Monday, June 30, 2014

An Interview with Author Terry Pellman

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Terry. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing:

I first became interested in writing as a junior at Houston High School. Our English teacher went on maternity leave, and our long-term substitute teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story. I wrote a tale of three college men who claimed a tiny island off the coast of Florida for a summer and declared it to be an independent nation. But every time there was a high tide, their small nation was under water. It was titled “The Republic of the High Tide.”

During my years at Urbana University, I dabbled in short story writing, and continued to do so throughout my early years of my marriage.

I finally decided to write a novel, and composed The House on Weston Road. It is the story of a middle-aged farm laborer who struggles to forget the trials his family had endured. He filled all his time by working or reading so that he never had time to think and remember.

Next, I wrote a novel about a group of domestic terrorists who wanted to break the nation apart. But that novel, as well as Weston Road, was written on old software called Leading Edge Word Processor. When I finally had the time to try to do something with these books, I found that the technology of the Leading Edge software was no longer compatible with anything. I had to actually re-write both books into Microsoft Word.

As I neared retirement, I began to consider taking any available avenue to get Weston Road published. I was in very poor health, and had been warned by my doctor that I may never see old age. So I had Weston Road published by PublishAmerica, followed by a collection of short stories titled Phobia Dreams: Wistful Stories and Eclectic Tales.

I did find some success in the field of writing short stories. I have been a two – time Finalist and the 2008 Third Place Winner of the Dayton Daily News Short Story Contest.

My second novel named Averton was a salvage project of the second book I had been forced to re-type. To be candid about one type of frustration a writer can face, I have found that Averton stirred little interest among the reading public. At the same time, it was selected for a positive review in a Publishers Weekly special section on self-published books. It has also been purchased by libraries, garnered me three radio interviews around the nation, and has generated contact by one movie producer and an agent based in the San Francisco area.

My fourth work, Looking Toward Eden has just been released. This was my first venture into self-publication of e-books. In addition, it is now available in paperback on Amazon due to the fact that so many people asked me to have it put into printed form.

The story takes place in the year 2017 when fifteen states decide to break away from the United States of America, and form a heartland nation more closely devoted to the original Constitution. I have also completed a sequel titled Eden’s Dawn.

I have a begun to find enjoyment in helping young writers, usually the grandchildren of a friend or relative. Regardless of how far I go in the field of fiction, I will always be pleased that I allowed myself to spend time on such a worthwhile pursuit.

In many circles PublishAmerica doesn’t have a very favorable reputation. Why did you decide to publish through them, and will/would you do so again?

As I mentioned earlier, I was going through some difficult health issues. Fortunately, I was able to recover, but at the time (2001) I felt an urgency to become published in the face of an uncertain future. Although that was only twelve years ago, it was another era in regard to publishing options.

For all practical purposes, there was publication by conventional publishers, be they small presses or one of the conglomerates, or self-publishing as an option. PublishAmerica offered a way to place a book on the market without the expenses to have a book set up by a self-publisher. Of course, the cost per copy was high, and there was quickly a stigma attached.

That was before the day of the opportunities presented by such entities as CreateSpace. E-books then did not provide the market and potential that we see today. Overall, I knew what I was getting into, and faced with the same circumstances at that same point in time, I would without question make the same decision to publish with PublishAmerica.

Where do your ideas for novels and stories come from?

Actually, this is one of my favorite questions to answer, whether addressing a group or in a private conversation. The fact is that there is no trend to how I come up with story ideas.
For example, my novel The House on Weston Road had its origin in a location. When I was a teenager, I worked for an uncle baling hay on a farm he leased. It was located on a narrow gravel road, and at the time there was only one somewhat forbidding brick house back a long lane.

I always wondered who could have lived in such a remote dwelling, and wondered what their lives may have been like. Although I was not a writer at the time, I remained fascinated about that rutted and rough gravel road. Later in life, I decided to create my own inhabitants of that isolated home. Ironically, I later became friends with a woman who lived there for part of her childhood.

