Thursday, November 18, 2021

Terry Shepherd Interview - Chasing the Captain

Photo Content from Terry Shepherd 

Terry Shepherd wrote his first short story at age eleven and was first published as a non-fiction author in 2008. He created Detective Jessica Ramirez in 2019, publishing his thriller "Chasing Vega" in 2020. The book earned 5-Star ratings on Amazon and is also available in audio book and Spanish language editions. When his grandchildren asked to star in their own stories, he created the "Waterford Detective" stories for his grandson and published the popular "Juliette and the Mystery Bug" series, co-authored with his wife, Colleen, when his granddaughter wondered how kids could protect themselves during a pandemic. His forthcoming books include "Chasing the Captain," (May 2021) the second in the Jessica Ramirez trilogy and "Students In Time,"(September, 2021) a time travel adventure that parallels the 4th grade public school history curriculum. His published short stories include “The Corona Ripper” and “Chasing Cody”

Terry is also a prolific book narrator and audio-artist, voicing Dänna Dennis Wilberg's "Borrowed Time: Book 1 - Broken Promises" and Louise Dawn's thriller "Siren in the Wind," along with dozens of commercials and promotional trailers. He hosts the popular Authors on the Air podcast, was a moderator and panelist at Bouchercon 2020 and is co-chair of the Sisters In Crime - Capitol Crimes Chapter's 2021 Anthology project. He was an early social media adopter, authoring "Social Media and Your Personal Brand" in 2012. 

He has authored over 400 motivational essays since 2004, the best of which were aggregated into three popular self-help books. 

Terry and Colleen live on the ocean in Jacksonville, Florida and are co-founders of "Down Syndrome Nation" a web resource for friends and families of persons with Down syndrome. Terry is a graduate of Michigan State University, has studied at both Harvard and Oxford and toured South America as a rock drummer in the summer of 1972.


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I write with the intention of inspiring people who look and live like my characters to believe they can be heroes, too. About a month after CHASING VEGA launched, I got an email from a young Latina who said, “I want to grow up to be like Jessica.” I still wasn’t sure if I even had an audience for Jess and her cast, so that made my day. We all hope our art touches other lives. That was a wonderful affirmation.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I need to do less, Jean! My unexpected surprise is JULIETTE AND THE MYSTERY BUG, a kids book I cowrote with my wife, Colleen Shepherd, to help children learn to protect themselves during the pandemic. We created it as a one-off for our grandkids and it just sort of took off. Six months later, it is still generating buzz. I have a time travel book for 4th graders that’s with the illustrator now. Hoping to have that one ready by December. Jess 3.0 is scheduled for January or February. I’m also knee deep in narrations with four more books in the pipeline.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It’s how we pass it on. We wouldn’t know about the Trojan War without Homer. Even today, there are fascinating books that stretch our consciousness. I just finished reading Dr. Betty Kearse’s fascinating true story, The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family and was fascinated by how African Oracles passed oral histories across the generations. A well told tale can transform your world.

Can you tell us when you started CHASING THE CAPTAIN, how that came about?
The Captain is the one who got away in CHASING VEGA. Almost as soon as Jess 1.0 was released, people began asking, “What happens to Vega’s boss?” Jessica learned a lot about herself in that first story. She still believes that chasing this one remaining bad guy can give her some peace in the wake of the life-shattering events that happened to her in the first book. It closes a chapter in her life, yet leaves the door open for the third story in her trilogy.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope they find a hero that they can identify with. I purposely populate the books with a diverse ensemble cast. Researching the characters was an immersive process. I knew I couldn’t live their lives, but I could walk with them on their journeys. I hope readers feel the authenticity I try to paint for each player and can make a connection with their own experiences.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
They have fans! In VEGA, Joey Price, the county medical examiner was a surprise hit. He’s based on a close friend who is on the autism spectrum and getting inside his head seemed to resonate with folks. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s brilliant. In CAPTAIN, the surprise hero turned out to be the fictional deputy director of MI6. I based him on another inspiring friend who has lived most of his life “in an electric chair,” as he puts it. Originally, Mo Gerhardt only had a secondary role in the story. But as it developed, he became a key player in the second and third acts.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I got stuck in the second act. There’s a super compelling scene that’s depicted on the cover of the book, where Jess grabs the tread of a helicopter, shoots out the turbines and realizes she may have sealed her own death warrant. It was tailormade for the big screen and I couldn’t think of how to top it. I took a fellow author’s advice and put the project down for a couple of weeks, talking with my colleagues in The Craft about what might happen next. The inspiration finally came to me on one of my early morning walks and things started flowing like butter again.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Jessica and Alexandra always contend for that spot. Jess is the star. Her name is on the cover of the book, and she’s based on a real-life Latina detective. The story is primarily about her journey of discovery. But Ali gets all the good lines. She’s a computer genius with a same-sex preference and self-confidence to spare. She’s not afraid of losing her job and that gives her power in what is still a man’s world in many police departments. She and Jess are always competing, but they both realize that their partnership makes them both better people.

What was the last text message you received?
Hudson (my grandson) won his basketball game! 37 to 25!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Fail. We fear failure, but it’s a prerequisite for success. The high achievers fail often. But they fail forward, learning from the experience. There’s a humility that comes from that recognition that makes the journey much more meaningful.

Best date you've ever had?
Colleen and I have reserved Wednesdays for Date Night since we first met. In 43 years, we’ve only missed a half dozen. My beautiful wife is a three-time cancer survivor, twice beating ovarian cancer. She was still recovering in the hospital from a second surgery on a Wednesday. I appeared at her door in my tux with a rose, a boom box, two wine glasses and some apple juice. She was just coming out of the anesthetic, and we had date night right there. I’ll never forget playing our favorite song and dancing slowly with her, IV and all.

What was the first job you had?
I washed dishes in an assisted living facility. We learned a lot about how amazing our seniors are in that job. I still wash dishes today.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
In 1977, I heard Earl Nightingale’s “20 Minutes That Can Change Your Life.” It was a cassette program that introduced me to the formula for success that I still use today.

First Heartbreak?
Second grade. Realizing that I was a lot more interested in my first love, Lorel, than she was in me. Ironically, we reconnected a couple of years ago at a reunion after not seeing each other for over 50 years and are best buddies.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love is worth any risk. The day Colleen got her cancer diagnosis we realized we were given a second life together. We had no idea how long that might be and decided to make the most of every day, good or bad. We have always had a great partnership, but that took us to a whole new level of awareness and gratitude.

Where can readers find you?
Everything is at I’m on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn and blog. The links for everything are on the website.

  • 1. Jessica, “I became a cop to piss off my father. I wanted to be a swimmer. He said, ‘Get a job where you use your head and not your body.’”
  • 2. Ali, “When I told my parents I was gay, all my dad said was, ‘Well, Mona. I guess that means we don’t get any grandchildren.’ My mother hasn’t spoken to me since. Lesbian couples have kids. We can be great moms!”
  • 3. Ali, “Why do I feel like I will forever be the voice of reason you will never listen to?”
  • 4. She left the viewing area, another layer of post-traumatic stress grotesquely welded into the searing tapestry of battle scars she knew would never fully heal.
  • 5. Jessica, “Tell you what, Michael Wright. For tonight, let’s play the roles. You pick up the check and get the car. I’ll make sure my lipstick looks good. We’ll go back to your place and do what married people do.”
  • 6. Ali, “Here’s the thing, Bob. We took these jobs because we believe in justice and the search for truth. We are sworn to protect the innocent and pursue the guilty. For whatever reason, someone forced you to do the antithesis of everything you stand for. That’s troubling. I appreciate the slice of candor. But, like you, I need more evidence before rendering judgment.”
  • 7. She smashed the whisky bottle across his forehead. The son of a bitch didn’t break. But it dazed him enough that he lost his grip on the AK. Despite her blood alcohol level, Jess snagged it and sprayed about 20 rounds into his chest.
  • 8. Jessica, “Nothing focuses you like imminent death.”
  • 9. Ali would never know what ignited the perps’ gas tank, but on about the fifth revolution, the entire bucket of bolts burst into a beautiful orange fireball, consuming the two cop killers in a taste of what awaited them on the other side of judgment.
  • 10. Michael studied Jessica’s bruised and battered body. He noted the short bursts of breath and exhaustion in her eyes. He broke into a grin... “You, my love, are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” Jessica exhaled, rolling her eyes. “Men. Let’s get the hell out of here before I throw up.”
Journey to writing CHASING THE CAPTAIN
During my corporate adventures, I wrote non-fiction, mostly inspirational stuff, biography, and history. My parting from the last traditional gig was painful and I felt like my ability to contribute to a better world had ended. It was a dark time and my shrink finally convinced me that I could, at last, focus on things that made me happy over things that advanced a career.

