Novelist Uses New Book
to Highlight PTSD
Terri spent the first twelve years of her life
traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the
first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual
"new kid," her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes,
was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist.
years old, she wrote a poem about the Vietnam War. Her mom sent the poem to
the local newspaper and it got published. She says, "From that moment on, I
knew I wanted to be a writer. Everything in my life was geared toward
writing after that."
involved in a writer's group that was publishing in the romance industry.
Terri decided to give that a try since she enjoyed writing about
relationships. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five. When she
began writing for the secular market she was a Christian and planned to
write clean love stories. Over time, she began to add things to make the
books sell better.
adding the things that other writers were including in their books. I began
adding more sex and profanity in the books and it began to take a toll on my
spiritual life," shares Terri. In 1994, Terri was writing romance novels
under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell
and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. She
felt deeply convicted and got down on her knees and asked God to forgive
time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write
thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith
wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead
of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots while
challenging her readers. She hopes to remind them that they're not alone,
and that their trials have a purpose.
IF I'M FOUND
God has a way of putting her through things when she is writing a book. She
may not go through the exact same trial as she writes about in her book, but
she uses the emotions and pours that energy into her characters.
book, "If I'm Found," is currently #1 on the Christian Booksellers'
Top Suspense list. It is the sequel to "If I Run," which is right
behind at #3.
In "If I'm Found," Casey Cox is still on the run fleeing
prosecution for a murder she didn't commit. Dylan Roberts her most
relentless pursuer - is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist
that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He's let her escape before
when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn't come easily.
As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles
on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who's
also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong
and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and
just may result in her capture - and if she's captured, she has no doubt
she'll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.
There will be a total of three books in the series.
STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
book, Terri reveals that Dylan, an Army veteran, who was exposed to an IED
during battle struggles with PTSD. She also shows how Casey struggles with
PTSD because at the age of twelve Casey discovered her father dead. As Dylan
is chasing Casey to find out if she is guilty of murder he realizes that
they have something in common: PTSD.
According to the PTSD Foundation of America, symptoms of PTSD can
* Flashbacks/Traumatic Event Mood Swings
* Panic Attacks - undefined dread or fear
* Night Terrors/Nightmares
* Insomnia or Fragmented Sleep
* Difficulty Working with Others
* Difficulty Raising Children
* Marital Problems - unable to maintain healthy relationships
* Memory Loss/Difficulty Concentrating
* Hyper vigilance - constant feeling of being "on guard"
* Substance Abuse
* Sleepwalking/Sleep fighting
* Fixated on Suicidal Thoughts
More information about PTSD can be found at the
PTSD Foundation of America:
this interview with Terri Blackstock
Q&A: Terri Blackstock
By Jana Hoops, USA TODAY NETWORK
With 80 titles to her credit and 7 million books sold over more than three decades, Clinton, Mississippi resident and New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock insists she never has trouble coming up with new characters and plots to add to her substantial collection of page-turning stories.
Her most recent addition, "If I'm Found," was released March 21 by Zondervan, and is the second in her new "If I Run" series begun in 2016 - making it her ninth popular Christian suspense series.
Her prolific body of award-winning work also includes 32 romance novels, nine standalone novels, four story compilations, two titles for young readers, and a devotional.
After spending the first 11 years of her life as an Air Force brat, it was when Blackstock's parents divorced that her mother, a Mississippi native, settled the family in the Jackson area. She went on to graduate from Jackson's Wingfield High School, attended Hinds Community College, and earned an English degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Although she began work on a master's degree at ULM, Blackstock never finished the program because "I decided to write my first novel instead of a thesis," she said. "I wrote my first book in my early 20s and sold it to a publisher when I was 25. From then on, I have been able to write for a living."
After moves to Louisiana and then Florida, she returned to Clinton, where she has lived since 1990. She and husband Ken have raised her two daughters and his son together, and today their lives stay busy with their five grandchildren.
Her writing has been recognized with a Christy Award, two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others.
How did your writing career get started?
I had my first child while I was in
graduate school and took some time off. I started writing my first novel
during that time. To learn the craft, I joined a writer's group that met
once a month. People in that group were getting published and doing well, so
I learned everything I could from them.
The best place to break into the publishing world at that time was in the
romance genre. So, I tailored my writing to fit that market. I went to
writers' conferences to make contact with agents and editors, and as a
result, I was able to sell my first book to Silhouette Books. After I had
that foot in the door, I just kept writing. Those books were kind of short,
so I was able to write one in about three months. Some years I wrote three
or four, and I sold them all. I was selling to Silhouette, Harlequin, Dell
In 1995, I had 32 books published and 3.5 million books sold when I made
the switch to the Christian market, where I started over writing suspense
under my married name - Terri Blackstock. I had used two pseudonyms before
that time. Since then, I've had about 50 suspense novels published and have
sold another 3.5 million books, to make 7 million in all.
