Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview with P.M. Terrell, Author of Vicki's Key

1.       Good grief, girl child! You are freaking AMAZING!! Readers, if you have a chance, stop by her site and just putz around. It’s a lot of fun! What was it like growing up with an FBI agent as a father?

Well, it’s just a hoot to be here, Frankie! Growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s (yep, I’m old) and being the daughter of an FBI Agent to boot was quite an amazing experience. He frequently worked all night on rounding up Viet Nam War deserters and working on infiltrating and breaking up the Ku Klux Klan, and I am sure watching these events unfold shaped my interest in history, people and – crime.

2.       *rubs elbows* Now I can honestly say I’ve rubbed elbows with a computer high and mighty! Wow you really caught that wave and just rode it! And you have SO. Much. ENERGY!! LOL! How do  you do it?

You know, I always wanted to be a writer and just fell into computers. I look back now and realize how fortunate I was to be in the right place (Washington, DC) at the right time (when the Apple computer was invented, spawning the personal computer industry). I don’t know if I have any more energy than anyone else. I think it’s entirely a matter of priorities. I gave up a lot along the way (not to mention, A LIFE) to start a couple of computer companies and later, to become an author of suspense.

It doesn’t seem like they would go together, does it? A logical computer programmer and a creative suspense author? But I don’t know if I could have been one without the other. My specialty was computer intelligence and white collar computer crime (working with the good guys, of course) and that led to many of the plots in my books.

3.       Okay, well, we’re to talk about your book, Vicki’s Key. What inspired this story?

They say truth is stranger than fiction so stick with me here! One of the reviewers who consistently reviews my books is Donna Coomer. And she’s always off in a different part of the world when each book comes out. So I asked her why all the travel, and she told me she goes to a website and finds jobs where she gets free room and board in exchange for working. She’s traveled to Europe and all over this country doing jobs that last anywhere from a couple of months to a half a year. I made the comment that I could never do that because it would be just my luck the first job I’d respond to would actually be an axe murderer looking for the next victim.

Well, later that day I got sick with the flu and my doctor prescribed cough syrup (you know the kind that has narcotics in it!) And I got a teaspoon mixed up with a tablespoon. (You know where this is going, don’t you?) I laid on the couch for a day and a half, totally zonked out, and dreamed this book from beginning to end. When I came out of my stupor, I knew Vicki’s Key was a book I had to write. Apparently, the whole concept of going to a strange place and working for someone you’d never met, living in their house, got stuck in my psyche.

4.       This book is getting some pretty rave reviews! First, how do you get reviews from some of these sources? (How do you get them to take you seriously?) One of the reviews is Suspense Magazine says p.m.terrell "is getting better with each and every book she writes”! So that means they’re reading several of them!

I have been so fortunate and so blessed that several reviewers—those with Suspense Magazine, Midwest Book Reviews, Bengal Book Reviews, Between the Lines, Fresh Fiction and others—enjoy my work. Early in my career, I advertised in publications like the one Dan Poynter publishes for reviewers of suspense. Now I just build on that list from one book to the next.  I also enjoy networking with other authors and we often swap information on good reviewers and sites.

One way I get reviewers to take me seriously is through my website. You have to have a professional website if you want a professional career. And there’s something to simply hanging in there! I’ve seen a lot of authors come and go, many of them discouraged their first book didn’t catapult them to stardom, and if you’re willing to hang in there and keep writing, you get extra brownie points for that.

5.       What inspired these characters?

I’ll tell you, the book came to life when I introduced an Irish character, Dylan Maguire.  Vicki Boyd takes a job working for an elderly woman over the summer. But when she arrives, she finds Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and her nephew has arrived from Ireland to care for her. It was important to the storyline that Vicki think Dylan is the perfect man, so I did some in-depth research into what women think IS the perfect man. (Which was the most fun researching I’ve ever experienced!) Turns out, women love Scottish accents followed by Irish accents and then Australian accents. They also love five o’clock shadows, a man with muscle but who is oh-so-gentle with a woman… A man with boyish charm but who comes through like a man when he’s needed. Dylan is also just plain funny without intending to be, which is part of his charm.

Vicki is a “good girl” always living her life inside the box so Dylan is completely her opposite.

6.       What was your favorite part of the research to create this book?

I had some amazing experiences. Aunt Laurel’s house is a rambling historic home that lends itself well to ghosts. It was patterned after a real house in Lumberton, North Carolina, where the series is set.  Pictures are on my website at I took a tour of the house and heard the ghost tales that have been told of this once-abandoned property for decades.

