Author's first novel interweaves lesbian themes, historical fiction, and a tale of suspense

Mission of Desire, a historical romance novel that invokes elements of mystery and suspense, tells the story of Nicole Kennedy, a shy, introverted graduate student who spontaneously decides to volunteer as a teacher in Africa. During her summer abroad, she becomes wrapped up in an international conspiracy and falls in love with Kira, an arrogant woman claiming to work for the United States government, along the way.

The storyline taps into Richards’ desire for the more adventurous type of travelling she really longs to do. “Writing this story allowed me to live out the fantasy without getting a vaccination for yellow fever or worrying about what clothes to pack,” she said.

This is why she often finds herself drawn to historical fiction. “I enjoy writing historical romances more so than writing based upon current events,” she said. “I find it easier to get into character and it's more fun to go back in time in your mind.”

Now Richards looks forward to a new year of writing. She’s temporarily shelved plans for a sequel to Mission of Desire (“I’m going to wait…allow the characters to age some,” she said. “I think it will be fascinating to revisit them in a few years and explore what happened in their careers and romance.”), but is excited to tackle new writing projects.

“I’ve always wanted to write,” she said. “I have many stories in my head, but the hard part is making the time to do it.”

As an openly gay author, Richards welcomes the opportunity to not just write, but also have an outlet to publish her lesbian-geared novels. “It’s great that there is this genre out there for us,” she said.

The lesbian community is so vast and varied, that there’s room for all styles and types of fiction. So Richards tends to write what she would like to read herself. “I don't like to read books where there is instant hot sex between the two characters, but some do so,” she said. “I like for the relationship to develop, the tension, and the heat to grow. That's the fun part. So of course my writing will be consistent with what I like to read.”

Terri Richards will read from her novel Mission of Desire this Thursday, Jan. 24 at the L Train Bar on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg as part of the Wordier Than Thou reading series.

Terri Richards always knew that one day she’d write a book.

But Richards, a New York transplant who lives in Lutz, spends most of her time on the road as a regional marketing director for the fast food chain Sonic, visiting franchisees from Florida to Kentucky. This leaves her little time to write.

Eventually, though, she learned to balance her work and writing, and last year she released her first novel, Mission of Desire, through Bold Stroke Books, a specialty publisher of lesbian-themed fiction.

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