Friday, April 14, 2017

Interview with p.m. terrell, CLOAK AND MIRRORS

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Cloak and Mirrors is the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, although I’ve written it so that anyone who has not read the entire series will still be able to understand what is happening and why. I never thought I would write a series, although many people have asked me to over the years; I never wanted to become a predictable, formula author. But when I came across CIA declassified information about psychic spy programs, I knew I had hit on a great premise. Vici Boyd, the psychic spy in this series, is able to go places in her mind that would be nearly physically impossible without detection, such as a remote Afghanistan village and the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Do you have a favorite character?
My favorite is definitely Dylan Maguire, an Irishman that is now working as a CIA operative. I did a lot of research into what women love most about men around the world, because in Vicki’s Key, the first book that Dylan appears in, it was important to the plot that Vicki fall fast and hard for him. It turned out that the favorite accent in surveys among women is Scottish, followed by Irish and then Australian. Because my family is from Ireland and that culture is closer to my soul than the others, I chose to make Dylan Irish—something neither myself nor my fans have ever regretted.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Dylan was only supposed to be in Vicki’s Key. However, when the editors read the first draft, they said that there was no one his character was going away—he had to appear throughout the Black Swamp Mysteries Series. He has turned out to be the favorite character among my fans.

It did change the ending to Vicki’s Key, and I went back to several scenes and softened his character; originally he had a much tougher edge to him.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
When I began writing, the only avenues open to authors was the traditional route and the “vanity” route. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and purchased the annual Writer’s Market faithfully, and I queried both agents and publishers simultaneously. I decided which one came first would determine my course. Today there are so many options to authors that the traditional route is only one viable option.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
It took more than seventy rejections before I landed my first publishing contract for my suspense—non-fiction I had written in the 1980’s had been a far easier sell to publishers that included Dow Jones and Scott-Foresman. With my suspense, I started with the largest publishers and worked my way down, amassing the rejection slips, until a small publisher accepted me.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
The editor assigned to me made all the difference in my decision to go with my first publisher. She was fabulous, especially with marketing, but I learned after the book was published that “to save money” the publisher did not have an agreement with Ingram, the country’s largest wholesaler. That meant it was nearly impossible for book stores to get my earliest books and by my third suspense, I was being published by a slightly larger publisher that I’ve been with ever since.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I am inspired daily through the people I meet, the news I read, the places I travel and the things I learn. The hardest part for me is to determine which books can carry a full-length plot and which are worthiest of pursuing. When I select the next piece of work, I determine the beginning, the middle and the end. I know what I need to accomplish to reach the middle point and then the ending point, but often I will add more layers when the plot or the characters divert into other intriguing areas that all must tie together in the final scenes.

I usually listen to instrumental music but when I am writing romantic scenes, I will often listen to romantic music, watch romantic movies or read romantic suspense. My favorite music to listen to through most of my writing is on YouTube called Brainwave Power Music.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
When my first books were published, authors were expected to write while publishers provided the marketing and promotional teams—though I did travel the country on book tours. Today, authors are expected to perform the bulk of the marketing and promotional efforts. This past year, I started a business called The Novel Business ( to help authors learn how best to market their books in this age of technology. Prior to that, I was mentoring authors one-on-one. I write several blogs and use them as a hub for my social media efforts—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I now have a great system for juggling writing and marketing; I spend about five hours each day writing—usually from early morning to noon—and the afternoons marketing. I rarely participate in physical book tours that take me across the country like I did in my earlier career, but I spend most of my efforts with digital marketing. I even returned to college (after forty years!) to focus on a degree in digital marketing.

What’s next for you?
Since my book Songbirds are Free was published in 2007, I have become very much interested in my Irish heritage. That book was about my Scot-Irish ancestor, Mary Neely, who was captured by Shawnee warriors near Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, TN) in 1780. As I learned Mary’s story and followed in her footsteps, I became intrigued by the family history. It eventually led me to my ancestral home in Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and it also influenced many of my books—including my latest, Cloak and Mirrors, which is set in Ireland. Later this year a new series will be released that is based on my ancestors’ extraordinary adventures, beginning with William Neely, who left Wigtownshire, Scotland in 1608 for Donegal, Ireland. It was a time of passions, love and hatred, palace intrigue and clan battles, a Gaelic culture being overrun by English colonization and crosses and double-crosses.


CIA operatives Vicki Boyd and Dylan Maguire are back in the 6th book of the award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries Series. Vicki and Dylan journey to Ireland for their honeymoon and while they are there, they agree to pick up a package from a Russian spy containing plans for Russia's latest stealth technology. But when the Russian decides to defect, they find themselves trying to get him safely out of the country. They also discover the Kremlin has uncovered their identities and now Vicki and Dylan flee across the island. With breathtaking descriptions of Ireland's rugged coast and the Northern Lights, romance and suspense come together again.
Buy links:

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in several genres, including suspense, historical and non-fiction. Prior to becoming a writer, she owned two computer companies in the Washington, DC with a specialty in combatting computer crime. Her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense. Technology is often woven through her suspense thrillers. Terrell is of Irish descent, and Ireland often figures prominently in her books as well. She has been a full-time author since 2002 and currently travels between her home in North Carolina and Northern Ireland, the home of her ancestors. She is also the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina’s Writers Conference and Book Fair ( and The Novel Business (

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