Today on THE KATY’s author spotlight is Terry Maggert, author of such amazing titles like “Banshee” and “Halfway Dead”. You can read my reviews on those books HERE and here.
Thank you for joining me today, Terry!
What compelled you to become an author? Any certain experiences, authors, or movies that spurred your creativity?
I’ve always written. And I was atrocious. I actually wrote a sort-of romance that had the hero earning his fortune from a Swedish meatball inheritance. Yep. That really happened. So, somewhere in my early 40s I got serious, and began to think about writing in terms of complete novels. My first book, “The Forest Bull”, was written primarily while I was up with my infant son from 1-4 in the morning. The house was quiet, dogs were snoring, and VH-1 was on the television, repeating the same five videos in order, hour after hour. I envision the entire story arc, sit down, and begin typing, and the story takes shape from there in a linear fashion. I think all writers are, first and foremost, readers. As a kid I had a book in my hands at all times that I wasn’t fishing. Or swimming. Or chasing fish
while swimming. You get the picture.
What made you choose to self-publish?
At a certain point, I started to wonder if I couldn’t use my own experience to find good people and hire them. That’s really what self-publishing comes down to. Find a good editor. Go big on your cover. Connect with readers. Don’t spam. Be real. Since I was convinced I could do those things, after a few months, I took the plunge. We’re watching the dissolution of the traditional publishing model, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people. Traditional publishers– who are purely for-profit– fancy themselves as arbiters of taste, or gatekeepers. They’re neither, and watching them erode in an event that the music industry endured a scant twenty years ago (Napster, anyone?) is delicious. Trust me, the market will find good books, and you don’t need an archaic system to determine who or what goes viral.
I’ve read two of your novels, “Banshee” and “Halfway Dead” and they are so different! Do you dabble in different genres usually? Do you prefer write any genre over reading it?
I fancy myself one of those Big Idea Writers, but I’m not. I like dragons. I like it when bad guys get smushed. I like winners. In that sense, Banshee is my passion project, but Carlie (from Halfway Dead) is one of those people who I root for at every turn. I have a love affair with good horror, which explains a great deal of my “Fearless” series. One could also argue I have a thing for naked women, based on reading that series. They would be correct, but I do so in manner that (hopefully) doesn’t lead readers to believe I own a creepy van that reads “Free Candy” on the side. I sum up my books in my tagline (I write things my wife would prefer I not do), and let the readers decide if they want to stand close to me for a picture. Or not. Heh.
Do you feel that your characters are a piece of yourself or that you’re writing about someone else completely? Like, I’m pretty sure you aren’t a dragon rider or a witch, but maybe you’re hiding a secret…
I would be a terrible witch. I would wear a shirt that read, “WITCH, SUCKAHS!” and go around town firing spells off like they were disposable. My main protagonist in “The Fearless” is tall, likes beer, fishing, Great Danes, redheads, and Thai food. While it is true I like all those things, my character is two inches taller than me. Hence, WE ARE TOTES DIFFERENT. But to answer your question, there is some of me– and my experiences– in all of my characters, with the exception of Annalise Wimple. She’s that person we’ve all met— you know, the manager at some place who insists that “Rules are meant to be followed!” and then proceeds to ruin your day. So in that sense, even the characters who are unlike me will be, to the reader, easily recognized.
What is your method for writing? Are you a plotter or panster?
Unsure. I “see” the whole arc, sit down, and cut loose at the keyboard. Sometimes characters will bloom– Delphine, my 2400 year old succubus is one such person– and when that happens it’s a wonderful surprise.
You are very active of social media. I saw that your wife recently gave you an idea for a new story. Where else do you draw your inspiration from for your writing?
My books come from being a middle aged male. By the time we hit forty-five, we’ve seen A LOT. In my case, I was busy traveling, drinking, and raising hell. That makes for a deep well from which to pull stories. “The Fearless” series came from something as simple as driving past a lonely roadside cross. “Banshee” was spawned from other dragon books (God Bless Anne McCaffrey) and the sudden realization that I had moved to an area sitting on one of the largest seismic faults in the world. From small things come big books, it would seem.
Which do you choose? Magic, like Carlie of Halfway Dead or a dragon like in Banshee?
DRAGON. SERIOUSLY. I had a conversation last month with the fine writer Martin Powell. We are in COMPLETE agreement about how amazing it would be to have a baluchitherium as a pet (think of a giant, long necked rhino). I often speak of wanting a giraffe. I have large dogs, and would cheerfully adopt a wildebeest or any other enormous creature, but if I’m given a choice, it’s dragon all the way. Think about it– you fly your kid to school on a dragon. Or to the movies. Or the mall. Or London. Basically, you’re going to have the Best Day Ever seven days a week.
The imagery of the moon and magic in Halfway Dead were so beautiful. Do any of those scenes come from your own experiences?
When we bought our current home, I watched an eclipse traverse the floor of the kitchen, and the image was so– it made me feel small, you know? I’ve never forgotten it. So, yes. The moon and magic is something that I feel is so close I can nearly touch it.
Any future projects or announcements you’d like to share with THE KATY audience?
Halfway Dead will be available on Audible.com next week. My actress, Erin Spencer, is wonderful. I told I her I was Very Important and she was so busy she couldn’t google me, thus assuring my listeners of absolutely stellar talent, just like my other two team members (Rebecca Cook and Henry Mcnulty, who voice my other series). I am well into the sequel to Halfway Dead, and can reveal here that the villains are–well, there’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll just type this one word and leave it at that: Clowns.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Ask yourself one question: what does your book do? Is it cathartic? Is it confessional? Or, do you want people to read it? If it’s the latter, then you want to be a professional writer. That means: be a pro. In that sense, you must treat your craft with great respect. To be clear, writing is work. I am a mechanic– I assemble sentences to evoke what I am seeing within the imagination of the reader. That’s a romanticized form of engineering, but I always, always treat it as something I am privileged to do.
Thank you very much for agreeing to an interview! I look forward to future projects from you, Terry!
My pleasure being here, and kind thanks for such excellent questions– and for not judging me because I don’t like wearing pants.