Today, I have author Terry Newman in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Heartquake, a paranormal romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. What is something unique/quirky about you?
Terry: I have this inexplicable love of words. I love the way they sound and what you can do with them. If you use just the right words, you can bring people to tears. Or, use other words and you have them laughing.
I’m not sure when I discovered this and certainly don’t know why this happened to me. My parents weren’t English professors (in fact, my mom didn’t learn to speak English until she entered the first grade), so I must have been gifted the elusive word-DNA. I suppose it was only natural I become a writer, then.
It should come as no surprise either that I love puns or, now, Dad jokes. I’m not a dad, I’m not even a guy (despite the way I spell my name) but I never tire of them.
I’ll share one of my favorites: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? Pumpkin pi.
2. Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
Terry: I have an Alex Trebek story. It’s also my daughter’s Alex Trebek story. But it starts with my love of the game show Jeopardy! and my lifelong crush on the long-time game show host. I received two tickets to attend the taping of the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament one year, at the Philadelphia Convention Center. We were living in Newark, Delaware at the time. My husband worked out of town and spent most of his time on the road. So, my daughter and I went. She was about eight.
Our seats were on the second tier of seating. All the families of the teen participants had the closest seats. But as the contestants were eliminated, families left. Which meant the bottom tier, which was the one the viewers saw when the camera scanned the audience had partially emptied. Those seats needed to be filled.
A producer came by and choose my daughter and a young boy we had met in line and befriended to move downward. Not me. Not the boy’s mother. Just two young kids together unsupervised at a Jeopardy! taping.
Alex took questions in the space that would be filled with commercials when the show was aired. My daughter raised her hand. I cringed. Alex called on her. I cringed again. What was she going to ask?
“Mr. Trebek, may I kiss you?”
And, of course, he said yes. And she did. After, I asked her what she thought of the kiss. “He needed a shave.”
I had never been jealous of an eight-year-old before. Did I say I had a lifelong crush on Alex?
3. Where were you born/grew up at?
Terry: Born in northeast Ohio, I grew up in a small town called Hubbard. I had the classic middle-class childhood, though, I didn’t know that at the time. When I graduated high school, I couldn’t wait to leave town. I headed straight to The Ohio State University and thought I was getting a degree in journalism.
Turned out, I ended up a history major and went off to earn advanced degrees at Ohio University in Athens. Yeah, I studied there, but didn’t get any more degrees in history. But I learned a lot.
I came back to the Hubbard area (which is a suburb of Youngstown, by the way) and eventually took a job as editor-in-chief for a small natural health publishing company that sold books nationwide.
That was just the start of my circuitous route of how I ended up as a romance novelist.
4. What are you passionate about these days?
Terry: Of course, my first love is writing. And I’m obsessed with proper grammar. But beyond that, I’m on a crusade to fill the world with more kindness. I don’t know if I’m actually accomplishing this, but the way I look at, even one random act of kindness has the potential to have ripple effect. It could lead to another which could lead to another and before you know it the world could be flooded with kindness.
5. Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Terry: Annoyingly optimistic.
6. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Terry: “Some people are lucky enough to know early in life what they want to do,” my high school friend once told me. We were in our 30s by then and he was talking about me.
I guess I’ve always thought about myself as a writer. Whether I thought of myself as a good writer is another story altogether. I knew in junior high school (yes, I’m that old. It’s middle school, today) that I wanted to write. I would write odd short stories about characters like Penelope the Pencil and her husband Percival.
In high school, I would cull the phone book (yes, again, I’m that old. I remember a time when every home needed and used the phone book.). I was searching for names for characters. The search did yield one last name that I remember even today. Zurkey. I thought it was hilarious and knew that family needed a turkey farm. And of course, it would be called Zurkey’s Turkeys.
7. Do you have a favourite movie?
Terry: You mean just one favorite movie? Don’t make me choose. Let’s start with What about Bob? with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. One of my favorites and lately I’ve been telling everyone about it. One of the many great lines in it is spoken by Bob Wiley (Murray). He explains to Dr. Marvin (Dreyfus) “there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love Neil Diamond and those who don’t.” (And just for the record, I love Neil Diamond.)
I also love National Treasure, with Nicolas Cage. My favorite character is Cage’s sidekick, Riley. Oh, look, he has the same name of the hero of Heartquake. What a coincidence.
And if we’re talking Christmas movies, well, It’s a Wonderful Life wins hands down.
8. Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Terry: Every writer dreams of their novel being turned into a movie. While Heartquake would make a great one, I think the manuscript that’s with my editor now would be an awesome movie. The manuscript’s working title is Rewrites of the Heart. A romance novelist wakes up to find the characters from her work in progress sitting in her home office. And they’re on a mission to find her the man of her dreams. The man she met at the bookstore the day before and can’t stand.
In addition, the fictional pair try to make various attempts to get back to their own love story, but can’t seem to find the right method. I also love the local hangout where some of the scenes take place. It’s called the Physics Café, where all the menu items are named for some scientific event—like the Philadelphia Experiment Cheesesteak and the Higgs-Boson Bison Burger.
Don’t you agree it has the makings of a great movie?
9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Terry: I’m changing this question into one about my muse and inspiration.
Every author always gets asked about inspiration. What inspired you? And I’m sure every reader wants to hear that the author goes to their muse, who endows them with this great idea, fully formed, and we are merely the conduits and we write it down.
My inspiration doesn’t work that way. My muse doesn’t work that way. Heck, my muse, whose name, by the way, is Moose (get it? Moose the muse) doesn’t work that way. Instead of inspiring me, Moose teases me. He dangles a character’s name in front of me and smiles wickedly. The name floats in the tense air between us. Then, he dares me to do something with it. Quite frankly, he has the upper hand, because he knows all too well, it’s a challenge I can’t resist.
