Trouble Comes to Dover Plains Part Two

Mackay threw Andrew over the saddle of John Hardy’s horse and led them both up to the jail on Front Street at the edge of town.

Dover Plains was a prosperous town by Montana standards. Lumber, mining, farming and ranching thrived all around it, so the town had the resources to build a solid jail to house its criminals. After leaving the cavalry, Mackay came back to Dover Plains and was elected sheriff. He made sure a jail was built to his standards: a two-storey stone building that was damned near impossible to burn down.

Mackay had dumped Andrew on the cot in a cell in the back. The young man had barely stirred.

A familiar knock came at the jailhouse door before a rattle of keys opened it. His father, Brendan “Pappy” Mackay, came in and shut the door behind him. He held a Winchester rifle in his right hand. Pappy was short but broad with the arms of a blacksmith and the temperament of a man half his age. The full white beard made him look seventy, but he’d only turned fifty that year.

Although he’d been in this country since before the War between the States, Pappy had never lost his Longford brogue. “Heard you’ve got yourself a spot of trouble, boy.”

“Nothing I can’t handle,” Mackay said as he locked Andrew’s cell. “Get back to your hardware store and keep your head down.”

The old man grinned. “Bullshit. There’s a fight comin’ and I aim to be part of it.”

Which was why he didn’t want his father anywhere near the jail when Hardy’s men got there. The old man’s fighting spirit had gotten him a chest full of medals when he’d served with Sherman, but Mackay didn’t want him – or his mouth – sparking a fight with Hardy’s men. “I’m shorthanded, so I need you to get the other shopkeepers ready when Hardy’s men come to town. Chances are, someone’s already ridden out to tell his men what happened, so when they come, they’ll come shooting.”

The elder Mackay clearly didn’t like being dismissed. “I don’t like you bein’ here alone. Where’s Billy Blue and Sim?”

“Running the Scanlon boys down to Butte for trial,” Mackay said of his two deputies. “Don’t worry about me. But I’ll need you and the others to kill Hardy’s men if things go sideways.”

Mackay had never won an argument with his father in all his twenty-seven years, so he was surprised when Pappy relented. “Think things will break that way?”

Mackay took his Winchester down from the rifle rack on the wall. “We’ll find out soon enough.”

*          *          *          *          *

            Mackay was in his rocking chair on the jailhouse porch when he heard the riders coming down the hill into town. He knew a man his age was too young for a rocking chair, which caused no shortage of consternation and amusement among the citizens of Dover Plains. But the gentle rocking motion served to calm him in ways neither liquor nor women nor tobacco ever could. And if there was ever a time he’d need calm, it was now.

Mackay had figured if Hardy’s men rode in with the cattle, it meant they didn’t know what had happened to their boss. But since they were riding into town alone, that meant word of the shooting must’ve reached them.

That meant they’d be ready for battle.

So was Mackay. The Winchester was propped up against the wall beside him and the Colt on his belly holster was loaded.

Mackay kept rocking slow and steady as he watched seven men rein in their mounts to a trot when they reached Front Street. Horses and men alike looked trail lean and dusty from their long trek up to Montana.

The jailhouse was easy to spot from the edge of town and it didn’t take long for them to ride his way.

Mackay didn’t get up to greet them. He just kept rocking instead. A man in a rocking chair was easier to talk to than a sheriff with his hand on his gun. Especially when that sheriff had just killed the man who was supposed to pay them.

In Mackay’s experience, odd numbers usually meant one clear leader of a group. This group was no different. A thin, tan man who looked more vaquero than cowpuncher surprised him by spurring his horse ahead of the others. “You Mackay?”

Mackay rocked, nodded. “Sheriff Mackay. And I take it you boys work for John Hardy.”

“I am Ricardo Narvaez,” the man said, “and we did work for John Hardy. That is, right up until you killed him.”

Mackay saw that Narvaez’s eyes were dark, yet clear with intent and purpose. Trying to buffalo this man would be a waste of time, so he kept his tone civil and plain. “I knew John Hardy pretty well. And seeing as how you rode up all the way up here with him, you knew him pretty well, too. He wasn’t an easy man to back down.”

“Not when he was in the right,” Narvaez said. “And from what we’ve heard, he had every right to kill the drunken bastard who spat on him.”

The six other riders nodded and grumbled their consent.

