His books have been featured on Hello Beautiful and BET.com and readers have described him as the next E. Lynn Harris. Book Referees gets to talk with Bay-area novelist Terry E. Hill about his latest book series, The Committee publishing December 2015.
- How do you react when people compare you to the Late E. Lynn Harris?
I have a great deal of respect for E. Lynn Harris’ work and admired him as a writer and as a person. He had a brave and unique voice that opened doors to an entirely new genre and audience and for that we should all be grateful. I, however, don’t focus on men on the “Down Low”. My stories are about powerful women and the negative effect absolute power can have on anyone.
- Tell us about your new book, The Committee?
The Committee is a story that twirls Illuminati conspiracy, New Orleans voodoo, American politics into a delicious twist of turbulence and turmoil. It centers on a secret society that is behind the country’s most powerful politicians and a mysterious New Orleans family of Creole women. “The Committee” decides the United States is ready for a Black woman president and selects Camille Ernestine Hardaway, who is the first female mayor of Los Angeles.
Camille has it all – stunning good looks, power, a seemingly devoted husband and influential allies. The Committee stops at nothing to ensure their rising candidate reaches the White House. The story winds the reader deeper and deeper down a sinister black hole with each chapter. The Committee’s uses a combination of manipulation, intimidation, mysticism and murder that, I hope readers will agree, makes for an intoxicating political thriller.
- The Committee is your second series. Please tell us what inspired this telling of a female mayor in Los Angeles marked by a secret society to become President of the United States?
I wanted to challenge the common held notions about American politics. The idea that our country is run by white men is becoming increasing untrue. I wanted to step out ahead of the trend and place a Black woman in the White House. My goal is to show characters that are multidimensional, not perfect and not evil but simply human and susceptible to the lure of absolute power.
- How long ago did you write this story? Did you think that our nation would be on the cusp of the first women President when you began the manuscript?
I started writing the book at the end of 2014. Hillary Clinton has been on our radar for decades and for the last ten years, she’s opened us up to the real possibility of a woman becoming president. She however was not the inspiration for this book. All my books are about powerful women and the logical next step for me was to write about a woman in the oval office.
- We see that you love to write about a strong female protagonist. Do you watch any of the network or cable shows that have amazingly talented female leads in government, law or the boardroom? Tell us what show you really love and why?
I do enjoy a number of the television shows out now. I especially like Kerry Washington in Scandal. Shonda Rhimes has a gift for creating original story lines that we’ve never heard before and making them plausible, believable and very entertaining.
- What sort of readers/audience do you believe will find The Committee interesting and enjoyable to read?
I think the book has a broad appeal. Veracious readers of women’s fiction and political thrillers will surely be more than satisfied. There are a number of elements that different types of readers will enjoy. Everyone is, to some degree, fascinated by the idea of secret societies, which is at the core of the book. There are also spiritual battles between good and evil, political intrigue and a back-story set in 19th century New Orleans.
- The narrative of this book flashes back to the days of James Monroe, our nation’s 5th President. What inspired you to give the committee such a historical legacy of power?
The historical piece in the book takes place in New Orleans in the 1850’s. Juliette Dupree is a beautiful 25-year-old Creole woman who, through her stunning looks, political savvy and the help of a black candle, forms the first committee. One of my favorite lines in the book is, “Abraham Lincoln didn’t free the slaves. It was Juliette Dupree.” The present-day leader of The Committee is a woman named Gillette Lemaitre, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Juliette.
I included the historical element to place the circumstances that Camille finds herself in into context. When you understand the origins of her insatiable and seemingly unstoppable quest for power you realize there is more going on than you first suspected. As the book progresses you begin to realize she is part of a much larger plan that dates back centuries.
- Tell us more about the committee itself, who are they and what are they after?
The Committee is a group of influential and wealthy men and women who have quietly run the country for over 200 years from an unassuming white mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. They are always lead by women descended from Juliette Dupree and wield power and wealth that is almost unimaginable. They are above the law and their influence reaches into every industry in the country and to the White House. You’ll have to read the book to fund out who they are and what they are really after.
- How did you come up with the profile of Camille Hardaway? She is a powerful and beautiful black woman running one of the most high-profile cities in the country.
The character of, Mayor Camille Hardaway, evolved as I wrote the book. Originally she was simple ambitious and focused on the accumulation of power. However, as the story progressed, it was clear that there was a lot more to her than simply being a ruthless politician. She becomes very complex and multidimensional as the story unfolds. We see that she’s not pure evil like Pastor Samantha Cleaveland, the main character in the Come Sunday Morning Saga. We experience Camille from a number of different angles, some good and some bad, which allows the reader to form an unbiased opinion based on their own values and life experiences. Like all the main characters in my books, she is beautiful, has an insatiable hunger for power and is usually smarter than everyone in any room she is in, but there’s so much more to her than that.
- Share a bit with our readers about your early work, The Sunday Morning Trilogy?
The three books of the Sunday Morning Trilogy are for anyone who has ever been curious about what goes on behind the scenes at America’s Mega Churches. Come Sunday Morning, When Sunday Comes Again and The Last Sunday are about Pastor Samantha Cleaveland who is beautiful, sensuous, and wealthy and willing to do anything to become the head of the church her husband founded and his television network, including murder.
- Where can readers engage you? If a book club is interested in connecting with you where can they get in touch?
The author can be reached on my website www.terryehill.com. Also, on Twitter @MrTerryEHill #ReadTheCommittee and Facebook at Terry E. Hill. All my books are available where book are sold and Amazon. I’d love for readers to leave comments there as well.