Tuesday, June 19, 2012

INTERVIEW: Tammy Blackwell

Tammy Blackwell is a YA librarian devoted to the kids in her community. Part of her writing career involved a promise to those kids that she’d write a book for them. She’s not only made good on that promise, but exceeded it by writing three books and planning more. The Timber Wolves trilogy begins with Destiny Binds, continues in Time Mends, and will conclude at Fate Succumbs which is due out this fall! She’s an inspiration, and I’m happy to have been able to ask her a few questions. She’s found her muse in some of the most unlikely of places. Let’s take a peek (but not in a stalker way!) into her life, shall we?

What made you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I learned how to string words together and form sentences, but it was the YALSA Lit Symposium in November 2008 that made me consider following my dream of becoming a novelist. Meeting all those different authors, realizing they were normal people who happened to put in the effort to finish a book, is what made me start writing Destiny Binds.

Why shifters and seers? What was the inspiration for your story?
I love speculative fiction (while hating the term “speculative fiction” because I think it’s redundant). When I sit down to read a book or watch a movie or TV show, I want it to have some sort of fantastical element. Vampires. Fairies. Hobbits. Incredible Hulks. Whatever, just make it not real but believable. My real life is full of real and unbelievable things, thank you very much.

The idea to focus on Shifters and Seers as opposed to any of those other things is thanks to one of my neighbors. I was out for a walk with my mom and found a guy who lived a half mile down the road sitting on the bank with his gun. Not exactly the sort of thing you want to see while walking a mile long road which only has four houses on it. When I called out a greeting (so he would think I was friendly and not shoot me) he explained how he was watching for a giant coyote who he’d seen around. For some reason (probably my steady diet of speculative fiction), my brain immediately leapt to teenage boys who took the form of a coyote. Destiny Binds developed from there.

You’ve put your characters through some truly heartbreaking experiences. Why? Is it as hard for you to write it as it is for us to read it (yes I cried at parts of both books)?
I have been known to tear up when I’m writing or during revisions, but not always at the same place other people do. The big sads I know ahead of time and purposefully work up to them. There is so much thought involved as to how to get it to pay off emotionally, that I don’t get too horribly wrapped up in it myself. But the tender moments that come out of nowhere while I’m writing? Those sometimes get to me. (An example is Scout and Angel in the hospital during Destiny Binds. I still tear up every time I read it!)

As for the why... Well, life is sad. Bad stuff happens. Those are the things that truly shape us into who we become, so for Scout to have realistic growth, those kinds of things have to happen to her too.

Fate Succumbs is slated to be the conclusion to the Timber Wolves trilogy. Is there anything else on the horizon after that?
Yes! I plan to further explore the world of Shifters and Seers in my new series. Unlike the Timber Wolves books, these will be more romance focused and have different main characters for each book in the series.

What made you go the Indie route? Did you ever consider publishing traditionally?
I did consider the traditional route, and even attempted to get an agent. I was actually getting a very positive response when some major life stuff happened, and I decided I didn’t have the energy or heart to put into the search any longer. Because I promised the kids at my library they could one day hold a book in their hand that was written for them, I went ahead and self published. I never expected the wonderful response I’ve received! This has all been beyond my wildest dreams!

Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
If you want to be a writer, write. Sit your butt in a chair and do it. And always, always, be kind to others.

I’m sure you’ve met other authors along the road. Who was the biggest surprise? Who’s been the most helpful?
Samantha Young is an amazing person. She supported Destiny Binds right off the bat and has been so helpful to me along the way. She even recorded a graduation message to the seniors leaving my library program this year! I adore her. She’s good people, and a good writer. You should all go buy her books now.

As an author, you obviously have a passion for books. What do you read in your own spare time?
Spare time? What’s that?

No matter what, I have to read something every day. I used to exclusively read YA (I’m a YA librarian), but lately I’ve been drifting towards more adult books. I think between being around teens all day and writing about teens all night I need a little adult time. Right now I’m very much in love with all of Nalini Singh’s and Meljean Brook’s books. They both have two different series, and it’s all excellent reading. As for YA, I’ve been on a romance kick here lately. I love books by Jennifer Echols, Simone Elkeles, and Stephanie Perkins. Those ladies know how to write some very steamy YA love scenes!

Can you share a few fun facts about yourself?
1 - I have an addiction to Mello Yello, to the point that I pack it in my luggage when I’m going out of town since you can’t buy it just anywhere. 2 - I’m helping my mom and sister raise a kid. I think she’s awesome. 3 - I think Pop-Tarts taste best when toasted and then slathered in butter. 4 - I have noisy, nosey neighbors. They stand at the fence row, staring at my house, mooing at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes I eat a hamburger in front of them when I’m feeling particularly annoyed. 5 - I have considerably more freckles on my right leg than my left.

Writer of the Timber Wolves Trilogy (Destiny Binds, Time Mends & Fate Succumbs). YA librarian. Jensen Ackles' secret girlfriend.

Find her here.

Destiny Binds Now Available!

Scout Donovan is a girl who believes in rules, logic, and her lifelong love of Charlie Hagan. Alex Cole believes in destiny, magic, and Scout. When Alex introduces Scout to the world of Shifters, men who change into wolves or coyotes during the full moon and Seers, women who can see your most private thoughts and emotions with a mere touch, the knowledge changes everything and everyone Scout thought she knew.

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