Interview with Terri Talley Venters, Author of Carbon Copy
Patti: Tell us something about yourself. A mini-biography of sorts.
Terri: I received by Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Master’s degree in Taxation from the University of Florida. I am a licensed CPA and a Second Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. I live in St. Augustine, Florida, with my husband, Garrison, and our two sons.
Patti: Did you always want to be a writer?
Terri: Actually, no. I’m a CPA and I still have my day job. But my mother, Leslie Talley, is a writer. In fact, her debut novel, Make Old Bones, is coming soon from Wild Child Publishing. When I read her book, I thought, I could do this! But I had no clue what to write about. For years, people would tell me they knew someone who looked exactly like me. I’d respond, “I must’ve been cloned!” Then ideas for my story poured into my head, and Carbon Copy was born.
Patti: What part of writing do you find the most fun? the most difficult?
Terri: I find many aspects of writing fun: Writing a fantastic “forward pointer” at the end of a chapter to keep the reader turning the page. Getting a flood of inspiration. Picturing a scene in my head as the words flow through my fingertips. But I have the most fun seeing the book cover for the first time. The most difficult part about writing is a three-way tie: starting, finishing, and waiting.
Patti: How much of your personal life do you incorporate in your writing?
Terri: My heroines are clones of myself except I made them younger, prettier, and skinnier. Plus they share some of my quirks, with the exception of Lilly’s portrayal as a neat freak (because I am not.)
Patti: Tell us a little about what you’re working on right now.
Terri: I just finished writing Copper Cauldron which is my most creative/imaginative story so far. Here is the book blurb for Copper Cauldron:
Penelope Manchester, a good witch with one green and one blue eye, awaits her destiny: a warrior of God with the face of an angel, the heart of a saint, and eyes which match her own. St. Michael the Archangel flies into her life and sweeps her off her feet. Meanwhile, an evil sorcerer captures witches, steals their powers and most of their nine lives, and shrinks them to the size of a doll–a Nuremberg doll. But when he turns two of the Manchester witches into dolls, the Manchester clan fights back with St. Michael and divine intervention. Armed with the legendary copper cauldron, a fire breathing dragon, and an arsenal of spells, good battles evil.
Patti: Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about the publishing industry that you’d like to share with us?
Terri: My biggest surprise is how long the editing process takes. It’s extensive. I spent more time editing Carbon Copy than I did writing it. But Marci/Wild Child Publishing did a wonderful job with my story. It’s worth the wait!
Patti: There are lots of rules out there, like “show, don’t tell” and “don’t use adverbs”. Are there any rules that you break and why?
Terri: Multiple points of view (POV). I wrote my first two stories with POVs from almost every character. I didn’t know I was breaking a rule at the time, but I had to limit my POVs to two. This involved a lot of deleting and rewriting. But now it reads so much better. Now, after reading some famous authors who write with multiple POVs, all the head hopping drives me nuts.
What’s the most rewarding aspect about writing?
Terri: The sense of accomplishment is phenomenal. I just saw the buy link and book blurb for Carbon Copy on Wild Child’s website. Pretty awesome!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve learned so far?
Terri: My mother told me you can start writing anywhere, not just at the beginning. With Carbon Copy, I wrote the beginning, the ending, and then I filled in the middle. With Body of Gold, I started with the middle, wrote the ending, and then I wrote chapter one last because I couldn’t decide where to start my story. Margaret Mitchell did the same thing when she wrote Gone With The Wind. With Tin Roof, I wrote the ending first, then the beginning, and I wrote the middle of the novel last. Writing my stories out of order mitigated writer’s block. I pictured a scene in my head and I wrote it. My latest book, Copper Cauldron, is the only book I wrote sequentially from beginning to end. I wrote it this way because I had no idea what was going to happen next.
Do you feel you chase the market or do you write from the heart, knowing you’re writing the best you can and someone will eventually publish your work?
Terri: I write from the heart and never chase the market. But that was much easier to accomplish once I had my first book contract.
How would you describe your writing style and genre?
Terri: I write mystery/suspense novels with a slice of romance and a humorous tone.
I love character-driven novels myself. Can you tell me where you got the ideas for some of your characters and describe a few of them?
Terri: In Copper Cauldron, my heroine, Penelope Manchester, is a good witch with one blue eye and one green eye. My grandmother, Lilly Allen, had one blue eye and green eye. By the way, Carbon Copy’s heroine is named Lilly Allen.
Do you create challenges for your characters to overcome and why?
Terri: No, I just write the story and the characters react to the events.
What challenges you personally in your writing?
Terri: Undistracted time. I wish I had more of it. I force myself to write while the kids are in school.
Do you work on paper or a computer? At home or in an office? What time of day do you write and why? How much do you write a day?
Terri: I write at home in my formal living room with a laptop in a comfortable wing-back chair and ottoman. I keep this room immaculate so I’m not distracted by a dirty house. I normally write on Thursdays and Fridays because I’m off from my day job. The boys are in school so I force myself to take advantage of the quiet time. I never drink while I write and since happy hour starts around 5pm, I rarely write at night. On Thursdays and Fridays, I write an average of 1500 words a day. It’s not much, but a chapter or two per week equals one novel and a several short stories per year.
The inevitable: are you a plotter or a pantser?
Terri: I’m more of a panster. I jot my ideas down as I get them so I don’t forget, but more often than not, I have no idea what will happen in my story next when I sit down to write. But that’s usually when I’m most creative.
Tell us three quirky facts about yourself that we wouldn’t normally find out.
- I’ve been to Disney about 400 times.
- I married my Godfather. (But we dated 3 years before I converted to Catholicism so it’s not as sick as it sounds.)
- In preschool, I won girl with the biggest smile.
Do you have any favorite websites and/or blogs that you avidly follow?
Terri: Surrounded by Books, by Cherie Reich. Four Strong Woman, and Marci Baun.
Who is your favorite author in the whole world and why.
Terri: Margaret Mitchell because I love Gone With the Wind.
And, lastly, who has impacted your writing the most?
Terri: My Mother. I dedicated Carbon Copy to her.
This book is dedicated to
the woman who inspired me to write,
my editor, and my mother.
All of whom are the same
wonderful person—Leslie Talley
Available June 19, 2012 from
By: Terri Talley Venters
Lilly Allen has brains, beauty, and a trust fund. She’s living in New York City and her career as a reporter is taking off. She’s hoping the love of her life, Grier, will propose soon. She has it all, or so she thinks.
Grier Garrison, Create Life executive, is running the company while his father, Dr. Michael Garrison, is in the ICU awaiting a heart transplant. Grier knows the truth about Create Life and its shady side business. He fears Lilly and her twin brother, Luke, are in danger.
While working on two unrelated stories, stolen newborns and cloning, Lilly discovers a shocking connection. Horrific things are happening, but who is behind it all?