I haven’t been in a forum with Tara and so it was an especial privilege to read her wonderful story in this beautifully produced book which would grace any book shelf and make ideal bedtime reading. BUY PANGEA
1. Tara, Like so many of us writers, you left the day job. That must have a tough decision. What was that, how has that decision impacted on your life and do you see yourself ever going back into that job?
Yes, I did leave the day job. I was working as a lawyer at a corporate firm in the city in London. A variety of factors contributed to my decision to leave, but my then in-progress novel was a big one. At the time, it seemed very scary and dramatic to leave – I had been with this firm for seven years and had spent a lot of time and money getting my law degree – but now it seems like the smartest thing I ever did. In terms of impact, it had an obvious financial impact. We went from a two-income family to one-income and we’ve had to adjust our lives accordingly – leaving London, for example – but not working corporate hours has enriched my life in countless other ways. I now get to raise my children and write, and no amount of money is better than that. So to answer your last question – no, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being a lawyer. Never say never, of course, but right now I have no plans to go back.
2. When did you begin to write, what inspires you and how do you find time?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a voracious reader – I was one of those nerdy kids who always had a book in front of my nose – and writing stories was a natural partner to that. I can’t say I was a very good or successful writer, however. In university, I wrote a lot but never finished anything. Over the years, I just kept writing – it was sort of my guilty secret, all of these half-finished stories and little scribblings in the back of journals. It wasn’t until I hit my 30’s and became a mother that I tried to get more serious with writing – which meant, for me, editing and re-working and revising and revising some more. I’ve always had a lot of ideas. Everything inspires me. It’s rare to get through the day without jotting some story idea down. In terms of finding the time to write, these days it is a struggle. I have three young children so I write whenever they are at school or sleeping. I’ve learned to be very un-precious about my writing time. I can write with the TV blaring, the radio on, children running at warp speed past my desk, even in a moving car (as a passenger, of course…).
3. What is your PANGEA story called and how did that one come to be written?
My Pangea story is called “Signs of Our Redemption” and it’s about a woman named Josephine Bell who is a slave in Virginia before the Civil War. I wrote this story as I was working on my novel (The House Girl, to be published in US and Canada in Feb. 2013), which centres on the same character. As I was figuring out Josephine’s voice, I wrote a number of short stories in first person to try to hear her and better understand her. I ended up using the third person in the novel, but this story I thought stood on its own.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it Tara and it resonnated in parts with my own story.
4. As a writer do you set yourself goals or just go with the flow – and do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
No, I don’t set myself goals as in – I must do 5000 words today. It’s more just a feeling of needing to work more on something, or just itching to get a character or a story down on paper. I’m currently working on my second novel but I haven’t had a lot of writing time (curse the summer school holidays!) and I’m just going crazy with these voices in my head. Come September, I’ll be a fiend in front of the laptop.
5. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my second novel. It’s about family, sex, death and love. How’s that for a teaser?
All the best with that Tara.
6. What is the best advice you would offer to an aspiring writer?
The best advice I can give is just to write, even if it’s bad. Just keep at it. Writing is like anything else: you’ve got to work at it to create something worthwhile.
Thank you Tara for allowing me to interview you. It’s a privilege to be with you in the pages of PANGEA.
You can keep up with all Tara’s news at popcorntheblog