“Maybe so out on the trail, but in my town, drunks get jailed, not killed. I gave Hardy plenty of room to let it go but he went for his gun instead. And I’ve got the witnesses to prove it.”

Narvaez leaned over and spat into the thoroughfare. “That’s what I think of your witnesses. Cowards who’d put their name to anything you wanted. Hell, we heard John didn’t even clear leather before you gunned him down.”

“That’s right. I took his gun out of his holster right after, along with the money he had on him. Five hundred dollars, cash money. I’ll hand his whole rig over to anyone who can prove they have a rightful claim to his property.”

“We’re here to claim his property right now,” Narvaez said. “And we’re laying claim to that drunk, too.”

Mackay looked down the street to where the cattle pens were. “Looks like the cattle broker’s gone home for the evening, boys, but you or your paymaster can see him first thing tomorrow about squaring away whatever pay you boys have coming to you.”

“And the drunk?”

Mackay kept rocking. “Afraid you’re going to be disappointed on that score.”

When the six men other men looked at each other for assurance, he knew they weren’t fighters. They were in this for the money and Mackay had already settled that question fairly.

But Narvaez only looked at Mackay. “John Hardy wanted the drunk, but he was just one man. How do you think you’d fare against seven?”

Mackay kept rocking. “About the same.”

“That so?”

Mackay stopped rocking. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Narvaez looked at Mackay but said to the others, “You boys head back to camp. Tell the others we’ll bring the cattle into town at first light.”

The rider on Narvaez’s left looked relieved. “That’s fine, Ricky. But what are you gonna do?”

Narvaez smiled. “I’m going to keep talking to the sheriff here. See if I can’t make him listen to reason.”

The sheriff and the vaquero kept looking at each other as the six riders wheeled their mounts and went back to the herd. It wasn’t long before it was just the two of them on Front Street. Dusk had only just begun, but the entire town was already quiet and the boardwalks empty.

Narvaez sat up straighter in the saddle, showing Mackay he wore his gun on his belly, just like Mackay. “I’d wager you have the town buttoned down pretty tight, don’t you marshal? That on our account?”

It was Mackay’s turn to smile. “I’m just a sheriff, Mr. Narvaez. And Dover Plains is a careful town. Started up by old war vets like my father who believe there is prudence in precaution.”

maccauleyTerrence P. McCauley is an award-winning writer of crime fiction. His latest novel, SLOW BURN is currently available from Noir Nation Books. His first book, PROHIBITION, published by Airship 27, is a full-length novel set in the colorful, exciting world of 1930 New York City. Terry Quinn is an ex-boxer turned mob enforcer who must use his brains instead of his brawn to figure out who is trying to undermine his boss’s criminal empire and why.Quinn’s boxing career is also featured in a prequel – FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES – published by Fight Card Books.

Terrence has had short stories featured in Thuglit, Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol. 1 and 2, Atomic Noir and Big Pulp among other places. He recently compiled GRAND CENTRAL NOIR, an anthology where 100% of the proceeds go directly to a non-profit called God’s Love We Deliver.

A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently working on his next work of fiction.

“John Hardy was a prudent man, too,” Narvaez said. “Taught me a lot about life. How to stand up for what’s right and put an end to what’s wrong.”

“Words to live by. But I ordered him to walk away and he went for his gun instead. Now he’s dead and there’s nothing that’ll bring him back.”

“Maybe, but the dead can be avenged.”

“Seen my share of death, son. Never saw any avenging in it. Just more death.”

Narvaez wasn’t smiling anymore. “John Hardy was like a father to me.”

“He was a good man,” Mackay said. “That’s why you ought to learn from his mistake and ride on.”

“He was full of drink when you shot him. I’m not.”

“Neither am I.”

Narvaez’s hand moved toward his gun. Mackay drew from his rocking chair and fired twice. The first shot hit the vaquero in the chest. The second in the throat. The gunfire made Narvaez’s horse rear up and drop him from the saddle before bolting back up the hill to the cattle camp outside of town.

Mackay stood up and slowly stepped off the boardwalk; his gun aimed down at Narvaez. The vaquero was still alive, but gasping for air through the hole in his throat. His gun arm twitched up, but Mackay’s boot pinned it down. Not even death dimmed the hatred in Narvaez’s dark eyes.

“You forced this,” Mackay said. “Not me.”

