The Heroine’s Journey of Patricia Terrell

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love creating something out of nothing; envisioning scenes and people and watching them come alive on the page. There comes a point in which the characters become more real than living beings around me and I find my mind is filled with what they are doing, the challenges they face, the perils they encounter and their triumphs over tragedy.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? To be loved, pure and simple, for exactly who I am. Perfect happiness means rising every morning to do what I love most and with those I love and who love me.

What is my greatest fear? I used to fear being captured. It was a strange fear that had been with me since my earliest years. It wasn’t until I began researching and writing the story of my ancestor, Mary Neely, and her capture by Shawnee warriors in 1780 that I realized what had happened to her was what I had always feared the most. It wasn’t death but incarceration; she was made a slave to the chieftain’s wife and though she tried repeatedly to escape, it took three long years before she was successful. I still cannot watch shows or read books in which someone is kept captive.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Hot flashes! Does that count as a trait? I know how a candle feels as its melting! Seriously, I just have to stop whatever I am doing and allow it to pass because I can’t even think clearly when it happens.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Stephen King, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Diana Gabaldon

What is my greatest extravagance? My aquariums. Years ago, I began breeding angelfish and I absolutely adore it. Each aquarium is a world unto itself, and each angelfish is so unique that it’s easy to watch them form their own personalities. I had two brothers that always stuck together; when one grew sick and was dying, the other remained beside him the entire time, preventing any other fish from coming near him. I also had a pair that frequently laid 200 eggs or more and were very diligent about raising them. I sell the babies to a local pet shop, who calls them “Vicki’s Angels” after a character in my Black Swamp Mysteries Series; Vicki Boyd is a CIA operative but her front is an angelfish breeder. I found every time I talked about my fish, people’s eyes glazed over and I thought it would be the perfect front. Everyone would think she was boring.

On what occasion would I lie? I am the world’s worst liar. Lying requires a person to remember what they said and to whom they said it, while the truth is a permanent memory. I can’t imagine lying about anything—if I did, I’d likely get caught and once credibility is lost, it can be impossible to regain.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? I would love to write and leave marketing and promotion to professionals. Unfortunately, as the publishing industry has become leaner, it appears that publishers depend more on their authors for marketing and promotional efforts and I’ve found it requires very different skills. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and went back to college for a degree in marketing, but I’d still prefer to write instead.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I remain consistent in my happiness. I only write books that I feel passionate about writing and as the scenes form in my mind, where I am physically fades away. I am “in the zone” more completely in the middle of a book, after the characters have been formed and adventure and suspense is well underway. I often feel sadness when the book is complete, as if saying good-bye to old friends.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I would remove the sadness that sometimes pervades.

What is my greatest achievement in work? Bringing to life the stories of my ancestors, William Neely of Scotland and his great-granddaughter, Mary Neely. Relatives had traced my genealogy back to 1608, the year William left Scotland for Ulster at the age of 18. He was in search of his future but he quickly became embroiled in O’Doherty’s Rebellion, fighting against the last Gaelic King of Ireland, a story I told in Checkmate: Clans and Castles. Then in 1779, William’s grandson and his family were living in the United States when they decided to help settle Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, TN). The river journey was harrowing, taking them through Chickamauga Indian Territory at the height of the Chickamauga Indian War, a story I told in River Passage. Only a few months after Mary arrived at Fort Nashborough, her father was killed and scalped and she was captured by Shawnee warriors. She was taken hundreds of miles from home and made a slave, a story I told in Songbirds are Free. If nothing else, I have written these books for future generations that they might know of the courage, the determination and the grit our ancestors had.

Where would I most like to live? I have always longed to live in Ireland in a cottage by the water. My ancestors are from Ulster and I have traveled there several times to research my ancestry. There is something magical about standing on land they once walked, visiting their graves and seeing homes they built themselves. I still cherish the fantasy of living there someday.

What is my most treasured possession? My most treasured possessions—though they would argue they actually possess me—are my three rescue dogs, a collie and two Jack Russells. They follow me everywhere I go and are content to sleep at my feet while I type away. They have all made cameo appearances in my books, too.

What is my most marked characteristic? My most marked physical characteristic is probably my hair. My hair turned silver in my 20’s and for too many years to count, I colored it. Then one day I decided I was ready to go natural, and I’m very happy I did.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The Lumber River flows through the center of town. The water is black from tree tannins while cypress knees rise from the depths, ready to snare an unsuspecting canoe. If you look closely, you’ll see the snouts of alligators skimming the surface, observing your passage. It’s the perfect place to hide a body—or hide out from the law, and more than one of my characters has found themselves on the river in the depths of night, the low, overhanging branches blocking any light from the waning moon.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? The Village Station has a fabulous Sunday buffet. The ambiance is all Southern gentry, like spending the afternoon on an oversized front porch, sipping iced tea and enjoying the warm breeze.

What books influenced my life and how? The Power of Positive Thinking has influenced my life more than any other book. I read it in the 1970’s and its principles have remained with me ever since. I also enjoy Michael Newton’s books, The Journey of Souls and The Destiny of Souls. I believe in the stories he shares and in the eternity of souls.

