Friday, July 8, 2011

On Writing and Research with Author Terri Reed

Hey, all! Love Inspired Suspense author, Terri Reed has a new book out this month entitled The Innocent Witness.

When I read the blurb and noticed she had an autistic character in her book, I asked her to come and talk about how that character came about.

So please welcome, Terri Reed!

Thank you for inviting me here today. You asked what prompted me to write about an autistic child and the research involved. As I was developing the plot for The Innocent Witness I needed a plausible reason why my heroine’s son couldn’t tell what he saw the night of his father’s murder. Many possibilities came to mind, but I chose autism for many reasons. I have limited personal knowledge of the disorder to draw upon. During my childhood, my best friend’s little sister was autistic. She was able to communicate with sound, but not words and displayed several of the repeated behaviors seen in many cases. I loved her as if she were my own sister. My current neighbor has an adult autistic son who loves to sit on the porch in the summer and drink his soda while the kids in the neighborhood play.
I know it’s been a hard road for his parents; they’ve had pressure from family members to put him in a home since their son’s diagnosis. I admire their commitment and devotion to their son.
And more recently, a dear friend’s son has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. In order to be a support to her, I did some research of my own and was surprised to learn the autism spectrum disorder is very broad with no definitive cause or cure. I also learned the symptoms can vary dramatically per individual and that the disorder can’t be put into a neat little box. But the medical community is constantly making advances in treatments and there is support available.
There are many websites dedicated to this topic, blogs by parents of autistic children and personal stories by high functioning autistic individuals. Autism has also been very prevalent in the media with celebrities coming forward to talk about their autistic children as well as television shows featuring autistic characters. All of which helped me to gain a better understanding of the disorder and filled me with compassion for those living with autism. Writing a story with an autistic child stretched me both as a writer and as a person.

Thanks, Terri!

Author bio: Award winning, multi published author Terri Reed discovered the wonderful world of fiction at an early age and declared she would one day write a book. Now she is fulfilling that dream and enjoys writing for Love Inspired. She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband, two wonderful children, and an array of critters. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing tennis.
You can write to Terri at P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97280 or visit her online at
or email her at or leave comments on

BLURB: Faith sustained Vivian Grant through her horrible childhood and loveless marriage, but how much more can she take? Her husband has been killed. Her autistic son is the only witness. And someone is twisting the evidence to place the blame on her. Viv has no one to trust—and danger is closing in.

A failed protection detail cost former Secret Service agent Anthony Carlucci his job—and his self-confidence. He's not going to fail anyone under his care again. Anthony will risk anything to keep Viv and her son safe…including his heart.

Available in print and Kindle.

Terri is on blog tour right now and will be giving away a $25 Visa gift card to one randomly drawn commenter on her tour. To see where else she is blogging, please go HERE. The more you comment, the better your chance of winning.

Good luck!


PamelaTracy said...

Books sounds most excellent, Terri. I'm looking forward to reading it. Autism is one of the areas getting major attention at our local colleges.

Glynis said...

An interesting post. Using an autistic character for the reason stated is a great move.

Thanks for sharing.

Donaya Haymond said...

Wow! I'll definitely have to check this one out. My best friend is autistic and one of our favorite books is "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" by Mark Haddon, so I think this would be a great fit.

Anonymous said...

I saw your post of this on Twitter, Jennifer, and came over to meet Terri. What caught my eye was the autistic child. I have an autistic grandson, high-functioning. In fact, at this point, age ten, they're thinking it may not be autism but rather a learning disability. However, he did definitely exhibit many of the autistic "symptoms"--there's such a wide range.

So, The Innocent Witness sounds intriguing to me. I'm not a romance fan but I like romance if it's linked to suspense and is well written. I'll definitely give this one a close look.

Glad I met Terri, thanks to you, Jennifer.
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Anonymous said...

I found this posted on Facebook, not Twitter. Too early in the morning for me!

Liza said...

I'm sure that real life experience led to sensitive treatment of a difficult topic. Thank you for sharing.

Terri Reed said...

Pamela, thank you for stopping by. That's interesting that your local colleges are focusing on autism. I wonder which departments.

Terri Reed said...

Glynis, thanks for stopping by. I think most writers use some of their world experiences in their writing. It helps make the work more believable.

Terri Reed said...

Donaya, I'll have to read the book you recommended. Thank you for that and for stopping by.

Terri Reed said...

Ann, there is such a wide range of 'symptoms'. I can imagine how hard it must be for the medical community to diagnose each case. The human brain is such a mystery and we all are so very unique. When my daughter was very young(barely 2), she had some 'symptoms' that could easily have been mistaken for autism. Since we live in the Pacific Northwest where alternative medicine was much more practiced and accepted, we went to a naturopath who quickly ascertained she was allergic to wheat/gluten. This was long before gluten intolerance became the phenomena it is now. I cut wheat and gluten from our diets. It was very difficult. There was very little food that didn't have gluten in it then. Friends would literally tell me I was nuts for doing this but it helped my child so much. She's now a beautiful young lady with a 4.0 gpa, set to go off to college in a year. She eventually out grew the allergy as the naturopath had said she would but we kept her off gluten until age eleven. Occasionally, she had to take a 'break' from gluten to let her body reset it self. Wow that was way longer than I intended this post to be. Thank, Ann for stopping by.