As for my novel Averton, the story was a convergence of my long-held curiosity about extremist political movements and my fondness for a summer campground near where I went to high school. I imagined a militia-style group obtaining the camp and its rugged terrain to use as a training ground for its members

On the other hand, seeing a red and white checked tablecloth gave me an idea for a story of a scoundrel of a man, an irresponsible womanizer. The tablecloth served as nothing more than part of the description of a dreary apartment in which one of his girlfriends lived.

For one of my paranormal stories, I actually combined the setting of my own bachelor party (an overnight campout) with a rather supernatural experience actually experienced by some of my closest friends.

Of course for my latest novels, Looking Toward Eden and Eden’s Dawn, my own intense interest in politics and current events made the book flow more quickly and easily than any I had written before.

What kind of novels do you like to read and is that taste reflected in other forms of media entertainment, such as movies, television, video games, and/or radio?

I must confess that I do not read much fiction, out of concern that I will find it distracting to my own writing. It may be unfounded, but I always have this concern that my own storylines could be influenced by the ideas of others. However, when I do read fiction it is often of a nature of international or governmental intrigue. I particularly like stories by Brad Thor or the late Vince Flynn. I have found some non-fiction that I have really enjoyed, most recently being After Visiting Friends, the true story of a man who exhaustively researched the true events surrounding his father’s death.

I recently read Lone Survivor, the first-hand account of harrowing combat by a Navy Seal in Afghanistan. I am now reading Coming of Age in Mississippi, the story of a young black woman in the segregated South.

As for other forms of entertainment, I am probably not aware of the extent to which my styles of reading relate to them. I very much enjoy the movies, and some of my favorites are Casablanca, From Here to Eternity, Shawshank Redemption, the original Longest Yard, Blue Velvet and all of the Godfather films. As for music, I like nearly everything from Andrew Lloyd Webber to Eddie Vedder. I am yet to discover video games.

Here’s an off the wall question: What are your views on de-extinction, which is when scientists obtain the DNA from preserved extinct animals such as the Wooly Mammoth or the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), or the Passenger Pigeon? Although not possible yet, is it worth science striving for the knowledge and ability to revive extinct species where viable tissue/DNA is available?

I see no major downside to de-extinction research, as long as I don’t end up as a snack as in Jurassic Park. There is the potential for us to find remedies for undesirable mutations and to improve methods for organs to be grown in the lab. It may also provide clues as to God’s sense of humor, as illustrated by the existence of the duck-billed platypus and Dennis Rodman.

When you sit down to write a novel, do you have a particular person or audience in mind?

When I began writing full-length books, I had very general audiences in mind. However, my latest two books are very political in nature, and appeal mainly to those who are politically conservative.

As for the characters in the story, I do have general characteristics in mind. One little trick that I have found to be quite helpful is to get on a stock photo sites such as Shutterstock and pick out images of people who I feel match my imagined characters. I find that this helps me to bring the character to life as I look at the image, and it even helps me to come up with personality traits and imagined life experiences.

What influences you to decide to read a novel? Has this impacted your writing or writing style, and thoughts on cover design?

There are three things that will quickly get my attention: political intrigue, humorous content or the outdoors. I am finding that I often put humor or the outdoors in my stories, except for the Eden novels, which are overwhelmingly political. Including my own interests increases the fun of writing.

I like for a cover to simply grab my attention. It can be something subtle, as was the case when I bought Barbara Lewinksky’s Lake News from the shelf. Now my wife reads most of her books.
Covers with abstract art seem to be a turn-off. I want the cover to give me a bit of a hint as to contents and theme.

As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Terry, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the readers of Up Around the Corner?

I often hear people say that they have a book inside them. My advice is always the same: Get it out!

Thanks, Terry Pellman for taking the time for the interview.

You an find Terry Pellman's works a number of places, including Amazon. Here is a page to all of his works there: Terry Pellman on Amazon


  1. Wonderful interview! thanks for sharing Terry!

    1. You're welcome, Kim. I've attended a number of book events with Terry Pellman. He's a neat and friendly guy.

  2. Congrats to Terry! Best wishes for good sales.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Connie!