Who are my favorite writers? I love Daphne du Maurier’s books and I’ve recently discovered Susanna Kearsley, whose writing reminds me a lot of du Maurier. I love books that place me into unforgettable settings like coves and private beaches near the Irish Sea; small European villages and ordinary people places into extraordinary circumstances.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? I would listen to love songs, such as This Never Happened Before (Paul McCartney), Wherever You Will Go, Tonight and Will Not Back Down (Alex Band), A Thousand Years (Christina Perri), Wings (Birdy)and As Long as You Follow (Fleetwood Mac).

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Scarlett O’Hara. Her life turned out nothing like she could ever have imagined, her world turned upside down, and yet she showed resilience, courage and determination. But she should have chosen Rhett Butler from the start!

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? I see heroes and heroines in everyday people, from those that rushed to help the injured at the mass shooting in Vegas, to those that put their own lives on hold to rescue people and animals after hurricanes and other natural disasters, to others that place their own lives on the line to defend and protect. It renews my faith in humanity when I see people give of themselves so selflessly.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Hacksaw Ridge. It made me realize that 99% of our lives are spent simply moving through our days, but it’s the other 1% that can make a true difference in the world. At some point, somewhere, somehow, each of us will arrive at that place and time that changes not only our world but those around us.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? Kevin Costner. I would love to see him produce and direct my historical books. I know he was very much interested in Native American tribes, and both River Passage and Songbirds are Free are as much about the clash of civilizations and the decline of Native American tribes as they are about the settlers that ventured west of the Smoky Mountains.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? I would enjoy meeting writers that have persevered past rejections to eventual success; I believe their stories are inspirational. Authors like Janet Evanovich, Jody Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, and Dan Brown.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? I am currently writing the 7th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series. Dylan and Vicki, both CIA operatives, have had to go far underground since discovering they’ve been identified by Russian agents. They find themselves on an island off the coast of Ireland as a storm moves in, cutting themselves off from the mainland—and of course, a murder occurs at the height of the storm and they find they have nowhere to run.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? My books are available in stores worldwide. Excerpts, trailers and lots of inside information can be found at my website,

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I was asked recently when I planned to retire, and the question stunned me. I can’t imagine not writing. I can’t imagine waking up each day without characters and scenes in my head, begging to be put to paper. I can’t imagine filling my days with someone else’s idea of how to live my life. Writing is my passion; it is who I am. I hope to continue writing until my very last

Trailers for books mentioned below: Checkmate: Clans and Castles: Songbirds are Free: River Passage: Black Swamp Mysteries (Cloak and Mirrors): Black Swamp Mysteries (Vicki’s Key):

Amazon books and trailers are listed at my author page at

What follows is a message of Peter de Kuster,  the founder of the Heroine’s Journey

What is Your Story?

Two Day Tour with Peter de Kuster  in the greatest bookstores of your favorite city. In Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Berlin, London and Amsterdam we offer this unique What is your Story? experience.  To (re) write your story about yourself and your work. In the process transforming your capacity to successfully have the creative life and work you love. 

In this journey, Peter de Kuster,  founder of The Heroine’s Journey explores with you the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our creative business and life.

“Your story is your art, your art is your story,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about our creative challenges, our art, our clients, our money, our self promotion, our time, our families and relationships, our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my creative life and business is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.

Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your creative business and life.

Become a great Storyteller

That’s why I set up What is your Story? service in the great cities of the world and their great bookstores. A new way to use the power of your story.  To guide you to life-changing, eye-opening but often elusive works of literature, both past and present, the books of fiction that truly have the power to enchant, enrich and inspire.

In two days with Peter de Kuster you’ll explore your relationship with books so far and your unique story identity will be sketched. You will be guided to books that can put their finger on what you want to rewrite in your story, the feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books that open new perspectives and re-enchant the world for you.

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of your session and you’ll be given an instant story advice and books to read to take away. Your full story advice and books to read list will follow within a couple of days.


What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the WHAT IS YOUR STORY? journey.

Journey Outline


  • What is your Story?
  • Are you even trying to tell a Story?
  • Old Stories  (stories about you, your art, your clients, your money, your self promotion, your happiness, your health)
  • Tell your current Story
  • Is this Really Your Story?


  • The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
  • The words on your tombstone
  • You ultimate mission, out loud
  • The Seven Great Plots
  • The Twelve Archetypal Heroines
  • The One Great Story
  • Purpose is Never Forgettable
  • Questioning the Premise
  • Lining up
  • Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
  • The Three Rules in Storytelling
  • Write Your New Story


  • Turning your story into action
  • The Story Effect
  • Story Ritualizing
  • The Storyteller and the art of story
  • The Power of Your Story
  • Storyboarding your creative process
  • They Created and Lived Happily Ever After


The “What is your Story?” fee is Euro 2.495 excluding VAT for a private tour with a small group of 1 or 2 people.

Questions? Contact Peter de Kuster at 0031 6 33661772 or mail him at


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