Today I’m glad to present Tanya Newman whose book “The Good Thief” is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Black Opal Books. Hello Tanya, and welcome and welcome to my blog.
Thanks! I’m glad to be here.
Please tell my readers, how did you come to writing?
I actually wrote my first book at the age of ten. I had long been an avid reader (particularly of horse stories), and when I began my summer vacation between fifth and sixth grade, I decided to try my hand at writing a book of my own. It took me all summer long and by the time I was done, I had a whopping thirty handwritten pages! I even designed a cover based on pictures I’d cut out of magazines and did a little “About the Author” page at the end.
That first summer definitely cemented my love of writing and storytelling, as it was a trend that I continued well throughout high school. It wasn’t until college, though, that I knew writing was what I wanted to do with my life. I started out as a Journalism major, but after taking a course in Early American Literature, I was inspired to change my major to English. A certain professor (who I still keep in touch with today) and a creative writing class reignited my love of fiction writing, specifically.
How did you come up with your stories?
I have no idea! No, really, ideas just come to me, usually in the form of characters or images. For instance, with The Good Thief, I kept seeing this image in my mind of this woman walking toward a man. Everything was dark all around, the woman’s wrists were tied together, and there was a lot of fear and anger between them, but there was also love. A question of how they got to that point grew from there. I didn’t know the characters or their motivations, whether they were good or evil, etc., at that point, but I knew that I was interested and I couldn’t get that image out of my mind.
Is there a message in your novels you would like your readers to grasp?
Unconditional love as well as the power of first love and how the past can affect the present, even years later.
You have created great characters. Which one is your favorite?
That’s always hard to answer because I have a special place in my mind and heart for all of my characters. Scotlyn is a lot like me in ways, but I enjoy James’s unpredictability and intensity. I love them all in a way.
How much of your books are realistic? Are the experiences based on someone you know or events in your life?
I actually base my stories on a fictional version of my hometown (Laurens, SC) that I call Laurel Springs in my work. There are certainly snippets that are influenced by or directly taken from my own life or stories that I’ve heard before. Certain characters are also modeled, in part, on certain people. For instance, Scotlyn’s father is, in part, based on my own father.
Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?
I’m quiet and shy, like Scotlyn is, so some of her reactions are probably the same as what I would have in life. I also threw my love of books and running in with her character—two things that actually influence portions of the plot.
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
Some were, for sure. But, one character in my current work started out a certain way and based on that, I had the ending already planned out in my mind. But the more I wrote and the more I got to know this character, the more things changed for the story and the outcome—for the better. It was almost as if this character was telling me the story as I wrote it and so, I ended up what this person told me.
What is your main reason for writing?
In a word, love. I love to write and see the story and characters come to life and together. It’s like entering a different world or dimension. I think and dwell on them and their lives even when I’m not writing. It’s not always easy, though, especially when the ideas aren’t flowing, and being a millionaire writer is a farfetched dream, but it’s something I would do even if I didn’t get paid to do it.
Please share a little of your current work in progress or ideas for your next novel?
Here is an excerpt:
“She’d thought she was safe, thought they couldn’t find her—but she’d been wrong…
Scotlyn heard James close the back door behind him and stared at the ceiling for a while, enjoying the moment until deciding to go ahead and make some coffee. She sat up and stretched a long moment before pulling on her jeans and top and walking lazily to the kitchen. She found a bag of coffee grounds in the refrigerator, filled the pot with water, and set it.
She was standing with her arms crossed when she heard the back door open again, a little more slowly this time. Knowing that James couldn’t have been to the store and back by now, she called, “You forget something?” without looking back.
A large arm grabbed her then and, before she could react, a cloth covered her mouth. She remembered breathing in to scream, but then she became instantly drowsier than she’d ever been. Her head fell onto a foreign shoulder and, before she could get scared, everything turned to black.”