How and why did you begin
writing Christian-themed novels?
After I had been writing for the
romance market for 13 years, I became miserable. I loved being a writer, but
I wasn't fulfilled at all. I was a Christian and had what I call a spiritual
awakening, and I felt an intense conviction that I wasn't using my gift the
way God had intended. I had several books under contract at that time, but I
didn't want to write them. I remember the day I got down on my knees,
literally, and told God I didn't want to write anything else that didn't
glorify him. I didn't know how that would look.
I told my publisher that I wanted to buy back my contracts, and it
happened that they owed me more than I owed them, so that worked out really
well. Then I was able to get an agent who sold to the Christian fiction
market, and I wrote my first book proposal for a suspense novel with a
Christian theme. It just so happened that Christian publishers, who had
mostly published prairie fiction and historical or biblical fiction up until
that point, were ready to expand their list to include more genres. I came
in at exactly the right time, and Zondervan, an imprint of HarperCollins,
not only bought that suspense novel, but they gave me a four-book deal. I've
been writing suspense for them ever since.
How do your stories
generally share that message of faith?
I first try to tell a great story, and
my worldview naturally comes through. I think every writer has a specific
worldview that works its way into their books. Mine happens to be a
Faith is always a part of my plot. An example is my Cape Refuge Series.
That first book, "Cape Refuge," opens with the murder of a beloved
couple in town, and their daughters are determined to find the killer while
they deal with their own grief. The theme through those books is why God
My Restoration Series was about a massive global power outage because of
some electromagnetic pulses that knock civilization to its knees. My modern
family who were addicted to technology now have to live without
transportation, communication, currency, electricity or any technology. They
change in drastic ways that wouldn't have been possible without the
So the faith element is a critical aspect of the plot. It's not just
plugged in. I want to write page-turners that entertain my readers, but
ideally, I'd also like to challenge them and encourage them before they get
to the last page.
How did you discover your
gift as a writer?
I've always had a very vivid
imagination, and when I was a little girl, before I could write, I would
make up plays and get my friends to act out the parts. I would be the
director, the writer and the star. That was probably the beginning of my
writing. When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a poem that my mother sent in
to The Clarion-Ledger, and they published it, and another one a couple of
years later. I was so thrilled! I knew then that I was going to be a writer
when I grew up, and from then on I worked on that. Writing was always great
therapy for me, and there was nothing more satisfying than telling a story
that kept others riveted.
Tell me about the linking
plots and characters of "If I Run," your debut book in your new "If
I Run" series; and its follow-up, which is your newest book, "If I'm
When I was young I used to watch
"The Fugitive" TV episodes starring David Jansen, in which the
hero has to run from the law while he tries to find his wife's real killer.
In each episode, he'd be found out, and he'd leave town and start over again
in a new place. I wanted to explore a female fugitive who has to keep
running and start over in new places, and try to forge a life when she knows
that everywhere she lands will just be temporary. It gave me a lot of great
opportunities for her to get into situations that were fun to write about,
and I hope were compelling for the reader.
Casey Cox is one of my favorite characters in any of the books I've
written. She's complex and simple at the same time. She's been accused of
committing a heinous murder. She knows who really did it, but she can't go
to the police - so she decides to run.
Dylan Roberts is hired by the victim's family to work with the police
department to go across the country looking for Casey. In "If I Run,"
he's chasing her to bring her back for prosecution, but by the time we get
to "If I'm Found," he realizes Casey is innocent. So he's hunting her now to
protect her, rather than to prosecute her. He knows her killers are closing
in and her time is running out.
Will there be other books in
this series, with these characters?
Yes. Book 3 in this series, "If I
Live," will release next year. I'm just finishing it now.
With so many books to your
credit, is it difficult to create so many new characters and storylines?
You would think that with 80 books
published, I would recycle plots and characters over and over, but that
isn't the case at all. My books have to be exciting enough to hold my
attention, and I get bored easily. So I try to make each book different from
all those that came before. I don't seem to have any trouble coming up with
new ideas, and new ideas for plots always generate new, unique types of
You've mentioned that you've
been able to draw from your own personal trials
to create plots for your books. Tell me about that.
I often use events from my own life,
and the emotions I've experienced, in writing my books. When I go through
something painful, there's a part of me that's always kind of standing
outside myself recording how it feels to be in that situation, and later I
process it by writing about it in some way. I don't always use the exact
event from my life, but I might have someone going through something
similar, so the emotions I write in those characters are real.
Through the years, some events in my own life that have been reflected in
my books have included dealing with a family member's drug addictions, a
cancer scare, divorce, blended families and remarriage. I've been married to
my husband for going on 25 years, and lots of the things that have happened
in our marriage have wound up in my stories. Everything I experience winds
up in my books in one form or another.
Jackson Clarion-Ledger -