With a final twitch and a gurgle, Narvaez joined his hero in whatever lay beyond death.

Like ants from an ant hill, a crowd quickly filled in on Front Street to see what had happened. Pappy Mackay was the first one across the street. His Winchester still in hand.

“Think that’s the end of it?” he asked his son.

“Should be.” Mackay watched Narvaez’s horse gallop up the distant hill out of town. The sky had taken on a rich evening hue. Too pretty a night for so much death.

He emptied the two dead cartridges and replaced them with new rounds. “And if it isn’t, I’ll be ready.”


Trouble Comes to Dover Plains Part One

Dover Plains, Montana – 1877

“Tin star or not, Mackay, I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch. And I’m going to kill him right here and now.”

The gamblers and drunkards and whores in the Tin Horn Saloon quietly pushed their chairs away from their tables as John Hardy made his declaration.

But Sheriff Aaron Mackay stayed by Andy Johnson’s side, even though the young man had been passed out drunk since before Mackay had gotten there. “No one needs to die here today. Not Young Andy, here. And not you, either.”

The cattleman’s hand quivered as he pointed at the sodden lump at the table. “That little bastard threw a drink in my face – the very same goddamned drink I bought him – and then he spat on me. Did you hear what I said, Mackay? He spat, goddamn it! And for no good reason, either.”

Mackay knew arguing would just make Hardy angrier than he already was. “And he’s going to spend the night in jail for it. I’m going to give him a heavy fine, too. But the boy buried his father today, Johnny. If a man ever deserved any leeway….”

“Ain’t no leeway when it comes to spitting on me.” Hardy lowered his hand toward the holster on his right hip. “Now stand aside and let me do what needs doing.”

But Mackay didn’t move. He didn’t have to. His hand had been on his belt the whole time, next to the belly holster to the left of his belt buckle. The butt of his Colt already aimed in Hardy’s direction. Mackay had taken to wearing his gun that way back when he was in the cavalry. He liked the edge the easy draw gave him either on horseback or on foot.

“Don’t do anything stupid, Johnny. You won’t live long enough to regret it.”

Hardy’s face quivered as his eyes narrowed. “I’ve never backed down from any man.”

“I know. I’ve heard that before.”

“And I’ll be damned if I start now.”

“Yeah,” Mackay said. “I’ve heard that before, too.”

He’d always known John Hardy to be a reasonable man whenever he’d come to Dover Plains to sell his cattle. He tried one last time to appeal to that reason now. “You’re not a bad man, Johnny. You’re a trail boss used to campfire scrapes and drunken cowhands getting rowdy. But you’re not on the trail now and I’m not one of your cowhands. Don’t make me kill you.”

Mackay never took his eyes off Hardy, but he could feel the mood in the saloon change. None of the drunks or whores or gamblers made a sound, but their fear and expectation was palpable, like a strong prairie wind pushing Hardy toward the decision he’d come to. If it had just been Hardy, Mackay and the boy, Mackay figured Hardy might’ve listened to reason.

But it wasn’t just the three of them and reason didn’t apply. Hardy had an audience now and pride was involved.

Mackay had seen pride kill far too many people to doubt what would happen next.

Henry’s hand jerked toward his pistol.

Mackay drew and fired two shots through his chest before Hardy cleared leather.

Hardy’s body tumbled backward through the batwing doors onto the boardwalk on Front Street. With his Colt still in hand, Mackay pushed his way through the customers of the Tin Horn who’d managed to find their legs again as they rushed to look at the freshly dead man.

Mackay pushed through the batwing doors, gun first. But one look at Hardy’s vacant eyes and he knew the cattleman would never threaten anyone again. He slid the gun from Hardy’s holster anyway. Dead men can’t hurt you, but Aaron Mackay had never been one for taking chances.

As was his custom, he searched Hardy’s pockets for valuables. He liked to collect all property and catalogue it in front of witnesses so no one could claim anything had been stolen later. He found a wad of cash in the inside pocket of the cattleman’s jacket. A quick count came up five hundred dollars.

A crowd of Tin Horn customers and regular townspeople had gathered to gape at the body of John Hardy and at the man who had shot him. Dead bodies weren’t foreign to the town of Dover Plains. It was why they’d hired a man like Mackay to be sheriff in the first place.

