Terric Darken Speaks About U TURN KiLLuR and Life, an interview

I love the name Teric Darken. It grabs me and holds me and speaks to me of intrigue, desperate killers, and bumps in the night. So I’m thrilled to be interviewing Terric about his latest thriller U-TURN KiLLuR. Now on to the questions…

Nike: You started out in a rock ‘n roll band, writing lyrics and songs. How did you make the transition to writing full-length thrillers? What instrument did you play in the band?

Teric: In 1987, when I was in the tenth grade, my English teacher gave our class an assignment for everyone to script an original poem. I went home and worked hard on that poem, which was entitled Lamb or Lion. I was beaming when I finished, as I poured a lot of heart and soul into that piece. I took it to class the next day, turned it in, and expected to receive a good grade for my effort. A few days later, the paper returned to me with a fat, red “D” at the top; a note was also included, which stated: “The nature of this poem is quite good, but are these words, in fact, your own?” I was floored, to say the least. In essence, my teacher was stating that she liked the poem, but she thought that I had plagiarized it. I believed in my work so much, that I found the courage to approach her desk. “Mrs. Shepherd,” I said, “If you’ll only give me a chance, I can prove to you that this is mine; I can recite this to you verbatim.” My teacher agreed to that arrangement and was pleasantly surprised when I recited every line on that page. She changed my grade to an “A,” and since then, I have never looked back. That simple poem created a whole new realm for me, allowing a then-teen full of angst and wide-eyed-wonder a healthy outlet to express his thoughts and frustrations. I dedicated my first book, A Conversation with Isolation, to my teacher, for pointing me toward that wonderful path. When it was presented to her, she cried tears of joy. I am grateful for her to this day.

The poem, Lamb or Lion, is included at the back of my new thriller, U-TURN KiLLuR, as the story behind it actually plays a very small part within the storyline. Since scripting that first poem, I have gone on to fill twenty-one journals full of poems and short stories. In 1991, I taught myself how to play the guitar. I was very interested in creating my own, original compositions. So, I learned how to chord and create flowing melody, and I began putting poetry to the music, which transcribes into song lyrics within that medium. So from poetry and song lyrics, to short stories… the next natural step was crafting a novel.

The idea for my first thriller, K – I – L – L FM 100, came to me while working at the fire station. After reading a Dekker novel, I was lying in my bed and thinking, what would be a unique twist in a storyline? What has probably never been done before? An idea popped into my head of a subliminal message: word-clues given throughout the book that could be pieced together at the end to create a message that coincides with the storyline. That single, subliminal message came first and then the entire story was built around that. I’m not sure how many readers pick up on it, but I allude to it within the storyline of the thriller. It lurks within!

As far as the band went, I sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. We released five albums and were privileged enough to perform in four surrounding states. I also allude to this aspect of my life in my newest offering, U-TURN KiLLuR.

Nike: U-TURN KiLLuR, which came out at the beginning of this year, seems to be the quintessential thriller. A relentless sociopath is out to kill everyone the hero loves, stripping everything and everybody away from your hero in the grisly manner. How did you come up with this plotline?

Teric: The plotline is a metaphor for what was happening to me while crafting my first thriller, K – I – L – L FM 100. It was my first go at developing a full-length novel, and I found out exactly how time consuming that process can be. I was allowing the work spent on crafting the storyline to steal me away from family time, and my thoughts began to be consumed with how to build upon the story. In essence, I became a bit obsessed with wanting to see the story fully bloom to fruition. I was walking around with the characters in the storyline of my first novel instead of reality with my loved ones. So I simply wrote about what was happening: a firefighter would-be-author attempting to craft a novel; his obsession with getting published; his allegiance to his personal desires over his family and work; and the resulting neglect that his family suffers. And then a KiLLuR enters the picture, rocking his world… and the picture the KiLLuR paints isn’t pretty. The primary color used is a crimson red. It is unfortunate how we often don’t see the value in life’s simplicities until tragedy strikes. And it strikes hard here. In all actuality, I suppose you could say this novel is as a coin: the “heads” side is the non-fiction half, and the “tails” side is the dark fiction portion… and what a tale it is!

