Interview with Jaden Terrell
I’m always asked the question, how does it feel to write first person narration from the POV of the opposite gender (my Jackie Swaitkowski series). So, Jaden, how does it feel?
I experience Jared’s stories in two ways at the same time—it’s like he’s sitting next to me telling me what happened, and at the same time, I’m watching the movie as he describes each scene. Sometimes I’ll say, “Wait, what did that feel like? What did that look like?” and he’ll let me into his head so I can see and hear and feel what he’s experiencing.
You have some nice sex scenes in “Racing the Devil,” which is refreshing in our weirdly puritanical literary world today. Do you include a little red wine while you write them?
Wine and chocolate. And occasionally a nice margarita on the rocks.
Those sex scenes are weird, though. One morning, a co-worker approached me and said, “Wow. Your sex scenes are really graphic.” and about an hour later another co-worker stopped me in the hall and said. “I notice your sex scenes aren’t very graphic. Was that a conscious choice?”
I love all the description of the horses and the stable settings. How long have you been a horse lover?
Always. When I was a very little girl, I would look out the car window and imagine riding my beautiful snowy white (or inky black) horse across the landscape we passed. I took riding lessons for a few years, but in real life, I’m quite a timid rider. I love to brush them and pet them. I even got certified in Equine Sports Massage so I would have a good excuse to hang out with them, but I do everything I can to keep from riding. Of course, my horse is 37 years old and can’t be ridden anymore, so I brush him and give him carrots, and we’re both happy. Jared, on the other hand, is a fearless rider, and I aspire to be more like him.
I’ve been to Nashville twice in a year. I think you capture the place beautifully. Do you find yourself defending your descriptions against those who prefer phony stereotypes?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t think I’m well enough known to have run into that problem yet. Or maybe most of my readers are familiar with the area. I have had some readers ask me if I planned to write about the country music business, and I just tell them I don’t know that world well enough to write convincingly about it.
You note on your website that half the people you know aren’t real. How do you know the other half are?
When I say “real,” I mean non-corporeal. I have been known to call Jared my imaginary friend, then correct myself to say, “My non-corporeal friend.” Heaven knows I don’t want to hurt his feelings. By that definition, I know the other half are real because I can see and touch them. Except for my virtual friends, whom I neither see nor touch, but might presumably one day do so. Those I take on faith.
What non-genre books have inspired your mystery writing?
“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien (multi-layered, fully realized characters in a world so real you would swear you could go there), “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (beautifully written, a remarkable balance of innocence, ugliness, self-discovery, tragedy, and compassion), and “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles (if a finer story about friendship, rivalry, and betrayal has ever been written, I don’t know what it is).
What’re your plans for the future (besides surviving another Killer Nashville)?
Professionally speaking? For the immediate future, finishing the third Jared McKean mystery and making it good enough to be accepted by my publisher. Getting a good enough response to the books to be able to give up my day job and write full time, maybe supplement my income teaching workshops or consulting, since my background is in teaching. My long-term dream is to create a literacy center in Nashville and do a summer writing workshop for teenagers with dyslexia and other reading challenges. We’d write, edit, and publish their work and donate copies to the community, have a book fair featuring their writing, maybe make a film, bring in published authors to talk about the joys of reading and writing. And of course, I hope to survive many more Killer Nashvilles!
Jaden Terrell is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private
Eye Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in
Crime, and the Tennessee Writers Alliance. The former special education
teacher is a Magnolia Award recipient for service to the Southeastern
Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is also the Executive Director
of the Killer Nashville Thriller, Mystery, and Crime Literature
Conference, founded by author and independent filmmaker Clay Stafford
and held each August in or near Nashville, Tennessee.
While researching the Jared McKean series, Terrell attended the Citizen Police Academy and the joint FBI/TBI Citizen Academy, took the medical examiner to lunch, and became a certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (the perfect pastime for a nervous rider with a passion for horses).
Terrell lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is available to speak at libraries and book clubs in person or by phone, as well as for workshops and seminars. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.