Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Author, Terry Odell

Today's Guest Author is Terry Odell, fellow Rose and also a Cerridwen press and Five Star Expresions author. Terry also has a great blog, which I read regularly, especially the parts about her interviews with law enforcement people. You can never learn too much about how people in law enforcement do their jobs when you're writing romantic suspense or romantic mysteries. Terry also gets a lot of good reading in, which I envy, travels a lot and shares the pictures, which I really like, and has a lot of good info about writing on her blog. I'm very pleased to have her here today, so welcome, Terry, and on with the interview…

Who are you?

I'm Terry Odell, and I never considered writing as a career. Never had aspirations of being a writer. I'm just a 'regular' person who experimented with writing one day and fell in love with the craft. Plus, I had no more room on my walls for needlepoint, so writing became a new creative outlet. I have short stories with The Wild Rose Press, and romantic suspense novels with Cerridwen Press. My newest release, WHEN DANGER CALLS is with Five Star Expressions.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I write "romantic suspense" although I consider them mysteries, not suspense. Don't blame me for the blanket term the industry throws them into. I love to throw as much 'bad stuff' as possible at my characters and watch them discover their hidden strengths. And I really love watching their relationship develop.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Mysteries, or romantic suspense, for the same reason I like to write them.

When do you write?

I tend to edit and revise in the morning or early afternoon, and crank out new stuff in the evenings. I've given up on most television—don't have many shows that hold my interest, and if I really want to watch one, I'll record it. Being a retired empty-nester has its advantages.

When do you read? Where?

Mornings at the Y on a recumbent bike. Afternoons, if possible, in my chaise by the window in my bedroom. Without fail, every night in bed.

Where did you get the inspiration for WHEN DANGER CALLS?

With the characters. I wanted a heroine who was an ordinary, everyday woman. That led to a hero who was a much more than ordinary everyday man. It turned into something of a 'Pollyanna meets Delta Force' kind of story, but I never plot things out in advance. I just get glimpses of scenes.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Argh! I hate titles. They're always the LAST thing to hit the page (with only one exception, and that was a fluke, because I'd finished my first book, and when I was ready to start another one, I called the file "Starting Over" which ended up being an appropriate title for the book). I've just finished a 115,000 word manuscript and STILL don't know what to call it.
Main character's names – pretty much trial and error. I try to find something appropriate to their age, heritage, and social standing. Something fairly easy to type, and I try try try to avoid names that end in "S" because of dealing with apostrophes when you need to make them possessive. Sarah in Finding Sarah was my grandmother's name. Randy just happened – I didn't want a 'macho' name (and I did have some fun with the double entendre). Back then, I was clueless about writing, so I broke all sorts of rules I didn't know existed. One rule I learned – don't use the same initials for any other characters once you've named your hero and heroine.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

About 5 years.

Why do you write?

Because I'm miserable (and so is my husband) if I don't.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I graduated from UCLA, and worked in the LA County secondary school system, teaching junior high school science, until we moved to Florida. I can't remember learning to read, only that I always did. My parents tell people they had to move from our first home because I finished the local library. Learning to write is another story. In some ways, I've always been a writer—I just never put the words on paper until a few years ago (although I put them on a computer screen, not paper). Now I can't imagine anything else.


Terry Odell said...

Thanks for inviting me, Liana (and I finally remembered to leave that exta "N" out of your name! Sorry). I'll be happy to field questions if anyone has them.

Katie Reus said...

Great interview! The industry definitely encompasses a lot with the term 'romantic suspense'. It'd be great if someone broke it down a little :)

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Katie -- yeah, 'reader expectation' can be swayed when you give something a name. Although sometimes I wonder if the names mean the same thing to everyone. I've had editors tell me they 'loved my alpha hero' when I didn't intend for him to be alpha at all - at least not all the way through. Real alphas are too self-centered, I think.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Hi Terry and Liana!
Terry, I'm different than you in that I have to have the title of my book before I can start writing. Sometimes the title will come to me before the idea. I'm weird that way. And probably in many other ways, too.

Congrats on all your success. You are one prolific woman.


Terry Odell said...

I know a lot of authors who have to have the title. I just hate them. And somehow, I think, deep down, if I have a title, I might be 'forcing' the book to fit, whereas if I write the book, I hope the themes and characters will reveal it.

The only book that ever started with a title was "Starting Over", my second manuscript, because I figured I'd finished one book, and might as well start on another. It wasn't meant to be the title, just what I called the folder in my computer.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Liana and Terry. Fascinating interview. I agree about the 'title thing'. I find titles very difficult. I usually give a story a 'working title' because I feel I have to call it something other than 'my WIP'. I always mean to change it but more often than not the 'working' title ends up as the 'final' title and I always feel I should do better.

Terry Odell said...

My 'working titles' have become simply the name of the main character. Somehow, "Fozzie's Book" isn't going to work as the end product.

I've discovered the theme of the book, but all the titles I come up with that have something to do with it sound like gardening or geneaology books, not romantic suspense-action-adventure-mystery.

See, I can't even come up with an encompassing sub-genre!