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Spotlighting: author Jaden Terrell

via the author's website

Local author Jaden Terrell’s latest, A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT, is a delicious and thrilling escape that will have readers clinging to the pages and hanging onto Terrell’s every word. Full of wit, suspense, and heart, A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT is a cut above your average mystery. If you’re a fan of stories that mesmerize and affect the reader long after the last word is read -- this is the novel for you.


At thirty-six, private detective Jared mcKean is coming to terms with his unjust dismissal from the Nashville Murder Squad and an unwanted divorce from a woman he still loves. Jared is a natural horseman and horse rescuer whose son has Down Syndrome, whose best friend is dying of AIDS, and whose teenaged nephew, Josh, has fallen under the influence of a dangerous fringe of the Goth subculture. When the fringe group's leader - a mind-manipulating sociopath who considers himself a vampire - is found butchered and posed across a pentagram, Josh is the number one suspect. Jared will need all his skills as a private investigator and former homicide detective to match wits with the most terrifying killer he has ever seen. When he learns that Josh is next on the killer's list, Jared will risk his reputation, his family, and his life in a desperate attempt to save the boy he loves like a son.

In this second book of the series, PI McKean has to get his nephew Josh off the hook for murder of a Goth leader. Describe the relationship between McKean and Josh?

Jared taught Josh to play guitar and bought him his first “big-boy” bike. Josh finds it easier to talk to Jared than to his dad, and when Josh ran away from home, Jared was the one who found him and brought him back. Jared has been closely involved in the lives of both his brother’s children, but he has a soft spot for Josh, because Josh seems more adrift. Jared is both proud of and worried for him. He loves Josh like a son.

How do you like Josh and how did you decide to posture him as a follower of the Gothic cult?

I love Josh. He’s bright, sensitive, and talented, but he’s also struggling with his sexual identity and the fear that he’s not the son his father always wanted. He’s troubled, but he has a good heart. I’m not sure I made a conscious decision to make Josh Goth. A lot of creative, bright kids are drawn to the Goth lifestyle—the drama of it, the melancholia—and when I first saw him in my mind, he was clearly enmeshed in it. I wrote a scene where he runs away to live with an older man known as the Vampire Prince of Nashville and realized that Josh had drifted into a more dangerous fringe group of that subculture. It heightened the tension and deepened the story, so I ran with it.

This book is edgier than the first book, Racing The Devil. Did you know it would have this dark side back when you were planning the series?

No, I had some loose ideas for other books, but I didn’t realize the second would have such a different tone from the first. But the victim in this book is much less innocent than the one in the first, which took the book in a different direction.

Which character did you enjoy developing the most in A Cup Full of Midnight?

That’s a hard question. I really enjoyed creating the relationship between Jared and his nephew, but I’ll assume you mean new characters as opposed to those who made an appearance in the first book. The victim was a complex character, and I enjoyed figuring out how to reveal the various aspects of his character, but I especially enjoyed developing Dylan, the man who gave Jay, Jared’s roommate and best friend, AIDS. Near the beginning of the book, Jay gets a call saying Dylan is in the end stages of the disease and has no place to go, and Jay insists on bringing him home and caring for him. Dylan doesn’t play a large role in the book, but it’s an important one.

Was the second book easier or harder to write than the first book and why?

Easier, because I had a better sense of how to put a story together. Harder, because the story is more complex and more emotionally draining.

Set in Nashville, you have a nice mix of landmarks in the story. Is this by design?

It is. In early drafts, I tend to pay a lot of attention to the characters and dialogue, and I can sometimes forget to ground the scenes in terms of setting. A friend read an early draft and said she didn’t get a good sense of place, so in the next edits, I made a point of making the settings more vivid, including many that are unique to Nashville. I love Nashville and hope readers will get a sense of what’s special about it when they read the book.

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