Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Terry Poole – “I write MM (or Gay) Suspense and Paranormal Romances and live between the two massive lakes that bisect central Canada. I’ve always written in one form or another. My very first book, at the tender age of five, consisted of stick figures drawn upon a roll of adding machine paper. When I’m not writing (which isn’t often), I’ll be crocheting, making handmade soap or hanging out on Facebook.”
Thanks so much, Terry, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Terry Poole: I’ve always been a story teller and been lucky that there have been several people in my life who encouraged me to write them down. I discovered I was good at writing when people sent me money for my stories. Lol Actually, that’s not entirely true. It was the first time I was asked for my autograph by a reader, that my little stories were enjoyed by others.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
TP: Social media. For example, I was researching blood spatter patterns (this was true) and a notification pops up for Facebook. Next thing I know hours have passed and I’m still on Facebook.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
TP: Definitely. Years ago, I met Abigail Roux at GRL. I asked her about pseudonyms and she told me she wished she had used one. A reader became obsessed and stalked her and her young daughter, it became a frightening experience for them. I took her warning to heart and make sure to pass it on to new writers who are grappling with the decision. Do not use your real name – ever. It can be a dangerous thing.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
TP: I write MM suspense and paranormal. My style is realistic. I literally see my characters in my mind and write down what they say and do.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
TP: Don’t doubt yourself. Be more confident in your writing. Writers have surprisingly fragile egos
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
TP: I was published in the high school newspaper. My very first paid published work was an interview with the female owner of an automotive repair station. At the time, a woman mechanic was unheard of. I pitched the story to the local paper and they liked it.
JSC: Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?
TP: I’ve never based a character fully on a living person. I have, however, put elements of a real person into a character. For example; eyes, hair, facial structure, body shape. I love to people watch. Years ago, I made the mistake of telling a coworker that I based a character off of him and he wouldn’t leave me alone about reading the book. The problem was, he was super-straight and he thought I wrote het romances, so naturally, I couldn’t show him. I’ve never done that again.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
TP: The weirdest thing, besides my browsing history? I had to contact explosives experts and explain what I needed. Everyone thought I was nuts but the mining demolitions expert who helped me the most, was relieved it was for a book and that I wasn’t planning to take over the world. (Not yet, at least. Muah-ha-ha-ha. Cough, cough.)
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
TP: I step away from the work and either take a break or work on another project. This gives me a fresh perspective when I return to the original work.
JSC: How long do you write each day?
TP: Not near as much as I should. My goal is a minimum of 1,000 words per day.
JSC: Do you reward yourself for writing, or punish yourself for failing to do so? How?
TP: There’s an emotional high when you go far past your goal or a scene which works so well that it practically writes itself. There is no greater punishment than the guilt you feel when you don’t do enough or don’t meet your minimum goal. I can almost feel the character’s giving me hell for not working on their story.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
TP: Reviews are hard on a writer’s ego. A story is like a child and when published, is very much like sending your child out into the world. I do try to read reviews, legitimate reviews, to get an idea of what people think of characters and plot, what not to do next time.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
TP: About three to four months from start to finish. Then begins the publisher’s editing process which takes a couple of months – usually. I don’t write novella’s, my books are usually 50,000 words and up.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
TP: I always carry a notebook with me so I can jot down ideas or additions to my work in progress.
JSC: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
TP: I was looking for information on BBC Sherlock and stumbled upon Tumblr. Here I discovered shipping and the fan fiction site AO3. I was fascinated with the dynamics of two men loving each other and I was bored and frustrated with het stories.
JSC: How long have you been writing?
TP: All my life. Even before I knew the alphabet, I would tell stories using stick figures drawn on adding machine rolls of paper.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
TP: Rudy was bullied – horribly. He was treated as a freak because of his red nose when in shifted form, and because he was a living reminder of his father’s cheating on his wife. In Rudy and Rudy Two, I deal with bullying and feeling like an outcast. Most bullying tends to target a feature or characteristic of the victim. I was bullied for being overweight and too damn smart. I understand the emotions involved and tried to show that you can overcome the pain with the right kind of support.
JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
TP: I’m as full-time as I can get. I have health issues which can limit my productivity but I do the best that I can.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Very much a plotter. I know the beginning and where I want the ending to go. Then I work out each scene in between to get them to that resolution.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
TP: A bit of both. Rudy was in answer to a challenge to write about a shape shifting reindeer. I took that challenge and ran with it. Seeing is Believing was sparked by the movie RIP Department. I thought about what would realistically happen if a murdered police detective came back to the witness of his murder as a ghost. Roark, one of my WIP is about a dragon shifter and a truck driver. I passed a rig broken down alongside a towering cliff and thought – what if… Those two words create more stories than I will ever be able to write and every idea, every thought is written in my notebook.
JSC: How did you deal with rejection letters?
TP: Not well. They are depressing and I am not usually a depressive type person. However, encouragement from family and friends helped me get past them.
JSC: How long does it take you to write the first draft?
