Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.
This popular blog series allows me to interview some interesting authors and glean some valuable insight into their writing life. I also like to understand how they have overcome challenges when writing their books and their literary journey.
Today I am thrilled to announce that author Fiona Tarr is going to be taking a seat in my red chair.
Hey Fiona, welcome to my blog!
Tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written.
I live in Nooosa, on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I have been able to launch a new book every year since I finished my first book. So far I have written 3 books in my Covenant of Grace Series – Destiny of Kings (available free on amazon or my website), Seed of Hope and now my latest release Legacy of Power.
When did you write your first book?
I started writing my first book in 2007. I had no idea where to begin, but I just knew I needed to write. I gravitated to the fantasy genre because I read fantasy and writing self-help or other non-fiction just seemed wrong.
How long did it take to write your first book?
I took six years to finish book 1. Because I took so long, I took it to market before it was really ready and have had it edited and designed a new cover since its first release.
What was your motivation to write your first book?
I can’t really say why, only that in some way I just had to write a book. My husband and I had moved away from our family and friends. We had brought a business and it was slow, very slow (it isn’t now though). I had too much time on my hands and something in the recesses of my mind said ‘you should write a book’. So I did.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
What to write was probably my bigger issue. I thought about writing self-help books. I had loads of experience with positive mindset, motivation, business management and child rearing, but the more I thought about it, the more unqualified and fake all those options felt. I decided I had a message to share, if you like to call it that. More a philosophy really. It just seemed that fantasy was the perfect way to take fiction; something totally unthreatening and turn that into something of value but still fun.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
I have fortunately never really had ‘writers block’. Sometimes I have trouble getting started on a new project, but once I get moving, it is like a roller coaster and nothing stands in my way.
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
I do a little of both. I run a basic plot line at the bottom of my pages, but fully planning out a plot just seems stifling to me. Generally I start each chapter with a purpose and let my characters drive the narrative to a point (within the basic plot line).
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Freedom…. Writing gives you the freedom to lose yourself in another world, to say what you really mean to say and know that only those who get you, will follow you, and that’s ok.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
I really haven’t found a worst thing. There are a few challenges which in an ideal world it would be nice to not have to deal with. Like selling the books…… but in general, everything about being a writer is pretty awesome.
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
I have had a few moments when I considered quitting trying to sell my books, but never quitting writing. It’s like asking a pro surfer if they ever considered not surfing. ‘Hell no.’ They may have considered quitting the pro circuit, but never the sport. It’s a kind of addiction…. the good kind of course.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have a family and run a business so writing for me is never a full day, even though I wish it could be at times. I generally finish the day, take a comfy seat of my sofa, open the laptop and go into my own little place to write. I can’t imagine sitting at a desk or isolating myself. In many ways, the background noise of the real world is what makes my fantasy world so much more of a contrast and an attraction.
Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
When I was younger, before I married a farmer I suffered from procrastination, born of a lack of confidence for the most part. Farming taught me many things but the most of which was that there is no time for procrastination and most of the time things just have to be done. Since then, whenever I think of procrastinating, I realise that there is no time like now. Fail or succeed, win or lose, waiting won’t change the outcome.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
Tricky question. Boring characters won’t make up for the most exciting plot and complex characters without some sort of narrative drive will mean nothing. You need both, yet I write what I call character driven books. For me, characters drive the plot forward and often dictate deviations in the story line along the way.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
- Editing – Don’t print or publish your work without a professional edit. I learnt this one the hard way when I rushed my first book to publication.
- Education – It’s so important to keep learning including researching the parts of my books that cross over with real world facts, right through to learning more about marketing, writing, other authors, and how to manage my career. All of these need to be part of an ongoing education process. The world is moving and changing fast and staying up to date is very important.
- Patience – I can be pretty impatient at times and I needed to learn to accept that at times I just had to wait, take few moments to enjoy the journey and not be so focussed on the end game. Family is important, rest and relaxing are paramount and at times, both need to come before my career.
How do you manage social media as a writer?
I enjoy using Facebook because it feels more personal than Twitter. I tend to share everything important on Facebook and it automatically feeds to Twitter. I post to twitter at times, but only when it suits the communication needed. I have used Twitter campaigns to promote my work but to be totally honest, it really didn’t hit the mark. Social media is interesting and fun but it isn’t a substitute for growing and fostering more tangible relationships with readers. I really like email for this.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Absolutely. Writing is fun, but being an author is a career and just like any career, it requires education, dedication, focus and vision. Treat becoming an author like any career of importance (not like a hollywood cliche) and you will discover success.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
Not during writing, but when looking for a beginning point or a new idea I can. When I am between ideas I read, both fiction and non-fiction. Once I take my mind off the issues, it is amazing how my brain just seems to solve them in my subconscious. It works for me.
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
Always. I am often considering what I should save for the next book and what I should elude to in the current one. I think it is important to think forwards and backwards while writing a series. I have never written a book outside of a series (other than a pretty basic non-fiction book for small business marketing), so I can’t say if this will happen when I am writing a stand alone novel.
What do you wear to write?
Whatever I am relaxing in at the end of the day. Either track pant in winter or shorts and tank in summer. I have to get comfortable to write.
If my readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
Readers can find me on social media:
Facebook: Fiona Tarr
Wow Fiona – fab interview! Thank you so much.
A couple of things from me:
- I loved how you had that little voice in the back of your mind saying ‘write a book’. I think we can all relate to this voice.
- I love the roller coaster analogy, once you get started you can’t stop. I can really relate to this.
- I think your learnings are really useful especially the editor one.
- Love how your writer fashions change with the seasons!
If you want to read other fab interviews like this one please click here.
If you would like to join me and sit in my red chair please get in contact. You can be published or self-published. The only requirement is that you have written a book!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>