Patricia M Terrell Interview

Ricochet by p.m. Terrell

“Patricia M. Terrell” <>
Knew she wanted to be a novelist in the fourth grade, when she was presented an award for writing. She finished her first full-length novel at the age of fifteen, a suspense thriller entitled The Merging.

She found herself on the ground floor of a mushrooming industry, when while working for a subsidiary of IBM the first Apple computers rolled off the production lines. She has three computer how-to books to her credit; Creating the Perfect Database; The Dynamics of WordPerfect; The Dynamics of Reflex. She also wrote a series of columns for The Washington Business Advisor, The Washington Post, and The Washington Business Journal, among others.

“I always have admired strong women,” p.m.terrell admits. “I think it came from listening to my father tell us stories about our ancestry, and all the strong women in our family. One ancestor, Paralee Drake, was left at home during the Civil War when her husband joined the Confederate Army. When a group of Union soldiers tried to steal the hams from the smokehouse, she stood in the doorway with her shotgun, and told them those hams were all she had to feed her seven children, and they would get to them over her dead body. Legend has it, they left her, her children and the hams alone.”

Kickback is the first suspense thriller in a series that casts female programmers in the lead roles – programmers who find themselves caught in life or death situations where they must use their knowledge and their guts to rescue themselves, a theme that was carried forward in The China Conspiracy and  Ricochet.

Interview with p.m. Terrell author of Ricochet:

1.  What prompted you to write this book? How did you come up with the idea?

After the publication of Kickback, I knew I had to write another book about Sheila Carpenter–too many people had asked what she would do next. I was looking for a crime caper she could become involved in when I met with Mick Reed, who at that time was the Chief of Police in South Boston, Virginia (now Chief in Washington, North Carolina). Mick told me about the possibility of terrorists moving into Mexico, assuming Latino identities and then simply walking across our southern borders and disappearing into sleeper cells throughout the entire country. It was a plot I couldn’t pass up.

2.  Does this book have a special link to something that happened to you in your life?

The main character, Sheila Carpenter, is a computer programmer from central Tennessee who is attending the FBI Academy at Quantico. Before I began writing full-time, I owned two computer companies: one specializing in training and the other in programming and development. I called upon my knowledge of computers and high technology throughout the writing of this book. I know what is possible and I try to keep the plotline as close to reality as I can. Sheila is also from a rural community just south of Nashville, which is actually where my ancestors lived since 1780. It’s been fun incorporating the real homes and surrounding area into the book.

3.  Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

I have “special thanks” to a long list of people who provided a lot of law enforcement and technical expertise. I believe a book has to be credible above all else so I check every fact with experts. Among the people who assisted me were Bob Andrews, who is a noted pathologist whose expertise cracked a serial murder case in Robeson County, North Carolina; Master Detective Kevin Bacon, Lt Colonel James Bourque, Officer Mark Kearney, Police Chief Mick Reed, Major Bill Rohde, and Captain Greg Seidel — all of whom assisted with law enforcement and investigation expertise. I also was assigned an FBI Agent to answer my questions with regard to the FBI Academy and FBI procedures – Special Agent Steven Barry. And I used the expertise of retired FBI Special Agent John Neelley and some of the instructors at the FBI Academy. Dr. Mary Ann Masters of Lumberton, North Carolina, provided me with an in-depth tour of the county and locations that could be used in the book, such as a rural area that was used as the terrorists’ hide-out and a dilapidated hunting lodge that served as the location of a murder in the book. Dr. Masters provided so much information, in fact, that I am currently writing another contemporary suspense thriller that is set in the same area (to be released in 2008). Several authors and thriller experts also provided their assessment of the manuscript and helpful tips on making it the best it could be – including Pamela June Kimmell, the author of the Bailey Ferroll series; Georgia Richardson; and Karen Luffred. And no dedication would be complete without special thanks to my husband, Don, who patiently puts up with all of the people who live inside me!

4.  How many books have you written and if you have written more than one book, what are the subjects?

My ninth book will be published this coming fall. The first four books that were published (beginning in the mid 1980’s) were computer how-to books, but my real love has always been suspense/thrillers. I’ve had three of them published: Kickback (2002, which introduced Sheila Carpenter and was inspired by real-life trucking kickbacks), The China Conspiracy (2003, which deals with the real security problems with voting touch-screen technology), and Ricochet (2006, in which Sheila reappears and becomes involved with a terrorist plot). Also published in 2006 was a how-to book for authors entitled Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book. This fall, a historical suspense inspired by the true story of my ancestor, Mary Neely, who was abducted by Shawnee Indians, will be released, entitled Songbirds are Free.

