Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Thin Slice of Heaven

Today's special guest is p.m.terrell, the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, a multi-award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than twenty books in five genres: contemporary suspense, historical suspense, romance, computer how-to and non-fiction.

Prior to writing full-time, she founded two computer companies in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Among her clients were the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Secret Service, U.S. Information Agency, and Department of Defense. Her specialties were in white collar computer crimes and computer intelligence, themes that have carried forward to her suspense.

She is also the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, an organization committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She is the organizer and chairperson of Book ‘Em North Carolina, an annual event held in the real town of Lumberton, North Carolina, to raise funds to increase literacy and reduce crime. For more information on this event and the literacy campaigns funded by it, visit

p.m.terrell is traveling right now in Ireland, and we asked her why Ireland inspires her books. Here is her answer:

I first became interested in Ireland when I was writing Songbirds are Free. The story is based on my ancestor that had been captured by Shawnee warriors near Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, Tennessee) in 1780. She was Scot-Irish, and discovering how my ancestors had immigrated to the United States from Ireland was fascinating to me. I wondered how they could have left everything they’d ever known to venture to a land they’d never seen that was in conflict with both Britain and the Native Americans.

A few years later, I was researching a love interest for Vicki Boyd, the main character in Vicki’s Key. It was important for her to fall fast and hard for this man so I looked into studies of what women liked. It turned out that the number one accent women liked the most was Scottish, followed closely by Irish. I decided to make the character Irish; Dylan Maguire was supposed to be in just that one book but the editors liked him so much they had me rewrite the ending so that he became a central character in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series.

As I developed his character, I began studying Ireland—its history, culture, language and geography. By the time I wrote Dylan’s Song, in which Dylan returns to Ireland to rescue a CIA operative, I was firmly enmeshed in the country. I felt as though I knew his village like it was my own; I could see the roads, the houses, the Catholic Church at the top of the hill, as clearly as any place I’d actually lived.

While writing Dylan’s Song, I came across the story of The Night of the Big Wind, the fiercest storm to hit the Emerald Isle in recorded history, and I knew I had to write about it. That story became The Tempest Murders, which switched back and forth between Ireland’s storm and Hurricane Irene as it barreled toward the North Carolina coast—and a killer that tied the storms together. The book was so well received that I followed up with another Irish story called The White Devil of Dublin, in which I fused the Viking conquest of Dublin with a present-day albino killer.

My latest book, A Thin Slice of Heaven, takes place in Northern Ireland. I decided to place the castle about fifty miles west of Belfast, never realizing that my ancestors had come from that very spot, near a tiny village called Ballygawley. I traveled there in April and will be there again this month. It was a surreal experience standing at the top of the hill where their remains are buried, or standing in front of the ruins of a manor house, or walking the grounds where they once lived.


She had arranged to meet her husband in Northern Ireland for a second honeymoon, but when Charleigh arrives at the remote castle, she receives a message that he won’t be coming—and that he’s leaving her for another woman.

Stranded for the weekend by a snowstorm that has blocked all access to the castle, she finds herself three thousand miles from home in a country she knows nothing about.

She is soon joined by Sean Bracken, the great-grandson of Laird Bracken, the original owner of the castle, and she finds herself falling quickly and madly in love with him. There’s just one problem: he’s dead.

As the castle begins to come alive with secrets from centuries past, she finds herself trapped between parallel worlds. Caught up in a mass haunting, she can no longer recognize the line between the living and the dead. Now she’s discovering that her appearance there wasn’t by accident—and her life is about to change forever.


A movement caught her eye and Charleigh started, whirling around. No one was there. She laughed nervously; no doubt, it had been a bird outside the window, its reflection caught in the mirror. Still, she returned to the door. There was a simple doorknob lock which seemed woefully inept, but she quickly recognized a thick piece of wood standing against the wall as an old-fashioned bar, and slipped it into place. It was better than a deadbolt, she reasoned.

She kicked off her shoes and checked her cell phone again. Finding no reception, she returned to the window and held it aloft until a weak bar appeared.

The phone beeped, causing her to jump, as a text message appeared.

She stared at it, not realizing that she’d been holding her breath until it expelled in a whoosh that left her dizzy.

“Charleigh,” it read, “I can’t do this. I’m not in love with you. I’m in love with someone else.”

“The imbecile.”

The sound of the man’s deep, rich voice startled her and she spun around. No one was there. The bar remained across the door. There were no blind spots in the room; it was circular and plainly, though tastefully, furnished. She strode purposefully to the bathroom. A set of candles blazed on the countertop and though the shadows danced in the corners of the room, she could clearly see that she was alone.

Yet she could not have imagined it. The tone had been resonant and almost gravelly, the timber of a man’s voice upon first arising. The brogue had been both commanding and melodious.

But as her heart stilled and her mind allowed the words in the message to sink in, she realized that Ethan was not coming. He perhaps had never intended to join her. And now she was stuck in Ireland as a snowstorm raged outside her windows, three thousand miles from home.


Author’s website:  

p.m.terrell will be awarding a Celtic Butterfly Suncatcher similar to the one mentioned in the book, symbolizing both the never-ending cycle of life and the metamorphosis of a butterfly to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway