Friday, January 21, 2011

Interview with Author Tamara Hart Heiner

Picture of Deirdra and Tamara

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Tamara: A long long time ago. When I was about 15, I tried to get the first draft to Perilous published. (I was unsuccessful.)

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Tamara: I don't really feel like I have a writing background. I got an English degree at Brigham Young University.

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Tamara: I think about it 24/7. New ideas, new novels, when I'm going to write...I don't know if that makes me passionate, or if that's a manifestation of my passion.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Tamara: When I wrote Perilous, I was very young. I consider this novel to be my 'starter novel.' That being the case, I wasn't as concerned with getting an agent and making it huge. I just wanted to get published, get my name out there, and pave the path for bigger, better novels. So I opted for a small press, where you don't need an agent and it doesn't take nearly as long. Getting Perilous published is a huge milestone for me and represents the ability to achieve a childhood dream.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Tamara: Yes. I revised.

Deirdra: As a busy mom and military wife when do you find time to write?

Tamara: oh, good question. I'm still trying to find the time! It's been crazy since the birth of my last child, and really, if I want to write, something else has to go. Usually it's sleep, though often it's housework. Ask me again in a year.

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Tamara: My ideas come from music, dreams, real life. I think any idea is good enough to write a book about. I might have to embellish, create new plot lines, but a one-line idea can turn itself into a book. Very fun process, actually.

Deirdra: Can you tell us about your newest book Perilous.

Tamara: Perilous is a book I wrote when I was a teenager. It follows the journey of four girls as they escape from a criminal and trek across the country with him in their shadows. Getting Perilous published is one of those things where I just feel like, "I did it!" Sure, the plot stretches reality at times, but so does Star Wars, right?

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Tamara: For Perilous, tons. I worked on it for years. For the sequel, I've cut the at number down to about five. I think I understand how these things work better this time.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Tamara: I want them to love my characters. To come away feeling like they met someone new and that person will always be in their heads. To maybe feel like they grew through the experiences the characters have.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Tamara: I outline. And then I sit down and write.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Tamara: Yes. I skip it. I write one line kind of summarizing what I think should happen there, and then I move on. Often when I come back to it the second time around, it's very easy to fill in the blank.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Tamara: I need silence. I tried music/movies/kids but I can't do it.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Tamara: What's a story creation period? Like, brainstorming? I like to brainstorm while I drive. Or when I'm falling asleep. That heavy feeling seems to lull my mind into creative places.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Tamara: Yikes, I don't know. Probably my husband. Without his support and encouragement, I couldn't do any of this.

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Tamara: They're real to me. One of the hardest things was editing out backstories and dialogues that didn't move the story along, but revealed more of the characters. I think the readers missed that, too.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Tamara: Mom writers. Especially Stephanie Meyer, who pretty much encapulates (is that a word?) the mom/writer dream.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Tamara: I don't like to eat while I write. Food on the keyboard? I don't know how people do that.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Tamara: Cooking and occasionally scrapbooking. Very occasionally.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Tamara: Figure out how badly you want it and what you're willing to sacrifice. Then choose your path and go.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Tamara: A paranormal romantic suspense called Inevitable, about a girl who can see the way people will die.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Tamara: Very few bookstores have it in stock, but all of them will order it if you go in and ask for it. Otherwise, it can be found at all the online venues, including, Barnes & Noble, and my website.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Tamara: Thanks for having me, Deirdra! It's so nice to be able to talk about myself and my book!


  1. Great interview, Tamara. INEVITABLE sounds greeaat! Sorry I haven't been around, Deirdra. I have all the posts I missed waiting for me to read in my email. I'll be back!


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