We’d like to welcome Terry Spear to TGTBTU today – it’s the first time she’s been featured here. That’s not because we haven’t tried to schedule something for her. She’s that popular with readers. If you’re not quick, you lose out. We finally got lucky!
Her wolf and jaguar shifters are some of the best in romanceland, and if you haven’t read any of her books yet, you need to pick one up soon. They’re that good. Get lost in a world where family is a priority, they take care of each other through everything Ms. Spear throws at them, and love may sometimes come the long away around, but you know it will be worth the wait when it finally hits.
So have some fun with Terry today. Then take a trip to your favorite book store to begin an unexpected journey with sexy heroes and sassy heroines who get growl-y and furry and love to romp through the woods.
DUCK CHAT: Welcome to The Pond, Terry. Instead of the usual tell-us-about-yourself introduction, why don’t we start with letting our readers know something about you that even the most hard-core Terry Spear fan doesn’t know?
TERRY SPEAR: I might have told this story, but many wouldn’t know it, so here goes: First, if someone is put in a straightjacket, it doesn’t always mean they are mental or anything. I just wanted to get that straight.
I was always good at making up stories, and when my dad tore down the treehouse because we would no longer play in it (it was filled with black widow spiders and daddy long legs), the wood planks were lying all over the grass and made the perfect (no spider) world of make believe.
My mother warned, “Don’t step on a nail.” Right. Like my sister and I would purposefully play on the planks and step right on a nail.
So off we went to traverse the planks in the green, stormy sea and a shark immediately bit me right through the wood, through my flip-flop, and sank deep into my foot. And then my sister’s. Hey, if your mom tells you not to do something, what do you do? It’s just human nature.
Off to the doctor we went. My sister’s was no big deal. Mine was rusty and went really deep into the sole of my foot, so that meant they had to irrigate it, give me a shot and that was a LOT worse than stepping on the shark’s tooth. I was maybe seven? Don’t remember. We never went to the doctor—were really healthy—so all these covered-up people in strange gear, a beehive thing they were pulling down that was going to drill into my foot—might have been a light, how did I know?—scared me to death. It was way worse than I could have ever imagined in a story. Anyway, I fought them holding me down while my mother was scolding me and terribly embarrassed—maybe that’s why she never took us to see the doctor—and then here came the straightjacket.
Now, if you have never been in one, you know you are tied up so good that you can’t move. But not in my reality. I decided to let them take care of my foot and ceased my struggles, because I knew, in truth, I could fight them forever!
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Do you experience that? Can you give us some examples where the story took an unexpected twist?
TS: All the time. I love it when it happens. I really don’t have a lot of control. I’ll just be writing the scene and all of a sudden one of the characters does something and I’m just as surprised as the other characters!
Here is an example:
She started up the car’s engine. David’s heart skipped a beat.
“Gotta go,” David said quickly, gave Quinn a thumbs up, but before he climbed into the passenger side of the Jaguar, Tammy locked him out, gave them both a wave and a smile—on the wicked side—and peeled out of the parking lot.
Slack-jawed, David couldn’t believe she had left him to fend for himself.
I was just chuckling at her tenacity. Didn’t expect her to do that anymore than David did.
One of the things I read on trip advisories was that if you have clothes you can throw away after you’ve trekked through the rainforest, all the better, because the mud really stains them and it’s nearly impossible to get it out. I love research. It often gives me some fun ideas for scenes. I also use real places for the cabanas or bungalows that the jaguars stay in. One of them had an outdoor shower. And I was thinking—how would Tammy deal with showering outside, naked, with the concern the teens they’re trying to track down might be watching? Or anyone else for that matter?
I hadn’t expected this to happen, or the other way she dealt with it later. I just am writing along, no planning, and then, Tammy does her thing:
He and Tammy returned to their cabana, their legs, bellies, throats, and chins splattered with mud. When they reached the back patio, Tammy batted at the faucet for the shower, either trying to turn it on herself or telling him she wanted him to do it for her. Happy to oblige, he shifted and twisted the nozzles on the shower until the water was warm. When she nudged at him to get out so she could wash in her jaguar form, he laughed.
“You are shy.” He smiled, sighed, and headed back into the cabana. He loved how human she really was.
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
TS: Yes, and the characters, always. I have something in mind, but then I begin writing it and voila, Tammy or David, or even the villains in the story, do the unexpected. I love it because if I can’t predict it, oftentimes my readers can’t either.
