangerous Woman:
“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.”
What’s the next writing project?
I am currently working on the next book in the series, Dylan’s Song. Toward the end of Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Vicki discovers that a CIA operative disappeared in Dublin while following the trail of a known terrorist. Dylan’s Song picks up there: Vicki must use her psychic abilities to pinpoint where the operative is being held and Dylan’s mission is to extract him and bring him back safely to the States. And when Dylan learns that his grandmother is on her deathbed, he returns to the place where he grew up—with Vicki in tow. While there, Vicki learns the real reason he left Ireland for the United States—while harboring a bigger secret of her own.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book?
I like to surprise my readers. The reason I resisted writing a series for so long is I didn’t want to become a formula writer where readers could easily guess the ending. The challenge for me is to keep each plot fresh, original and surprising. I love the characters I’ve assembled for this series so one challenge I used to have with stand-alone books no longer exists: I no longer need to introduce each character and complete their backstory in one book. I can make them more multi-dimensional, knowing the layers will be peeled away throughout the entire series.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
It depends on the book. I once spent two years researching the true historical adventure Songbirds are Free, which was published in 2008. But with this series, I’ve been able to research the general crime before I begin writing each book plus I continue to research the details as I am writing. I will often need to phone or email my technical advisors—police detectives, FBI Agents and others—while writing. And once the book is just about ready to go to the editors, I will send the manuscripts to those technical advisors so they can make sure I have procedures correct. I have a lot of law enforcement who follow my books and I don’t want to make mistakes that would cause me to lose credibility. Once lost, it’s very difficult to get it back.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I have an office in a building that is separated from my main house and I enjoy writing there. But my days can become very long (often 12 hours or more) so I will sometimes take my laptop to my great room, where I am surrounded by aquariums containing angelfish (which also happens to be the front for Vicki and Dylan, who are both CIA operatives but pretend to be angelfish breeders.) I honestly feel my muse more when writing in the comfort of the great room; it’s more relaxed than sitting at my desk, where other duties often pop up.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I love Erin Quinn’s Haunting series; I like the originality of the time travel and whether you can change your destiny—after it happened. I also love Anne Rice’s book Ramses and wish she had written more about Egypt and mummies. I enjoy David Pereda’s series about a female assassin and Carla Neggers’ books that take place in Ireland. I will often read outside my genre if the writing is good, whether it’s a fantasy, non-fiction or even erotica.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I love taking my readers on a roller coaster ride. I have so many pressing duties that it’s difficult for me to sit down and read—so the author has to grab my attention at the very beginning and hold it. I try to take that into consideration when I am writing for others; I know their time is valuable and they have many other things to do and other authors to read. So I try to pull them in as quickly as possible, take them outside of their own reality and into other worlds, and long after they put the book down, I hope the characters remain with them.
I also started an annual writers conference and book fair that takes place on the last Saturday of each February in Lumberton, NC. Called Book ‘Em North Carolina, we raise money to increase literacy in our communities. This coming year, we’ll bring together more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents and book promoters—and one awesome Hollywood producer who will talk about making books into movies. Attendance is free and open to the public, so I hope your readers will be able to join us for panel discussions, one-on-one chats with their favorite authors and much more. More information is at www.bookemnc.net.
Other ways to connect with me:
Facebook: Patricia M. Terrell
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Readers, remember, a lucky commenter will be awarded a $25 Amazon Gift Card. If you'd like to be entered to win, leave an e-mail with your comment. (Feel free to comment without an e-mail addy, too!) And if you'd like more chances to win, follow her tour and comment at other blog stops.