But in the two years since Mackay had returned to Dover Plains and became sheriff, dead men on Front Street had become an infrequent sight in this small Montana town.

Mackay holstered his weapon and held up the cash for all to see. “I want all of you to see that I’ve taken five hundred dollars from John Hardy’s pockets. I will hold this money and his horse until someone lays rightful claim to his possessions.”

Murmurs started among the crowd like coffee percolating in a pot until Sam Warren, the owner of the Tin Horn, stepped forward. “Aaron, I…”

But Mackay was in no mood to hear the fat man’s nonsense. “I ought to lock you up, too, for letting young Andy get drunk enough to start all this. Just because his old man left him a pile of money when he died doesn’t give you the right to take it from him in one night. Christ, Sam. We just buried his father just this morning.”

maccauleyTerrence P. McCauley is an award-winning writer of crime fiction. His latest novel, SLOW BURN is currently available from Noir Nation Books. His first book, PROHIBITION, published by Airship 27, is a full-length novel set in the colorful, exciting world of 1930 New York City. Terry Quinn is an ex-boxer turned mob enforcer who must use his brains instead of his brawn to figure out who is trying to undermine his boss’s criminal empire and why.Quinn’s boxing career is also featured in a prequel – FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES – published by Fight Card Books.

Terrence has had short stories featured in Thuglit, Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol. 1 and 2, Atomic Noir and Big Pulp among other places. He recently compiled GRAND CENTRAL NOIR, an anthology where 100% of the proceeds go directly to a non-profit called God’s Love We Deliver.

A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently working on his next work of fiction.

Warren, a fat little man who seemed to always be drying his hands in a bar apron, surprised Mackay by taking the rebuke well. “There’s time enough for us to talk about my failings as a proprietor, Aaron, but there’s more pressing matters facing you at the moment. Because John Hardy’s men will be coming into town with the cattle he was driving up here.”

Mackay had already figured that. But it didn’t make shooting Hardy any less necessary. “Any idea on how long Hardy’s been in town?”

Warren pointed at the money in Mackay’s hand. “Long enough to get an advance on the cattle he’s bringing. Maybe a couple of hours at most. He came in here all smiles and bought the house a couple of rounds. Him and young Andy seemed to be getting along just fine until the boy took offense to something and started all the trouble. That’s when I sent someone to get you. Hardy came back heeled just after you got here.”

Some men would’ve asked for all the particulars, but Mackay knew particulars didn’t matter anymore. Because John Hardy was dead and his men would soon be bringing his cattle to town. They’d be looking for their payday and, most likely, for the man who’d killed their boss.

Mackay spotted a burly red nose named Robinson just inside the doorway of the saloon and said, “You sober enough to go fetch Doc Ridley?”

Robinson shrugged. “Probably.”

“Then do it. Tell him to bring his wagon and haul Hardy away until his men come to collect him. And no drinking along the way, or I swear to Christ, you’ll be lying on the table next to him.”

Robinson went off and Mackay said to Warren: “I want you to write that down on a sheet of paper what happened here and sign it. I want everyone else who can sign or make their mark to do the same. Bring it over to me at the jail as soon as possible. You’ve got half an hour. Any delay, and what I just said to Robinson goes for you, too.”

The bar owner looked genuinely hurt. “Jesus, Aaron. No need to threaten me. I’m only tryin’ to help.”

Mackay looked back into the bar and saw young Andrew still passed out at the table. The drunken bastard had no notion of how close he’d come to dying. “You’ve helped enough for one day.”


Interview: Terrence McCauley

me hatThis week we sit down with Terrence McCauley, a New Yorker with a passion for the past. His ex-heavyweight boxer turned enforcer, Terry Quinn, has appeared in joints like THUGLIT and ATOMIC NOIR, as well as recently released novels FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES and PROHIBITION, and most recently in our own flashzine with “The Careful Hunter.” His new book SLOW BURN was released from the newly launched Noir Nation Books.

With so much going on, and he’s support of Shotgun Honey, how could we not help him sell some more books. You will buy his books! So let’s get on with it.

How’d you get the gun? Or rather what drew you to crime fiction?

I’ve always been drawn to unconventional stories. I enjoy the standard cops and robbers stuff, but I’ve never really wanted to write that kind of fiction. I’ve been in politics and government for most of my life, so I know there are no good guys or bad guys in life. We’re all capable of good and bad given a particular situation. I also didn’t want to write excessively about crooked/bad cops either because I think that’s just as unrealistic. I decided to write about people as they were, warts and all.