The overview to the book reads gruesomely. Those who have perused the preview know that it also reeks with atrocity. But this is only a snapshot. The bigger picture makes perfect sense, and if one is willing to brave through the trees, they will come out on the other side and be afforded a panoramic view of the beautiful forest.

Nike: What attracts you to the thriller genre? And what authors do you read in the genre? Which ones have influenced you?

Teric: My initial attraction to thrillers is probably a result of my dad, who was always making up creepy stories and telling them to me as a child. One such story- one of my dad’s originals about a particular moth- is injected into U-TURN KiLLuR. My dad also used to read to me as I was growing up. At this very moment, I can still recall him reading two Hardy Boys’ mysteries to me: The Twisted Claw and While the Clock Ticked. My Pa also recited Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to me once, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve asked him to retell that wonderful story. He was always happy to oblige- and it was usually done over the fire in the hearth. So thrillers are probably embedding into my psyche from my upbringing. I realize that some of the stories I am recounting, and some of my influences that I will disclose, cross-pollinate a bit into other genres such as the supernatural, and/or a dash of horror, but my understanding of a thriller is that if a story thrills, and incites intrigue, adventure or suspense, it is, by definition, a thriller.

C.S. Lewis grabbed me early on, with his succinct novel, The Screwtape Letters; I later became a fan of Frank Peretti; and have enjoyed the works of Ted Dekker and Robert Liparulo in recent years. I am a late-comer to the works of G.K. Chesterton, but have acquired his Father Brown Detective Omnibus anthology in the not-too-distant past and have thoroughly enjoyed his stories.

Nike: Do you plan to write a series featuring either your K-I-L-L FM 100 hero Disc jockey Carter “The Cart-Man” Jackson or your U-TURN KiLLuR hero firefighter Lieutenant Gabe McLaughlin?

Teric: I think the reader will be delighted to run into an old friend or two from K – I – L – L FM 100 within the pages of U-TURN. My current work in progress is another supernatural thriller focusing on a couple of the characters from U-TURN KiLLuR, and also including an old friend from K – I – L – L FM. And there will be a connecting thread within the novel waiting in the wings after that. So to sum it up, The Almighty willing, the plan is to have four novels with a connective thread. They will be able to be read on their own merit, as individual stories, but returning readers of my work will smile upon hearing from, or brushing past an old friend.

Nike: Going off the fiction reservation…you hold a bachelors of science in religious education and serve as a youth pastor. Tell us a bit about that aspect of your life?

Teric: I received my degree in 1994. I served as a youth pastor, at two respective churches, from 1991 through 1996. Young people have always held a special place in my heart. They are bombarded with so much from this world, whether mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. I know; I’ve been there as we all have. I was very fortunate to have had a cool youth pastor growing up- cool, but he always kept it “real”- and I wanted to help young people just as he helped me through some pretty turbulent times.

I believe in everyone’s God-given ability to choose. Having that right, young people are bombarded with so much anti-God sentiment these days. I just want them to be able to hear the story of Love: of how God not only created them but also redeemed them and cares for them, even now. I want them to know God is real, and we have tangible proof of His existence and of the legitimacy of His Son as Messiah. And that message isn’t just for young people, but for all who have breath. When afforded the opportunity to speak about God, I enjoy being able to present the mound of evidence that supports Him. And after I’ve been allowed to speak, I honor every person’s right to choose.

There was a period when I had my doubts about God and about His Son, the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). I wasn’t so sure that His Word was real at one interval. So I had to go back to the beginning: I had to look at natural, archaeological, scientific, and historical evidences for God and for His Son. The more I delved into things- trying to chip away at “God” until He was no more- the more I found that my instruments were blunting due to striking against impenetrable bedrock… all the evidence was overwhelmingly in His favor. I am not in the youth ministry proper anymore, but I am still asked to come and speak to young people on occasion from an author’s standpoint. When I do, I share with them why I believe what I believe, and I tell them it’s important to know why they believe what they believe and to be able to prove their beliefs with facts, not simply because somebody else told them that something was true.

Being in Narrow Road, the aforementioned band I was in, also enabled me to get the message out to young people. The music was rock, and the message was built upon the Rock.

