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SunLit Interview: How Wendy Terrien created a world of cryptids — and characters that feel like family

The author wrote "The Forge of Bonds," the fourth book in her series, faster than the others. But it turned out to be the longest -- and took a physical toll.

Wendy Terrien, an international bestselling author, received her first library card at age 2, and a few years later started writing her own stories. She serves on the board of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is a member of Pikes Peak Writers, the Colorado Authors’ League, and the Author’s Guild. Learn more about Wendy by visiting her website: wendyterrien.com.

The author offers a free download of her Young Adult book “The Rampart Guards,” the first book in her series, with no obligation as “simply a gift for folks to give the series a try and see if the series is their cup of tea.” Download here.


Tell us this book’s backstory. What inspired you to write it? Where did the story/theme originate? 

“The Forge of Bonds” is Chronicle Three, but the fourth physical book in my series. The idea for the first book, “The Rampart Guards,” came to me when I was watching television. A murder on the show appeared to have been committed by a Chupacabra, something I’d never heard of. The investigator then said they needed to consult a cryptozoologist, something else I’d never heard of. So, off to Google I went and learned all about cryptids—creatures that may or may not exist, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. 

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Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.

During that process, I was surprised to learn there are hundreds of lesser-known cryptids some people believe exist but remain hidden, things like Skyfish and Kappa and the Mongolian Death Worm. My creative juices started flowing, wondering how such creatures, if they really existed, could remain concealed for so long. From those ponderings, the “answer” to that question, and the world of Jason Lex, was born. 

Cryptids play key roles in each of my books, and all the creatures my readers will meet are “real,” meaning you can find all sorts of information about them on the internet.

Of course, the moral of the story is that television can be good for you. It may even inspire you to write a novel.

You mentioned “The Forge of Bonds” is Chronicle Three, but the fourth physical book in your series. Can you explain?

Sure. After writing Chronicle One, “The Rampart Guards,” I had two characters I loved: Jason Lex, and his new best friend, Sadie Callahan. Jason’s next adventure was taking him to London and it didn’t make sense for Sadie to travel with him. Plus, I knew she had her own story to explore. 

The result was two “book twos.” Chronicle Two-Jason which is “The League of Governors,” and Chronicle Two-Sadie, which is “The Clan Calling.” They take place on the same timeline, but are two totally different stories in two different locations. 

In Chronicle Three / physical book four, “The Forge of Bonds,” Jason and Sadie are together again in their hometown of Salton.

Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole? Why did you select it?

The excerpt is lifted from chapter one of “The Forge of Bonds.” I wanted to share something that introduced the lead characters, didn’t give away too much from the previous books, and also included a taste of what it’s like to live in Jason’s and Sadie’s world of cryptids, powers, and the looming threat of enemies. 

Plus, cool dogs. Shay is Jason’s dog in this excerpt, and Finn is another dog in the series. She’s a mentor of Shay’s. Neither dog has magical powers or anything like that, but they are smart and heroic, and I love writing them. And no, neither dog dies. I don’t mind spoiling that aspect of the books. Dog lovers can rest easy.

Tell us about creating this book. What influences and/or experiences informed the project before you actually sat down to write the book? 

Before starting this book, I wanted to revisit the previous three books in the series so I could refresh the history in my mind. I decided to accomplish that by listening to the audiobook versions of each. 

It was a surprisingly delightful experience! As the author, I hadn’t really had a chance to simply enjoy the books as a reader, or in this case, a listener, and I found myself feeling the stories in a different way. It was remarkable. And it was a great way to prepare me to write the next action-packed adventure.

Shout out to the narrator of the audiobooks, Brian Callanan. He did a fantastic job.

Once you began writing, did the story take you in any unexpected directions? If so, how would you describe dealing with a narrative that seems to have a mind of its own?

Every book I’ve written has a mind of its own. Or perhaps it’s the characters coming to life and making their own decisions. I start with a high-level outline. I know the major points I expect to hit, but I don’t know how we – meaning me and the characters – are going to get to each one. Inevitably, things happen along the way that weren’t planned, and directions change, even endings have changed. I almost feel like I’m simply the scribe and others are telling the story from a different plane. 

As for how I deal with it, well, I don’t deal with it as much as I enjoy the ride. It’s fun to watch how things twist and change. It’s magical.

What were the biggest challenges you faced, or surprises you encountered in completing this book? 

Time was the biggest challenge. Life was taking me in unexpected directions, and it was difficult to find time to focus on what I needed to do. After a while though, the need to write the story outweighed everything else. 

For my own mental health, I had to write it. So, I begged the pardon of friends and family, ensconced myself in my writing cave, figuratively speaking, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. “The Forge of Bonds” is my longest novel to date, and I completed it in the shortest amount of time as compared to the previous three books. 

But it took a toll on my back, and especially my arms, resulting in a writer’s version of tennis elbow from all of the typing. That was a bit of a surprise – injured from writing. I hadn’t considered that sort of consequence.

Walk us through your writing process: Where and how do you write? 

I write at home, usually in the bedroom or the living room with my laptop and a lap desk. I love the idea of writing in a coffee shop, and I’ve tried it, but I’m too distracted by people watching and eavesdropping. 

Public spaces are ripe for material, and I can’t resist observing what’s happening around me, which in turn makes me unproductive when it comes to actually writing the words.

Tell us about your next project.

The final book in the Jason Lex series is in the works. I’m both excited and sad to be finishing the series – the characters have been a big part of my life for years and they feel a bit like family. 

I’m also working on a different kind of project for me, a psychological thriller. I enjoy reading thrillers, and writing one (or more) has always been on my “someday I’m going to…” list. And now I’m doing it. 

I love how the process is stretching my brain and taking me out of my comfort zone. And I’m excited about the story with its twists and surprises. It’s so much fun. And a ton of work. But still, so much fun. After all, writing a story is kind of like magic. And who doesn’t like magic?


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