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Interview with Terri Reed

With over 40 books published, Terri Reed now celebrates the release of her latest K-9 Unit story, Seeking the Truth, from Love Inspired Suspense.

Welcome, Terri. What led you to choose the romantic suspense genre?
I started out writing historical romance. This was back before computers when research required going to the library. I had my little baby with me which made doing the research difficult. So then I switched to contemporary romances. I'd heard at a conference, “Write with you know”. So I started writing a book set in my hometown revolving around a reunion. But the story felt flat. I had entered it in contests and it did well, but I knew that there was something missing.

Then I discovered inspirational romances. Around that time Harlequin started the Christian fiction line Steeple Hill. I devoured those books. After studying them, I soon realized that what my book lacked was an essential part of me, my faith. So I went back to that book and reworked it. After many revisions and submissions, Love Comes Home, finally sold to Steeple Hill. My next couple of books had a suspense element to them, but at the time Steeple Hill did not have a suspense line. I wrote five romances.

When they bought my sixth book, which was very much a romantic suspense story. I was asked if they could hold it and publish it under their new romantic suspense line. Of course, I said yes. In writing that book, I discovered that I really liked the action and adventure paired with the romance infused with faith. And since that time I have written many more romantic suspense novels for what is now known as Love Inspired Suspense.

What made you want to become a writer?
This is a tough question for me because I can't remember a time when I wasn't telling stories. Mostly I told them to myself, but as a child, I would also tell them to my grandparents. Or I would act out my stories as if I were doing a play. Storytelling and reading helped me through the chaos of my childhood. When I was in junior high, my English teacher, who had a big influence on me, was very complimentary of my the stories I wrote for his class and really ignited in me a passion to want to be a writer.

Then in college, I had a creative writing professor, who again, was very encouraging and supportive. He even suggested that I look into writing for Harlequin. I wish I had had the self-confidence to do that at the age of 20. But I didn't. His words never left me, and when I finally found Romance Writers of America and started down the path of writing towards publication, I looked at Harlequin. I wanted to be Harlequin author. My writing didn't fit any of their lines at the time so I was very grateful when they open their Christian fiction lines.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
There are many authors who are favorites that I feel have been influential in my career. Lenora Worth was a huge influence for me. Back when I was just starting out, we met at a conference and she offered to critique my first three chapters. I was a big fan of hers. I was excited and grateful for her input and her guidance. I'm still grateful to this day for her input and her guidance.

Another author was Cindy Kirk, who at the time wrote for Harlequin Steeple Hill. She also offered to look at my chapters and give me feedback. It was helpful and I feel blessed to have her in my writing life. I was also very influenced by author, Linda Needham, who wrote historical romances and really helped me understand the flow of story. Also, author Lisa Gardner was very helpful in teaching me how to write a synopsis, and she's also a dear friend. The biggest influences in my writing life has been my critique partners, author Leah Vale and author Lissa Manley. We all started out together unpublished and learned our craft together. I don't think without these two in my life for the past 25 years I would have the career I do today.

What do you love most about the writing process?
I love brainstorming. Coming up with the story idea and jumping off from the question what if…? I love to develop my characters through the use of Enneagrams and other psychological profiling tools. I use the hero's journey when I'm outlining, making sure that I hit all the right notes. But I also love to let the characters do what they will, which sometime totally surprises me and takes me off in different directions. The second most favorite part of the writing process is revisions. I know that sounds a little odd, but once the story is done and I’ve had time away from it, when I go back to look at it with fresh eyes, I can see what needs to be done to help make the book more cohesive and enjoyable for the reader.

What do you like to read in your free time? What other genres?
I read most nights before going to sleep and when on vacation. Lately, I've been reading some of the other Harlequin lines such as Intrigue, Kimani, Romantic Suspense and Presents. Justine Davis and Maisey Yates are two of my favorites. I also love to read longer romantic suspense novels by my friends Lynette Eason and Irene Hannon. I also love mystery/thrillers books by Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, and Harlan Coben. I believe it's important to keep up on what's being published in all genres. It helps to keep my own writing fresh.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing or spending time with my family, I am with my dogs. Mostly my big dog. She's three years old and full of energy. We do agility three days a week, plus learning tricks and a game called Trieball. She's an Australian Shepherd and very much a working dog. She is so smart that I'm sure she understands everything I say. And even when she doesn't understand, she figures it out. The dog watches TV. LOL I need to keep her active and she keeps me active.

So on the days that we do agility, I don't need to go to the gym because I am running constantly with her. We are slowly working towards competing one day. Maybe in a year or so. She's very reactive with other dogs, so it's been a challenge to get her to focus when we're out of the arena. But when we are in the arena she is 100% focused on me as her handler and on the job that needs to be done. And she loves it. I love it too, but learning to be a handler, meaning learning the hand signals, the correct turns and the correct words to use for the different obstacles, has been a challenge. Especially when I'm in the middle of the book and my mind is cluttered with story, it's a challenge for me to be present in the arena. But it's good for me. And it's really bonded my dog and me.

Have you ever turned a dream into a book or scene in a book?
I frequently dream scenes or story ideas that end up in my work. Many times I dream of the characters doing something or saying something and I will use that as a starting point to move the story forward. If I am stuck in my story, I will pray and lay down to doze, letting my mind work out whatever the problem is. I think sleep and naps allow our creative conscience to be more active, thus making us more productive.

Do you ever project your own habits onto your characters?
Oh, I frequently will have my characters reflect some aspect of myself. My critique partner always says she can tell what I've been making for dinner if she reads a scene with food. And it's usually true. I also think sometimes how I would react to a situation and will give my character that reaction. They say that writing is cheap therapy for authors. I believe that’s true. There are times when I have my characters work out their issues of faith or issues with other people that I'm struggling with.

What is your advice to new authors?
My advice for new authors is to be teachable. Learn your craft. Go to conferences. Introduce yourself to other authors you admire or whose books you've read and enjoyed. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're struggling with a certain aspect of writing, seek out someone who can help you understand. I have discovered that the writing community is very openhearted and willing to share knowledge with each other. But sometimes it requires someone stepping outside of his or her comfort zone and reaching out to someone else. I'm a huge introvert, but I knew that I needed help when I was starting out and the only way to get the help I wanted was by putting aside my self-consciousness and fears of rejection to talk to other writers and asked them for their input and their feedback and their help. I love when authors ask me for help. Not necessarily, “Will you read my 60,000 word manuscript”-- I am a working writer and I think it's important for all of us to be considerate of each other's time-- but if they have a specific issue they are dealing with, ask how to go about making the writing better. I’m willing to come alongside and share what I know.

And finally, I want to say, "Congratulations!" I read on your website that your Christmas book, A Family Under The Christmas Tree, is being made into a Hallmark movie. Is there anything you can or would like to tell us about it?
Thank you! Yes, A Family Under the Christmas Tree has been adapted into a script and was filmed in April for Hallmark. As of yet, I don’t have a release date. I can share that Merritt Patterson and John Cor play the leads. I was able to visit the set for a day and everyone was so welcoming.


Jodi Artzberger writes inspirational romantic suspense that is Gospel-centered and intertwined with God's love and plan of redemption. Her love for the Word has led her to teach women's Bible studies and teach women how to study their Bibles for themselves. She loves living in beautiful Colorado with her husband, two boys and three rescue dogs. In her spare time, you can find her reading, of course. She also enjoys exploring Colorado and playing with her latest kitchen gadget. To learn more and read her blog, visit

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