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About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards. View all posts by NikeChillemi

29 responses to “Terric Darken Speaks About U TURN KiLLuR and Life, an interview

  • Amanda Stephan

    Thanks for the interview! I think I would have been so discouraged with an English teacher like that. Oh wait. I DID have one like that! 😉 I'm glad you didn't quit, Teric!

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  • Teric Darken

    LOL! I'm picking up what you're laying down, Amanda… and yes, some teachers can be discouraging. She was actually a very nice teacher though… it probably just took her by surprise that a young punk kid with his bleached out hair and mullet could pen a thought provoking poem! This was 1987, mind you, when acid washed jeans, Chuck Taylor converse, and peg-rolled pants were all the rage!As I mentioned in the interview, the actual poem plays a small part in U-TURN KiLLuR's storyline and is included at the end of the story.<><+><>

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Amanda, My dad was an English teacher (and the debate coach and the senior play dirctor) and they do get a bit of plagiarism. Wow, now that I tihnk of it, he did a lot in that school.I'm glad Teric didn't quit either. He has such a valuable contribution to make to crime fiction.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Teric,Hey, my hubby has bleached out hair. LOLA teacher can make a big difference in a kid's life. This teacher obviously made a big difference in yours. One thing that hit me is that she gave you a chance and admitted her mistake. That takes a person of quality. There are teachers with too much pride to even give a student a second chance to recite a poem from memory. She was kind of a living epistle.I also think it's interesting the way you weave elements from your life into your work.

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  • Teric Darken

    Thank you, Nike, pertaining to the comment on weaving snippets of my life into my work. I, literally, had tears in my eyes at times as I was scripting U-TURN KiLLuR. One will understand what I mean as they read the book- especially those who venture here and know the story behind the script due to your poignant interview. It will be a very dark read… very gripping on the senses and, at times, unpleasant, though relentlessly intriguing. But there is an extremely important message at the end of the book that is crying out, not only to be read, but heard and acted upon. The script is dark, indeed, but the light pierces through in the end.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Teric, Life is dark at times. We've been told not to hide our light under a bushel. We are called to be light in the darkness.That doesn't mean we pretend the darkness isn't there. We know it's there. We see it and whe shine light into it.

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  • Teric Darken

    Very well put and succinctly said, my friend!<><+><>

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  • Anonymous

    Teric, Can you teach me to peg-roll my pants? And know where I can get some good lemonade?Wes

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  • Tracy Krauss

    This was a great interview, Nike and Teric. Interesting to see what makes the 'Darken' tick … I predict great things for the future of your books. With storylines like that, how could they not be successful? (Remember me when you're rich and famous)

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  • Anonymous

    A man makes his own trail through life. He hacks it out through the brush or takes the easy route. Sounds like your may a a blister or two. It makes for good conversation. I'll bet you, too, that your experience with your English teacher changed her and helped the next groups of kids she taught. Like He said, never judge a book by its cover. Well. that's not exactly what He said, but you get my meaning. Good interview.

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  • Dave Arp

    Well, happy-fingers left the message above. It wasn't supposed to be anonymous, so I'll sign this one right this time.

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  • Teric Darken

    Wes- the best lemonade is sipped in heaven! 😉 Keep those pants tight around the ankles!Tracy- I am privileged that you stopped by; I take heed to your advice on authorship, my friend! I'm afraid that I'll have to request that you remember me as the fortune and fame knocks on your door.Dave- thanks for your thought provoking incite; in retrospect, I find myself along the scenic route more often than not!

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Wes, you crack me up!!!Thx for stopping by. 🙂

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Tracy, I agree 100%, it's interesting to see what makes "the Darken" tick. He's a deep guy with a real fun side.And he has a mind that runs to MURDER…

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Anonymous, Thx for the insightful comments. Enjoyed your perspective.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Dave, I'm kicking myself for not knowing the anonymous message was you. It's sooooo you.

