Monday, July 22, 2013

A Chat with Terri Blackstock

Although I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing authors for several years now, there are a few of the "top names" in Christian fiction that I have not crossed paths with. One of these is Terri Blackstock, one of the premier authors of Christian suspense. I was thrilled to discover that she would be at ICRS last month and available for an interview. What a delight she is! I immediately felt as if I had known her for quite awhile and we had a great time chatting. In fact, during the interview, we ended up chasing a few rabbits, so to speak, and I had to remind myself to get back on task asking questions that could be officially part of the interview. The time went much too quickly and I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to spend some time with her. Grab a mocha or your favorite summer sip and enjoy my conversation with Terri.

I am so thrilled to finally meet you and have the opportunity to sit down with you. I love your books! My daughter read the Intervention series and loved it as well. I always lose myself in books but I read that series with a mother's heart, and knowing that you wrote it from your personal experience made it even more touching. The emotion of that series gripped me as I read it. [Note: Click the titles for my reviews of the books in this series: Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall.]

Well, good, because it was really hard to write! I mean, I enjoyed writing it but at the end, I was just so drained. I decided I needed to write something that was not so much like opening a vein. I've enjoyed doing a whole different thing.

Truth Stained Lies is your most recent release. I read and reviewed it and really liked it as well.

I saw your review when you first posted it, and I looked at it again just now. It was really good. Thank you for that! I appreciate it. Your reviews are very coherent and intelligent and you don't give away the plot.

Aww, thank you! Can you tell my readers a bit about that book? I understand you got the idea for that from the Casey Anthony trial, right?

Yes. I'm the type of person who follows trials. When I was a kid, I rushed home from school every day and watched the Watergate hearings! I love that kind of courtroom drama. I read these behind-the-scenes investigative blogs, some of which were written by attorneys, and they were finding things about the [Casey Anthony] case that were not being allowed in court. That just captured my attention. I wanted to write a character like this! It kind of evolved away from that somewhat because it's not really about that. But it gave me the idea, just the question of what if somebody she [the character] had accused or judged got mad and came after her and threatened her. That's kind of what started the book but then it all evolved differently and really had nothing to do with that.

The whole theme of the book focuses on things not being what they seem and what do you do when the truth sounds absolutely ridiculous. The main character's brother is accused of a murder, and when he tells the truth about what happened, no one will believe him because it's so ludicrous. The truth is just too ridiculous to believe. The only ones who believe him are his sisters and some close friends, and they try to figure out who set him up with this ridiculous scenario so he wouldn't be believed. The tables are kind of turned on his sister Cathy, who is a blogger, because she's always trying to go with the obvious. Well, in this case, the obvious is completely wrong.

I wanted to do a series with three sisters who are very different, so I've got Cathy the blogger; Juliet, who is a stay-at-home mom; and Holly is a ne'er-do-well taxi driver whose life is a total mess. They go to work for Michael, who is the love interest in this story. He's a private investigator. They start learning the ropes from him and try to investigate some crimes that are related to their family. Each book will focus on one sister.

Oh, I'm excited it's a series!

Yes, it's called the Moonlighter series [because the sisters are moonlighting as investigators] and book two is about Juliet. It's called Distortion. It's tentatively scheduled for early next year but I think they are looking at possibly moving it up. And I'm working on the third book now.

This fall, we're going to repackage the Restoration series--Last Light, Night Light, True Light, and Dawn's Light--about the global power outage. I wrote that maybe ten years ago about a massive global power outage and this family has to figure out how to survive. They decide to share, even though it's a risk that they'll starve to death. They decide to be Christ and trust Christ through this crisis. People are killing each other for food. It sounds really fun, doesn't it? (She laughs.) There has been a resurgence of interest in these books since the economy has been so bad, and there have also been some TV shows, like Revolution, that people thought I wrote because it was similar to my series. I had hundreds of people asking me that! I think people have become really interested in it, so we are going to repackage them, put new covers on them, and put them out again this fall to hopefully pick up some new readers.

Another one of yours that I read was Predator, where the teenage girl was stalked online. My daughter read it, too. I was a little nervous for her to read it, although we had some really strict guidelines for our kids and the computer. But Oh! My. Goodness! That one scared the living daylights out of me! [My review is here.]

When I wrote that, it was pushing the edge a little more than I usually do as far as the fear factor and the stuff in it. But I wanted to scare the socks off of people because when I started using Facebook, I was just flabbergasted at the amount of information people are dumping. I thought, "This is a predator's playground." They don't have to go out and stalk you anymore. They can just collect information and know exactly where you are going to be. Even adults are doing that, but I wanted to scare everybody into changing their habits. Sometimes I think my kids are disappointed that I don't talk about them more or put pictures, but I just don't want people to know anything personal that would lead them. I don't tell them about weddings. I have mentioned that I have two grandbabies coming this fall. Think about it. I have 17,000 followers. There might be five predators, or ten. It's just so scary. That book was not just about that. It was also about suffering and why God allows horrible things to happen to people who love Him. I really got into that story, too, and Krista's dealing with her sister's murder from the stalker. I think I had a good response to that book. I don't know if I should say that I have a favorite, but it's one of the ones that I'll suggest when somebody says, "Which book should I read?" Plus it's a stand-alone and I like the cover!

Because of some things that happened in my childhood, I've always been easily frightened so I've been careful what I read. Particularly when I was single and lived alone, I never read anything scary that I would be able to relate to. Of course, I'm at a different place in life now and most plots of the suspenseful books I read are pretty removed and not going to happen to me. But that one really hit home and made my heart pound!

It can happen to anyone! When I started plotting the book, I really thought the villain was going to be collecting information for the government or for a political party, but then I decided I didn't want to get into the politics or the government. But now, that's so timely! You know, we're just feeding information to whoever is there and it doesn't bother us a bit! And I do it, too. It's a scary time.

Anything else you'd like to share with readers?

I've already got my next series in my head, which I'll start as soon as I finish this book. I don't want to talk about yet, but I'm really excited about it. God is still giving me ideas, and when they dry up, I guess I'll retire!

I hope that won't be anytime soon! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. It's been an absolute pleasure.

If you haven't read Terri Blackstock's books, I highly recommend them! The ones we discussed are just a few that she's written. You can see the complete list and learn more about her by visiting her website at You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


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