Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finding Inspiration

This week I was asked how I could continue writing so many books with such diverse plots. And I had to admit that I never suffer from writer's block. The reason is simple: I find inspiration everywhere.

With my latest series, Black Swamp Mysteries, my biggest inspiration came from an Irishman. There is something about the Irish accent that captivates me. I found as I was writing the character of Dylan Maguire that things said in a melodious, lilting Irish accent are totally acceptable but if said in an American accent, would not be. I had great fun writing his character, especially when the main character, Vicki Boyd, falls in love with him. As one of the reviewers said recently (on Fresh Fiction) "who wouldn't fall in love with a happy Irishman cooking you breakfast?" And there's just something about the way they smile; their eyes smile, too, as Pierce Brosnan so wonderfully demonstrates.

The premise for Vicki's Key came from another source of inspiration: declassified CIA records. I've always found truth to be stranger than fiction and when I use a real case as inspiration, it gives me a lot to talk about when promoting my book. In this instance, I found information about the government's use of psychic spies - or what our government calls "remote viewers." Vicki Boyd is a remote viewer who can travel the world in her mind, reporting back things she observes. It allows the CIA to go into areas where it wouldn't be possible to venture in physical form without being noticed.

Remote viewers began in real life during the Cold War. When our government received information that the former Soviet Union was employing psychic spies for the purpose of viewing our nuclear facilities, weapons centers, and even sitting in on the highest level cabinet meetings, our own government asked for funding to determine whether these things are possible. It's been over 30 years since our program began in the United States and the real cases that have been worked with psychic spies sound like something out of an H.G.Wells book.

As an author, using a psychic spy as a main character allows me to place Vicki into virtually any situation anywhere around the world. In Vicki's Key, her mission takes her to Afghanistan; perhaps inspired by my own family's military service there. In the next book in the series (to be released this September), Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, she finds a sister she was separated from early in life - only to find that she is wanted by the highest levels of our own government because of the secrets she knows. Her sister, Brenda Carnegie, is a computer hacker who prefers to work on the wrong side of the law.

Computer expertise was inspired by my own background, though I worked as a contractor for federal and local law enforcement, not against them. The cases I worked often find their way into my books (once they are declassified, of course) and because I know intimately what transpired, it makes it easy for me to weave the plot.

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back as a CIA operative whose first assignment is to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie - not realizing she is Vicki's sister. I found the combination of two women and an Irishman could become very explosive.

How do you find your sources of inspiration?

p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 15 books. Vicki's Key is a 2012 International Book Awards finalist and 2012 USA Best Book Awards nominee. Find out more about her and her books at She is also the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook"; find out more at


Emiliana25 said...

My first thought seeing this post was: Is that Perce Brosnan? :)
And really who wouldn't fall in love with a man cooking YOU breakfast and not expecting you to to it!

emiliana25 at web dot de

p.m.terrell said...

Yes, it IS Pierce Brosnan! I still love looking at his earlier pictures. And he's been married for ages to the same Irish lass, which earns big thumbs up in my book, too.
And you're so right - any time a man wants to cook for me, I'm there!

Catherine Lee said...

I love a man with an Irish accent...and even better if he's cooking me breakfast....and if he's Pierce Brosnan!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com