Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with TERRELL L. BOWERS

It was my pleasure to interview Terrell L. Bowers, an Avalon author with whom I was previously not familiar. I think you'll find his answers as interesting as I did. Interesting ... and prolific. Wait until you see how many books he's written! Amazing!

So, Terrell, what prompted you to become a writer?

My dad got me started reading Westerns. After about a hundred of them, I decided there wasn't enough romance or humor. Being a wit (perhaps only half of one) I tried to infuse more of a relationship between guy and girl. And, when I could add some humor, I did (Any of my last four Westerns for Avalon have some of that).

I can understand that, after reading 100 or so Westerns, you'd know what works, what doesn't, and be ready to try your hand at writing your own. There's a difference, though, in deciding to write and knowing what to write. Where do you find inspiration for your books?

I grew up playing cowboy -- had my own Welsh pony by the time I was 7 or 8. I used to ride him in the field, get shot by invisible bad guys and fall off. He would stop and wait for me to get back on and we'd ride after the baddies until they shot me again. I kept right on playing cowboys until I got married. Knowing my wife would frown on me playing around at getting shot by the neighbor kids, I began to put my ideas into print. The difficult part of inspiration now is that, after 70+ books, it's hard to come up with new ideas or characters.

That's a lot of books. You obviously enjoy writing. What part of of the process do you find most satisfying?

There's nothing quite like seeing your name in print. Of course, I might enjoy it more than some because I got nothing but rejections from publishers for 15 years. Some people might have given up, but I kept writing and finally, an editor at Avalon, Rita Brenig, took a liking to my stories. She was wonderful and encouraging. She even had me write a Romance novel (Dance of Love), but I missed my horses and guns.

A lot of us can identify with those rejections. What part do you find most difficult (aside from the rejections)?

New twists on old ideas. The new age shows us our imagination, whereas we had to think our way to seeing something. Today we compete with video games that are almost too real. It's hard to make a story interesting to people who don't read as much for entertainment as we did growing up.

I understand what you're saying. It's a challenge holding the attention of modern readers. What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting?

I usually start with an incident -- something happening that involved either my female lead or my hero. From there, it's when, where and how, and I allow the characters to determine much of their own personality. Yeah, sounds pretty weird, but believe me, characters take on a persona all their own. I've had good guys go bad and bad guys turn around and be good...the same with a female character too.

Not weird at all, just a sign that you believe in your own characters, usually the beginning of a good read. Where do you find inspiration?

I read mostly non fiction, history, bios and the like. Often, something like Andersonville, a prison camp during the war will give me a What If? kind of idea. What if a prisoner of war returned home to find his home was gone and his girl was married to a crook? (This was the premise of Sinclair's Double War, published back in 1984).

Tell us about your latest Avalon release.

Requiem for an Outlaw came out in April. It's one of those tales with humor and characters, with the story taking second stage. I gave the hero a couple of girls to fight over him, an old bandit who wants to change his ways and a passel of gunmen coming after him. I incorporated some humor with three stooges (three hired hands who botch a jailbreak and then side with my hero), and also had some drama about a man trying to right a wrong he did to his son many years ago.

Sounds like an exciting story, something for everyone. How about your previous Avalon books?

There are close to 50 in print with Avalon...from 1979 until this year, along with one Broken Spoke series of 4 Westerns -- the last Destiny at Broken Spoke was reprinted in paperback by Leisure Westerns.

What other projects are in the works?

I've over 20 Blackhorse Westerns in England with Hale Books. They are a much shorter Western, about half as many words as Avalon titles. I also have a mystery, Heads I Win...Tails You Die!, which was published by Hale Books and has been contracted with Harlequin for the North American and Canadian rights. I have a sequel written for that.

What other authors do you especially admire?

I enjoyed most of the Western writers, Lee Floren, Louis L'amour, Zane Grey...and also many detective and science fiction writers, such as Jim Butcher of the Dresden series.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I used to bowl a lot, but it began to give me back problems. I do bike ride most days, take walks and read. Mostly, I spend time with my wife of 45 years and watch movies.

Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?

I usually get up at 4 or 5 am and write until my wife gets up. I probably spend 2-3 hours daily writing on one of my books.

Four am - that's dedication! How do you maintain that level of creativity?

I always keep looking for the next idea, something I can share, a character who is new and fascinating. When I see an old movie or read something in a book, I wonder "What would happen if....?" and I'm off to the races.

So, in a sense, you're always working on the next book. What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

It was my first book...my second...my third...my 30th, my 50th...well, you get the idea. But other than that, my youngest daughter sold her first book some time back (Deadly Pride -- a YA book)and is working on a sequel. My older daughter set up my web page and is a computer wed designer. If I always seek to give my reader a happy ending, it's because I have so much to be thankful for as a writer.

Good answer. Good luck with Requiem for an Outlaw. Good luck to your daughters, too. I imagine you're one proud dad. Thanks, Terrell, for taking time to answer my questions.

To find Terrell's books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/Mb7jyr

If you'd like to know more about him, check out his blog: http://www.terrelllbowers.wordpress.com


Loretta C. Rogers said...

Great interview, Terrell; and an inspiring one. Most writers would have given up after so many years of receiving rejections. I'm glad you kept on keeping on. It certainly paid off. I've read several of your westerns and enjoyed every one of them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terrell: You definitely have a way with words. I can visualize you falling from your pony, and getting back on, only to be 'shot' again.
Great cover on Requiem for an Outlaw. It should look good as an e-book!

Gina/Katherine said...

I always called Carolyn Brown, "Mrs. Avalon." I guess Terrell would have to be Mr. Avalon. Wow! If the voice in your stories is anything like your voice in this interview, I've got lots of reading to catch up on. Great interview, Sandy!

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Gina. I agree with you about Terrell's voice. He's obviously a fine writer.

Beate Boeker said...

We have such prolific writers in this group! I keep on being amazed! Great interview, Sandy!