DC: I love your depiction of the animal side of your characters. It seems so true to life. How do you do it?
TS: Thanks! I love to make them as accurate as possible. I watch a lot of videos on animal behavior and visit zoos whenever I can. In fact, I plan to this morning and take some more video of the jaguars. In one, a jaguar was getting high on some plant, which I intend to use for a future story. A fan sent me a picture on Facebook about another plant they get high on. You never know if something like that is a hoax, so I researched it and discovered an actual video of a jaguar rubbing in a different plant and acting like he was catnipped. (My term.) I loved it.
But in another, a jaguar hunted a pirarucu, an air-breathing, carnivorous fish that can grow up to ten feet long and weigh 400 pounds. It was amazing to watch the jaguar hunting the catfish, and I described the scene in Savage Hunger. Another showed a jaguar lying on its back and catching its tail. Too cute. So I included that in one of the books.
DC: I see from your bio that you have done many of the things that your characters engage in during their time in Belize. Have you ever experienced some of the more dangerous possibilities that Tammy and Dave experience personally, such as the broken zip line?
TS: When I was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, I actually had to traverse a rope the same way that Tammy did, swing down, turn my hands the correct way, say my name, social security number, and drop 35 feet into the water. The cadet ahead of me had been a non-swimmer and had just passed the test to do the water survival training. He landed on his back, it’s like concrete if you hit it wrong, and sank into the lake, having knocked all the wind out of his lungs. Divers went in after him. So when I had to take my turn, I lost my grip when I swung down and thought I’d end up like him. I managed to grab hold and then said what I had to, and wouldn’t let go. They told me, “Cadet, drop!” several times before I did. Hey, remember my straightjacket story? I could have held on forever.
We also had a slide for life where only weeks earlier the line had snapped and the drill sergeant had died. It was 75 feet high and other than a safety net at the very top, we had a small bar to hold onto and we zipped off over the lake and dropped before we crashed into the shore. There was no safety net or hookups once we took off.
DC: In many shifter stories it seems that a couple is mated after engaging in a sexual encounter and yet the two characters here clearly have an active sex life without any danger. What’s different about these jaguars?
TS: Wolves mate for life. Once they’ve mated, that’s it. Cats don’t. So it seems normal to allow them to do their natural thing.
DC: What inspires you?
TS: Everything. The weather, news stories, fans. For Jaguar Pride, a fan sent me a picture of two Siberian white tigers and then the stories from fans began to pop up. They’re brothers. They’re orphans. And I had the idea for the jaguar cubs sitting on Huntley’s sleeping bag in the Costa Rican rainforest.
– dark or milk chocolate? – Both. It’s truly an unfair question.
– smooth or chunky peanut butter? – Neither
– heels or flats? – Flats
– coffee or tea? – Green tea
– summer or winter? – Spring—love the rebirth and baby animals
– mountains or beach? – Both—love the beach, water, but when I lived in Florida, missed the mountains
– mustard or mayonnaise? – mayonnaise
– flowers or candy? – Both, flowers I immortalize in pictures, but I love chocolate.
– pockets or purse? – purse
– Pepsi or Coke? – Coke
– ebook or print? – Print, though I have a Nook. Still love the feel of paper
And because we still enjoy the answers we get:
1. What is your favorite word? – Totally
2. What is your least favorite word? – Disrespected, it sounds wrong to me, like it should be didn’t respect
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Visual things, seeing a stormy sky, a flower budding, a video about the jaguars
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Too much noise, like at a conference and 3,000 women talking at once (lol), or going to Las Vegas and hearing all the slot machines at once. It’s hard for me to tune it all out and be creative.
5. What sound or noise do you love? – Water, I swear I was a water creature in some other life.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? – The screech of tires and the follow-up bang. Bad news.
7. What is your favorite curse word? – Damn
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – This is it!
9. What profession would you not like to do? – Be an astronaut. I like to keep my feet planted on the ground.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Will you be a storyteller?”
TS: Thanks so much for having me here. I think I talked way too long, but I loved the questions and had so much fun! We must do this again soon! But hey, if I have to tell you what fans might not know about me, do you want to share something about yourself with us? And I’d love to hear from commenters too!
DC: Thanks for being here, Terry! And we think we’ll let the commenters take care of your question!