Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guest Author, Terry Odell - Those Darn Pigeonholes

Today's Guest Author is Terry Odell, a fellow Rose who has a new release out, Nowhere to Hide. It's got a great cover (done by the artist who did my website, Rae Monet) a great storyline, and great characters, too, according to (both me and) her latest review, which she'll talk about in a bit. One of those characters has stopped by with Terry today to share a little of her story, or the story behind the story. (So yes, not only do our characters occupy space in our hearts and minds--just like our friends and family--we also take them places with us :))
Welcome, Terry and Colleen.

Terry: Thanks to Liana for inviting me to sit in today. She's asked me to talk about my new release from The Wild Rose Press. It's a romantic suspense called NOWHERE TO HIDE.

Actually, I wouldn't really call it romantic suspense. I've never been one to pigeonhole things, and having to stick labels on things is a double-edged sword. Publishers need to sell the book to bookstores, and bookstores have to know what shelf to put it on. I'm using 'shelf' loosely here, because the same rules hold true for digital books. My publisher has over a dozen imprints designed to make it easy for readers to find the kinds of books they like.

My problem? I don't really like suspense. I like mysteries. But there is no such shelf as "romantic mystery" or "romantic detective story" so I'm stuck with my book being called a romantic suspense, when in fact, it's a romance set against a police procedural.

I've passed on a lot of books labeled "thrillers" because I don't think they're my kind of read. Only then I read one, and it doesn't fit my definition of thriller at all, and it turns out to be a great book, and I regret not having found it sooner.

For me, what makes a great read boils down to great characters. When I write, my characters are real. Great characters can carry a weak plot, but a weak character won't do much no matter how great the plot is. (There are a few notable exceptions, but they're rare.)

So, I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I saw NOWHERE TO HIDE had been picked up for review by a site called "Got Erotic Romance." Trust me, erotic romance was never a pigeonhole I expected! Sure, there's a romance, and there are a couple of sex scenes, but erotica? No way. I say this with confidence because if it had been erotic romance, I know my editor would have told me it belonged in an entirely different imprint.

But…pigeonhole or not, the reviewer did "get it" about my book. She said:

"The plot is an interesting twist on a police procedural, giving the reader an insider’s view of the workings of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. But the main appeal of the book is the characters. They are layered and complex—real people with real emotions. The author has taken care to show Colleen and Graham’s developing love affair as much more than just sex. As a result, when they do make love it’s the culmination of an emotional journey from pain to joy."

And to show you what I mean about my characters being real, I'm turning the next part of this post over to Colleen.

People have asked me what it's like to star in a romance novel. Well, first you pay your dues. I was a minor character in Terry's first novel, Finding Sarah, and had a few lines, a few scenes, but nothing major. However, I didn't complain, hit my marks, was always willing to do revisions even if it meant my shining moments were in the deleted files folder on her computer.

In return, she gave me my own book.

It's been a long time coming. I had to move across the country, and she had to change publishers. But finally, I'm ready to take center stage.

Let me tell you, it's a lot easier being a secondary character. When you're the star, sure you get to hang with a hunk (although the LAST thing I wanted when I moved away from Oregon to Florida was a man, especially one in uniform), and there are some steamy sex scenes.

I had to agree to be pretty naïve in the bedroom department, but that turned out great, because Graham really knew what he was doing and Terry made sure he "taught" me well.

We had plenty of practice for that one. Now THOSE rewrites are fun. But she also threw all this back story angst at me – she actually SHOT me between books. I mean, that's going a bit far, don't you think?

Then she saddled me with this dotty landlady plus a complicated mystery encompassing three counties. And because she 'retired' me from my cop status before the book started, I had to play second fiddle to Graham, who was on his very first case as a detective. Actually, he was still in training, and I did what I could to make sure he looked good. Professionally, that is. Physically, he looks VERY good.

All in all, being the heroine in a romance novel turned out to be a great experience. I learned a lot about myself, and had fun doing it. One word of advice to any would-be heroines out there. Don't get your author angry. Ever.

Think back to your favorite books. Do you love the story or the characters? My money's on the characters.


The trouble with running away is you take yourself with you. After a case goes south, Colleen McDonald leaves her police job in Oregon for a fresh start as a civilian in Orlando. The last thing she needs is some cop with killer blue eyes coming around, looking for her missing landlord. The quickest way to get Deputy Graham Harrigan out of her life is to beat him at his own game.

