author of Unwritten, out October 16, 2018
Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Tara, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know if I can actually pinpoint a single moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I know that by second and third grade, I was reading constantly, writing a lot, and fairly certain that I was soon going to become the world’s first bestselling author who was still in elementary school. I remember my third grade teacher telling me that stories submitted to publishers came back with “red pencil all over them.” Not my stories, I thought. (Gosh, I wish I still had that confidence!) It only took me 25 more years, and I had sold my first book!
Ah, to get that confidence back. Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Definitely when my debut novel, Unwritten, sold! I had been writing for so many years, completed an MFA, found an agent with a different novel that went on submission but ultimately never sold… After working so long with little success, I had really started to doubt myself, and so when Unwrittengot its ‘yes,’ it was a huge validation for me.
It’s such an amazing moment. Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
I don’t know if I’ve felt that “I’ve made it” yet, but right around the same time Unwritten sold, I got my dream job teaching creative writing for San Diego Community College District, and the combination of teaching writing and having a book sell made me finally feel like a professional. It gave me a lot more confidence than I’d had previously.
Teaching writing sounds pretty exciting! Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
Oh my goodness, so many! I know I never would have published a book without so many wonderful mentors. Maggie DeVries, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Sarah Aronson, Debby Dahl Edwardson, Dean Karpowicz….. Each one of my mentors taught me something important about writing and helped me develop confidence in myself.
That’s so wonderful to hear! Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
I’ve never felt like giving up writing, though there have been times when I felt like giving up on attempting to publish my work. Actually, when I first started working on Unwritten, it was right after my other novel went out on submission and didn’t sell, and I felt like a huge failure. Unwritten was supposed to be my “just-for-me” novel, one I never showed anyone. It was my way of making writing fun again. I had no idea it would be the one to sell.
That’s an interesting distinction. Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
Oh gosh, the car. I always get ideas when I’m driving. Sometimes when I’m parked at a stoplight, I’ll jot notes on the back of receipts from my purse.
There’s something about the open road. Question the seventh: What do you love most about your most recent book?
I love how flawed my main character is, and I love how she wants to do better. I think it’s important to keep reminding ourselves to have compassion for people who make mistakes – we are all just doing the best we can.
The only truly flawless protagonist is a ghost. Wow, that turned dark by the end of the sentence. Speaking of dark, it’s time for the…
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
Nope, I definitely have never done this one! I used to do freelance editing, and it drove me nuts when writers made up words!
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
I learned my lesson on this one after I told myself I’d be sure to remember my idea in the morning, and then had completely forgotten it when I woke up… (Actually, maybe I didn’t learn my lesson, because this has happened more than once…)
Ah, sweet, memory-thieving sleep. I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Wait, we’re not supposed to start stories in the bathtub??
I don’t know anymore. I don’t know!!! I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
Sometimes I’m working on three….
High five! I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I actually take breaks all the time. There are a lot of days when the day job gets in the way of writing. I do try to make sure that I’m writing at least three or four days a week though. If I go more than a week without writing, I start to get restless and irritable.
Breaks are best. I never wrote "for a long moment."
I’ll just pause for a long moment while I think about this one.
I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
I’ve actually never done NaNoWriMo. I want to though!
Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for having me! Unwrittenreleases October 16, 2018. You can preorder signed copies through my local indie, Mysterious Galaxy!
It’s also available for preorder on:
Follow me on:
And at my website
Bonus question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
I am going to have to go with Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” because it shares a title!
DJ Spotify, if you would?