Terry Trueman was born on December 15, 1947 in Birmingham, Alabama, but grew up in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, where he received his B.A. in creative writing. He also has an M.S. in applied psychology and an M.F.A. in creative writing, both from Eastern Washington University. The father of two sons, Henry and Jesse, Terry Trueman makes his home in Spokane, Washington, where he has lived since 1974.
His novel, STUCK IN NEUTRAL was a Printz Honor recipient. INSIDE OUT, his second novel was released in August 2003. In October of 2004, his third novel CRUISE CONTROL was released — a companion to STUCK IN NEUTRAL that tells brother Paul McDaniel’s intimate side of the story. Hodder Books released SWALLOWING THE SUN, which follows a teen’s heroic efforts to save friends and family after his Honduran village is destroyed by a devastating mudslide, in October of 2003 (only in the UK). And NO RIGHT TURN, Trueman’s fourth US and fifth all-around novel.
Trueman’s hobbies include his love of corvettes and walking his dog Rusty in the warm Arizona sunshine! One of his heroes is poet Charles Bukowski. He considers Terry Davis and Chris Crutcher two invaluable mentors. For more info, visit his site.
Let the conversation begin!
What one word describes you?
If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it?
Depends on my mood; some days throw it through a window, some days use it as a paperweight, some days admire its color/texture/patterns.
What do you do when you see a spider in your house?
VERY rarely do I kill it. 90% plus I try to capture it and throw it outside where it belongs, scolding it but not too harshly; I’m a big believer in rehabilitation rather than punishment
Do you bake or buy?
Well, I sure as hell don’t bake. LOL.
What classifies as a boring conversation? What classifies as an interesting one?
Hmmm. Nice question. Boring conversation to me is a conversation in which I’m bored, it’s not based on content as much as other factors (the listening versus talking ratio, for instance), Same goes for interesting. I think that intelligence, originality of view point, honesty and that kindness/thoughtfulness component play a big role in this.
What would you rather have: a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?
A minion, who’d do all of the above.
Would you rather be trapped in an elevator or stuck in traffic?
What kind of sick question is this? LOL. Neither, but if I had to choose and the elevator was either empty or occupied only by myself and an interesting other person (and by interesting it could be, smart, funny, sexy, kind, etc) the elevator for sure.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published novel STUCK IN NEUTRAL was inspired by being the father of a son with a profound developmental disability.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m afraid I’m totally addicted to present tense/first person POV.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I can’t remember.
What is your favorite board game?
I would never play a board game.
What food item would you remove from the market altogether?
Nothing, to each their own and if I started with, let’s say pickled pig’s feet, who’s to stop some other food Nazi from coming in and removing things I enjoy?
What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.
Rarely does anyone need to encourage me to brag. LOL. I think my greatest strength is creating deeply emotional scenes and therefore deep emotions in my readers.
What projects are you working on now?
I am VERY focused on a new line of e-book and print-on-demand paperbacks of some of my own older works with a new e-book start-up called Stillwaters Publishing. We’re doing our first two titles in the next few weeks: CLASS CLOWN a FREE downloadable short story, which is also a chapter from M.C. IDOL, THE FUNNIEST KID IN THE WORLD our second publication, a YA novel quite different than the seven novels I wrote with Harper Collins.
Name one entity that supported your writing journey outside of family members.
An entity? Hmmm. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing and my MFA is from Eastern Washington University in Creative Writing; I had great instructors and learned lot in those programs.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I never go back and read my books once they are published and out there. My latest novel is LIFE HAPPENS NEXT a sequel to STUCK IN NEUTRAL and I like it a great deal. So, I wouldn’t change anything in it.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
A terrific writing teacher in high school, Kaye Keyes.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?
The biz of writing/publishing is changing so rapidly, keeping up on how to go about making a living is hard. But I LOVE to write and it all comes easily—kind of like some people who enjoy and are good at board games, my thing is writing.
What books have most influenced your life?
Too many to list, but my favorite author is poet/novelist Charles Bukowski.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I had a lot of good teachers, but again, Bukowski.
Who’s your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
See my Bukowski comments above. What strikes me about his work is the honesty and straight forward clarity of his lines/ideas/emotions. His work has integrity, or at least it always feels to me that it does.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write because you love it. Period. All else will come from that or it won’t, but you’ll be getting the best you can get from writing if you write for that reason.
What song best describes your work ethic?
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD by Van Morrison, which has nothing to do with work ethic because I have no work ethic—I’m blessed to get to do pretty much whatever I want with my time, pretty much all the time—I just have always liked the sentiment and joy in that song.
What kitchen utensil would you be?
I would never be a kitchen utensil—I’d find the life to restricting.
Should you tip for take-out?
Absolutely! If you have the $$ to buy take-out or to eat out at all, you should always tip…no exceptions.
If you could be anyone else, who would you be?
I wouldn’t be and not because I love myself so much (although I think and hope I do) but because it’s difficult enough to figure out who/how/what I’M doing, much less guess what’s really going on in President Obama’s life.
If you were a road sign, what would you be?
NO RIGHT TURN, for what I suspect are pretty obvious reasons—hint, I HATE Fox news.
If you were to attend a costume party tonight, who would you be?
I wouldn’t go to a costume party—why intentionally put myself into a mini-version of hell?
Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?
Being in a place that you don’t want to be in, which for me is more often too loud.
What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?
Kindness and thoughtfulness, I know you asked for just one, but these are equally important to me.
What is the most distinguishing landmark in your city?
My presence in it. LOL. And that goes for both my cities: Spokane in summer and Tucson in winter.
Do you believe in UFOs?
No, but then again I hate the phrase ‘Do you believe in . . .’ and can pretty much ALWAYS answer that question with ‘no’.
What is your concession stand must-have at the movies?
Sorry, I know I’m kind of wrecking the interview, but I HATE to go to the movies and I doubly hate people being able to buy gobs of crap to munch on and ruin the experience because God knows if they can’t EAT something for that hour and a half they’ll DIE!