Terri Kay

Terri Kay
"A Promise of Revenge"

The Death of Javier

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
April 21, 2005

Q.    Who is Terri Kay?

A.   Born in Elkhart, Indiana in 1957, I grew up there and developed a passion for reading. I graduated in 1976 from Elkhart Central High School. In 1979, I graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with a dual major in political science and economics. Next, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School, in Madison. After graduating, I married and then moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I lived until 1999.

When I graduated from law school, I wanted to write books. But the realities of my early years required that I get a traditional job with a steady paycheck. Still, I held onto my dream, and promised myself that I would someday write novels.

After moving to a small farm in Elkhart, Indiana, slowly I began pursuing one of my life's goals to become an author. I took media-related courses to further develop my technical and creative skills.

My passion is my writing. Now I write novels part-time and under my pen name, Terri Kay. Intertwining medical and legal subplots, I created the murder mystery book series, A Promise of Revenge. I am familiar with the medical and legal fields, and in my writing I draw from my years of experience in providing legal services to nursing homes, hospitals and others in the greater Milwaukee area. As for the technical aspects of the books, I research and consult with others for accuracy also.

I work full-time as a lawyer here, and work on the farm with my husband. In time, I hope to write books on a full-time basis.

Q.   What inspired you to write the novel "A Promise of Revenge?"

A.   In 1998, while I vacationed with another family in the dark woods of Missouri, a child commented that it would be scary to be killed in the woods. Taking the comment to heart, I agreed. From a child's innocent _expression of fear, a book series was born. And in one of my books, a murder occurs in the woods.

Q.    How did you come about the title?

A.  The Bible says " . . . vengeance is mine; I will repay, sayeth the Lord." (King James version, Romans 12:19). But let's face it, people have always managed to get into the act.

The series' title and first book title's take into account that people sometimes make promises of revenge. However, retribution or revenge for bad acts isn't always within the control of people.

Q.   How did you come about Brianís, Sierraís and Dynaís characters?

A.    All of the characters are composites, or combinations of character traits of people I've met or observed. Some of their characteristics were assigned to them, while other characteristics emerged during plot development.

Brian Tanner, a medical student in the beginning of the book, starts as the obliging son of a dominant mother. He is fiercely loyal to those whom he loves.

Sierra Gleason is a cunning, worldly type. Approval seeking and self-indulgent, she is at war within. Her actions are contradictory and at times, self-destructive.

In contrast, Dyna Palpietro, has a good heart but is naive. She tries hard in her work and in love, but faces tragedies, some of which she brought upon herself.

For more information about these characters and others, I developed a book guide for readers.

The February 2005 guide is available free by e-mail from me at promise@terrikay.com until May 30, 2005. The guide is under revision and a greatly expanded guide will be available on June 1, 2005.

Q.   Why did Brainís mother insist on having a grandchild before she died?

A.   Brian's mother, Eva Waterman Tanner, longed for more children, but was unable to have any children after Brian. So when Brian graduated from high school, Eva expected that he would marry and have children. Eva was already proud of Brian and his accomplishments, but made it plain to him that the only other thing she wanted from him was a grandchild.

Eva's desire for grandchildren intensified when she learned that she had cancer and that she would die soon.

Brian wanted to become a doctor first, then marry. But Brian quickly changed his plans when he learned of his dying mother's request. Two factors made Brian's decision easier than one might imagine. First, as the only child of a doting mother, Brian sincerely wanted to please his mother. Second, before his mother told him about her terminal illness, Brian already committed to choosing one woman from the two he was dating. The following excerpt from Chapter One of A Promise of Revenge (The Death of Javier) makes his problem plain:

The dark circles under his eyes and his dull skin confirmed what Brian already knew, but had refused to accept. He couldn't continue to juggle two intense lovers and medical school. One of them would have to go-and dropping out of medical school was out of the question.

Q.    How long did it take you to write this novel?

A.   I started writing A Promise of Revenge in 1998, making notes here and there and saving them. But as I developed the book, I decided to split the story into parts. By splitting the book, I gave more background information on the characters and developed additional story lines for the series. Since I worked on two books part-time over several years, I can't give an exact amount of time it took to write A Promise of Revenge (The Death of Javier). I estimate the cumulative time spent writing A Promise of Revenge (The Death of Javier), was a year and a half.

I must add that the experience and the joy that writing this book has brought me will last for the rest of my life. It is exciting and fun to write.

Plus, writing a series in this way had some distinct advantages. I published two books in less than a year of each other, one in 2003 and the second in 2004. My promotion efforts are now directed at promoting a series, instead of a book. I made plenty of notes over the years and I'm still getting fresh ideas, so the series will continue with my next book, "More than Guilty" and with other books.

Q.   What is the name of the sequel to this book?

A.   My second book in the A Promise of Revenge series is entitled, The Secret at St. Sans. I published this book in 2004.

Q.    How long did it take you to write this novel?

A.    I estimate the cumulative time to write The Secret at St. Sans was about a year.

Q.    What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A.    I don't really need a specific place or conditions to write under. While I joke with people that my books came from napkins and notes, really this is the truth. I take plenty of notes about things that catch my attention or my eye. Many are unrelated to the current project that I may be writing on. I store most of those in a folder, and pull out ideas as needed.

Besides random note writing, I develop scene sheets and character sheets. These allow me to store information in an organized way.

I use plenty of moments during the day and night to study things around me. For example, while standing in line or waiting for something, I pay attention to the unique features and elements in the people nearby or in my surroundings.

Q.   What message would you like readers to receive from reading "A Promise of Revenge?"

A.   I hope that readers will enjoy A Promise of Revenge (The Death of Javier) most of all for the entertainment value. It is wonderful to escape into a world of drama, mystery and intrigue. It's even better when one doesn't have to endure the messes that the characters face in the series.

But I also hope readers will use the book with the guide for group discussions. I hope readers put themselves into the shoes of the characters and ask what they would do under similar circumstances and what lessons can be learned. For example, Dyna and Sierra really could have used classes or instruction in career planning, financial planning, and self-awareness. With these tools, these women might have avoided plenty of trouble.

The upcoming expanded book guide for A Promise of Revenge (The Death of Javier) includes more details on life lessons. Topics covered include child bullying and revenge ("Bullying and Consequences"), the unsupportive mate ("This Spouse is Louse!"), abusive relationships ("Stay or Go?"), dealing with the murder of a loved one ("How Long Do You Look?"), dealing with a dying loved one ("The Power of Spiritual Strength") and other topics.

Finally, I hope that readers ask themselves the two questions facing the characters in the series. What would you do for a loved one? What would you do if you believed that you wouldn't be caught?