Monday, November 26, 2012

TBR welcomes Terry Ambrose

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Terry. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Terry: Thanks, I'm delighted to be here. I've been writing for many years, but only recently decided that it was time to publish. So, I released my first novel, Photo Finish, back in July. My second novel, License to Lie, will be out in mid December from Oak Tree Press.

TBR: Tell us about Photo Finish and where it's available.
Terry: In Photo Finish, a former skip tracer crosses paths with a beautiful con artist in Honolulu and finds trouble almost too hot to handle. The book is available on as well as the major sites in e-book and softcover.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Wilson McKenna’s newest tenant is hot, gives great hugs, and just saw a dead body being thrown from a plane. McKenna’s not one to get involved in other people’s problems, especially those of a woman half his age, but before he knows it, he’s volunteered to track down the plane and its owner. In no time, McKenna has uncovered an island drug ring, pissed off a sociopath, and set himself up as the victim in a beautiful woman’s con that could cost him his life.
Trouble? Oh, yeah. McKenna’s found it. If only trouble didn’t have such great legs.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Terry: The idea for Photo Finish came about while we were on Kauai. I'd written several short stories about the hero in the book, but never considered him for a novel. We were in the midst of our vacation when I walked into the living room of our condo, looked through the blinds, which were tilted up just a bit to block out a little of the afternoon sun, and thought, “Aha, an island mystery! That's what I'm supposed to write next.” At that point, it only made sense to use McKenna as the hero and to create a mystery that was both funny and that brought “island style” front and center.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Terry: I'm actually a bit of both. I'll start with an outline because I want to have a good idea of where the story is going to go. But, once I begin writing and the characters start to come onstage, the plot may change. For instance, in my current WIP, I had a character that I thought was going to be a minor walk-on, the next thing I knew, one of my story lines had been hijacked by a 12-year-old girl. So, I revised my plot with the midcourse corrections and moved on. I should also note that I'm always writing toward an outcome. For every scene in a book, I ask myself several questions. What's the major stimulus for the scene? What's the main character's response? What's the goal for the scene, the conflict in that scene, and the disaster at the end? Until I know the answers to those questions, nothing gets written.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Terry: My characters begin with a stimulus and a response. Then, I'll start thinking about what they look like, act like, how they talk, etc. For instance, in the case of the 12-year-old, the stimulus was that my protagonist needed to be distracted from what she was doing and the most effective way to do that was to put her into the position of having to rescue this girl. Next came the girl's clothing, which included a baseball cap to hide the fact that she was a girl. Her talk, street-smart, slightly rough. It's much like peeling an onion and slowly working toward the center.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Terry: My favorite quotes change from time to time, but recently I was reminded of an Elmore Leonard quote about how he wrote page-turner novels. He said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Duh. How simple, yet important—and hard to do.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Terry: For Photo Finish, I listened to lots of Hawaiian music including Iz, a group named Pali, and more. And, to get the emotion the Photo Finish encompasses, the most influential song would probably be Iz's “Hawai'i '78.” With that said, when I really need to get down into an emotion like obsession, there's no one like Melissa Etheridge.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Terry: I show two Hawaii's in Photo Finish. One is the picture-perfect image of the tropical island vacation, the other is the one that the Chamber of Commerce probably wants to hide. The dark side of Hawaii, that place the tourists don't see, is filled with crime, drugs, and greed just like everywhere else. This is by no means a dark novel, in fact it's a funny mystery, but it also doesn't deny the reality of life in the islands.

TBR: What's next for you?
Terry: In mid December, Oak Tree Press will release my suspense novel, License to Lie. It's about a criminologist and a con artist who must work together and are forced to question every lesson they ever learned even as they learn the harshest lesson of all: never trust a soul...even your own.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Terry: The most challenging aspect of writing Photo Finish was making it consistently funny. Humor is one of the most difficult things to write because it's so easy screw it up. However, given the reviews and comments I've received, I'd say I got it right. The most rewarding part is having someone tell me how much they love the characters and that they want to read more about them. License to Lie was easier to write in some respects because it's more suspense, less humor.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Terry: I think Greg Isles is a master of creating a narrative that simply compels the reader to keep going. Each paragraph ends with a mini-cliffhanger that forces the reader to read the next. As I'm working on my next suspense novel, I'm finding him particularly inspiring.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Terry:  My website is at and my Facebook author page is under the user name suspense.writer.

TBR: Readers, Terry will give away a copy of Photo Finish or his soon-to-be released novel, License to Lie, to one lucky commenter in the format of your choice. He'll pick a winner on Friday, November 30 and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so he can contact you.
Please note that if you choose License to Lie, the book will not be available until the actual release date, which should occur in mid December.
Thanks for visiting TBR, Terry. All the best to you.


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