I know you loved meeting Terry Burns several months ago. We have him back with a new book and new questions. Terry, it's always good to spend time with you, even online. I look forward to seeing you in person again in January at the American Christian Fictions Writers local chapter DFW Ready Writers. We look forward to hearing from you.
Readers, if you are interested in knowing more about that meeting, just e-mail me. The link is to the right.
I grew up in the era of Saturday matinees with "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Wanted Dead or Alive," and "Have Gun, Will Travel" on the TV. Growing up in the west I've worked a lot on farms and ranches as well, and put on a rodeo for many years. I love the old west and would love to introduce a new generation to this love.
Those titles bring back memories for me, too, Terry. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Christmas Eve at First Baptist Church in Orange, Texas – a candlelight service where I watched both my babies (young teens) get baptized together. No contest.
How has being published changed your life?
It has given me a chance to use my words for the Lord. I've always been a storyteller, always written this and that, but now I get the chance to let my faith show through just a bit in my writing; actually not my faith, but the faith or lack thereof that my characters have. This has led me down paths I hadn't traveled before through being shelved in libraries, through doing workshops, programs and testimonies. Through the places I go to do book signings and the places my books go without me. I think all the time about ways I can spread my words further. The Bible talks about those who sow and those who harvest. Mostly I sow, planting small seeds of faith within what I hope is a good, entertaining story. That's my primary aim, a good fast-moving story that keeps the reader involved. And if a seed gets planted that later may send up a small sprout, well . . .
I completely understand that feeling. What are you reading right now?
Right now Elmer Kelton's Texas Ranger Trilogy, Lone Star Rising. Good book, with a surprising faith element in it that I don't recall seeing in Elmer's work before. Of course by the time this is put online it'll be something else. I read a variety of things, but try to make my primary reading along the lines of what I'm trying to write at the time. I believe what we read has an effect on our thought processes as we write, and if I were reading a bunch of romance for example, as I tried to write a western, I suspect the love interest in the book would end up significantly enhanced.
Romance can be an integral part of every kind of book. I like them better that way. What is your current work in progress?
Surprisingly enough I'm trying my hand at a cozy mystery at present. The jury is still out on that one. I do want to branch out more. I'd also like to write some young adult. Specifically I'd love to write some young adult western to see if I could help introduce some new readers to the genre, but publishers don't seem to warm to that goal right now.
Funny. When I finish writing the currently contracted book, I'm going to work on a cozy mystery proposal. Hang in there about the young adult thing. You know as well as I do that the market is constantly changing. If God has put this on your heart, its time will come. What would be your dream vacation?
Saundra and I would like to take a nice long cruise, with a lot of time built in to write, of course. She's wonderful about seeing that my writing time is protected, but I'd like to have the chance to devote a little time to her, and I think a cruise would be ideal. That's something we've never done.
I hope you get to go soon. James and I have been on two cruises, and I wrote a romance novel based mostly on a cruise ship. It is receiving rave reviews and reader feedback. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I'd have to say they kinda choose me. I've done a couple where the setting was the motivation for the book. In others the characters decided to go to this place or that and I really don't know why they decided to do it. My favorite way is because that is where I happen to be and I'm getting the chance to write on site.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Laura Bush, and it has nothing to do with politics. She strikes me as a very classy lady in the midst of all the bull that is constantly going on in that environment. She's the world's most famous librarian, and I have a huge respect for librarians. Mostly it would be because she really does a lot for writing and writers. I sent her the first copy of Mysterious Ways as a means of thanks for all she does and was disappointed that I didn't get a little note back, but I suppose she gets enough books that way to populate a small library.
Mrs. Bush is definitely a strong advocate for books and reading, both in adults and children, and I highly respect her, too. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I like to camp out, though going in the RV generally entails writing time as well. Saundra and I both like to see new things and new places, and who knows, down the road might be the type to become full time RV people.
Sounds like fun. Actually, the only camping I like is in an RV. I'm not the tent on the ground type. Tell us about the featured book.
Shepherd's Son is the third book in the Mysterious Ways series. It was born one morning when my stepdaughter came in to tell me about a program she had just heard on the Good Shepherd, drawing links between actual flocks of sheep and the church as a spiritual flock. That immediately conjured up thoughts of such a comparison back in the days when herding sheep was hated and despised in the midst of cow country. Some delightful characters emerged to help me tell the story, and it has the strongest and most unusual conversion scene in it that has ever come about in one of my works. There is also a scene where actual young shepherds hear for the first time the story of David and Goliath that I think will give the reader a fresh look at that story, it sure enough did that for me. It was a fun book to write, and I think will be a fun one to read.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading several of your books, Terry. I highly recommend them whether the reader has ever read a western or not.
Readers, remember to leave a comment on this interview for the chance to win a copy of Shepherd's Son. There's also still time to leave a comment on J.N. Graham's interview. The winner of A Rose From the Ashes will be chosen next weekend.