Terri Reed said...

Liza, thank you for stopping by.

tammy ramey said...

the book sounds wonderful and i can't wait to read it.

Diane said...

I don't think I've ever seen a book with an autistic person involved either. Very relevant in this time. :O)

Chelle Sandell said...

Sounds like a really interesting book! Will definitely put it in my TBR. I have several friends with autistic children and took care of my neighbor's little girl. She hadn't been diagnosed at that time but they were fighting to find docs with experience. Great interview, Jennifer. Good luck with your book, Terri!

Beth K. Vogt said...

I love it when fiction authors weave real life into their novels. Doing so raises awareness about important issues like autism. Thank you, Terri. Your book sounds like a great read too!

Carol Kilgore said...

Very interesting. As much knowledge as we have, we still have a long way to go.

Nancy said...

How wonderful Terri did the research to make the story more interesting. It sounds so good - a winner for sure.

Jamie said...

Very interesting post, thank you for sharing. Sounds like a great book.

Theresa Milstein said...

Good luck with the book, Terri.

I've worked with higher-fuctioning autistic students, but never non-verbal ones. It's amazing where we draw inspiration and then use research to create a character.

Thanks for the interview, Jennifer.

Heidi Willis said...

My closest friend's daughter was just diagnosed with Autism, so this book fascinates me.

I love when there is some personal connection an author has with a subject, even if it is only "limited." :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, Jennifer
thanks for talking and writing about this subject.
Although I am not a parent of a child with autism, I have been around such kids as well as those that are schizophrenic, depressed.
Its great that this topic is being included in the stories. I hope this will help to dispel, demystify autism, help people to understand.

Thanks for writing about this.


Jessica R. Patch said...

The book looks incredible. One of my dearest friends has an autistic son. He's precious. :)

Chelsea B. said...

My niece is autistic. She is wonderfully smart-- I'm very proud of her :-)
Wishing you much success!


Manzanita said...

Thank you Jennifer for hosting Terry Reed. I was drawn to the post because I love mysteries. I know nothing about autism, in fact I've never known anyone who had an autistic child. The name must have been around when I was raising my kids but no one ever heard it. I don't know if doctors knew about autism and just swept it under the rug or why there was never any mention of it.
This is an interesting post and I will certainly look up the book.

Maria said...

Very interesting post Terri! My nephew is autistic and doesn't speak much but he is beginning to use some words. He definitely has different needs than the ordinary child and presents his own set of challenges for my sister and brother in law but they are committed to raising him and keeping him at home. And you're right, there are a ton of websites and blogs with information on this condition. I have your book on my purchase list - I just read another book this week that was a romance that featured an autistic child and I'm looking forward to reading yours.


Terri Reed said...

Thanks Tammy, I hope the book doesn’t disappoint.
Diane, you’re right it is relevant.
Chelle, that’s for putting my book in your TBR pile. That’s sweet.
Beth, thanks for the encouragement. I think we all tend to write from our experiences.
Carol, you’re we have a long way to go. I’m sure one day there will be answers.
Nancy, and Jamie, thanks for your kind words.
Theresa, I love to do research and sprinkle in what I learn.
Heidi, I’m sure your friend will be grateful for your support as they learn more about autism.
Daeanarah, Jessica and Chelsea, thank you for your kind words.
Manzanita and Maria, I hope the book lives up to your expectations.
Thank you all for stopping by. And thank you to Jennifer for having me here. Its been a wonderful day.

Jackie S. said...

Your book sounds so interesting, Terri! I hope to read it!

Na said...

Thank you sharing us your reason for having an autistic child in your story. I think it will be an inspiring read to see how the adults and the child handle this issue. It just adds another valuable layer to the story.


Cynthia Selwyn said...

Great article, Terri. :) So often, writers talk about writing or their books (myself included) but to write about something like autism is great; you're teaching people something and touching their lives in a positive way.

Judith Leger said...

It's wonderful to see an author who is willing to push to the next level by adding an aspect to their novel that is not normally found in other books. Wishing you the very best with your writing!

Sandra Cox said...

Looks like a great read, Terri. Wishing you many sales.

Cheryl said...

Wow! This sounds like a fabulous book.

Wishing you the best,


Terri Reed said...

Jackie S., thanks for commenting.
Na, I'm all about layers. LOL. I give a workshop at writers groups about layering.
Thank you Cynthia for your kind words.
Judith, thank you for the encouragement. I appreciate it.
Sandra, sales are good. LOL. Thank you for stopping by
Cheryl, thanks for the good wishes. Appreciate it.

Suze said...

Nice of you to host another author, Jen.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I'm so glad you included this character in your story. I was deeply touched recently when I saw the movie, "Temple Grandin," a true story of a woman with autism who overcame mountainous odds to invent a humane way to slaughter beef. She also teaches at a university. Wonderful expose' on autism and its ramifications.

Please enter my name in the Visa card drawing, and thanks!


Terri Reed said...

Suze, it was very nice of Jen to host me. She rocks!

Jeanette, I'll have to check out this movie. Thanks for mentioning it.

Admin said...

Nice Post