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
It’s a balancing act, for sure, because in addition to writing, I work as a college instructor and am a wife and a mom to two adorable kids under the age of six. I try to set aside some time for writing each day, but sometimes it takes a long time to get in the “zone” and then by the same token, I’m sometimes not finished writing when I need to stop and focus on something else (like cleaning, running errands, cooking, going to pick up the kids, laundry, etc). And so marketing can be a challenge, especially since this is my first book. Typically, though, I research events around my area that would be good to go to set up and sell books—for instance, my hometown of Laurens had an event last year where I set up a table with copies of my book. It worked out great because my book is set in a town based on it. I like to use social media, too. I have author pages on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads, as well as my own website. Scheduling weekend signings at local, independent bookstores are great, too, because they’re usually willing to help their local authors and take books on consignment. The last one I went was great because my kids were able to look in the children’s section with my mom while I worked my table. Another thing that’s been helpful has been doing a blog tour.
What do you do when you don’t write?
Well, aside from my teaching duties and acting as professional housekeeper, chef, laundress, and chauffer, I love to read all kinds of books, whether it’s to my kids before bed, through Audible in the car, or a few pages in a good old-fashioned paperback before turning in, myself. I’m pretty introverted and shy, so I tend to stay in a lot. I love movies (action/adventure with a love story added in is a personal favorite) and reruns of The Golden Girls or Andy Griffith, taking long walks, and enjoying a good cup of coffee (or three!)
What is your advice to new writers?
Read, and read a lot! Keep books on your nightstand, in your bag, downloaded to your phone or tablet; listen to them in your car. Reading is a great way to get started, get inspired, find what you like and want to write, and then just write. Write what you want to write, what you feel the most about. I’m a writing instructor, but one thing I feel and that I always try to impart to my students is that the only way to get better is to keep doing it. Write a little every day if you can and you will eventually discover your own style and voice.
What books or authors have influenced you the most? Is there a writer that you consider a mentor? Do you have a favorite?
Some of my favorite books growing up were The Black Stallion and The Velveteen Rabbit, and then in high school I discovered Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as well as Stephen King’s Carrie. I also love Sparks’s The Notebook and Weiner’s In Her Shoes. Fitch’s White Oleander is a novel I frequently revisit.
I also admire works such as Ron Rash’s Serena, Andre Dubus III’s House of Sand and Fog, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl, J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, and Elizabeth Haynes’s Into the Darkest Corner. Each features strong storylines and female characters (even if they’re not always good), and they all focus on a romantic relationship (not always happy, but always interesting!).
My style is definitely influenced by what I’m reading at the moment, but I consider my mentors to be my professors, Dr. Marilyn Knight, from the University of South Carolina Upstate, who inspired me to go into writing and English, and Keith Lee Morris (an author as well), who, through gentle but honest wisdom, bettered me as a writer.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I recently downloaded a new J.R. Ward book to my Audible app and I’m so excited to start listening to it. A hardback book I’ve been reading a little each day, though, is True Love, by Robert Fulghum. My son found it at the library last week when we went to check out a few books. I was in the children’s section, reading to my daughter, when he came around the corner and said, “Mommy, I found a book for you!” The book is a series of stories (most true) that illustrate what love means to different people. It’s been such a cool read and was a perfect little surprise treasure that my sweet son found for me.
What makes you laugh?
My kids make me laugh every day. They’re 5 and 3, so they’re at great, fun ages. The original National Lampoon’s Vacation keeps me in stitches every time I watch it. My trusted reader, who was my cousin, Barbara, always knew how to make me and everyone around her laugh. She passed away almost two years and so thinking of her can simultaneously make me cry and laugh.
What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?
Lots of books and my laptop so I could write. I couldn’t forget my playlists or my essential oils, either (they’re usually essential to my writing); coffee and chocolate; my coconut oil so my skin wouldn’t get parched.
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
There are many family members I never got to meet because they either passed away before I was born or when I was too young to remember them. I’d love to have dinner with them.
Tell us about your other books?
I have a book coming out later this year called Winter Rain. It centers on three musicians and singers—Isabel, Spencer, and Thomas—all working with the same band who find themselves in a love triangle that may very well have tragic repercussions. I’m also working on a sequel to The Good Thief.
My love of reading and writing led to a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of South Carolina Upstate, and a Master of Arts in English from Clemson University. For thirteen years, I’ve taught Composition at the college level. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for eleven years, and we have an adorable five-year-old son, and a lovely three-year-old daughter. I love coffee, movies (usually an action/adventure with a love story added in), reruns of The Golden Girls, going for long walks, and spending time with reading to and playing with my kids.
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