Finding Jeffrey Walters might be Graham's ticket to a slot in the Criminal Investigations Division. Determined to prove he's the man for the job despite the stain of an unsavory reputation passed down by his training partner, he can't afford to be distracted by the pretty tenant in Walters' guest house. A tenant who seems to know more about the case than he does. A tenant with her own demons.

Will Colleen's secrets destroy Graham's chances for a promotion, or will love make theirs a permanent partnership?


Someone was at the door...

Colleen pulled the door open enough to talk, not enough to invite him in. Tall as he was, and with his eyes obscured behind mirrored sunglasses, Colleen fought the urge to slam the door.
“What do you want, Deputy?” She heard the raspy tone of her voice and cleared her throat. Her eyes automatically sought the nametag pinned to his broad chest. Graham Harrigan.

“I’m looking for Jeffrey Walters,” he said, removing his sunglasses.

Not for her. Exhaling with relief, she talked to his nametag. “I don’t know any Jeffrey Walters. Only Doris Walters, my landlady, and I’ve never met her in person. I got here last night. Try the main house.”

“I did, but there was no answer.”

“Is there something wrong?” That low-pitched sound rumbled through the air again, but if the deputy heard, he gave no indication. She fixed her gaze on his chin and waited.

“His daughter said he wasn’t returning her calls. Asked us to look in on him.” He pulled out a small notebook and pen. “Can I have your name, ma’am?”

His voice was more bored than belligerent, but he was a man, a cop, and she wanted him gone. She paused. No need to piss him off.

“Colleen McDonald.”

His tone warmed twenty degrees. “Good morning, Colleen McDonald. Scottish or Irish?” He gave her a congenial smile.

“Scottish.” As if he could disarm her that easily. She pulled her robe tighter and put her hand to the doorknob. “Why don’t you leave me your card, Deputy Harrigan, and I’ll tell Mrs. Walters, or this Jeffrey person—if I see him—to call you. I have things to do.”

You can read the first chapter on my website.

It's available for pre-order (paperback) here.

And I'd love to see you over at my blog, "Terry's Place"


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Terry,
Great interview. Loved the excerpt.


Unknown said...

Hi, Terry--one statement you made relaly hit home. "A strong character can carry a weak plot, but a weak character can't carry a plot, no matter good it is." I thought that all along, but I'd never put it into words. Characters are everything in a book. I enjoyed the interview with your character! Congratulations on your new release. Celia

Terry Odell said...

Margaret- Thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked it.

Celia - I'm 100% for the characters. The best ones are the ones you expect to see while standing in line at the bank--they're real.

Mary Ricksen said...

Loved the interview Terry, and the excerpt grabbed me too! Good luck and good sales!

Mona Risk said...

Great blurb, Terry. a book to read. Congratulations on the new release and on the courage to change publisher. I hope you are all settled bt now.

Terry Odell said...

Mary - glad you liked it, and thanks!

Mona - sometimes you have to make tough decisions. Let's hope it was the right one for this book. I haven't really 'left' a publisher, I just migrated a book to another publisher -- one that I've had a good relationship with since they opened.

P.L. Parker said...

Enjoyed the post. Great job.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, P.L.

Sheryl Browne said...

Hi Terry! Better late than never. Been having probs with my Google word verificatin thingy (technically savvy, as you can see!). Anyheewww, loved the interview. Colleen giving us her views certainly does make her real flesh and blood. And Graham... Ooh, la la. I do like a man in uniform--or even out of it :). I already see a snippet of SOH and intrigue from the man. Lovely!

I know what you mean about pigeonholing things. I've written a thriller msyelf...apparently. Didn't realise it was until told it was though! :) Your romantic detective mystery :) sounds really interesting! GOOD LUCK.

Terry Odell said...

Sheryl - glad you finally made it. I had trouble with Google/Blogger myself yesterday. It was probably their system.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Terry! Sorry I'm a few days late to the blog party, but I made it! First, I love your cover. It is quite riveting. Second, the voice you've given Colleen is sneaky - it makes me want to know more and more about her and your book. Enjoyed reading the excerpt!

Terry Odell said...

Maggie - what do you mean the voice "I" gave Colleen. She says what's on her mind. :-)