January 2014 through December 2014 - Page 16

Terri Reid Telling Ghost Stories by Susan Reichert T erri Reid says, “I love the adventure of writing.” That brings me to ask the paranormal mystery writer to explain what she means by an adventure. “There have been many times when I’m writing, for example, in Chapter Twelve and suddenly I realize why I had to include what I did in Chapter Six. It’s magical and, unfortunately for this article, unexplainable to me. It just happens and I am in awe every time I experience it. “ So how does Terri schedule all these adventures? “I try to write several hours every day. Sometimes that happens from midnight to five o’clock in the morning, sometimes from six o’clock in the morning to two o’clock in the afternoon. I am blessed enough to be able to write full-time for a living and schedule my writing around my muse. “When I write, I have a general idea of where I want to go, but my characters are in charge and they often surprise me. I laugh at their jokes and cry with them. In one book, I had to kill off a beloved character. I sobbed, actually ugly cried, as I typed and soaked through at least twelve tissues. A couple of times my characters have said some things that I wondered if I should keep on the page. I generally pass those by my family. If they laugh, even though their eyes might widen in surprise, I keep it in.” Most kids growing up have heard or told ghost stories, as did Terri. “Ever since I was young, I loved to hear ghost stories. I’m sure that most of the houses I lived in growing up had at least one ghost and, as youngsters, we would shiver with delight as we shared twilight tales of shadowy specters.” Terri writes the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series. I asked her to tell us about the idea for this story and give us some background on her main character. “Mary’s character was a compilation of women I’d known and other heroines I’d created in my earlier years of writing, but ended up in a file folder. I wanted someone who was not only independent, smart and strong, but also someone who was vulnerable, funny and loyal. I wanted a woman who would hear a noise in the basement when she was home alone and decide to wait until help came 16 Southern Writers along before she ventured downstairs herself. I mean, really, who hasn’t seen that movie? But I also wanted a woman who would jump in front of a bullet in order to save her brother’s life. “She was a Chicago police officer who came from generations of law enforcement officers in her family. Her father was a Chicago cop, as were her three older brothers. Mary was the little sister who wanted to be just like her brothers and her father. In Loose Ends, the first book in the series, we meet Mary once she moved to the small town of Freeport, Illinois. We later learn that prior to moving to Freeport, Mary was shot in the line of duty, taking a bullet for her older brother, Sean. She has an out-of-body experience when she flatlines during surgery and looks down to see her parents and brothers in the waiting room, seeing the anguish and worry on all of their faces. After turning away from them and moving toward the light, she hears a voice that offers her a choice. Do you want to continue toward the light or go back to be with your family? But, if you go back, things will be different. “Choosing her family, Mary goes back to learn her ‘difference’ is that she can now see and communicate with ghosts. And her new ‘calling’ is to help those who are stuck between this life and the next solve their problems and move on to the light.” So what is next for this character? “I’m currently working on the fourteenth book in the series. I’ve had to go back once and throw away 12,000 words and start over because the magic wasn’t working. I hate when I have to do that, but I know that the end product will be so much better when I do. “I am also ‘percolating’ a new series because the Mary O’Reilly Series is drawing to a close. I hope my readers will love my new story and characters as much as they love Mary and her ‘family.’ ” So how can you begin your story? Terri Reid says, “I start by telling a ghost story.” n nnt health