Heights-based author Henry Terrell’s third novel, Desert Discord ($15, Greenleaf Book Group), hits stands this spring, painting a vivid coming-of-age tale set in the rough-and-tumble West Texas of the 1970s. Though the book may not be a true memoir, the Odessa-born writer admits that his life, and those of his three grown kids, played a central role in inspiring the characters and their trajectories. Here, his daughter, Abby Terrell Henson, dives into the creative process and attempts to find out just how much of the tale is true to life.
Why did you choose to set the series in West Texas during this particular time period?
The place where we spend our formative years will always be our primary setting. West Texas back then was in the throes of enormous cultural change, from rural to urban, from cowboy to cosmopolitan. It was, and still is, an exciting place.
Your novel deals with several social issues, and early on the protagonist, Andy, is mistaken for gay and beaten in a hate crime. How has West Texas changed since your childhoood?
Well, anybody will recognize what a community goes through when it’s being coerced into modernity. Now, the issues may have changed, but the sense of tribalism has not. The changes in technology are huge, but not so much with how people understand, tolerate and communicate with each other.
I feel connected to Andy because of my own injury. How much of his experience in a coma is based on my own traumatic brain injury and rehab at TIRR a few years ago?
I was just starting to plan the novel when you had your biking accident. Observing your therapy and recovery shifted my emphasis more to that character’s point of view and how he slowly emerges from semiconsciousness.