with Terry Brennan

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Welcome to Patterings, Terry! Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
I’ve been a writer since high school, a journalist for 22 years – 15 as a sportswriter. But I never considered myself a ‘writer’ until I tried my hand at my first novel in the mid-90’s. That one took four years, then sat in a drawer for six years. One day, I thought, I wonder if there is any value in that book? Eventually I went to my first writer’s conference – the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference – in 2005. I had an idea that I pitched to anyone who would listen, got a lot of encouragement and … boom … that was it. Off on this crazy journey. It took four years from the ’05 conference to launch date 2009.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Thus far, The Sacred Cipher has been the most fun to write. It was such a hoot. I wrote it in a year of Saturdays and was constantly amazed at where the story would take me, what the characters would tell me and the wild stuff I would come up with in research. It was like I was on an adventure with a bunch of friends who would only give me little clues about what was going on.

I also enjoyed writing Hunger’s Ransom, my second book, which is now undergoing some substantial editing. It’s a wild story. I just wrote it too fast.

My favorite character, thus far, is a guy named Sammy Rizzo, who is part of the ‘team’ searching for the keys to The Sacred Cipher. Sammy is outrageous – he is everything I am not … outspoken, funny, secure enough to wear the most outlandish clothes. Or … so it seems. But, he’s fun. And I like him.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Confidence, and I haven’t overcome that one yet. Organization, and I haven’t overcome that one yet. Pride and arrogance, once I sold a book. I figured I must have the golden touch. So I threw down a story and didn’t pay attention to my craft. Those two, God put a dent in with a 2x4.

No, the greatest roadblock is discipline. When I have it, magic happens. When I don’t, nothing happens. Creating and sticking to a rigid schedule is one of the few ways I’ve found to establish discipline.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Going sledding at 2:00 a.m. in the morning – after we had gotten that day’s edition of the local newspaper on the press and running – with one of the news editors, my good buddy, Vince. We went to a golf course he knew had a great hill with incredible launching ramps that summered as sand traps. So we climbed the chain link fence and lifted ourselves over the barbed wire on top. It was still. Quiet. Ice crystals in the air. Blackness against the white snow.

The first run was a blur of fear and fun and flash … screaming and laughing and trying to hang on. Since we had only one sled, we were riding as a double-decker … Vince on top. My eyes were stinging from the flying snow that peppered my face as we hurtled down the hill. So I didn’t see the dark slash across the ground until after Vince had launched himself away at the very last moment. But I do remember hitting the water as the sled and I plunged into an icy stream … truly, a water hazard.

I do remember Vince, running around in this huge circle, laughing like a crazed hyena, particularly when he looked at me.

I remember, soaked to the skin, there was smoke rising from my clothes in the frozen night. I remember it got harder to move the further up the hill I got toward the fence – and the promised warmth of my car.

And I remember getting to the fence and recognizing that my clothes were frozen solid. Nothing bent anymore.

Amazingly, somehow I got to the top of the fence (no credit to Vince), with no way to navigate the barbed wire. So I threw myself – launched myself as an icy missile – over the top of the barbed wire and slammed into the snow on the ground on the other side. Lying in the snow with Vince running in circles again, howling at the human popsicle.

ROFL--I'm sorry, but I'm laughing my head off. I'm afraid I would've been with Vince. LoL A human popsicle! Oh, I looove that! LoL. Okay. Ahem...
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Calling people I don’t know … or don’t like. Asking for help. But, mostly, asking for directions.

Just so you know, I'm not saying what's going through my mind... LoL
What would a perfect day for you look like?

Breakfast with my wife, Andrea, and all my children on a terrace … then a morning hike in the Rockies or the Alps … an afternoon nap on a blanket in an Alpine meadow … a leisurely walk home … dinner – us and the locals – in an historic old restaurant. I feel closest to God in the mountains and forest … and love to share that with those I love.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’ve always loved the classic American authors – Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald – particularly Steinbeck. That guy was a wizard with words. As a kid, I read every Fu Manchu mystery. As a college student, every James Bond thriller and the required Lord of the Rings trilogy, including the prequel The Hobbit. In between, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes … you get the drift.

Today, I love Dennis Lehane’s work – particularly his latest – The Given Day. I think he’s become a lyrical writer. And my son, Matt, has hooked me into both Stephen King and (more my style) Cormack McCarthy.

Sprinkle into that adrenalin mix some historical biographies and/or autobiographies (Mornings on Horseback By David McCoullough).

And lots of contemporary thriller writers, like Joel Rosenberg.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Trail mix … with M&Ms

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The power and reality of prayer … the unconditional love of our Father toward His children.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
I was out of work for 15 months. No fault of my own. Time for a change, and I was the change. But I got fearful, watching our savings being depleted each month. What were we going to do? I confessed that God was faithful, and believed He would provide for us. But each month, on check-writing day, I’d start to worry again.

God called me to go on a three-day personal retreat of fasting and prayer. While I was there, I was reading that section of the Old Testament that speaks about the Year of Jubilee … the seventh seven-year cycle. The Year of Jubilee was the 49th year of the cycle. In the 49th year, the Israelites were forbidden to sow or to reap. They were to allow the land to lie fallow. So nation Israel survived on what was grown in the 48th year, through the 49th year and into the fall of the 50th year until the new harvest came in. God provided everything they needed in the 48th year for the next two-plus years.

Not long after I lost my job, I ran into one of the board members of the ministry I’d worked for. He prayed for me. Said the one thing that kept getting impressed on his heart was jubilee … a year of jubilee.

I thought of that when I was on the retreat. Made me realize God had provided for us all that we needed. We had money in the bank. So what if we were consuming it? We were in a year of Jubilee, living off God’s former provision. I realized that this was to be a time of celebration and thanksgiving, not a time for fears and doubts. We were celebrating a Year of Jubilee, a time of joy!

That changed everything. Jubilee washed away my fears and my doubts. And I could go to the storehouse with thanksgiving.

It wasn’t long after, that I was offered another position. Praise the Lord!

Wow. When I first read this, Terry, I wanted to jump up and shout 'YES!' --and I still do. :-)
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

Well, only God knows when the next one will be out.
I’ve written a second novel called Hunger’s Ransom. I wrote it fairly quickly after Sacred Cipher was sold to Kregel Publications. I have to admit I got careless … thought I had this book-writing thing knocked. Can you spell p-r-i-d-e? So, Kregel sent it back. It’s going to take some substantial re-writing, but I’m working at it because I believe in the story. It’s a good yarn, set against the back drop of the world food crisis. That’s all I can say now.

And I’m about one-third of the way through the sequel to The Sacred Cipher, a work-in-progress that is titled, at the moment, Scorpion Pass.

Thanks so much for being with us this weekend, Terry. It's been fun having you at Patterings!

You can purchase The Sacred Cipher from Amazon and CBD.

Terry is giving away a copy of The Sacred Cipher. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Thursday, September 17th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you do, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget about the other giveaway currently going on here at Patterings! Candy Arrington is giving away a copy of When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered.


  1. good review/interview - I'd like to enter to win a copy

  2. Great interview, he is a new author to me and I would love to win his book. Please enter me into the drawing


  3. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Fun interview. Great sounding book! You know where I am.

  4. What a wonder!I loved the interview. Please, enter me too. I'd love to read this book.

    God's blessings


  5. LOL... GREAT interview! This book intrigues me! I would love to win it.


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