I also toured the Carolina Civic Center’s Historic Theatre, which also has several ghosts. Vicki and Dylan are watching a play at this theatre when she sees a ghost, so being in the balcony and hearing of the ghosts who have actually pushed people down the steps was amazing.

7.       What are you writing now? Is there anything you can tell us without giving away the plot?

The next book in this series will be released in September 2012. It’s called Secrets of a Dangerous Woman. In Vicki’s Key, it’s mentioned that Vicki got separated from her sister after their parents died and they were adopted by different families.  The dangerous woman in the next book is Vicki’s sister, Brenda Carnegie, who first made her appearance in my book, Exit 22. She is everything that Vicki is not: she is a computer hacker, prefers to live on the wrong side of the law, lives outside every box, is a vixen, conniving, fearless…

And in Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan begins working for the CIA. His first assignment is to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. And he has definitely met his match. And when he discovers Brenda is actually Vicki’s sister, his first assignment just got very personal.

8.       Where can readers purchase your book? (I may have already done that, but share with the class.)

Well, every book store worth their bookmarks carries it. It’s also available at and other online book stores. Right now on my website at, we’re offering free shipping.

9.       May we read an excerpt from the book and can you provide it here? 

Here’s an excerpt for the reader who likes things that go bump in the night:
Vicki continued into the bathroom and groggily brushed her teeth. Grabbing a washcloth and splashing water over her face, she leaned into the sink to soak up the cool water.
She turned off the tap and tried to fully awaken as the water dripped off her face. Rising, she reached for the hand towel along the wall, catching a glimpse of her profile in the bathroom mirror.
Her eyes caught a shadow rippling in the mirror and she froze, her arm suspended in mid-air as she watched the shadowy figure undulating against the shower curtain just behind her. It was thin—far thinner than a human being; perhaps only four feet tall and just inches wide. Yet, two arms extended past the body, moving jerkily like a creature walking and yet it remained fixed in the center of the tub. The torso parted into two legs that were stick-like and lurching.
Then the shadow stopped and turned toward her, as though just realizing she was watching. The head emerged from the body like a person jutting his neck forward, growing as it neared the shower curtain. It swelled in a black intensity while two pits where eyes should have been grew more prominent.
She whipped around to face the shower curtain, her heart pounding, and her breath shallow.
There was nothing there.
She swung back toward the mirror. Her own face stared back at her, her eyes wide and chest heaving. The curtain hung behind her, motionless.

10.   Where can your readers connect with you on the web?

I love to hear from readers! My website is . I am on Twitter @pmterrell and on Facebook under Patricia M. Terrell, Author. I also have an historical site,, for my true books about my ancestor Mary Neely who was captured by Shawnee warriors. Please drop by and chat with me!

Thank you so much, Frankie, for allowing me to chat with your followers about my books!

   About P.M. Terrell

P.M.Terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 13 books. Her newest series, Black Swamp Mysteries, involves a CIA psychic spy (based on the real project) and includes Exit 22 and Vicki's Key. Prior to becoming a full-time writer in 2000, she founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense as well as local law enforcement agencies. She now lives in North Carolina with her family and plenty of ghosts. For more information about her, visit You can also follow her on Twitter @pmterrell and Facebook under Patricia M. Terrell, Author.


  1. Thank you for inviting me here today, Frankie! I just love your great attitude. Really enjoy following you on Twitter!

  2. What a delicious interview with Patricia! I'm a new fairly new fan, and I had no clue of her wonderful and diverse background. How exciting to have had grown up in such a remarkable time in history and have had a father have such an important role in it too!
    As far as the perfect man, Patricia's research is spot on - I agree! Now if it came with an Irish or Scottish brogue...heaven *grin*!!
    Thank you so much for this fabulous treat! I have another book to add to my TBR pile!
    Gena Robertson

  3. Thank you so much for stopping by, Gena! I appreciate your comments. I totally agree about the Irish or Scottish brogue - it gets me every time!
    - p.m.terrell

  4. What a great post. I have so been there with the cow medicine, but the results are never productive.

  5. Thanks for dropping in, Delphina! The cough medicine must have worked because I just found out this morning that Vicki's Key placed as a top six finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards! I guess I need to get sick more often!

  6. WOW what an amazing interview! You are one interesting woman Ms. Terrell. Congrats on placing in the International Book Awards. That's amazing!

    April K.

  7. April K, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! Yes, I am totally psyched about Vicki's Key being a finalist (one of only 6) with the 2012 International Book Awards. Thanks for mentioning that! It's always great to get good feedback on a book I worked so hard to develop.