Jaden Terrell and I go way back. Way back. Nearly a decade now, before either of us had book deals, and were both ardent Sisters in Crime, working hard and praying to get noticed. There is nothing better than seeing your old friends succeed, and succeed wonderfully. Her Nashville-based Jared McKean mysteries are a delight – smart and unique, with lots of local flavor. It’s kind of an alternate universe from my Taylor series; the characters walk the same streets, know some of the same people, yet never cross paths. Cool, huh? Jaden is one of the most dedicated writers I’ve ever met, and juggles an unholy load of work, writing, running the local Sisters in Crime and SEMWA chapters, is the executive director of Killer Nashville, board member of MWA – the list goes on and on. It takes great stamina and creative spirit to keep up with her. So enough of my blathering, here she is!
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
The opening theme from GAME OF THRONES. Very epic.
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
I’m working on the fourth Jared McKean novel, which is about the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.
What’s your latest book about?
The newest release is RIVER OF GLASS. It’s about two people: Jared and his half-sister, Khanh, each of whom wishes the other didn’t exist, but they form an uneasy alliance to save Khanh’s daughter from human traffickers.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
My favorite place is on my laptop on the living room couch, with a Papillon on each side and a Tibetan Spaniel at my feet. It’s just terrible for my back and posture, but I love being able to snuggle with the dogs while I write. I also carry a spiral notebook and a pen so I can take advantage of the inevitable hang time between appointments and obligations. You know, those times when there’s not enough time to go home, but it’s too early to be at the next place.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Such a hard question! I think it must have been CALL OF THE WILD. (Yes, dogs again!) I carried it everywhere and read it over and over again until the binding fell apart. I actually went through three copies of that book.
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
There are two. The first is “Resistance always has meaning.” If I’m stuck, there’s a reason for it. I just have to figure out what it is. The second is, “You can’t edit a blank page.”
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
I pull out a pen and a spiral notebook and start asking Jared questions. I usually start with, What happened next? I write down whatever he says, which at that point is usually pretty sketchy. Then based on what he said, I ask whatever other questions come to mind: How did you feel about that? What did it look like/smell like/taste like? What did she say? What did he do? What was she wearing? And then what? And then what?
I tell myself I’m not writing, just brainstorming. Eventually, I find myself writing a scene and I can just keep going. If not, it usually means I’ve gone astray and something that happened earlier isn’t working. (“Resistance always has meaning.”) I keep writing in the notebook, but this time asking myself “what if” questions. What if x is really a bad guy? What if y betrays Jared? What if this thing in Chapter 3 happened another way? What if Sara and Donald were secretly in love with the same person?
What would you like to be remembered for?
Kindness. But I would also like to be remembered for writing something thought-provoking and wonderful, something readers love enough to read until the covers fall apart.
Jaden Terrell is the Shamus Award-nominated author of three Jared McKean mysteries and a contributor to NOW WRITE! MYSTERIES, a collection of exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction. Terrell is the special programs coordinator of the Killer Nashville conference and a recipient of the Magnolia Award for service to the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is currently working on the Million Books for Freedom project to benefit victims of human trafficking. Visit her blog at http://killerconversation.wordpress.com.
Here's a bit about RIVER OF GLASS, now in bookstores everywhere:
Nashville private detective Jared McKean has spent his whole life trying to live up to the memory of the war hero father he barely knew. Then the body of a young Asian woman is found in Jared’s office dumpster clutching a yellowed photo of Jared’s father. A few days later, another Vietnamese woman, Khanh, appears on his doorstep, claiming to be his half-sister and begging him to help her find her daughter, Tuyet, who has been taken by human traffickers. While the police have their hands full with a renegade bomber, Jared and Khanh form an uneasy partnership to find Tuyet before she’s killed or whisked into a violent world beyond their reach.