‘No surprises here: I like making things up. The crazier the more fun!’
Teri Terry (yes, that is her real name) writes gripping reads for teens, and is the author of Slated (and its sequels Fractured and Shattered), Mind Games, Dangerous Games and now Book of Lies. She chatted to Better Reading Kids about crafting her novels, balancing truth and fantasy, and the books that inspired her.
BRK: There are a lot of fans out there of your original Young Adult series, Slated. What can readers expect from your new novel, Book of Lies?
TT: Both Slated and Mind Games are futuristic thrillers, with a sci fi bent – the latter is especially so with Mind Games. While Book of Lies is contemporary – and has a supernatural twist – I’d say they are all psychological thrillers. The pacey style of writing is the same, but the settings and time period very different.
BRK: How did you balance writing Piper and Quinn’s distinct voices?
TT: With difficulty! I tend to get to know characters while I’m writing them, which usually works well. But in this case, once I got to know them better – to see how they were different, how they were similar – I had to go back and rewrite much of it.
BRK: This book has plenty of thrilling twists and turns – what was it like to write? How far ahead did you plot?
TT: I plot to a certain extent, and I knew where I was going: I knew how it was going to end pretty much when I started it. But much of what happened along the way I had to discover as I went.
BRK: You certainly conjured up a creepy atmosphere. Tell us more about setting your novel partly on the moors in the UK.
TT: I’d been to Dartmoor several times, years ago. With Book of Lies I wanted the two characters to have had radically different upbringings, and Dartmoor seemed a natural place to go for the contrast that I wanted. I did do a research trip as well once I started writing it, too.
BRK: A lot of Book of Lies has to do with, well, lies – both the ones we tell others, and maybe even tell ourselves. As a professional storyteller, is it a challenge to
constantly be toying with the truth?
TT: I’d say it is all part of the fun! What was tricky, though, was working out how to have first person narratives with the two characters without giving it all away: you had to believe them enough, but not too much, for it to all work.
BRK: What appeals to you about playing with the paranormal in your novels?
TT: No surprises here: I like making things up. The crazier the more fun! Even though Mind Games is more sci fi than fantasy, it is really on the blurry edges between the two. Going another step to the paranormal wasn’t far to go.
TT: When they love something, they really love it; likewise when they don’t. And they’re not shy about telling you. Also you get a chance to make an impression on your readers in a way you don’t so much with adults, who are more resistant to new ideas.
BRK: Which children’s books inspired you growing up?
TT: I read really widely, but particularly loved anything science fiction or fantasy. Big favourites were the Lord of the Rings and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books.
BRK: Be honest: how much fun is it filling out paperwork when your name is Teri Terry? And what are you up to next?
TT: Paperwork isn’t so much the problem: making appointments on the phone does make for confusion sometimes, though!
Next I’m writing the Dark Matter trilogy. Book 1, Contagion, should be out February 2017, and book 2 later in the same year. It’s a mash up of genre really, as it is contemporary but quickly has a very dystopian/apocalyptic kind of feel. But it is definitely still a thriller, and again blurs the boundary between science fiction and fantasy.
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