A World Of My Own by Terrence McCauley

TerrenceMcCauley
Award-winning author Terrence McCauley returns to the site today. McCauley’s first two novels, Prohibition and Slow Burn, were set in 1930s New York City. He shifted gears with The Devil Dogs of Belleau Wood, a novella set during World War I, before charging hard into his current University series featuring James Hicks. The University is not an institution of higher learning, but rather a clandestine intelligence organization that has been on the frontlines of global espionage for decades. The latest in the series, A Conspiracy of Ravens, is out now.

A World Of My Own

One of the most rewarding parts about writing a spy series is that I get to create the world my characters inhabit. Sure, it has to have some basis in reality, but I’m not writing a text book on spycraft. I’m not qualified to do it and it’s not the kind of book I want to write anyway.

The best part about creating that world is when it takes on a life of its own. When the characters move off in various directions I hadn’t planned or an entirely new group of characters or events exist that I never anticipated. It’s great to turn them loose and see where they go. It’s even more fun to write about it, especially when it all makes sense.

But the same things that make a series enjoyable to write also present the most difficult challenges. My University novels, for example, can be read individually, but they exist in a defined setting. It wasn’t like that with the first book, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, but it was certainly there when I wrote the subsequent books.

I’ve lost track of how many times I had a character say or do something only to catch myself wondering if they had done that before. Did I change Hicks’s appearance from one book to another. Did Tali have that skill in an earlier novel or have I just jumped the shark? Am I writing about a plot point I had in my own head, but didn’t mention in the previous work?

Those kinds of concerns happen more and more as my series expands, but I try not to let it inhibit my writing as it’s happening. I’ll highlight a questionable detail and keep on going until I’m done. Then I’ll open the document of the previous work and search for the troubling detail or characteristic.

Getting it right may be a bit time consuming, but it’s better than getting an email from a disgruntled reader pointing out your errors.

Terrence McCauley is the award-winning author of the James Hicks thrillers SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, A MURDER OF CROWS and A CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS, as well as the historical crime thrillers PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN. His short stories have been featured in Thuglit, Spintetingler Magazine, Shotgun Honey, Big Pulp and other publications. He is a member of the New York City chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and the International Crime Writers Association. Please visit his website at terrencemccauley.com or follow him at @terrencepmccauley.

2 Comments

  • Incident Report No. 24 - Unlawful Acts

    January 1, 2018 - 3:03 AM

    […] A World Of My Own by Terence McCauley | Elizabeth A. White — Editing & Reviews “The best part about creating that world is when it takes on a life of its own. When the characters move off in various directions I hadn’t planned or an entirely new group of characters or events exist that I never anticipated. It’s great to turn them loose and see where they go. It’s even more fun to write about it, especially when it all makes sense.” […]

  • Dana King

    December 29, 2017 - 10:13 AM

    This is a problem all series writers have. Yours seems to me to be the healthiest approach.

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