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Monday, May 26, 2014

#Interview with @pmterrell and her new release The Pendulum Files

p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in five genres. A full-time author since 2002, Black Swamp Mysteries is her first series, inspired by the success of Exit 22 in 2008. The books include Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan's Song and The Pendulum Files. Vicki's Key placed as one of four finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards. Her historical book, River Passage, won the 2010 Best Drama Award, and her romantic suspense, The Tempest Murders, placed as one of four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense. Computer technology often weaves its way through her contemporary suspense/thrillers.

She is also the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of The Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money for literacy campaigns. She also serves on the boards of the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Robeson County Arts Council, and served as the first female president for the Chesterfield County/ Colonial Heights Crime Solvers.

What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?
When I first began writing my suspense, I led readers to the door of the bedroom and left the rest to their imaginations. But when a Baptist minister told me that I needed more romance in my books, I sat up and listened. I mean, when a minister says you need more romance, you most definitely need more romance.

As a result, the sizzle factor has gone much higher. Women have fallen for the Irish CIA operative, Dylan Maguire, who is sexually charged, exudes charming magnetism… but who can also kill when the situation warrants it.

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
That is a great question. I just learned this past weekend that sitting is considered as bad for your health as smoking. I have severe allergies that limit my time out-of-doors, but I had a gym installed in my home complete with treadmill, stair climber, stationary bicycle, and weight machines. I love weight-lifting the most, though when I get into reading a great book, I can stay on my stationary bicycle forever. I’m debating whether to try a new desk that would allow me to stand while working on the computer.

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
I’d been asked to write a series for several years but I’d hesitated in doing so because I didn’t want to become a formula writer. I love to surprise as well as entertain. I love the Black Swamp Mysteries series because it features five main characters: a psychic spy, a CIA operative, a computer hacker, a political strategist and a CIA boss. Depending on the plot, one or more of the main characters come to the forefront.

Vicki, the psychic spy, is a stay-within-the-lines kind of gal, while her sister Brenda is a computer hacker who prefers to push the envelope and walk on the dark side. Vicki’s in love with Irish CIA operative Dylan Maguire who can easily move between a happy-go-lucky persona to a fighter and a killer. Chris Sandige has always lived a steady dependable life as a political strategist—until he fell in love with bad girl Brenda, who continuously entices him right over the edge. And Sam, the CIA chief, is brusque and no-nonsense, but he secretly loves his fluffy Persian, even taking it on walks. It’s an eclectic group that keeps the plots fresh.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
I’ve been my told my strongest suit is the ability to ratchet up the suspense. I leave each chapter in a cliff-hanger and love it when people tell me they were up all night finishing my books because they couldn’t put them down. I figure if I get bored while I’m writing the book, readers will get bored when they read them. That keeps me tightening the suspense and bringing the climactic scene ever closer. I love twists and turns but all the clues are there after the surprising turn of events; they’re just (I hope expertly) interwoven in the story.

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
I have so many commitments that I have needed to schedule time for social media. At one time, bloggers were insisting that authors had to join any and every social media outlet in order to move ahead with their careers. I found it took time away from doing what I loved and needed to be doing—writing books. So I chose three outlets: Facebook, Twitter and blogging. I try to post on all three at least twice a week. It keeps my name in front of my fans without digressing into the mundane.

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
My first suspense, Kickback, was taken from a real situation I found myself in. Prior to becoming an author of suspense, I wrote computer programs, with an emphasis on fighting computer crime, and computer intelligence. I was contacted by a trucking company who obviously didn’t do their homework into my specialties because they asked me to write a program to hide their illegal kickbacks. I became an FBI informant and once the case was over, I decided to write a fictionalized account that is much more dramatic than it had been in real life. The actual kickback scheme I describe in the book, however, is real.

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
I would love to have a cottage in rural Ireland where I could write to my heart’s content. I would be perfectly happy to do most of my research on the Internet as long as I could watch those Irish sunsets off the west coast.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?
I took to the high seas for The Pendulum Files, which is fascinating because we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about our oceans. Technology is still unable to reach the depths of the ocean floors in many locations and there are untold numbers of ocean life yet to be discovered. I also researched the discrepancies between the number of products that we import from China versus those they import from the rest of the world. In my opinion, it is a bubble ready to burst.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
In The Pendulum Files, Vicki and Dylan enter a mission to determine who is bombing merchant vessels en route from China to the United States. Their work takes them to CIA-operated Black Sites, to the high seas and into politics at the highest levels. And when a hired assassin escapes from prison determined to finish the job he began, they find themselves once again in the cross-hairs of a killer.

Brenda was leaning her head against the window as if asleep and now she began to move her fingers ever so slightly toward the door handle. She kept her eyes on his reflection; he was focused on driving, his eyes locked on the road just as it had been before. Only his right hand was holding the steering wheel now; it had slipped to a three o’clock position.
A slight movement caught her attention; it was so subtle, she almost thought she’d imagined it. Then she spotted the glint of metal across his body, though the road still held his attention. Her fingers locked onto the door handle as the metal rose slightly up and away from his body. He turned his head as his left hand snapped forward.
She jerked the door open as the shot rang out. She felt something sharp and hot against her shin as she kicked herself away from the car. She tumbled onto the pavement before hitting the shoulder, the gravel feeling like a million razors slicing through her flesh. She heard her own voice as if it was disembodied, screaming as she forced herself to roll across the sharp gravel before plummeting down the incline, compelling herself to continue rolling even as she realized she’d been shot in the leg.
She heard the car’s brakes slamming, the tires squealing as the man struggled to bring the car to a stop. At seventy miles an hour, it should have taken the car further from her even as she rushed to escape. But when she came to her feet and looked back at the road, she estimated he was about three hundred feet further down the road—not far enough.
She ran toward the tree line, which now appeared too far away. As a second shot rang out, she knew his sights were set on her back, and she struggled to run straight, fighting the impulse to run opposite of him. It kept her profile smaller but when he shot a third and then fourth time, she could almost feel the bullets whizzing past her.
The third and fourth shots sounded increasingly louder and she knew he was running after her. Her breath was loud and labored, her blood pounding in her temples. Even as she drew closer to the shadows of the trees, she could feel herself slowing down. The adrenaline that propelled her down the slope and to her feet was fighting against the pain in her leg.
She could feel the blood oozing down her shin and pooling in her shoe, causing her to slip and slide along grass already slick with dew. Another shot rang out, whizzing so close to her hair that she thought it had passed through it.
She threw herself into the shadows, pushing herself beyond her leg’s endurance to keep going, to get into the pine forest, weaving and bobbing forward and eastward, away from the car, away from the interstate. Hopefully, away from him.
She wanted to stop; she wanted to pull some article of clothing off herself and wrap it around her shin to keep the blood in, to keep the flesh together, but she didn’t dare hesitate. She heard the branches cracking behind her; he was there and he was closing on her. Even as she propelled herself forward, she knew all he had to do was follow the movement of the branches ahead of him to know exactly where she was.

p.m. will be giving away a beautiful Celtic cross necklace. Make sure to comment to win!

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  1. Thanks for hosting me here today! I'll be checking back and answering any questions anyone might have for me.

  2. Oh wow! The excerpt is not enough! I need to read the book! :)

  3. Informative interview

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