I set my Terry Quinn character in the past because I didn’t want to write a contemporary story about contemporary problems. Researching modern criminal and police tactics don’t interest me. Sure, they’re important in real life, but I didn’t want to spend time learning about them for my fiction. I wanted my story to be set in an interesting time period in America’s history in general and New York City history in particular. That’s why I set my story during the Prohibition era. It just naturally evolved into a crime story from there and I’m glad it did.

Our readers, some for the first time, got a taste of Terry Quinn the other day with “The Careful Hunter.” Tells them a little more about Terry, what makes him tick?

Throughout the course of the Quinn books and stories, I do my best to portray him as a guy who is much smarter than he thinks he is. He believes he’s just a thug, but no one really treats him that way. He’s every bit as smart as he is tough – and he’s pretty tough. He has a deep sense of loyalty to Archie Doyle, the crime boss for whom he works and the feeling is mutual. So many mob stories feature some kind of predictable schism between the head boss and the hit man. In the Quinn stories, I didn’t give myself that luxury. If anything, consistent loyalty between the two men has forced me to come up with more creative story lines for them.

Do the Quinn stories take place in our present timeline, or an alternate one allowing you more flexibility? What kind of research goes into setting a story in the Prohibition era?

The Quinn stories are set in the 1930s. The setting provides me with the flexibility to use historical figures and events to pepper my stories. I ignore them or pay attention to them, depending on how I feel they can serve my plot’s purpose.

That takes a lot of research which sounds like a lot of work. It is, but it’s also very rewarding. Research gave me new plot ideas and pushed me in directions I never intended to go. That makes my work better and the act of writing it very exciting.

Sometimes writers put a little of themselves in their characters, anything in former boxer turned PI that reflects you?

Well, Quinn isn’t really a PI. He’s more of an enforcer than anything else. I’d say that if there’s anything of me in Quinn, it’s his grit. I’m a great believer in not giving up on anything until every avenue is explored. My writing career has been like that. A lot of people told me to quit writing period fiction and forget about the Quinn character. They told me audiences want a hero they can admire; a character to whom they can relate. But I knew in my heart Quinn was a good character that audiences would like. He’s a cold blooded killer, sure, but he does it for the right reasons. He isn’t reckless about it and he always has a plan. He’s tough with a purpose and he never gives up. I didn’t give up when all those people told me to do so. Now I’ve got several short stories in print and three books on the market. Hopefully, it’s the beginning of a long career.

Forget the naysayers, who and what venues have given Quinn support? Where can our readers find the short stories?

Quinn has found a home in both short fiction and in novels. Airship 27 published PROHIBITION, a full length Quinn novel and FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES is about the end of Quinn’s boxing career. Short stories featuring Quinn have appeared in THUGLIT published by the Honey Boo Boo of Crime Fiction today: Todd Robinson. Those stories are called ‘Lady Madeline’s Dive’ and ‘Redemption’. Matt Hilton’s ACTION, PULSE POUNDING TALES, VOL. 1 featured an action packed Quinn story called ‘Blood Moon of 1931’. Out of the Gutter Books ran a story of a 1950s Quinn in ATOMIC NOIR called ‘A Brave New World’. All of these works are available on Amazon. I’m proud that six different publishers (including Shotgun Honey) have proved the naysayers wrong and seen value in the Quinn character. He’s someone I’d like to write about for a long, long time.

FIGHT CARD is a notable series of boxing stories penned by under the pseudonym “Jack Tunney,” an homage I can guess to Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. Many of our contributors have been “Jack Tunney.” Being part of a series like that, were there any guidelines, rules to follow?

ROPESThe main rule is that the story has to center around The Big Fight in a boxer’s career. That makes sure the reader knows there will be some kind of dramatic payoff at the end. Yes, it’s a theme that’s been done to death in almost every boxing story ever told, but Paul Bishop and Mel Odom have done a great job of building FIGHT CARD into a damned respectable franchise. They’ve featured some of the best fiction writers out there today and I’m honored to be part of it. I encourage everyone to check out the series on Amazon. There honestly isn’t a weak story in the bunch. I’m especially proud of my FIGHT CARD entry because it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

PROHIBITION from Ron Fortier’s Airship 27 imprint was your first novel featuring Quinn. How did that come about and give us the pitch for PROHIBITION?

