Please welcome Teri Lee to today’s author spotlight as she talks about her novel, Troubled Spirits, her writing and her writing process.
Annie Waters hates birthdays. At least she hates her birthday, because every year her mother retells the story of her grandmother’s ghostly appearance in the delivery room. But if that wasn’t bad enough, on her sixteenth birthday, she killed her dad.
Forced to move to Shady Cove, Maine, Annie is drawn deep into the world of the supernatural. Tormented by an angry spirit, she has only nine days to unravel the mystery of the Caldwell School or join the spirit world herself.
Buy Troubled Spirits at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and KoboBooks.
Welcome to Britbear’s Book Reviews, Teri. I’m curious: from where did the idea for Troubled Spirits come?
Troubled Spirits was inspired by some of my ER co-workers. They invited me to join their ghost hunting group. I started to say no, but something stopped me. We only went on one ghost hunting excursion, which was eye-opening for me. But Troubled Spirits was born with just the thought of being part of a group of ghost hunters.
That sounds so interesting. I watch so much ghost-hunting on television, but outside of a haunted tour of my city, I’ve never actually ghost-hunted myself. I’m sure the experience you mention above plays some role in it, but how did you originally get interested in writing in the paranormal and young adult genres?
There’s not much I haven’t seen while working in the ER. It can be fast-paced, intense, heartbreaking, exhilarating and sometimes it makes you say “huh?”. Writing YA paranormal or fantasy is a fun escape. I guess it’s what keeps me ready to face death in one room and a splinter in the next. Plus, I love to scare myself!
Ghosts abound in Troubled Spirits. Do you believe in ghosts and why? Have you ever seen a ghost? If you have, tell us about the experience.
How can anyone not believe in the supernatural? The shadow that you glimpse out of the corner of you eye. The whispering voice in the dark. The prickle on the back of your neck. The presence in the room right after someone passes away. My favorite experience involves a quarter. It was 2 a.m. when I made my way to the vending machine in the deserted hospital cafeteria. My quarter slipped from my fingers and rolled away. Instead of ending its trip in a circular tumble, it kept going. Curious I followed it across the room. But when that quarter made a smooth turn through the door and into the main cafeteria, I felt that little tingle on the back of my neck. And I kept right on following my quarter as it travelled past three tables and then made a second turn and came to rest behind a chair. I shivered. Suddenly the cafeteria was freezing. As I bent to pick up my quarter, I felt someone standing behind me. I whirled around. No one was there. My heart was pounding as I dashed from the cafeteria and back to the ER.
What an amazing story!
Back to Troubled Spirits, what was your model for Caldwell School?
The model for the Caldwell School is the Greeley School in Cumberland, Maine. Early in the story I googled ‘haunted schools in Maine’ and Greeley High School popped up. I visited Cumberland a couple times and spoke to the librarian about the rumored hauntings. He assured me that it was all rumor. But that rumor provided a little more inspiration for Troubled Spirits.
What makes Annie Waters a hero in the eyes of your young readers?
Annie doesn’t believe in ghosts until she ventures into the Caldwell School and realizes she has no choice but to believe. Even though she’s terrified and her first instinct is to run away, she doesn’t. She learns about the thing she fears. And when she realizes her friends are in danger, she faces the spirit alone. She’ll do anything to protect her friends. Learning about the things we are afraid of instead of avoiding them is a powerful character trait. It will make you a stronger person.
Let’s shift our focus a bit and talk about the writing process. What do you think are the most important elements of good writing? What tools are must-haves for writers?
Writing believeable characters is the building block of a great story. I want my reader to connect with the character so that when they turn that last page they are wondering what happens next in the character’s life. The next step is a story that flows. I try to avoid word repitition or repeating the same information over and over again. I never want my reader to want to stop or be tempted to skip past a section because I’ve repeated what they already know.
Essential tools for every writer- Read, read, read. Join a critique group! My critique group is amazing. They bleed all over my submissions with their red ink and I love them for it. They keep my characters in line. They help me trim the slump from my plot. And they encourage me with the occassional “check plus”. I’d also recommend the book Save the Cat to help with plot development
I love the idea of bleeding on your page with red ink.
Your words will provide inspiration for other writers out there. What about your inspiration?If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I admire so many authors that it’s difficult to choose a mentor, but I guess I’ll say Madeleine L’Engle author A Wrinkle in Time.
Which author would you say has a similar writing style to your own? To which novel is Troubled Spirits similar? Please explain.
Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series is similar to Troubled Spirits. Just like, Annie in Troubled Spirits, Suze has a connection to spirits. While Annie is still learning about her gift, Suze has it mastered. But Annie is learning quickly and it won’t be long before she’s not waiting for the spirits to find her.
So far as a writing style similar to mine….I’m not sure. I’d like to say that I my writing style is unique to me. But I’d be naïve to not realize that my writing style was formed by the books I’ve read. I grew up reading lots of Trixie Belden Mysteries as well as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I’ve read Jurassic Park seven times! I speed read through Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isle’s series, thanks to the buy next book button on my Kindle. I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross books…I could go on like this forever, but I don’t think I write like any of them.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
I always want to be asked what I’m passionate about. And that’s the power of words. Once words are spoken or read you can’t take them back. They have so much power! Each time I go to a school, I talk about word power. I tell the story of a young teenage mother that I cared for when I worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. All I did was tell her what a good mother she was. About two years later, I ran into her at Walmart. She was working the checkout. I didn’t remember her, but she remembered me. She had someone cover for her so she could talk to me. She thanked me for those words, because they gave her the strength to believe in herself–to finish school and start classes to be a medical assistant. I never imagined the impact those words would have on her. I also talk about the negative power of words. I will be forever impacted by the experience of caring for a young boy who took his own life because of bullying. I will never forget his mother holding his hand, pleading with him to be strong as we tried to bring him back. (I don’t talk about that part at the school) My challenge to everyone is this: What will your words do?
Speaking of…those are some incredibly powerful words.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few things. Most of my time is spent on the sequel to Troubled Spirits. But I’m also working to clean up a middle grade fantasy that I wrote several years ago. I’m still in love with the story line, but I was new to the craft and made every mistake imaginable. But I’m determined to polish it up and put it into the hands of readers!
Best of luck with it and everything else you mention here. Thanks for doing this interview for me.
Here’s where you can learn more about Teri and her writing:
| Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Troubled Spirits Trailer |
About Teri Lee (From her Amazon Author Page):
Teri Lee grew up in Maine where she spent hours in the woods with her friends dreaming up imaginary worlds. Together they shared adventures in places such as Land of the Lost, Paradise, and a sliding hill named Trouble.
As an adult, she still loves long hikes in the woods. When she’s not writing, reading or hiking, you’ll find her saving lives in the ER (and removing the occasional tick along with other emergencies).