5.  If you could pick out anyone to read and comment on your book, whom would you pick and why?

Lou Dobbs, hands-down. Mr. Dobbs, the anchor and managing editor of Lou Dobbs Tonight, has consistently raised the issue of our porous southern borders. However, very little is said in mainstream media about how easily terrorists can use those porous borders to enter our country. Our government is very quietly moving toward securing the continent – not our country – by eliminating the secure borders between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. There has already been discord in Canada with this plan, as it would mean Canadians would have to depend on Mexico’s security– and in between them both sits the United States like a sitting duck.

6.  What would you like to have your readers get from this book?

An increased awareness of our lack of national security. Regardless of the reader’s politics, we should all be aware that illegal immigration simply means we have opened the doors to people of ALL countries, ALL nationalities, and ALL political beliefs — including those that wish to destroy the United States. It is not an issue of Mexicans wishing to work in the U.S.; it is a much larger issue of people pouring into Mexico from all over the world and then simply walking into our country. With the rigid airport security we have now, it’s as if we closed all the windows and opened the doors. We are less secure today than we were in previous generations. For example, President Eisenhower also had to face the southern border security issue and he dealt with it quickly and decisively.

7.  Is this book part of a series? Any plans?

Ricochet stands on its own, even though the main character, Sheila Carpenter, is also the main character in Kickback, released earlier. So many people have told me they love Sheila and want to see her return that she will have to come back in future books. In fact, there’s a little matter of potential romance with a fellow FBI Special Agent, Steve Moran, that will need to be addressed!

8.  What is your favorite part of the book?

I strive to reach a climactic scene in the middle of each of my books, which maintains the tension in the first half of the book. In the middle, events take a turn that I compare to the brief, anticipatory lull in a roller coaster ride – right before it takes off again. So my favorite section of the book occurs when Sheila has followed the trail to rural North Carolina and realizes she has uncovered a terrorist plot–and she must stop them.

9.Where can you buy this book?

The book was published by a small press so it isn’t in every book store like the “big boys” are. However, it’s in every book store’s database so they can all order it (and with your readers’ recommendation, perhaps they will carry it!) It is also available at (the best price), at other online stores, and through my web site at and the publisher’s site at

10.Have you received any special comments back from any of your readers and can you share them with us?

I’ve been very fortunate to have received glowing praise from all over the world. Reviewer Julie Failla Earhart placed Ricochet on her top ten list. said, “p.m.terrell is a master storyteller” and “this book had me hooked from the very first sentence.” Midwest Book Review said, “Ricochet keeps the reader hooked right up to the fearsome finale.” Reviewer Richard Blake said, “Terrell does not waste words in this masterfully written novel of conflict, intrigue, adventure and romance.” And reviewer Simon Barrett said, “As a reader, you are swept along on a magic carpet of writing wizardry” and “It is only a matter of time before we see p.m.terrell on the bestseller lists.”

11.Can you give us a 2-minute commercial about yourself so our audience can connect with you? (background – current life)

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I wrote my first short story in the fourth grade, and I knew what type of books I wanted to write when I read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Like so many women, my dream career took a back seat to marriage, family and earning a living. When I reached mid-life, I realized I owed it to myself not to let the sun set on my life without attempting to follow my dream. So in the year 2000, I began in earnest writing the first suspense novel to be published (Kickback). And I haven’t stopped since. It’s my goal to write one suspense per year. And with the release of two books last year, one this coming fall (Songbirds are Free) and another in the fall of 2008 (currently untitled), I am well on my way to providing the type of books so many fans have told me they look forward to.

12. Have you received any special comments back from any of your readers and can you share them with us?

See # 10 above.

13.  What message would you give anyone who may be thinking of buying this book?

Buckle up and hang on – you’re in for an adventure that will leave your heart in your throat!

14. Where can your readers learn more about you?

My web sites are: (for general information about me and my books), (about the true story that inspired the writing of Songbirds are Free), and (for authors who need to promote their books).

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