ProhibitionFINALaPROHIBITION is about Terry Quinn, an ex-heavyweight contender turned mob enforcer who must use his brains as much as his brawn to find out who is trying to undermine his boss’s criminal empire in 1930 New York City. It is a robust crime drama, filled with memorable historical characters like Mayor Jimmy Walker while portraying the way New York was at the end of Prohibition and the dawn of the Great Depression.

Back in 2008, I submitted PROHIBITION in the running for TruTV’s Search for the Next Great Crime Writer Contest. To my surprise, it beat out over two hundred other manuscripts and won the contest. Borders Book Stores was going to enter the publishing market and promised to not only publish the book, but heavily market it in their stores. Well, we all know what happened to Borders and, well, nothing ever happened with PROHIBITION. Publishers looked at the manuscript and, although they liked it, said no one was interested in period fiction any more. But I took into account their more technical criticisms of the work and revised the manuscript, hoping I’d find a publisher for it one day. If the big publishers weren’t interested, I figured I’d give the smaller presses a try. My agent dropped me at that point and I found Airship 27. Ron loved the manuscript, but told me that it was about 20,000 words too long for him to publish. So, I pulled an Ellroy and edited dialogue tags and other information. The result? I came under Ron’s word limit by a thousand or so words. He hired the great Rob Moran to do original interior illustrations and the cover of the book.

The result is a unique work that really stands out. FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES was written in late 2012 as sort of a prequel to PROHIBITION, detailing the end of Quinn’s boxing career, which receives a mention in PROHIBITION.

It must be a thrill after nearly 5 years to see PROHIBITION in print? These last few months have been a big upswing, or should I say uppercut, with PROHIBITION, FIGHT CARD: AGAINST THE ROPES and your third novel SLOW BURN from Noir Nation Books.

Slow Burn CoverIt is a great thrill. Even though I kept getting rejection after rejection, I kept writing. I thought about self publishing for a while, but I’m so glad Quinn has found a home in a variety of forms with a variety of publishers. I also have another Quinn story coming out later this year in Big Pulp. It’s a story where Quinn and Doyle go up against Joe Kennedy. SLOW BURN is different from anything I’ve ever written. It’s told in first person from Charlie Doherty’s perspective. He’s a corrupt Tammany Hall cop who finds himself embroiled in a murder/kidnapping case that involves one of New York City’s wealthiest families. It’s set in 1932 during a heat wave that set the entire city on the edge. Throw in the fact that the Great Depression was starting to hit home and it sets the stage for a good story. I’m glad Eddie Vega decided to publish it as the first in the Noir Nation Books franchise.

Like most writers I know, this wave is a long time coming and has been tempered with juggling real world concerns. What’s your day job, and how and where do you find time to write?

I’m the Manager of Government and Community Relations for MTA Metro-North Railroad. We’re the largest commuter railroad in the country and deal with dozens of communities and elected officials, so I’m kept pretty busy. I find time to write any time I can: on the ride into work, on the ride home, at night and on weekends. Writing has always been a labor of love for me and is my way of relaxing. I enjoy every part of the process: drafting, rewriting, editing and especially the feedback I get on my work. Even when it’s negative feedback, as long as it’s valuable in making me a better writer. Of course, when it’s positive feedback, that’s even better.

What can we expect from you in the future?

While I’ll always love the 1930s and hope to write about that era and Terry Quinn and Charlie Doherty for a long time, I’m always interested in challenging myself as a writer. That’s why I’m currently working on a Western I’m calling THE DEVIL’S CUT as well as a short story for The Big Adios. I’ve also got several other projects in the works, including a modern day spy thriller, a space opera and a horror story I’ve been kicking around for a while. Maybe they’ll flop, maybe they’ll find a home. I don’t have any control over that. All I can do is turn out the best work I can and do my best to improve my craft and entertain my audience. I seem to be off to a good start. Here’s hoping it keeps going.

Terrence, thank you for sitting down with us. One last question before you go, can you give us, our readers, any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

My advice to any writer is to just write. Don’t worry about publishing trends. Tell the story you want to tell. Tell it your way and find people who will give you honest criticism. Always be open to improving yourself and never give up.