Author of the Month

Author of the Month2023-02-06T22:19:44+00:00

April: TERRY PELLMAN

Those pesky April showers may or may not be falling in your area of the world, but around here I welcome just enough to coax my new plantings to open and grow. I’m also pleased to feature another Ohio author whose work has a strong Christian flavor. Terry Pellman is the self-published author of five novels and a collection of short stories. He was selected as a Finalist and also a Third Place Winner of the past Dayton Daily News Short Story Contests. His novel Averton was reviewed in Publishers Weekly and considered for a motion picture. Pellman is the retired Director of the Shelby County Department Of Job and Family Services and was named Outstanding Ohio  Human Services Director in 1997 for leading the Ohio welfare reform task force.

 

Janet Irvin: Welcome, Terry, to my author’s nook. Let’s begin with your background. What compelled you to put your stories down?
Terry Pellman: When I was a junior in high school, we were assigned to author a short story. From that moment on, I knew that at some point I wanted writing to be my main avocation later in life.

Although I dabbled in writing throughout college, I got seriously into novel writing while serving as Director Of the Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services (welfare department). As a matter of fact, I wrote my first novel in a year when I was coaching soccer for my twin sons’ team, serving as the assistant director of the soccer organization, serving as an assistant coach on their baseball team, helping with Cub Scouts and refinishing all the woodwork in our house.

I then went on to write a second novel. But those first two books had been written on a British word processing program, and that was when the entire world switched over to a choice between Microsoft Word or WordPerfect.

It happens that I have always been a lousy typist. I had to re-type both books to make them compatible with requirements for electronic submissions.

JEI: Several themes seem to emerge in your writing – what is patriotism? How do we preserve values? the importance of religion. How did you decide on this direction in your writing?
TP: The dominant themes of my writing mainly come from my observation of the world. I have always felt our state of being in general to be rich for literary mining. I find that I am always interested in how people come to live where they live, and how they came upon their professions. I am always thinking about how where we are born impacts our entire lifetime, and how the difference in parents contributes to our differences as adults.I’ve also been interested in the manner in which we deal with our own mortality and how religion comes into play in that regard. In many of my stories, characters deal with the quest for stronger faith and acceptance of mortality. I do seem to tie mortality and faith in with our struggle to establish our individual standards of morality, decency, and relationships with our fellow man.
JEI: How would you characterize your work as a whole?
TP: I characterize my overall body of work as being eclectic. I do like to focus on the various quandaries inherent to being human, but I also like to go out on the occasional limb of humor, political intrigue, and the matter of nationhood.

For example, my novel Averton has its point of origin in my long-held interest in political extremist groups, something I began to study back in my college days in my sociology classes. I find it a compelling question as to how people can develop a mindset that allows for them to try to impose their political wills on others by violent measures.

In my two book Eden set, my political interest comes out in a story in which the United States separates into two nations due to our cultural and political divides.

JEI: What mentors have aided you in your writing?

TP: When I was a freshman at Urbana College, my English literature professor was Dr. Vivian Blevins, with whom I am still in touch. Studying American literature in her class was a big boost for me in my desire to contribute to that vast genre, if even on a modest basis.

In addition, I was privileged to take part in a writing group at Edison College in Piqua under the leadership of Cathryn Essinger. That was a very beneficial time in my life in regard to developing my work.

JEI: I understand you teach or have taught writing classes. What is the most important attribute a writer must have?

TP: I have very much enjoyed assisting other budding writers in some of the basic elements of getting their work down in print. That has even included high school students who chose to visit an author for career day.

One of the most entertaining evenings I ever spent was teaching a session on creative writing for an online class being taught by Dr. Blevins. The students were members of a communications union, and were spread throughout the country. I found that very rewarding, and I got some feedback from Dr. Blevins that the session was very useful to some of the students.

JEI: Which of your novels was the most challenging to write?