I had no idea what that might be. After some long conversations, Colleen and I agreed that I would try writing fiction full time for a year. That produced VEGA, MYSTERY BUG, and a batch of kid detective stories so my grandson could be the star. Jessica’s creation was the result of hearing stories of her real-life counterpart’s challenging career as a Latina and a woman in a very misogynistic cop culture. I wanted to take some of those real stories that had no happy endings and rewrite the outcomes where the heroine prevailed. By the time VEGA was ready for publication, I knew I had a formula I would enjoy. I could do the same things in fiction that I did as a corporate guy, open the doors of opportunity for women and minorities and help them reach beyond their self-imposed limitations.

In the process of writing VEGA, I learned enough about the craft to create a better second story. CAPTAIN flies, the plot races like a rocket. Jess and Ali are fully formed and at the top of their game. And they get to visit London and Moscow. What could be better?

I also learned that writing isn’t about the money. The joy of connecting with an audience and seeing one life changed for the better because of something you wrote is what continues to fire my creative juices. Even if I never reach the top of the NYT list, the journey is the thing. And I’m enjoying every minute.

In Jessica Ramirez's second outing, she's once again a fish out of water, chasing the bad guy who got away. When forced to witness a questionable execution, Jess follows a tiny thread across the Atlantic, linking up with DI Liyanna Evans, a cop with London's Metropolitan Police. The two quickly discover that their antagonist's reach is both worldwide and deadly.

Another delectable tale that blends technothriller with suspense and police procedural adventure, Chasing the Captain picks up where Chasing Vega left off, giving Jess the chance to find the answers she seeks, even if it endangers her life and career in the process.

Many of your favorites from Chasing Vega are back, including the indomitable Alexandra Clark, technology guru Andy Milluzzi and Jessica's FBI boyfriend Michael Wright. Add Terry Shepherd's diverse ensemble cast and enough twists and turns to make your head spin and you have another wholly satisfying, screen-worthy popcorn thriller that best selling author Tori Eldridge calls, "a fast paced international adventure."

You can purchase Chasing the Captain at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TERRY SHEPHERD for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. I used to play the guitar but I haven't touched one in years. Thinking about getting a new one.

  2. I don't play a musical instrument, but I did take piano lessons when I was a child.

  3. I do not plan a musical instrument.

  4. No, I do not play a musical instrument.

  5. I had piano lessons as a child. A waste of money. I cannot play.

  6. I love the cover! It sets the stage for the book.

  7. Unfortunately, I don’t play a musical instrument!

  8. I had piano lessons as a child and I can play a little but forgot most of it.

  9. "Do you play a musical instrument?" Alas, no!, but I took lessons.

  10. Rather not remind myself that I can't sing. If I could, I would have learned.

  11. No, I wish I were talented in that respect.

  12. I tried playing many years ago.

  13. i used to play both piano and flute!