Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with psychic spy Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a CIA Agent who disappeared in Dublin while on the trail of a known terrorist. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, he is plunged into a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His mission and the dark secrets he’d sought to keep hidden begin to merge into an underworld that could cost him his life. He must now confront his past demons and the real reason he left Ireland—while Vicki harbors a secret of her own.
Suspense Magazine says, “p.m.terrell’s writing is powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.” Midwest Book Review says the Black Swamp Mysteries series is “page-turning action, unforgettable characters, breathtaking descriptions and unexpected plot twists.” And syndicated reviewer Marcia Freespirit says the series is “riveting, spell-binding, sexy and intense!”
“Why are you so adamant about not going back?” Vicki said. “I don’t understand.”
He strode to the back door. With his hand almost on the knob, he stopped abruptly and turned around to face them. “The flight is a hundred hours long.”
“It’s six hours,” Sam said.
“I’ll have jet lag for weeks!”
“Two days, tops.” Sam’s voice was becoming quizzical.
“Are you afraid of flying?” Vicki asked.
“No!” he bellowed. He opened the kitchen door. “The weather there is atrocious!”
“I can’t believe you’re acting like this is such an inconvenience for you!” Vicki shouted.
“In me whole life,” he said as if he hadn’t heard her, “it’s rained once.” He held up his finger. “One time!”
“Really?” Vicki said. “Once?”
“And it’s lasted for thirty years!” With that, he marched outside and slammed the door behind him.
Vicki and Sam stared at the door for a long moment without speaking. Then she turned to him. “I’m at a loss here.”
He continued staring at the kitchen door as if he hadn’t heard her.
“Do you know why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?” Vicki asked.
“He can’t refuse a mission,” Sam said quietly. “You can’t pick and choose your missions in this line of work.”
Vicki turned to stand directly in front of him.
“Do you know,” she said in a stronger voice, “why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?”
He looked at her as if seeing her for the first time.
“You know, don’t you?”
He looked away from her. His eyes roamed the kitchen as though he was searching for something. Vicki stood her ground until he said, “No. I have my suspicions; that’s all.”
Why did you decide to write?
I began writing in grade school when my father (an FBI agent) was transferred to the Mississippi Delta from New Jersey. It was 1967 and the area was undergoing a particularly troublesome period; my father was helping to break up the Ku Klux Klan; the Civil Rights movement was in full swing; and so was the Vietnam War. My school principal encouraged me to write and I found it took me away from the hostilities I encountered as a northerner in a small Southern town. It opened up worlds that have continued to entertain me and enthrall me, decades later.
How much research do you do?
It depends on the book I’m writing. With my historical adventures, I averaged more than 30 hours of research for each 1 hour of writing. With a stand-alone contemporary suspense, I could perform an average of 3 hours of research per 1 hour of writing. But with the Black Swamp Mysteries series, I find the research is getting faster and easier.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered when you were doing your research?
I am always fascinated when reading CIA declassified documents. I suppose one of the more interesting things I’ve discovered is the psychic spy program on which I based the main character’s vocation. It surprised me that a government agency would employ such people, and even more surprising was the fact that our enemies started it first.
What’s your favorite method for researching?
Hands-down, it’s the Internet. But there is so much information out there that I make it a policy to go to recognized websites such as government agencies (the CIA has a section right on their own website for reading through declassified documents), libraries, historical societies, etc. I always fact-check through three sources before anything based in fact make it into the book. I don’t believe I could have written the books that I have without the immense amount of information at my fingertips. The Internet truly has revolutionized research.
With themes, I love placing ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances. I like the additional layer of a character evolving through the book or series. I like multi-faceted characters as well; Dylan Maguire, the CIA operative, for example, is tender and romantic but he is also capable of killing.
When do you write/what is your writing day like?
When I am at home, I will often begin writing first thing in the morning and I may not get up from my chair for 10 or 12 hours. When I’m on the road, I will write in hotel rooms in between book signings and appearances. I write at least six days a week and often seven days.
What is the best advice someone has given you about writing? The worst advice?
The best advice anyone ever gave me was to keep writing and keep honing my skills. The worst advice was from a New York Times bestselling author who told me after my first suspense had been rejected by three publishers to give up.
How do you approach a new book? Outlines? Just an idea?
I will plan the crime first. So I’ll research all the elements of the crime, even down to the flaw that will lead to the crime’s discovery or the criminal’s apprehension. I then look at the best way to tell the story. In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, I have several main characters that I can move between, depending on whose view is best for the telling of a particular plot: a psychic spy, a CIA operative, a computer hacker, and a political strategist.
What makes a great book in your opinion?
A book has to grab my attention and hold it there. I have so many things vying for my attention—work, volunteerism, family commitments—that a book must grab me from the very first page. The plot has to be thought-provoking, the action has to continue without lulls and time-consuming descriptions, and I have to be able to feel myself in the role of one of the main characters. If I can’t picture the main characters, if I can’t identify with them, and if I am not interested in where the plot is going, my attention span becomes very short.
If a reader took away one thing from your book(s), what would you like that to be?
When a reader reaches the last page of one of my books, I’d want them to wish they hadn’t reached the end—and immediately look for the next book I’ve written. That’s always a sign of a good author: when you can’t wait to read their books but you find yourself reading them more slowly as you get toward the end because you don’t want it to end!
p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books. Vicki's Key, one of the first books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, was one of five finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense) and 2012 USA Best Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense.) River Passage, an historical work based on her ancestor's migration to Fort Nashborough in 1779-1780, won the 2010 Best Fiction & Drama Award. The Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives determined it to be so historically accurate that they entered the original manuscript into their Archives for future researchers and historians.
Prior to becoming a full-time author in 2002, terrell founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the United States Secret Service, CIA, Department of Defense and federal and local law enforcement. Her specialty is in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence. Her experience in these areas have greatly influenced her books' plots.
She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She founded Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money to increase literacy and reduce crime.
For more information on Book 'Em North Carolina, visit www.bookemnc.org and www.bookemnc.blogspot.com.
She can be found on Twitter @pmterrell
On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/author.p.m.terrell and https://www.facebook.com/pages/pmterrell/129318810431554.
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