Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Interview with author Tammy L. Grace

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
First, thanks so much for featuring me and my new release, Pieces of Home, on your blog, Jonel.

I was born and raised in rural Nevada and still live in my hometown near Reno, Nevada. My husband and I have one grown son and a very spoiled golden retriever. I love to read, bake, walk, watch movies, and eat—not necessarily in that order. I’m addicted to chocolate and books. I keep hoping I’ll get addicted to exercise, but sadly that hasn’t happened.

Q ~ What’s your favourite pass-time?
Reading is my favorite form of relaxing. I’ve always been an avid reader and have been known to read a book or sometimes two a day. Now that I’m writing, I have less time for that, but always reward myself at the end of a project with a month of reading and binge watching of movies or television series.

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
This is a toughie. I’ve always admired Ben Franklin, so I would choose him. He’s fascinating in that he was involved with so many endeavors. I love libraries and he was instrumental in establishing the first library in America. From all I know about him, he was a very humble man, but highly intelligent and witty—a natural problem solver.

I spent much of my career working in the political realm and I’d like him to weigh in on the current state of politics and government in America.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?
I think it depends on the person. I’ve always been in awe of authors I love to read, but I considered them unreachable. Most of the authors I’ve met are friendly and down-to-earth. They are quick to share advice and information and really enjoy connecting with readers and fans.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
It’s tough to pick one favorite, but I’ll share one that ranks in my top ten from Mark Twain—“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” I always found this to be effective in my personal and professional life and one of my pet peeves is lying, so this is a great retort when confronted with an untruth or the temptation to lie.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
My favorite genre to read is mystery/thriller. I love to read David Baldacci and Lee Child, along with several other authors. I enjoy the fast pace and the puzzle part of solving the mystery.

I’ve found I enjoy writing in the mystery genre them most. I’d love to try a thriller in the future and have some ideas, but it will take some time to plan. With mysteries it is a challenge to give the reader enough information and clues, but not give away the ending too soon. Just like I enjoy the puzzle solving aspect when reading, it’s even more fun to write.

Q ~ Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?

What I love about books is there are always “new” authors to discover. I love to find authors I haven’t yet read. So, while this author is by no means a debut author, I’ve just read my first Susan Wiggs book and liked it. I picked up Starlight on Willow Lake when I was at my local library last week and enjoyed it. Now, I’ll have to go back and read all of her books.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I began writing in middle school, thanks to my English teacher. It was the first time I’d been free to write creatively and found it to be loads of fun. With his encouragement and help I wrote a column for the local paper from the time I was in middle school through junior high. I didn’t ever consider it a career option and instead focused on becoming an author as a second career after retirement. I’ve always wanted to write novels, but didn’t have the time to dedicate until I retired three years ago.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?
My parents and grandparents have had the greatest influence in my life. They taught me the importance of character and the value of hard work. My parents have always been my biggest supporters. Along with my family, I have a close circle of friends who have encouraged me as I’ve worked to become an author.

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
I’m from a small town and tend to like to visit small towns, so I naturally enjoy writing about them. I like the intertwined relationships that can be built best in rural settings and the relaxing pace of a small community. My mystery book is set in Nashville, which a large city, but the interaction of the characters takes place in a way that gives it a small town feel.

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a bit of a hybrid, which makes me a plantster. For my Hometown Harbor series, the books are more about an emotional journey and focus on the lives of several women. I always have a rough outline and know the main plot points, including the ending, but I do add or veer off the path when I’m writing the novels. With the Cooper Harrington Detective Novels, I have a very detailed outline. With mysteries, it’s much more plot driven and I find I need to have all my plot points firmly planned, with regard to the timing of critical events and the manner of revealing information and clues.

Q ~ Have you written an outline for the Hometown Harbor series or do you make it up as you go? 
 It’s a combination of a loose outline and a bit of on the fly invention. For all the books in this series I’ve thought of things as I’m writing them and my characters tend to take on a life of their own. The books are character driven and sometimes as I tag along with the protagonist, ideas pop up about how my character might behave or I think of another challenge to throw at her.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Pieces of Home and what inspired you to write it?
Pieces of Home is the fourth book in the Hometown Harbor series and focuses on Ellie Carlson, the local baker at Sweet Treats. Each of the books in the series features a different female protagonist. Ellie has been in all three of the other books, but in Pieces of Home the reader gets to know more about her life, including a tumultuous past that led her to the quaint island community.

All of the books in the series involve an emotional journey centered on struggles that impact women. Ellie faces several challenges that everyday women have had to tackle. Like the other characters, she has to endure the hardships, but ultimately the novels are stories of hope and the power of friendship.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
There are several parts I like in this book, but I think the last scene is my favorite. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s a meaningful scene, especially for Ellie.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
I tend to spend quite a bit of time laboring over names. I research names for the region and time period in which the character lives and was born. Sometimes the personality of the character dictates a name and I tend to like names that can be shortened or turned into a nickname.

Q ~ If you were stranded on a desert island with one of your characters (from any novel you’ve written) who would you choose and why?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I like them all! I actually would choose Coop from Killer Music, the first Cooper Harrington Detective Novel. He’s quirky and funny, plus smart. He’d be entertaining and could probably help with any work we had to do around the island to get rescued. He suffers from chronic insomnia, so he could stay up all night and keep our signal fire burning.

Q ~ You’ve written works outside of this series as well. For you, do they compare to one another? Do you have a favourite or do they all stand out in their own way?
They all have things I like about them and I think each book gets better. As a writer, I always learn something new and incorporate those things in my next book. I also try to improve and not make the same mistakes I made in my prior work. In this series, my favorite book is A Promise of Home (Book 3). I like the storyline and the characters, plus it has a touch of Christmas, which I always enjoy. Overall, my mystery novel, Killer Music, is my favorite—most likely because it’s in my favorite genre.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
I’m working on another Cooper Harrington Detective Novel. These will all be stand- alone novels, but are part of the series, featuring the same main characters. Coop, his right-hand assistant, Annabelle, and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, will be immersed in another murder investigation. I plan to release it in the summer of 2016.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Actually, I would give two pieces of advice.…read everything you can gets your hands on and more. Pay attention as you read to learn what you like and techniques to improve your writing. I think the most important piece of advice is to continue to write, no matter what. As you write more, your skills improve, so make a plan to write each day, if possible. It’s a bit like exercise—you need to be consistent to see results.

About the author:

Tammy L. Grace is the author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a new mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing.

When Tammy isn't working on ideas for a novel, she's spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Jonel. So happy to connect with you and your readers!