Terry Odell‘s books usually blend romance and mystery into one book. I’ve read three, so this interview will focus on just these. Finding Sarah, one of her romance books, tells of a woman who gets robbed at gunpoint and meets a sexy police officer. Together they try to figure out who is trying to ruin Sarah. So far, the first two books in the Mapleton Mystery series, which is a police procedural, are available on audio. In Deadly Secrets, Megan comes back to Mapleton to visit the couple who reared her, while Rose and Sam’s grown grandson, Justin, is visiting and doing all sorts of remodeling that seems unusual. Something wrong is going on, especially when Megan gets snatched at the lake and just barely manages to get away. In addition, the police chief, Gordon Hepler, works hard with them to find the solution. Deadly Bones starts excitingly when a local pet dog carries around a bone, only for the people to discover that the bone is human. The plot moves only up from there, with great interest and drama.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
Actually, I never intended to be a writer. I got into it by mistake, after a visit from my son led me to fan fiction. You can read the whole story on my website here.
You like to mix romance and mystery, calling it “Romance with a twist.” What inspired you to combine both genres together?
When I started writing my first original story, Finding Sarah, I intended to write a mystery. My daughters both read chapters as I wrote them and told me it was a romance, which was a total shock, because I’d never read a romance. However, I did some research and discovered the romantic suspense genre which combines mystery/suspense with romance. Also, because I realized my favorite mysteries were the ones that included characters with ongoing relationships, I decided I should give romantic suspense a try.
You say on your Amazon author page that you were such an avid reader growing up that your parents joked they had to move because you needed a new library, having read all the books in your local library. What books did you consume as a child, and what do you like to read now?
As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on, including the entire World Book Encyclopedia, comic books, cereal boxes—you name it. Very early on, I read all the Bobbsey Twins books, but preferred my brother’s Hardy Boys to Nancy Drew. I liked Huckleberry Finn (more than Tom Sawyer). I loved horses, so I read Black Beauty and all of Marguerite Henry. Now, I prefer to read mysteries and romantic suspense—go figure!
Of the three books of yours I’ve read, each contains a police dog. Deadly Bones even has a cadaver dog. What led to this interest in law enforcement dogs? What kind of research did you have to do on the topic?
I’ve always found service dogs fascinating, and there are dogs in a lot of my books (although Randy has cats, because I didn’t want to write to the stereotypical cop character). For research, I’ve attended the Writers’ Police Academy five times and gone to the K-9 workshops. I also contacted our local sheriff’s department and interviewed dog handlers. Our own dog is a rescue dog and would never make the cut as a K-9, but we love her anyway.
What authors most influenced your writing style?
That’s a hard one, because I think any author picks up bits and pieces from every author they read—and that’s one reason I try not to read in the genre I’m writing when I’m working on a new book. However, I love Suzanne Brockmann, JD Robb, and Linda Castillo for the way they balance romance and mystery/suspense/action. But bottom line, I try to maintain my own voice in whatever I’m writing.
What kind of research have you had to do for your books? Where do you go to learn aboutdetails of police procedural and other details in your books?
As I mentioned with the K-9 research, I go to conferences, I’ve done ride-alongs with officers, and taken the Civilian Police Academy courses. I try to cultivate contacts, and most people are happy to help you portray their work accurately. I also research on line and belong to several “ask the expert” type groups. I make every possible effort to keep my books accurate.
Click here to read about Finding Sarah.
Click here to read about Deadly Secrets
Click here to read about Deadly Bones
Click here to read my review of Deadly Secrets
Click here to read my review of Deadly Bones
Click here to read my review of Finding Sarah