Q&A with Teri Terry winner of the SCBWI BI Crystal Kite Award

We caught up with Teri Terry to congratulate her on winning the Crystal Kite with her novel Mind Games and ask a few questions about being a SCBWI member, writing and her ever successful career. 

The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. 

On the short list for the 2016 SCBWI British Isles Crystal Kite Award were: Clare Helen Welsh, The Aerodynamics of Biscuits, Lu Hersey, Deep Water, Philip S Davies, Destiny’s Rebel and of course Teri Terry with Mind Games.

The 2016 SCBWI BI Crystal Kite short list

Congratulations Teri! Can you tell us why is winning the Crystal Kite Award special to you?

SO many reasons! I’ve been a Scooby since 2008 and have so many friends and memories associated with SCBWI. Being shortlisted was amazing; winning the Crystal Kite feels like a big, warm hug. 

Could you tell us a little about your inspiration and process behind Mind Games? 

Mind Games began with an article I read that suggested that smart people doing stupid things have caused disasters throughout history. Instead of focusing on how intelligent someone is in isolation, how rational they are should also be considered. It proposed measuring RQ – Rationality Quotient – in conjunction with IQ. And I immediately thought: what would happen in a future world if RQ was considered as or even more important than IQ? What would the implications be? Who decides who is rational, and how could this be manipulated? Would someone who is highly intelligent but labelled irrational be considered dangerous? This is where the story in Mind Games began. 

Was your journey into publication longer or shorter than you expected? 

It was long, but it was probably just right at the same time. Slated was my first published novel, but it was the ninth complete novel I’d written at that point. While it is possible that one of my earlier novels might have found a publisher if I’d been more persistent with editing and submissions, I don’t think any of them would have made as big an impact as Slated, so the way things worked out was probably best for me in the long run. In the short run, of course, there were times when it felt like it would never happen. 

How has your life and career changed in the last five years? 

I write full time now, mostly in my pyjamas. I get to swan about the country talking to readers and lovely librarians and others now and then – not in my pyjamas – which, although occasionally nerve wracking, is really good fun. All this is very different to any sort of day job. There are ups and downs of course, such as not always having as much control as I might like in the whole publishing process; spending too much time alone and talking to myself rather more than is probably healthy; knowing quite when or how much I’m going to get paid, and how to plan for that; having to self-motivate and avoid spending too much time in the House of Procrastination (aka the Internet). But I love it. 

To so many you’re ‘living the dream’. How does it feel to be a much treasured SCBWI member who is often called on for writing advice? 

It’s good, and a bit weird. Good, in that I can remember generous advice I had along the way that helped me, and want to return the favour when I can. Weird, in that I’m still just me, and mostly can’t imagine why anyone would ask what I think about anything. 

Do you have any advice for those in the early stages of their career? 

The most important thing is the story: writing the story you need to write. All the rest will sort itself out one way or the other, and how much you worry or rant about it won’t have much impact – so why waste energy when you could be writing? 

Could you tell us a little of what you’re working on now? 

A new series – the Dark Matter trilogy! I’m really excited about it. I’m in the midst of writing book 2 right now. Book 1 will be out next February. It starts in the here and now, in Scotland and Northern England. But something happens that quickly changes everything...

Teri has been a member and sometimes volunteer of SCBWI since 2008, with her first book, Slated, being published in 2012. She still can't believe it. She has lived in France, Canada, Australia and England at more addresses than she can count, acquiring four degrees, a selection of passports and an unusual name along the way. Past careers have included scientist, lawyer, optometrist and, in England, various jobs in schools, libraries and an audiobook charity. The footpaths and canal ways of the Buckinghamshire Chilterns where she now lives inspired much of the setting of Teri's first books, the Slated trilogy. 2015 saw the publication of Mind Games and Dangerous Games. Making a break from futuristic thrillers is Book of Lies, a contemporary supernatural thriller, in which twins raised apart meet for the first time at their mother's funeral. It was released on 24th March. 

Lou Minns is the joint Features Editor for Words & Pictures SCBWI BI and the new Social Media Co-ordinator for SCBWI San Francisco North & East Bay. 

Contact: writers@britishscbwi.org 

Follow: @LMMinns


  1. I totally get why this award means so much - it's your peers! It's the people who've been on your journey from the start. It's huge - congrats on the win Teri.

  2. Congrats, dear Teri. So well deserved.


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