The books shown on the left are by TERRY ADCOCK. Click on the cover to order.
This interview was conducted by Dianne Woodman on September 14, 2021.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Where did you get your inspiration from in the writing of this book?
TERRY ADCOCK: I've always been a fan of strong female protagonists similar to Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and Sarah Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski. Readers will quickly discover Vic Carella is an independent woman and on occasion not above coloring outside the lines, so to speak. When forced to defend herself, her survival instincts, combined with her prior military training, enable her to defeat adversaries in what, I hope, are plausible and well-choreographed scenarios.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Did you visit the Washington metropolitan area where the story takes place, or did you consult online and offline information sources about the location?
TERRY ADCOCK: I live in Maryland, just across the DC line. Places like the Kennedy Center and Georgetown (and points along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue) are minutes from my home. I thoroughly researched the St Augustine area for the scene where Vic follows the Russian gang to Florida. That scene is a work of fiction, but predicated on actual locations that are likely recognizable by those familiar with the area.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Did real people inspire any characters? If not, how did you come up with the characters and their personality types in your book?
TERRY ADCOCK: While many characters were the product of my imagination, one of my favorite "characters" is Marlowe, Vic's cat. I included Marlowe as a tribute to two cats my wife and I adopted. We were out for a drive one day and ended up rescuing Marlowe as he cowered on the side of the road, and then there was Maxie who learned to navigate his new home in spite of his blindness. Another character, the "old gray-haired Sarge" is a composite of three people important to me from my army days. Here and there, I incorporated little "inside" tidbits from past experiences and snatches of conversation with friends going waaay back in time. They say writers must write of what they know, and so I included memorable people and events from my past.
DIANNE WOODMAN: What was your reasoning behind telling the entire story through the eyes of Vic, the central character?
TERRY ADCOCK: I wanted readers to feel as if they were right in the middle of the action alongside Vic. Frequently, Vic speaks directly to the reader; she makes little side comments or offers her opinion as if the reader were standing next to her having a conversation. For example, one evening after dining out, Vic half expected her dinner date to lean in for a goodnight kiss only to leave her standing on the sidewalk. Never mind that she would have somehow avoided the brief intimacy, but when it didn't happen, she expresses her disappointment at what was obviously her secret desire. The reader is right there in the moment with Vic, and shares her disappointment.
DIANNE WOODMAN: What made you decide that Vic should have a military police background?
TERRY ADCOCK: In many stories, the private investigator was at one time a police officer, however, I decided that Vic Carella's law enforcement background should begin as a military policewoman. While I don't have practical experience in law enforcement, I was in the military and can lend credence to Vic's thoughts and experiences. In fact, many "inside" events alluded to in the story were borrowed, and even embellished, from my own military background.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Why did you choose to focus on money laundering, arms smuggling, and human trafficking as criminal activities?
TERRY ADCOCK: Vic bills herself the ace "finder of lost objects", so she could hardly pass on a request to locate a missing luxury yacht. What started out as a challenge quite different from her normal routine quickly escalates into something almost beyond her control as it transpires her client's yacht is used for illicit purposes. At the time of this writing, the crimes Vic investigates (arms smuggling, money laundering, and human trafficking) are topical and frequently in the news. The despicable practice of human trafficking is as old as the history of mankind. Nevertheless, this atrocity continues to flourish all over the world.
DIANNE WOODMAN: In the story, each federal agency focuses on separate agendas pertinent to its organization. Is the way the government agencies conduct business based on factual or fictional methodology?
TERRY ADCOCK: In my experience and research, agencies can become myopic in their adherence to their respective jurisdictions. While crimes and competing interests overlap quite frequently, for the purposes of my story, I portrayed agents and agencies as focused on their respective mission where they act as a disinterested third-party to investigations they regard as ancillary to their own.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Vic faces an ethical dilemma when she decides whether to let a hardened criminal survive or die. Do you think readers will agree or disagree with Vic's decision?
TERRY ADCOCK: This scene presented quite an ethical challenge for me. On the one hand, we expect our protagonists to play by the rules no matter how far afield their adversaries may approach the same scenario. In this scene, however, Vic encounters unspeakable cruelty. In a split second, she decides to deal with this particular abuser of women. By her slow, deliberate movements, she almost goads her opponent into action. In violent situations, conscious decisions and reaction times are immediate. Effective action at a precise moment can make the difference between staying alive or coming in second place in a life or death struggle. As this scene plays out, I must defer to readers to decide if Vic's actions were justified (recalling the perp initially reached for his weapon).
Before judging this ethical dilemma, I want readers to imagine their own visceral reaction to the savage murder of a young girl. On first seeing her tortured body, what comes to mind? How do readers feel about the waste of an innocent life? With her tormentor standing only a few steps away, what about the instinct to survive? Faced with the same scenario, would readers have the presence of mind to effectively defend themselves in that emotion-laden, fast-moving, and explosive situation? As they encounter danger alongside of Vic Carella, readers may be surprised at their own ethical dilemma in their desire for immediate justice.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Your use of figurative language is quite creative and helps readers envision the story without pictures. Did you dream up the vivid imagery, or is it based on any of your own experiences?
TERRY ADCOCK: I admit to having a vivid imagination, however, many personal experiences inevitably crept into the story. In my younger days, I, too, encountered my share of confronta-tions, but I quickly learned about situational awareness, and how to counter aggression. In similar fashion, one scene in particular demonstrates Vic Carella's confidence and self-reliance when she is forced to defend herself against a street thug. Through the swift and judicious use of violence, she quickly takes control of the situation. While wholly fictional, I hope readers find her actions plausible, and in keeping with her military training and will to survive.
DIANNE WOODMAN: When will the second book featuring Vic Carella be available? Will it include any of the same characters? Do you have an idea of how many books there will be in the series?
TERRY ADCOCK: The second installment of the Vic Carella mysteries, That Kind of Day, is targeted for the summer of 2022. Many characters featured in the first story will return. At this time, I am planning seven books in the series; at least that's how many story ideas I've documented to date. Only time will tell whether readers have an interest in the adventures of Vic Carella, Private Investigator, but as long as there's an interest, I will continue writing.
DIANNE WOODMAN: Thank you Terry for taking the time to do this interview with me!
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