Monday, July 29, 2013

What do wwoofers, Stephen King and psychic spies have in common? by p.m. Terrel

What do wwoofers, Stephen King and psychic spies have in common?

The book, Vicki’s Key, began to take form when I was speaking with a wwoofer about her job. The term wwoof stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. People can sign up to work on a farm for a specified period of time, during which they are provided with all their room and board while providing free labor. I made the comment to my friend that while I admired her ability to travel throughout the world doing this, I could never do it myself. It would be my luck, I said, to get at my first assignment only to discover the owner of the farm was an axe murderer.

As Fate would have it, I came down with the flu shortly after that conversation. I remember reading Stephen King’s book On Writing in which he admitted that he was drinking a case of tallboys every night while writing Cujo, and he could barely remember writing the book at all. Well, as straight as I am (I don’t drink or do drugs and wouldn’t know a marijuana leaf if it fell in my lap) I dutifully began taking the medicine my doctor prescribed for the flu. The unexpected result was I fell into a stupor that kept me flat on my back for nearly 24 hours—during which time I dreamed the entire plot of Vicki’s Key from beginning to end.

The plot involves a young woman named Vicki Boyd who takes a job assisting an elderly woman with her angelfish breeding business. But when she arrives, she finds that Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and is confined to her third floor bedroom in an old, rambling house. Her nephew, Dylan, has just arrived from Ireland to care for her. Vicki very quickly falls in love with the charming, handsome Irishman. But all is not what it seems to be in Aunt Laurel’s house.

I wanted this book to be part of the Black Swamp Mysteries series, however, and I knew a layer was missing—a layer that would take Vicki from one book to the next and would, as it turns out, also bind her to Dylan Maguire throughout the series.

I was combing through declassified government information when I stumbled upon the psychic spy program. It had begun during the Cold War when U.S. intelligence discovered the Soviet Union was employing psychic spies to infiltrate our highest level meetings, nuclear facilities, weapons facilities and top secret cases. The U.S. began its own program which is still in use today.

That turned out to be the missing ingredient. In Vicki’s Key, Vicki is a psychic spy whose last mission goes horribly wrong. Trying to begin a new life away from the CIA, she turns to Laurel Maguire’s advertisement and makes the move to a small town where nothing ever happens. And as the old house comes alive with dark secrets, the CIA locates Vicki for one last mission. Her past and her future are about to collide—in murder.

And is there an axe murderer in the house, after all? No—but something just as terrifying.

p.m. will award one randomly drawn commenter a Celtic Shamrock Necklace.


Following a failed mission, Vicki Boyd leaves her job as a psychic spy with the CIA, determined to start her life over in a small town assisting an elderly lady. But when she arrives, she finds that Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and is confined to the third floor of her home and her nephew Dylan has recently arrived from Ireland to care for her. Vicki very quickly falls in love with the charming, handsome Irishman. But all is not what it seems in Aunt Laurel’s old, rambling home. And when the CIA arrive on her doorstep to convince her to accept one last mission, she finds her past and her future are about to collide… In murder.

Vicki let the end of the towel drop so it brushed against her knees as she held the top against her breastbone. With one hand, she pulled the shower curtain back.

Dylan stood barefoot in the doorway, his back against the doorframe, his long legs stretching toward the opposite side, one hand planted against the opposite doorframe as though he’d been semi-reclining there for some time.

She gasped instinctively.

He returned her stare silently.

“How long have you been there?” she asked, tugging the towel to cover her breasts.

“Long enough.”

She felt exposed, though the towel was doing an adequate job of covering the front of her body. But his eyes didn’t waver from her face while his own remained entirely expressionless. The rage he’d displayed earlier was gone, and so was his broad smile. He simply looked at her impassively as though he was immersed in his private thoughts.

“What are you doin’ here?” he asked, finally breaking the silence.

She clasped the towel to her. “I—I was taking a shower.”

“No,” he said, his voice measured, “what are you doin’ in here?

She thought of the shower in her own private bathroom, and how insensitive she must appear to have let herself into his private space without asking. She opened her mouth to respond but the words would not come. “I—I” was all she could manage.

He dropped his hand from the doorframe. Without taking his eyes off hers, he moved deliberately across the bathroom until he stood in front of her. His eyes wandered to her hair, and Vicki realized she was trembling from the air conditioning against her wet skin. Without speaking, he took her towel and wrapped it around her. As the bath sheet was draped around her slender body, he took the corner and began to gently rub her hair with it. He stopped after a moment, his hand against her face and gazed at her cheek as he brushed it with his thumb.

“What were you cryin’ for, Woman?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“‘I don’t know,’ she says. Same thin’ me mum used to say. ‘What are you cryin’ for, Mum?’ I’d say. ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Well, you do it every night. Seems like you’d have figured it out by now.’”


p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 18 books in 4 genres. A full-time author since 2002, she previously opened and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the Secret Service, CIA and Department of Defense as well as local law enforcement. Computer and spy technology are two themes that recur throughout her books. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates. And she founded the annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair which takes place each February.
Author's website:
Author's blogs: and (inspired by the angelfish "front" used by the CIA in the Black Swamp Mysteries series)
Twitter: @pmterrell


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

p.m.terrell said...

Thank you for having me here today! I'll be checking back in throughout the day and answering any questions anyone might have for me.

Shannon R said...

I love that this was all created in a flu induced fog, it is amazing what the mind can come up with when it is set free. Thanks for a great tour

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

p.m.terrell said...

Hi, everyone! I wanted to let you know that the winner of the beautiful Celtic Shamrock necklace is Shannon R. Congratulations, Shannon! And thank you, everyone, for following this book tour!