Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am pleased to introduce to you Tara Manderino. Tara writes everything from historical westerns to vampire intrigue! She also has an awesome cover for hr book, Bound by Blood. Please enjoy Tara’s answers to your questions as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in southwestern Pennsylvania, about 30 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line to give you an idea of how far north of south I am. My two sons are grown men now but they haven’t lost their knack for alternately amusing and aggravating me. I guess that’s what you would call a normal parent / child relationship. Since the boys are grown, I know have Lydia, the Boxer as a major source of peskiness. Love her dearly, but she seems to have difficulty understanding mommy wants to write now.
Tell us about your current release.
My latest release is Bound By Blood. A vampire tale that is not as bloody as the title sounds. It has a little romance and a lot of adventure. It’s not your typical vampire story. I do have more plans for Alex and his ring.
In his two-hundred and fifty years as a vampire, Alex only observed, never intervened with any of his progeny, yet what else can he do when a little girl of his lineage is kidnapped? When he meets Lisa, the child’s nanny, his protective instincts kick into gear, yet he finds he must expose her to ever increasing danger as they search for the missing child. To protect Lisa from perils she is unaware of, he harbors her in his own home.
With Lisa’s help, Alex is able to determine who has the child. Learning why she was abducted rocks him on his heels and sets off a transcontinental search that leads to ancient myths of the Cardinal’s Ruby; the stone in Alex’s ring.
Alex and Lisa have one shot to save the child, but will they be able to stop the impending destruction raining down?
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?
Write. Ignoring writer’s block is the best way I know of to make it go away. It’s like a little kid’s tantrum. When it doesn’t get what it wants it just gives up, or in this case, leaves me alone to finish writing what I want.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write?
I don’t know that I always WANTED to write. I just know I always wrote. I distinctly remember writing in the summer before third grade. It was in the spring of second grade that we were allowed to use ink pens. Blue BIC ™ ballpoint on yellow pulp tablet. Magic.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
Self-publishing wasn’t even an option for me in the beginning. My first book was received rather well by traditional publishers – Except, one thought I should have changed the hero, and another thought I should change the heroine. So I went with a third option – it worked for Goldilocks! – and submitted to an electronic publisher who loved it with BOTH of the characters in tact. That was a number of years ago when most people didn’t even know what epublishing was.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it?
After the publisher changed hands the second time, I decided to take the rights back. By then, self-publishing was become the new venture electronic publishing had been. So far, I’ve enjoyed the ride and have self-published several books.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
No. Actually, I never even thought about writing a book. My goal had been to tell stories. I love to make up stories. As a kid, I could only share so many with my brother, who is a bit younger than me, and my sister, who is closer to my age has no interest in fiction – she’s grown into it, but since no one wanted to hear my stories I started to write them down. One day, I realized that was how books were made. I think I was in third grade at the time. That Christmas I got my first (toy) typewriter. It only typed in caps, but it typed so I could get my stories down even faster.
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.)
A computer. I had my first typewriter (as such) when I was 8 years old. I have been used to composing at a keyboard for a very long time. When I’m really stuck, or in the very beginning stages of a story, I‘ll use pen and paper, but that doesn’t last long because I start to write very quickly and then I can’t read a word of what I‘ve written. Very frustrating. I have to admit that while I’ve used a typewriter for eons, I didn’t learn to actually touch type until after high school. I contemplated taking typing as an elective in my senior year but quickly realized that could seriously pull down my QPA so I asked, and the school let me, take typing during summer school sessions after I graduated.
How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them?
After piddling around for more years than I care to think about – after all in those days, you didn’t need to be writing real books in HS or college – I decided I was going to sit down and write. It only came about because there were a group of writers in a chat room and we started talking about the next book we would write. I pitched my idea, they thought it would work and I started writing. I had a wonderful crit partner at the time – a couple of them actually, and working with them made me realize my initial idea wasn’t going to fly. The heroine was giving me a headache. Eventually, she evolved to her current status in Soul Guardian. I never thought the first chapter was ever going to get done. I must have rewritten it 50 times, no lie. Sometimes the whole basis of the story changed. It was a definite learning experience.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?)
Frances H. Burnett and Louisa May Alcott were my absolute favorite authors. I still enjoy their stories. My first foray into historical fiction was A Little Princess. I had checked that book out of the local library and unbelievable number of times. If there had been a bookstore close by I’m sure I would have owned the book. I still re-read parts of the book today and love watching the movie versions. I had even got my one son (when he was a teen) hooked on the movie. He came in while I was watching it, sat down and finished watching with me. While I still had the video out from the library, he watched it twice more with different girl – friends. I discovered Little Women and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I read that one so many times that one Christmas my mother bought me Marmee for Christmas. I still have the doll, even though she does need a repair. But Little Women led to Jo’s Boys. Under the Lilac Tree, Eight Cousins (another Alcott favorite) and A Rose in Bloom. (Laughing at self here.) Obviously, my childhood reading is still fresh in my mind. It was also when I learned that stories didn’t have to take place in the present time, although some of those titles would have been fairly current when they were written.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read?
I figure I can’t be the only person out there who wants to read what I’ve written, so I lean toward writing what I would enjoy reading. Each book is truly the book of my heart.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write?
I reread where I left off. I generally avoid all editing when I’m writing but if the unthinkable happens and I am absolutely stumped, I reread as far back as I need to. What I generally find out is that I have gone off on a tangent unrelated to the story, or one of my characters had acted, well, out of character. As soon as I figure out the issue, the characters thank me and finish the story. Sometimes it is a simple read through and at others I verge on pulling out my hair, throwing a virtual temper tantrum, kicking, screaming and railing at the characters.
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction?
There are times I do go in a different direction that what was planned, but it’s not my fault! One character or another tends to have a different idea of where the story is going. When I let him/her have their way and the story is finished, I look at it and realize it does have most of the elements, if not all, that I had planned, plus maybe a surprise (to me) or two. My time frame doesn’t always match theirs.
Find Tara online!
Find Tara on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/taramanderino
Author Page FB– https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tara-Manderino-Author/125470584194435
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TManderino — @TManderino
Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/in/taramanderino
My books can be found on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Manderino/e/B007AIMJLI/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Bound by Blood can be found in electronic and paper editions on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00761OURU
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Thanks so much for hosting me today, Hallee. These questions were a lot of fun and called up a few things I hadn’t thought about in years. although the blue BIC pen on yellow pulp tablet always sticks in my mind.
I was so happy to have you, Tara! Thank you so much for being my guest!
Not normally a lover of vampire stories, I was enthalled by Bound by Blood. Excellant story, Tara.
Thanks, Bob. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Loved the interview. Lydia sounds like a hoot. Did you ever consider her as a character in a book? Can’t wait to see what you have planned for Alex and his ring.
Thanks for stopping by, Cindy. Right now, Lydia is just sketched in. So afraid I can’t do her justice.
Great interview Tara. I can see you as a little girl with your bic pen and yellow tablet. I can vouch that Bound by Blood is an exceptional book. It kept me turning pages and rooting for Alex and Lisa. Can’t wait for the next chapter in their story. Tell Lydia to go play and write faster.
*aside* Did you hear that Lydia?
Glad you enjoyed the story, J.D. Alex is one of my favorite heroes, er vampires.