Monday, April 08, 2013

Monday Mystery - p.m. terrell

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.

Writing in the Suspense/Thriller Genre

When I first began writing suspense, I ran across a wonderful book entitled Writing the Thriller by T. Macdonald Skillman. It included tips from Clive Cussler, Michael Connelly, Richard North Patterson and many others.

It was an eye-opener for me to find that thrillers were comprised of many subgenres: the medical thriller, action-adventure, legal thriller, political thriller, psychological suspense, romantic suspense, women-in-jeopardy, and techno-thrillers… And each had a very specific set of rules.

I’ve been asked for several years to write a series and I was always concerned about becoming a formula writer. I want to surprise my readers at every turn and I never want to become predictable. I settled on the Black Swamp Mysteries series because I have several main characters: a psychic spy, a CIA ground operative, a computer hacker and a political strategist.

Depending on the plot, I can move between the thriller subgenres seamlessly: when Brenda, the computer hacker, takes the role of the main character, the plot leans toward techno-thriller. With the psychic spy, it’s often psychological suspense. The ground operative takes the action into international intrigue, making it an action-adventure. And the political strategist takes the plot toward political thriller.

With each of these subgenres, I make every word count. I very rarely have characters sitting around thinking. If explanations are needed, there are two characters in dialogue, playing off each other. The action is fast and it’s intense. Descriptions are used to give the reader a sense of place and time but it doesn’t slow down the action. The same is true for backstory; my readers want to know the background of the characters and the trials and tribulations that led them to a particular point in their lives. But I don’t stop the forward action to fill in past details. They are provided in snippets throughout the book so that when the reader reaches the end, they have a good sense of who each person is where they came from and where they’re heading and the action has been non-stop.

In the Black Swamp Mystery series, I also have threads moving through one book to another that aren’t necessarily resolved in just one book. Readers learned that Vicki Boyd, the psychic spy, was separated from her siblings when her parents died and each was adopted into a different home. But it wasn’t until Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, the third book in the series, that Vicki is reunited with her sister Brenda. She’ll possibly be reunited with her two brothers in future books—and each brother will be involved in suspense of his own. In Dylan’s Song, Dylan Maguire rescues a missing CIA operative in Ireland, spinning off another plot in The Pendulum Files, to be released in 2014. I often have readers tell me they wish I’d write faster because once they’ve finished a book, they are eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

p.m. terrell


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!”


Brenda motioned for her to stand to the side. Then she parted the curtains.

Dylan had come around the back of the house while three men tumbled out of the pickup. They immediately converged at the truck bed, where they picked up pipes and headed toward the front door.

“So, Eoghan,” Dylan called. His voice was loud and heavy as he moved further from the house, drawing the largest man’s attention to him. “What’re wantin’ with me now?”

“What have they got in their hands?” Vicki whispered hoarsely.

“Lead pipes.” Brenda’s voice was husky and strong.

“You know what we be wantin’,” the largest one shouted. “We’re here to finish your sorry arse off; what we should’a done a long time ago.”

The men began to separate. They looked like a pack of wolves, Vicki thought, as one moved to Dylan’s left while the other moved to his right. The ringleader, Eoghan, stood his ground directly in front of him.

“He doesn’t stand a chance with the three of them,” Vicki gasped. “Not spread out like they are, not even with the gun.”

“Killin’ me won’t bring ‘er back,” Dylan called. He continued backing away from the house.

“No, but it’ll put you in ’ail that much sooner,” one of the others shouted.

“Kill me and you’ll spend your life in a prison cell, Aidan,” Dylan said to him. “I’m not worth your freedom.”

“Why should we spend our lives in prison for killin’ a man?” the third shouted. “You didn’t spend a day in the clink for killin’ our sister!”

Vicki gasped. “My God!”

Brenda grabbed her shoulder, forcing her to look her in the face. She hadn’t realized that her sister had disappeared from the window. But now as she stared at her amber eyes burning hot, she began to take in the pistols in each hand. “Slip on a coat and your shoes,” she hissed. “Fast.”

p.m. will select a randomly drawn comment from the tour and the person who left it will win this necklace.


For more information on Book 'Em North Carolina, visit and

p.m.terrell's website is and her blog is

She can be found on Twitter @pmterrell


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

David Pereda said...

Interesting about the number of thriller sub-genres you described, Trish. There were more thriller sub-genres in your interview than I was familiar with. Nice excerpt, yoo.

p.m.terrell said...

Thank you so much for hosting me here today! I'll be checking back in throughout the day and answering any questions anyone might have for me.
David, thanks so much for following my book tour. I am a big fan of your work!

Ingeborg said...

Very exciting excerpt, thank you.


p.m.terrell said...

Thank you for following my book tour, Ingeborg! I appreciate you dropping in and leaving a comment.

bn100 said...

Very informative post

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

I always appreciate a story that does surprise.