Teresa Burrell has dedicated her life to helping children and their families in both the courtroom and the classroom.
As an attorney in San Diego, Burrell maintained a private law practice for twelve years, which specialized in domestic, criminal, and civil cases. Her work in juvenile court focused on representing abused minors and juvenile delinquents. Burrell has received several awards and special recognition from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and their families.
Burrell has also enjoyed a satisfying career as a teacher. She has taught children of all ages with diverse backgrounds and special needs. After creating an after-school program that kept kids off the street, she received a community service award.
Now in semi-retirement in California, Burrell continues to educate groups about social issues impacting children and write novels, many of which are inspired by actual legal cases. She is the author of The Advocate Series which now contains eight novels: The Advocate, The Advocate's Betrayal, The Advocate's Conviction, The Advocate's Dilemma, The Advocate's Ex Parte, The Advocate's Felony, The Advocate's Geocache, and The Advocate's Homicides. Teresa has recently started a new series with a character from The Advocate's Felony called Mason's Missing.
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The Advocate (The Advocate Series Book 1)by Teresa BurrellPublish: May 28, 2012Series: The Advocate SeriesCrime Fiction Suspense Mysteries
FINDING FRANKIEby Teresa BurrellPublish: Nov 13, 2019Series: A Tuper MysteryCrime Fiction Suspense Mysteries
The Advocate's Betrayal (The Advocate Series Book 2)by Teresa BurrellPublish: May 28, 2012Series: The Advocate SeriesCrime Fiction Suspense Mysteries
The Advocate's Conviction (The Advocate Series Book 3)by Teresa BurrellPublish: May 28, 2012Series: The Advocate SeriesCrime Fiction Suspense Mysteries
I liked writing as a child and I always thought it would be fun to see if I could write a book some day. But I never made any real attempt until I wrote THE ADVOCATE, the first book in my series.
I wrote my first book in about 2007 or 2008. I was still practicing law at the time. I was working 12-14 hours a day when I decided to write. So, I set my alarm an hour and a half earlier and got up and wrote every day for six months.What did you enjoy the most about working in juvenile court? Which is your favorite award-winning moment among several awards and special recognition you have received from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers?
I loved practicing law and being in the courtroom, going to trial, and the intellectual challenge the law affords. Juvenile Court added an extra dimension because I was able to help protect the children. I enjoyed getting to know the kids, spending time with them, helping them. However, it was also heart wrenching. I had some cases that lasted for many years where the parents came and went, social workers changed, foster homes changed, and sometimes, I (as a child's attorney) was the most consistent person in their life. That's pretty sad when you think about. The delinquency system, which I also worked in, offered different challenges. Sometimes, I felt like I made a small impact on a teenagers life, but often it seemed too late.
I went right from law school to my own practice. Needless to say, I wasn't very busy for the first few years. While I had that time, I did a lot of volunteer work for San Diego Volunteer Lawyers. They were kind enough to honor me with awards for several years for all the time I put in. The truth is I learned so much from their program and made some wonderful friends, both attorneys and clients. I truly appreciated what they did for me.How has your career as a teacher helped you grow as a person? What is the one thing you learned while teaching children of all ages with diverse backgrounds and special needs?
I absolutely loved teaching. If any of my careers define me, that is the one that does it the most. I enjoy helping others learn and grow. I still get the opportunity to do that today, but with other writers. But there is nothing more satisfying that watching a child in an "Ah-Ha" moment. I learned so much from my students over the years.
I don't know if I can pick just one thing, but I know near the top is "compassion." Children are children no matter what their circumstances. I found that they all want to learn and grow, and they get excited when they succeed. They also helped me learn to play. Sometimes, I still find myself working too many hours and I have to find that inner kid in me.What inspired you to create an after-school program that kept kids off the street? What was your reaction on receiving a community service award?
I worked in a neighborhood where the children had very little outside activities to keep them off the streets. Most of them couldn't afford to do much. It gave the kids something to do to that helped them not get in trouble.
I was very surprised when I received the award. I was invited by a friend to a dinner event and was shocked when they called my name. I appreciated it, but I felt like there were a lot of others who deserved it more than I did. What I did was just to help my students--what every teacher wants.How do you think maintaining a private law practice for twelve years has helped you write The Advocate Series? Out of all the eight novels in the series, which one was most difficult to write?
Practicing law in juvenile court gave me an unending supply of storylines. Many of my books are inspired by true life events. They are definitely fiction, but the ideas often come from some experience I've had. From there, I play the "what-if" game.
