Friday, October 21, 2011

Ask the Author: Teresa Burrell

Fans of the ZOVA catalog have been following Teresa Burrell's Advocate Series for quite a while. We're eagerly anticipating the release of the series' third installment, The Advocate's Conviction, on October 22nd. To give you an idea of the author, her writing and life, here are some of our most pressing questions - and her answers:

What inspired you to develop the Advocate Series?

I worked in juvenile court for 12 years and saw some horrendous cases. Some of them just begged to be told. I wrote the first book, The Advocate, because I had this case that really haunted me. I knew it would make for good reading if it was told correctly and might help to educate the public as well.

How does your new release, The Advocate's Conviction, compare to the first two books in the series? 

This book is a little different than the first two. I personally think the mystery will be harder to solve. In the first two books it wasn't as much about who did it as it was the why. This one deals more with both. It also covers some strange cases that involves ritual abuse. Just like the first two, it isn't graphic, but it is filled with suspense.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Trying to write about satanic ritual abuse without getting too creepy. I think it worked.

We know that you, like your character Sabre Orin Brown, were a juvenile defense attorney in San Diego. In what ways are you and your character alike, and in what ways are you different?

A lot of Sabre's experiences are the same as mine, but her personality is different. Her family life, her background, her personal experiences are very different from mine. Also, she is younger, prettier, smarter, richer, thinner...than me.

In using real cases for inspiration in your novels, how do you determine what works in fiction and what doesn't?

When something is too coincidental, no matter how real it is, I don't use it for fear readers will say, "That wouldn't happen." 

Each of your novels relies upon interesting secondary characters - as victims, clients, villains, etc. What do you look for in a good secondary character?

I like my secondary characters to be a little on the edge, sometimes they are patterned after real people (generally a combination of people). And I push the lines more with the secondary characters, like they be a little more "perfect" than Sabre, Bob, or JP, or a little too extreme. 

What habits do you have to help you write?

I write best in my home with no music, no phone calls, no interruptions. I need quiet to write. Occasionally, I can sit in a coffee shop or by the water if there's not too many distractions and I know where my character is taking me. My most creative moments are done in complete silence, however.

Sabre's experiences are very much shaped by the events of her past, namely, the disappearance of her brother several years before. How do you think her character might be different under different circumstances?

Sabre has some serious trust and abandonment issues, much of that is shaped by the disappearance of her brother, the death of her father, and we are just starting to see how her mother's has helped to shape her personality as well. Not everything about Sabre has been revealed yet, not unlike when you meet someone you might see some behavior in them but not know why they act the way they do. It's the same with our characters, we see what they do but we don't always know why. Sometimes I know why and sometimes the character shows me why.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work?

I hope it will help them escape to another place and just enjoy the read, stimulate the mind working as they try to solve the mystery, and maybe learn a little something about the juvenile court system while they're at it.

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