TP: That can vary book to book. Some just seem to flow while others stall a bit. On the average, the first draft takes about a month.
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
TP: My first must-have is recipe cards. I have one for each character, one for each chapter and a quick reference one so I can find important scenes quickly. My other must-have is Thesaurus .com. It offers branches and roots for words and is like brainstorming by yourself.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
TP: Rudy has a huge heart and is a nurturer despite the horrors his half-brothers visited upon him. Clay understands this and when Rudy gives Clay his heart, Clay becomes Rudy’s safe haven. Rudy, in turn, gives Clay the support he needs to deal with his PTSD. They complement each other.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
TP: I wrote a short story of how Rudy and Clay saved a school bus with kids on it in a snowstorm. It made me think that Rudy and Clay should have kids of their own. As Rudy Two began to take shape, I never expected the tragedy that would more than double the number of children they would have. They would need help and who better than Jackson Frost, even though Clay despised him, with good reason. Clay learned the hard truth about Frost and when Rudy is kidnapped, the two of them work together and become friends. In a way, they are all outcasts who form each other’s support network. Never judge another until you’ve walked in their shoes, as the saying goes.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
TP: The tragedy at the beginning. No spoilers. It’s hard to do this to characters, you develop a bond with them.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
TP: Lex Valentine was the cover artist. The first cover she sent me was very sweet and innocent and I went “oh, heck no” at first sight. I explained that the story had dark elements as well as humor and she sent me the current one. Perfect. I love the fact that MLR has cover artists who work with the authors to see their vision come to life. Many other publishers do not and you get what you get.
JSC: Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from the book, the secret in their past.
TP: Nope. That will come out in Rudy 3 – Stay Frosty.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
TP: Raphael Cardona, one of the kidnapped shifters that Rudy meets. I kept trying to write him out but he kept coming back. After agonizing over him for a solid two weeks, I finally admitted defeat and gave up fighting him. I let him do what he wanted and what he wanted was… no spoilers.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
TP: Like I said, I wanted Rudy and Clay to become parents just not at the expense of others. Even if they aren’t real, the characters are real to me. It’s hard when bad things happen to them. One of the biggest challenges were the collars on the kidnapped shifters. Trying to figure out a way to make them feasible was difficult. I began by visiting fireworks factories and speaking with the explosives experts. I even asked online if anyone knew anything about explosives. I ended up with a retired demolitions expert who knew a surprising amount about different explosives and how they could be worked to make the collars effective. Just designing them took over two weeks because I didn’t want to come off as a copycat for a particular movie which used a similar premise.What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
TP: The next book in the series will be Jackson Frost’s story. Raphael and Christian will both be in it and yes, Rudy, Clay and the kids too.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian. I ended up in medicine instead.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
When I turned eighteen. I would not let a crush distract me from my goal.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
TP: I’ve always wished I had been born a man.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
TP: Nope. I hated to read, and then I developed pneumonia at about age eleven. I was stuck in the house and finally beginning to feel better. My mother, sick of my whining, tossed one of my brother’s books at me and told me to shut up and read it. It was Tom Swift and his Rocket Ship. I was hooked from that moment on.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
TP: My first draft is always in a notebook and usually in point form. That can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month depending upon the story. The second stage is typing it up and filling it out, adding scenes as necessary to get to the ending. The last stage is editing.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
TP: I love to crochet. I can draw, paint and play the guitar.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
TP: My father was an antique auctioneer. I drew on my childhood for Web of Secrets, incorporating an auction in it. I have a medical background so doctors, nurses and other medical professionals do appear rather frequently. Several family members are police and military so I have a readily available resource to draw upon.
JSC: What do you like to read in your free time?
TP: Besides MM? I read Jim Butcher both Dresden Files and Codex Alera series, Mercedes Lackey’s Pern. I enjoy suspense, paranormal and surprisingly autobiographies.
JSC: Describe yourself using an animal.
TP: Clydesdale horse. Solid, patient, reliable, able to take on a lot, but if you abuse me too much, you will be sorry.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
TP: I always leave the WIP I’m typing open in the background. It’s like a silent reminder that I need to work on it, no matter what I’m doing.
JSC: If I were a Hollywood producer about to put your book on the big screen, who would you want me to cast as the leads? Why? And can we have pictures to drool over?
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
TP: 1) a fully charged satellite phone 2) a fully loaded tablet and 3) a solar charging station with cords
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
TP: Living like age doesn’t matter.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
TP: Rudy’s world, an alternate earth where shifters and magic exists. Oh, the possibilities.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
TP: The future. I want to see how far we will go or will we (the people of earth) self destruct.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
TP: Star Trek. It’s a more idealized concept of the future. Star Wars is unfortunately more believable, based upon the harshness in society today.
JSC: What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your books?
TP: The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I respond physically to the stories as I write them. I was working at a McDonalds while I waited for my daughter to get off an evening class. An elderly woman came over to me and asked me if I was all right. I hadn’t realized that I had tears streaming down my cheeks as I wrote.