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  • Teric Darken

    @ Nike and Wes- Nike, that "Wes" guy was one of my best buds from one of the churches I was alluding to in the interview. If you ever needed a friend you could depend upon to embarrass you in public, Wes was the man to run to! Oh, and if you ever needed a friend you could just depend upon… well, Wes was that guy, too! The "lemonade" reference Wes was alluding to has to do with a song that I wrote for my Grandad when he passed away, entitled "Sippin' Lemonade in Heaven." It was one of the songs that I performed with Narrow Road- the band that I spoke of in our interview.Good times, Wes, good times!Blessings, my friend!

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  • Jan Marie

    What a fantastic interview! I don't know how it happened that I have not heard of Teric Darken before but, now that I have, I will definitely be looking for his books. They sound so very intriguing! Ironically, I had a teacher who did the same thing with one of my stories. That same teacher actually stole one of my poems and I never did see it again. It was ever so conveniently 'misplaced.' Nike, thanks for making us aware of Teric and his books – you have done us a huge favor!Jan Marie

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Jan Marie, I'm sooooo glad you dropped by. Awh, that stinks that your poem was stolen…and by a teacher, no less. Bummer!Teric is a great guy. Pls do look for his books.

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  • Tammy Doherty

    Great interview! I would never have known about Teric Darken otherwise…and the books sound intriquing (dare I say, thrilling? LOL)You say the novels are "dark" but I'd love a little clarificaton on that (no pun intended). Yeah, there's grisly stuff as stated. And I'd expect atrocities in a novel about a guy having all his loved ones "stripped away" (I'm assuming that means "killed off). But do you get darker? For me, dark is end-of-times catastrophe kind of stuff. Or looking into the mind and (lack of) soul of a killer. That last one I expect in a thriller, particularly a crime thriller. Then again, you mention Frank Peretti as an influence. I've read one Peretti novel and I guess it would be considered "dark." Maybe darkness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder (we all have different abilities and tolerance levels).I, too, am glad you had the courage to stick up for yourself in 10th grade. My HS English teacher was always encouraging. She never told me I had a gift or anything, but she taught me to love words and their uses so in that way she's probably a big influence on me as a writer. English teachers of the world should be aware of their long-reaching effect 😀

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  • Krisi Keley

    What an incredibly inspiring interview, Teric and Nike! I'm looking forward to reading K-I-L-L FM 100 and U TURN KiLLuR even more now, both because I love stories with "hidden" messages/puzzles and ones with very real world challenges.The insight into your own life story really resonated with me, Teric. We have so many things in common. I also had a teacher accuse me of plagarism, although mine was in college with a literary criticism paper on the Aeneid. After she found out it was really mine, she was very encouraging to me too, suggesting I change my focus to her department of world lit. She didn't get me there (like you, I got my degree in theology), but it did give me a lot more confidence in my writing. And I wrote poetry/lyrics before I jumped into fiction too.I just love what you said about inspiring people to really study their faith and learn about God, as well. I heard a report on TV a few weeks ago where they were saying fewer and fewer people have any knowledge of the theology and history of their faiths and interviewees were saying that it wasn't important to know those things as long as you believe. While faith is a wonderful and important thing, I was sad to hear people say that. One, because it's much too easy, especially in today's world, to be confused and led away from faith if one doesn't understand the ideas and history behind it. But even more, I couldn't help but wonder why those interviewees didn't realize that if you truly love someone, you want to know as much as possible about them. Certainly no one would say I love my friend or my spouse, but I don't care about their past or about what makes them who they are. So it's so wonderful when someone like yourself speaks about the joy of "studying" God – of really learning about and getting to know Him though all the different ways He gives us to do so.I should be getting my copy of K-I-L-L FM 100 this week, and I can't wait to get started!Blessings to you both and thanks again for the great interview!