The Advocate's Homicides was the most difficult for a couple of reasons. First of all, it dealt with a pedophile, which, by the way, I killed off before the book began. Starting with a dead pedophile make it a lot easier. It's a horrible subject, but you can't write about juvenile court and not include it somewhere along the way. I made sure there was nothing graphic in the book so the storyline ends up being far more about "whodunnit" than the original subject matter. In addition to that, I wrote the book the year my brother was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, I was distracted from my writing.In the book, "The Advocate's Geocache", Sabre Brown is representing five siblings who are in the foster care system. Who inspired the character of Sabre?
Sabre is a compilation of many attorneys I have worked with at juvenile court. Some of her attributes are me, but she is so much more. She is the attorney we all strived to be.What was the inspiration for the series, "A Tuper Mystery?" Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
When I wrote the Tuper character in The Advocate's Felony, he was very well received by my readers. I received many an email asking for more Tuper. So, I decided to give him his own series. Besides, it was a good break from The Advocate series. It required a whole new set of characters. Tuper is loosely based on my brother who lives in Montana. That's what I called my brother when I was young. I have used many of his characteristics in the books.
It's fun creating new characters and you can do anything you want with them the first novel because they haven't established their personalities yet. Once you write several follow up books, the characters start to run the show a little more. You can't suddenly have them do something too far from their norm without explanation.You’ve written children's books and suspense books. Do you have a preference? Which one do you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoy writing the mysteries best. The children's books are fun, but not nearly the challenge, mostly because they aren't that long. I mostly wrote the children's books for my nieces and nephews. One of my nephews, Zack Settle, is my illustrator. He did a fabulous job.What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book, "The Advocate's Ex Parte?" How did you come up with the title of the books in The Advocate Series?
I did more research for that book than I have had to for some of the others. I was familiar with some of the challenges presented by child trafficking, but I learned far more than I ever wanted to know. It's way more prevalent than one may think.
My friend, Marilee Wood, helped me come up with the first title, The Advocate. With the second book my publisher wanted to keep the theme going, so he suggested I call it The Advocate's something. I decided on Betrayal. For the third book, the publisher said I needed a word that started with "C" since I already had "A" and "B". Together we came up with Conviction. Up until then, I hadn't noticed the alphabetical theme, but we continued with it. After that, I started asking my readers for suggestions for the "D" word, and so on. Each time a new book comes out, I get input from my readers and I use one that they come up with. When "Ex-Parte" was suggested, I immediately started thinking of a story to go with it. Usually, I don't decided on the title until after the novel is complete or at least near completion.Now in semi-retirement in California, what do you enjoy doing the most when you are not writing? What time of the day do you usually write?
The truth is, I'm not really in semi-retirement any more. Writing has become a full-time job. When I'm not writing, I'm generally on the road with book events. I love to travel, so I usually find myself making some time for that each year. If nothing else, I always manage to take a "Sister Trip" with my siblings. We started that nearly twenty years ago and continue to this day. When I'm home, I take a walk at the beach every day, and I catch an occasionally movie when I can.
I wake up around 5 or 6 every morning when I'm home and I walk into my office, sit down at the computer, and start to write. I continue writing until 11:00 a.m. After which, I take a break, eat, clean up, and then spend the afternoon answering emails, setting up events, or whatever marketing needs to be done. Then I take my walk at the beach or the bay.What are some habits that are crucial to developing if you want to become a successful writer?
Be consistent with your writing. Some authors write every day. I write every day that I am home. I found it difficult to do on the road. But you need to set up some schedule for yourself and then stick with it. And when you finish one book, start another.What are some things you wish someone had told you when you were still new to the writing world? When writing, do you tend to give more importance to dialogue or descriptions?
Not to write a series in alphabetical order, because "Z" is a lot of books away.
Dialog is definitely easier for me to write than descriptions. I generally write a scene with the dialog and then go back and fill in some places that need more description.What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
You have to have thick skin to survive in the publishing world. It's such a high when your first book is released, and each book thereafter. But there are a lot of disappointments along the way as well, such as: the movie deal you almost got; the second place award (instead of first); the first bad review.How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
For the most part, I don't get the plot idea until I start to write the next book. Even then, I don't know how my books will end. I just keep writing until it all comes together.
Since I haven't formulated any yet, I'll tell you about my latest book, The Advocate's Justice, that will be released on 4/9/19. Attorney Sabre Brown represents her boyfriend's fifteen-year-old nephew who accused of murder. All the evidence points directly to the boy. Soon, tempers flare, confidences are broken, and secrets of the past surface as they try to untangle the web of lies created by her boyfriend's family.When did you first find out about AllAuthor? How would you rate your experience with us so far?
I discovered AllAuthor last year when I saw a contest they were having for best book cover. I entered the contest with The Advocate's Illusion and I won!
I have been thrilled with the interest AllAuthor takes in their authors. The follow up since the contest has been extremely productive and worthwhile. I'm proud to be an AllAuthor author.
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