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Interview: ‘Romance with a Twist of Mystery’ Author Terry Odell

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Terry Odell was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, a rare native for several years. Odell graduated from UCLA, and worked in the L.A. County secondary school system, teaching junior high school science, until she relocated to Florida.

Odell can’t remember learning to read, only that she continuously did. Odell’s parents entertain folks with the recollection they had to move from their first home because she finished the library.

Odell stumbled upon fan fiction, which was worthy training once she ascertained she could withstand the tedious typing process.

Odell found a writing group at iVillage, but learned the short story layout difficult to tackle. Odell was able to pen a beginning, a middle, and more middle, so she moved to novels where she could cultivate more complex characters and finally get to ‘the end.’Paradoxically, her first publications were short stories from The Wild Rose Press.

Please share how you came up with the concept for Nowhere to Hide?

Nowhere to Hide actually started out as my second novel. I’d finished writing my first book, Finding Sarah, and wanted to make sure I could write another one. The original title was Starting Over because that’s what I was doing—starting over. One of the secondary characters, Colleen McDonald, wanted her own book. The book has been through three iterations. It was published as Starting Over by Cerridwen Press. When rights reverted to me, I reworked it and sold it to The Wild Rose Press as Nowhere to Hide. When I got the rights back again, I revisited the story, tied it back to my Pine Hills Police series, and released it as an indie book.

When you’re deeply connected and immersed in a book, Terry, have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream? Do your characters dream within you?

Interesting question, but no. Of course most of my dreams seem strange, but I’ve never had one I could attribute to someone else or a character. However, when I’m immersed in a book, the characters are with me all day long.

Have you had a dream that was one of your characters?

Again, no. At least no dreams that I remember in the morning. What happens when I’m asleep is another story.

What do you love most about writing suspense?

I love the mystery part—actually, I like mystery more than suspense, because I don’t like to know what’s going on outside of the POV of my main characters. I like entwining a relationship with the mystery aspects of the story. I don’t plot, so it’s always a discovery process. I prefer to call my books “Mysteries With Relationships.”

Terry, please share the titles of three suspense novels on your nightstand?

As I said, I prefer mystery to suspense. But to answer your questions the books on my nightstand right now: Guilt, by Jonathan Kellerman; A River in the Sky, by Elizabeth Peters; Loose Ends, by Tara Janzen

Who are some of your favorite suspense writers?

I don’t read a lot of suspense, although booksellers and publishers don’t always categorize the books the same way I do. I hate to pick favorites, so this list of authors I read is far from complete: C.J. Box, Michael Connelly, J.D. Robb, Linda Castillo, Robert Crais, Suzanne Brockmann, Allison Brennan… I could go on.

How do you find balance?

I just do what I want. Since I indie publish these days, I’m not tied into strict deadlines. I spend the first couple of hours on “me” stuff, work on writing-related things (right now I’m preparing lectures for a workshop on the 12 Steps to Intimacy that I’ll be doing on line at Savvy Authors starting March 4th). I work on blog posts, catch up on emails. Then I look over the work I did the day before, fix it and get a running start into the WIP. I try for at least 1000 words a day which is a relatively easy pace that lets me have time to play with the dog, enjoy the mountain life, and do all the regular day-to-day stuff.

What makes you laugh?

Watching my dog try to play with the deer. My husband. My grandson.

What did you learn about yourself while penning Deadly Bones?

That if I’m going to write a series, I need to take better notes!

What challenges did you endure while writing When Danger Calls?

You make it sound like the writing process is comparable to the obstacle course I put my Blackthorne characters through as part of their training. I love the writing. Doing the research, figuring out what secret Ryan was hiding, channeling the five-year-old daughter of the heroine might be considered challenges, but that’s the fun of writing. Finding people to answer questions about winching someone up into a helicopter (or what the inside of the helicopter would look like) are challenges, but I don’t consider them obstacles in any way.

What did you learn about yourself while inking Saving Scott?

Saving Scott started as a proposal for a mystery series from a traditional publisher. I wrote the proposal they requested based on their story outline, and then revised when they wanted everything changed. When that deal fell through, I picked myself up, reworked the chapters I’d written into another Pine Hills Police story, which went on to hit #15 overall in the Nook Store. So, I guess I learned that it’s about moving forward.?

What fears were you facing with the release of Deadly Bones?

The same fears I think any author faces when they release a book. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Was the first book in the series a fluke? Can I sustain a true series.

What are you most ambivalent about when you sit down to write?

I don’t know that you can write if you’re ambivalent. If you don’t care about the story, the characters, then the writing will be flat. Some days the words come more easily than others, but when you sit down to write, you have to write. It might be dreck that you delete the next time you sit down, but as Nora Roberts says, “You can’t fix a blank page.”

What do you want your readers to walk away with after reading your books?

I want them to have a good time. I want them to escape into a world I created, and I want them to think they’ll run into one of my characters while they’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store.

If you were able to go on a white water rafting with whomever you want (past or present), who do you pick and what are you talking about?

Having been white-water rafting, I don’t know that I’d be doing a lot of talking. Screaming, maybe. And I’m sure you’re looking for something deep and profound—someone with an influence on history, for example. But I’m not proud. I’d love to spend some “captive” time with Adrian Paul, because it was because of his Highlander television series that I started writing. Mostly, I think I’d stare at him. I’d thank him for inspiring me, and ask him what his take is on the whole Highlander universe, and see how much “insider” information he’d be willing to share.

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About Diane Morasco

Diane Morasco is a triple fusion ethnically – vanilla, caramel and chocolate – and creatively – designer, media proprietor and writer. Ms. Morasco was born in the juicy apple and with a panoramic view of the Hudson River still calls the city home. She is the Founder, CEO, Chief Creative Officer, and Publisher of J Fox Ink™ (JFI), Founder, CEO, Chief Creative Officer of Diane Morasco Enterprises™ (DME), which is the parent company of Morasco Media™ (MM), and The Book Resort™ (TBR). Ms. Morasco first cut her teeth interviewing the immensely talented cast members of Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Sons of Anarchy, as well as Kurt Sutter himself. She counts Ron Howard, Eddie McClintock and the Sons of Anarchy cast and team members for inspiring her to spread her wings into the film and television arena. She is the former Editor-in-Chief for Alwayz Therro Magazine, former reviewer for RT Book Review and still guest scribbles as her schedule permits for Blogcritics, Examiner, The New York Review of Books, and a sundry of periodicals. Ms. Morasco has a genuine fervor for animals, butter cream cupcakes, Supernatural, The Good Wife, Chicago Fire, Elementary, Castle, Major Crimes, Grimm, the beach, cinnamon gum, music, movies, shooting pool, hiking, Italy, HSN, QVC, and curling up near the ocean with a gripping novel !
  • Thanks, Karla. I love my cover artist.

  • Great interview. Liked hearing how you’ve developed the series and I love your covers. Very eye catching.

  • Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Sandy. Hope you found something interesting.

  • Sandy Loyd

    Great interview, Terry. I love learning about the authors I like to read.

  • Karen C

    I do have a good time when reading your books, Terry. I look forward to ‘meeting’ your characters again (and again).

  • I’d have to write some pretty off-the-wall stuff to use any of my dreams!

  • I’ve not had any dreams relating to a book I’m writing. However, I have had dreams that inspire a story.