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  • Teric Darken

    @ Jan Marie- Thank you for the kind words, Jan! Thank you also for taking time to peruse the interview!@ Tammy- In my first novel, K – I – L – L FM 100, "dark" applies to the storyline in that it relates to grim or depressing circumstances: abuse, alcoholism, rape, prostitution, molestation, infidelity… a lot of dismal stuff below the surface!In context with my second thriller, U-TURN KiLLuR, the term "dark" applies in a similar manner: delusions, neglect, obsession, suicidal thoughts, dismemberment, murder, scarification… and, though not "end times," "dark" also comes through via confrontation in the spiritual realm. An obsessed writer attempting to write a wrong… A pole dancer worshiped by a ravenous throng… A cut-throat hellbent on preying for a slice of heaven… every brushstroke has been dipped in the dark, and it's all in U-TURN KiLLuR! Yet, more horrific than the dark is the Light! 😉 Thank you for the poignant question, Tammy!@ Krisi- I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, friend, and thank you for reading! It seems as though we have much in common pertaining to interests in theology, music, and authorship. I concur with you, Krisi, pertaining to the importance of people knowing why they believe what they believe.Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."In Psalm 111:10, we are told: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise."2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."These are but a few verses pertaining to reasoning, acquiring wisdom and understanding, and being diligent in rightly dividing the Word of truth. The Almighty created each of us with a brain. It has always been in every person's best interest if we utilize it. (Blind) Faith might be fine for the believer, but without wisdom and knowledge (of history, of archaeological evidence, of scientific facts, etc…), how is that believer to explain to a non-believer the existence and reality of God and His Messiah in a plausible manner?It's good to know I'm in good company here, Krisi! Thanks for commenting!

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  • Teric Darken

    @ Jan Marie- Thank you for the kind words, Jan! Thank you also for taking time to peruse the interview!@ Tammy- In my first novel, K – I – L – L FM 100, "dark" applies to the storyline in that it relates to grim or depressing circumstances: abuse, alcoholism, rape, prostitution, molestation, infidelity… a lot of dismal stuff below the surface!In context with my second thriller, U-TURN KiLLuR, the term "dark" applies in a similar manner: delusions, neglect, obsession, suicidal thoughts, dismemberment, murder, scarification… and, though not "end times," "dark" also comes through via confrontation in the spiritual realm. An obsessed writer attempting to write a wrong… A pole dancer worshiped by a ravenous throng… A cut-throat hellbent on preying for a slice of heaven… every brushstroke has been dipped in the dark, and it's all in U-TURN KiLLuR! Yet, more horrific than the dark is the Light! 😉 Thank you for the poignant question, Tammy!@ Krisi- I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, friend, and thank you for reading! It seems as though we have much in common pertaining to interests in theology, music, and authorship. I concur with you, Krisi, pertaining to the importance of people knowing why they believe what they believe.Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."In Psalm 111:10, we are told: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise."2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."These are but a few verses pertaining to reasoning, acquiring wisdom and understanding, and being diligent in rightly dividing the Word of truth. The Almighty created each of us with a brain. It has always been in every person's best interest if we utilize it. (Blind) Faith might be fine for the believer, but without wisdom and knowledge (of history, of archaeological evidence, of scientific facts, etc…), how is that believer to explain to a non-believer the existence and reality of God and His Messiah in a plausible manner?It's good to know I'm in good company here, Krisi! Thanks for commenting!

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  • Teric Darken

    I apologize for the multiple posts… I was able to delete two of the same… I'm not sure what happened! LOL!

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  • Teric Darken

    I also meant to state that I have posted why I believe what I believe on my blogspot, if anyone is interested.Following is the link:http://tericdarken.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-i-am-sheep-roaring-sheep.html

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Krisi, I do believe that it's MOST important that we believe. However, many believers don't know how many of our beliefs came about. Just to claim it's in the Bible, ain't necessarily so. For example in many churches believers call each other brother so-and-so and sister so-and-so, but the disciples called each other Peter, John, Matthew, Timothy. The prefixes "sister" and "brother" are man-made in the church. How this came about is interesting. It was in reaction against the prefix "father" in the Roman Catholic Church.I personally am interested in seeking out Biblical ways of being. How did they do it in the early church, in Acts, in the 1st century churches in Jerusalem and Antioch. How and why did things change? What hasn't changed. What has survived from the earliest of times in the church. These questions interest me and I don't have all the answers to them. Thx for contributing to this discussion.

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  • Marcy G. Dyer

    I've not read any of Terric's books but they sound like ones I would enjoy. Thank you for interviewing him.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Marcy, Thx for your comments. Teric is a great guy and a fine writer. 🙂

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  • Teric Darken

    Thank you, Marcy; thank you, Nike! 🙂

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