TP: The most challenging novel for me was Mating For Life. Without going into too much detail, as I began to write the story, I ran into an unintended consequence: I did not realize that the storyline was going to bring me to relive some emotions from a relationship situation I had encountered much earlier in life. Overall, it was a struggle for me to get through, while at the same time, that struggle made the book better and more genuine in my opinion.
JEI: What ideas will you tackle in future writing? Or have you reached the limit for yourself?

TP: Every time I think I have written my final book, I end up realizing within several months that I will probably never be done writing. And here I am again, working on what I suppose will be the final draft of my newest work titled “The Lake Effect.” Now I’m realizing that without doubt, I will be authoring  yet another book before very long. I guess that writing is something I simply have to do, whether it be a novel or a return to my true writing love, short stories.

I feel that writing short stories presents a special challenge to an author wanting to convey a story theme in a more limited number of words. But the works that I consider to be short stories vary greatly in their length. For example, “The Death Of A Man” is a very brief story about a  hunting accident. In contrast, the paranormal “The Late, Great Kiss” covers a period of slightly over a year during which it is realized that no one close to a man by the name of Armand Kiss dies, regardless of seriousness of illness or injury.

Writing short stories is something I tend to do in between novels. “Brilliance” is a tale of a Dayton Police Sargeant who nearly dies after accidental exposure to a large quantity of the drug fentanyl. In his moments of unconsciousness or even sleep, he keeps seeing the face of an elderly woman who appears to be gesturing for him to remain alive.

There are also several stories in which I have included some semi-autobiographical elements. Most notable in that respect are “The Company You Keep” and “The Day Before I Died.” Many parts of my personality and life experiences have been included in that latter story. Overall, most passages of the various stories I have written involve struggles with faith that include a lot of my own questions and the answers I have found.

JEI: How important is it to have a community of writers around you?

TP: There are several writers  with whom I have been in contact for a number of years. It is not that our writing is similar, it is simply knowing other writers I see from time to time at events  that has helped me to persevere when the writing block seems especially impenetrable. There may be a lot of writers in America, but they are actually few and far between in our individual lives. That makes such camaraderie even more precious.
JEI: What do you see as the impact of changing technology on writing?

TP: Something that I am finding to be a challenge is the rapid manner in which technology changes our everyday lives. It does not require the passage of many years for a story to seem outdated. For my novel Weston Road, I did a revised second edition and opened the book by setting the story back in the 1980s to explain why there is no mention of things such as cell phones and texting.

I also wrote second editions of the Eden novels and Averton. Both stories would seem to be very outdated without mention of the technology we now take for granted on a daily basis. In this way, I find the rapid pace of technological change to be somewhat of a negative.

At the same time, technology has also proven to be a great boon for me in terms of output. For example, I find my memories of typing my first stories on a manual typewriter to be somewhat nostalgic.

But as time passed and arthritis set in, I realize I would have had to have given up the craft years ago if it were not for word processing programs, and most of all, the development of and improvement of the voice recognition software available today. I can say without any reservation that I would have had to have stopped writing about three years ago.

In addition, I am right now in the process of learning to use some entry-level artificial intelligence-based programs. One is for creating images and the other is a video editing program. The combination of these two should help me to promote my writing.

However, I am aware that some people are experimenting  with having artificial intelligence write stories. I will be watching with curiosity as to how the public receives such materials written not by use of human thoughts and emotions, but an algorithm.

JEI: What’s your favorite hometown eatery? Favorite author?

TP: My favorite hometown eatery would have to be a hamburger restaurant called The Spot. It is a rather iconic place, and even shows up in a cartoon now and then in some newspaper in some part of the country. It has been used in indie films, and one longtime owner of the establishment was the grandfather of actor Rob Lowe.

Hands down, my favorite author is Jack Kerouac. Kerouac, along with singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot serve collectively as my alter ego. Those carefree wanderers were very much the opposite of my rather cautious, homebody self. That particular, autobiographical aspect of me is the major characteristic in my story “Driving In Indiana.”

                   

To contact Terry Pellman, go to

 

 

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