JSC: Last question – what is the most heartfelt thing a reader has said to you?
TP: I was just recently messaged by a reader who had stayed up all night reading Rudy Two. She said she loved it and couldn’t put it down. To know that one of my stories had that kind of effect is indescribable, I couldn’t stop smiling.
And now for Terry’s new book: Rudy Two:
Rudy and Clay are deeply in love and expecting the birth of their boys thanks to Clay’s twin sister, Clarice. Tragedy strikes, and Rudy and Clay become parents to not just their twins, but Clarice and Patrick’s three little girls as well.
They desperately need help with the five kids so Rudy hires a ‘manny’, Jackson Frost. But Frost comes with a horrible past. Guilty of betrayal, and for almost killing Clay while they were in the military, he is freshly released from prison and desperate for work. The man is definitely not Clay’s first choice as a caregiver for his children.
Strange things begin to happen, leading them to think that Patrick and Clarice were not just a random attack. Then Rudy is suddenly kidnapped.
The clock is ticking and despite their past, Jackson and Clay must join forces to find Rudy before he is killed, or worse…
Jackson glanced around the table once more before adding, “and…he cleverly changes the subject. Is your nose really that red in reindeer form?”
“Sure is,” Jillian piped up. “Like a red glow stick.”
Rudy ruffled her hair. “Thanks a lot, Jillybean.” Rudy put the back of his hand against his forehead and pretended to swoon. “Story of my life, I’m known far and wide for being a red-nosed reindeer instead of my genius software, tech and games.”
Jackson laughed. “I feel for you, man. At least you inherited something interesting. My dad was part Fae and I got gypped in the gift department.”
One day, if things with Jackson worked out, and Rudy had a feeling it would and that they would become good friends, Rudy would tell him about his other gift, the dangerous one.
“Yeah, having a red nose is such a great gift. My mom could have kept it, really. Did you inherit anything?”
Wordlessly, Jackson reached for his glass of water. In seconds, the outside of the glass was covered in frost and the water inside the glass was solid ice.
“Ooh, that’s cool.” Elizabeth peered at the glass, reaching out a small hand and tapping the ice with a finger.
“Wow, neat,” Elizabeth added as Jillian ooh’d.
Jackson bowed his head. “Pretty much all it’s good for is making slushies or cooling drinks.”
“Well, you’d certainly be handy at parties,” Rudy observed, impressed nonetheless. Real magic users were almost as rare as True Mates.
“Uh-huh, and I bet you’ve never gotten lost in the dark.” Jackson laughed.
“Wouldn’t anyway. Reindeer remember? We come with amazing night vision along with sharp daggers on our heads.”
“I did not know that. Is your husband a reindeer too?”
“No. Clay’s an engineer and a snow leopard. The military used his shifting talents up in the mountains of Afghanistan when they didn’t have him working on engineering projects.”
The interest suddenly left Jackson’s eyes, his face paled, and his already fair complexion turned nearly as white as his hair. “I, um, have to go.” He jerked to his feet, knocking over his chair. The girls all giggled as he scrambled to pick the chair up. “Sorry. Thanks for supper.”
Confused, Rudy watched him rush towards the door. For a moment, Rudy could have sworn he saw fear flash across Jackson’s face when he told him about Clay. Jackson reached for his backpack and jacket just as the door clicked and opened. Jackson froze in his bent over position like a deer in headlights, staring up in horror at the man who stood there.
Clay stopped cold, hand still on the doorknob, his gaze fixed on the man crouched before him. His face morphed into one of pure fury. “You!” Clay lunged for him, grabbed Jackson by the throat, and slammed him bodily into the wall.
The girls screamed. Without thinking, Rudy blinked himself over to Clay’s side and gripped his bicep, trying to pull him off Jackson. “Let him go, Clay!”
Jackson wasn’t struggling. In fact, he hung there with Clay’s clawed hand around his throat, looking resigned to his fate. His eyes were closed and his head hung to the side, ready and accepting of whatever punishment Clay was going to dish out. Why?
Rudy tried to push his way between the two. He could feel Clay’s emotions all over the place through the bond. “Clay, you’re scaring the girls. They don’t need this right now. You don’t need this right now. Calm down. Please.”
His gaze firmly fixed on Jackson, Clay spoke to Rudy in a low angry tone. “You don’t understand what this man has done. He is a monster.”
I write MM (or Gay) Suspense and Paranormal Romances and live between the two massive lakes that bisect central Canada. I’ve always written in one form or another. My very first book, at the tender age of five, consisted of stick figures drawn upon a roll of adding machine paper. When I’m not writing (which isn’t often), I’ll be crocheting, making handmade soap or hanging out on Facebook.
My stories often draw upon my medical experience, so doctors and medical situations feature frequently in my stories. Police and military are also a staple, because there are so many in my extended family. The old adage “write what you know” is very true. The rest however, is pure imagination.
My mind has been compared to a train station filled with runaway trains. The trick is to catch one and hang on for the ride. So many stories, so little time.