From there, he parcels out shreds of ideas for scenes and expects me to complete his thoughts. What’s most annoying about Moose, though, is his timing. He never gives me anything good while I’m sitting at the laptop. No, it’s when I’m lying in bed at night, just about ready to fall asleep that he gives me his best stuff. He’s a mischievous muse.
Blurb: Coffee shop owner, Charlee Lightheart, views corporations with contempt. She believes her father died at the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. When she’s approached to run for city council on an anti-fracking platform, she’s reluctant. She’s not sure this movement is her cause.
Billionaire Riley Brockton has given up on love. Then he walks into Charlee’s shop. All he wanted was coffee and muffins. From that first electrifying touch, he knows he needs more. He withholds one piece of vital information: he’s a lionshifter.
A rogue reporter sets out to reveal the one secret that can destroy the anti-fracking movement and the couple’s relationship. Can their love survive the truth and public exposure?
“Let me get this straight.”
Charlee squinted as she tilted her head and eyed up the group. Their eyes were trained on her. Nothing like a lightning bolt hitting me out of the blue. As she surveyed each of the women, she knew they were serious.
Yet she still couldn’t believe the question. She thought she heard the words correctly; they couldn’t possibly mean what they just asked her. Her mind wasn’t processing what she thought her ears had heard.
“If I didn’t know any better,” she said, “I could have sworn you just asked me to run for city council.”
“That’s exactly what we did ask,” one of the ladies, Jayne Canfield, said.
“And what you want is someone to stand up to the hydraulic fracturing drilling industry, correct?”
“All of us live near fracking wells, Charlee,” Karen explained, “and not only is it ruining the value of our homes, but more importantly, we’re now very concerned about our health. Even though the EPA claims our water is safe to drink, the geology professors at the University of Northern Ohio believe otherwise. Some of the houses have chunky gray water. Not fit to even take a bath in.”
She paused to take a sip of coffee. She recalled Karen saying that on the news. “That’s why we formed Citizens Against Fracking. Right now, city council is divided four to three in favor of fracking. If we could get you to see its dangers, you could upset our incumbent councilman, Myron Whiffler, who favors the fracking. Then the balance on the council would be tipped in our favor and we could at least get the issue on the ballot for the people to vote on a moratorium on drilling.”
“Why me? There are plenty of other people in our neighborhood who know the issues better than me. I don’t even listen to the news or read the newspaper. Why not one of you?”
Jennifer, who she took to be the youngest of the group in her early thirties, had been quiet throughout the meeting, spoke. “We don’t want them. Besides, none of us has the name recognition you do. Don’t worry about not knowing the issues. You can learn the issues. We all know you well enough that we know that you have the fortitude to stand up for your convictions.”
The others readily agreed. “Besides that,” Karen said, “you’re compassionate. How many times have we come in and asked you to host benefit dinners or lunches here? You’ve never once denied us the use of your coffee shop as a venue for a civic event like that.”
“Not only that,” Jennifer continued, “you refused to let us pay for anything. A spaghetti dinner? No problem. We’re always ready to buy the supplies or wait for you to take what the event cost to host in the way of at least menu items. Instead, you assume the entire cost and give us the profits in their entirety.”
Karen agreed. “The last time we held a benefit dinner you wouldn’t let us pay for anything. At the end of the evening, we received every penny of what we took in. You didn’t have to do that.”
Embarrassed by what she felt was excessive praise, she tried to downplay her actions. “I was taught—and I firmly believe—that we should all give back to the community what has been given to us. I’ve been blessed with this successful coffee shop. It’s only fair that its existence does more than just make me money. In fact, from the opening day, I wanted it to be a place where the community could come together and feel unity. I was lucky enough to learn a few simple rules in life.”
She paused, taking a breath.
“Trust me, my motives aren’t purely altruistic. My dad taught me many things about generosity. One of them is you reap what you sow. Whatever I donate to your cause—whether it’s food or labor—comes back to me in the form of increased business. Who can say no to that?”
She bit her lip and returned to the topic. “How can you be so sure I’d be against fracking. You haven’t asked me yet my stand on that.”
“Before you make up your mind,” Karen said, “please meet a few of the families affected. See and hear for yourself the conditions these families are currently living with. Their lives have been torn apart. It’s not just about the noise and the intrusion of the fracking well. It’s about their health. Especially the health of their children. No one should have to live under these conditions. If you don’t agree that fracking is a threat to not just our corner of the neighborhood, but our city and—I know this sounds hokey—the good of our environment in general—then you can turn us down. But I think once you see the conditions, your hesitancy will disappear.”
She relented, partially because she knew these women wouldn’t give up until she had agreed. They were determined and passionate. And while she certainly admired their courage, their fight wasn’t hers. She wasn’t, couldn’t, work up the zeal for the anti-fracking movement. Not to be that involved. The fight against the pharmaceutical companies had drained her.
Nevertheless, she made arrangements to see for herself the conditions near the drilling before she decided.
She’s also worked as a reporter, a communications specialist and a freelance writer. She’d had clients worldwide, and researched and wrote hundreds of eBooks and print books as well as ghostwrote novellas and short stories.
One day she woke and decided to make her dream of writing her own novel come true. She sets all her stories in fictional towns in northeast Ohio and writes about things she loves—like coffee.
Terry has led workshops on writing and character development.
She has a daughter, a son-in-law, and a grandpuppy, and lives in North Lima, a real town in northeast Ohio.
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