13 June 2006

Author Answers with Tate Hallaway

This week's author under the spotlight hails from one state to the west of Word Nerd, St. Paul Minnesota's Tate Hallaway.

Hallaway is the author of "Tall, Dark and Dead." For more about her, check out www.tatehallaway.com.

1. Place you do most of your writing:
I'm lucky that I have enough room in my house that I can have a room that I dedicate as my "office," although, ironically, I do most of my business there (e-mailing, etc.) and most of my fiction writing happens in my bedroom on my laptop. I'm the mother of a 3-year-old, so I write after he goes to sleep.

2. While you write, do you do anything else (munch on carrots or drink tea or listen to heavy metal, for example?)
The sound of my own fingers clacking on the keyboard is all I listen too. I will sometimes sip a frappicino (the pre-packaged bottles) because I'm inspired by caffeine (and need to stay up past my own bedtime to get books written).

3. Why did you decide to be a writer?
I'm not sure I really decided BE a writer. I'm a victim of an over-active imagination. I almost always made up stories. When I was little, I coerced neighborhood kids into playing "Star Wars" with me. Eventually, that became somewhat awkward and inappropriate, so I had to find another outlet. So, I started writing things down on paper.

I'm not sure when I wrote my first piece of original fiction. But, I'm certain did it out of boredom.

You see, I have this tendency to take on really, really boring day-jobs that only require about a tenth of my actual brain power to do. I know that I started writing my "trunk" novel (a practice novel that never sold) when I was working as a temporary, full-time employee. I didn't even have a computer terminal. Just a desk and a typewriter and the occasional file that needed filing. At first, I typed a lot of letters to my friends who had moved away. Then, I started making up weird limericks and crazy children short stories with titles like "Alfred the Slug." Then, suddenly, I was eighty pages into a really weird fantasy novel.

At this point, someone probably should have discouraged me. Or, I should have gotten a better job.

Instead, someone that I showed this novel to though I should, you know, like publish the thing, only I didn't know how to do it. I took a community education class about writing and I got the bug. That's when I started seriously considering writing for a living.

4. What author(s) inspire you?
Anyone who can make me laugh (or think -- or even more strangely, both at the same time.) I'm actually quite fond of Sandra Hill, a romance writer, who wrote LAST VIKING and other delightfully silly romances. I also read a lot of science fiction and fantasy as a kid (see "Star Wars" reference above) and some of my favorite authors include, Katherine Kurtz, Anne McCaffery, Ray Bradbury, and Karin Lowachee.

5. How long did you have to work on writing before your first book was accepted for publication?
Several years. It took me about four years to finish the book, which is essentially my practice novel. Then, a year and a half to finish the next book, which is the first book I sold.

6. What made you keep working until it was done?
My writers group. The class that I took about writing led me to form a writers' critique group called "The Wyrdsmiths." We meet, in person, every two weeks and critique each others manuscripts. When we started none of us had published, now, twelve years later, over half of us have published novels coming out from major New York publishers.

Writing is a solitary business. It's also one fraught with disappointments, set-backs, and rejection. The best way I've found to cope with that is to share my misery.

7. How did you feel when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
First? Even after several books (some published under a different name) I still can't get over how cool seeing my name in print, much less on the spine of a book. It's AWESOME. In fact, I always feel a bit like my three year old.... I have this insane tendency to grab the book and run up to the first person I see and say, "I wrote this!"

8. If you had to actually live the life of one of the characters in your book(s) who would you want to be and why?
Garnet Lacey, the heroine of Tall, Dark & Dead. Why? For one, in her world magic is real. Secondly, I think she has a lot of fun when I'm not looking.

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