Tara Taylor Quinn
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first story for a school publication when I was in second grade. Still have that little publication!
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on how long I have to write it. I've been on deadline, non-stop, for more than twenty years. I type over 100 words a minute so when the words are coming, I can do thirty or more pages a day. Some days I get three pages. I wrote seven books last year. This year I'm contracted to write five.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That the words will come. It's scary, sitting down to a blank page, knowing you have to make a book appear. But, for me, when I focus and let myself give up daily life and go down into my imagination, the words are always there, aching to get out.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from them daily on social media. The comment that has stuck with me most this past year was that I break a person down and then put them back together again in a better way. I've tried to figure out exactly what that means as I don't want to 'break' anyone, ever. But if she meant that I was able to break past barriers and help her to see something that gave her the ability to open her heart and love more freely, then I've done what I'm here to do.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. Writing sustains me. Without it, I'm not fun. I'm not happy or as mentally healthy. I get up in the morning energized, looking forward to the day's pages like a reader looks forward to getting back into her book. But after a day of living twenty pages of grueling suspense, I'm exhausted. I don't physically do what my characters do, but as I describe what they're going through, I mentally and emotionally live through it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The self-doubter who lives inside me and will probably never believe that I'm good enough to make it big as a writer. Sometimes, when I look at my career, I can see that I'm already making it, but that doubter is always there, every day, telling me that I'm not there yet.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don't try to do either. I write honestly. Authentically. I know that if I just write the words coming to me, that I'm original. Good or bad, my voice is my own, and my thoughts are my own. And I write the books as they come to me, hoping that there are readers out there who will relate to them, need them, want them. I'm a panster, not a plotter. I write books based on a three-page overview. I don't know what's going to happen when I sit down for the day. If I go in and focus, it's just there. Has been my entire life. Whether I'm working on a book or not, my head tells me stories. I'm riding in the car in the middle of nowhere desert and in my head there's this woman out there and she's all alone because...
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I can't think of a single one.
At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
When they write. You can be a writer is you only write in journals. You're a journal writer. You can use pencil and paper to jot down a short story. You're a writer. You wrote it. Writing and publishing are two very very different things. One is who and what you are, or part of it at least, the second is business.
What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?
That I'm letting life take over my thoughts and not focusing on the story.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
I don't model characters after someone I know. I don't tell them who to be. They show themselves to me. I do, however, pull on feelings and experiences when I write my stories. I don't see it happening so much when I'm creating, but I recognize it sometimes in the editing stage. Some of it I don't get until my mother reads the book and points it out to me.
What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
It varies. My books start with one thing that strikes me. Might be a hot shot firefighter. And it could be a kidnapping. Often times I hear something in the news and wonder how a person is going to survive that. And there's a story. I'm an emotionally intense person. I feel things deeply, strongly, all the time. I might get struck at the grocery store, seeing how a child is treated, and have to make it okay. I could be standing at a funeral, feeling the pain, noticing someone in particular, someone I don't know and never meet, and yet, the story is there.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
I have no idea. If I knew, I'd be finding them, targeting them with promotional efforts, and my books would be on the New York Times bestseller list! When I look at readers who contact me, telling me they love my books, there's such diversity there that I truly have no idea what brings them commonly to by stories. I hope it's the reason I write - to keep hope alive in the world. To keep a bone deep belief in real love alive in the hearts of people.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
Completely depends on the book. I'm hugely into accuracy. I need to write truth, even though I write fiction. I have a reputation among my editors for always doing heavy research. But some books, if I'm writing what I know, I don't do much. Some, I'm researching every day as I write. Reluctant Roommates is a story about pet rescue and while I have my own rescue, I did a lot of research into running a pet rescue operation. It also has to do with an airtight will and I researched all the laws in the state where the will was written. I always research the state laws for the state the book is set in. If I'm writing suspense, I need to know the carry laws for guns, etc. Last year I wrote a book that had to do with end of days, bunker thinking, and had to do a ton of research on nuclear blasts and bunker building. I'm currently writing a book with a clinically narcissistic villain and have been researching him constantly.
Tell us more about your book/s?
I write emotionally intense fiction - women's fiction, suspense, romantic suspense and romance. Reluctant Roommates is the second book in a new series, Sierra's Web, that revolves around a nationally renowned firm of experts from all fields who fight crime, solve puzzles, help heal broken hearts and bodies, and bring families together again. Some of the books are romance, some are romantic suspense, being published by two different Harlequin publishing programs. Prior to this series, I wrote an 18 book series, some romance, some romantic suspense, called Where Secrets Are Safe. The series revolved around a resort like domestic violence shelter I created off the coast of California. The type of place I'd liked to have had at another time in my life. A place where women who've been mistreated, are treated like the gold they are. The book I'm finishing this week is a Sierra's Web romantic suspense due out late next year and involves a mother who hires the firm to help law enforcement on a desperate search for her kidnapped baby girl. I've done a series a books, The Chapman Files, that feature Kelly Chapman, an expert witness psychiatrist - each story is one of her cases. I wrote a book, The Holiday Visitor, about a woman who's in love with a childhood pen pal she's never met, but starts to fall for a guest at the bed & breakfast she owns and runs. And then there's the Shelter Valley series - one of my successful series, set in Shelter Valley, Arizona, a small town where everyone is welcome and people come to heal. There's a late in life baby story, an amnesiac, a disillusioned preacher, a spoiled hometown son made good, a veterinarian who's wife leaves him for another woman, a book where the heroine is living in Shelter Valley under a stolen identity. I've recently turned in a Sierra's Web romantic suspense book that also involves a return to Shelter Valley! With 104 published books, I've told a lot of stories! I'm a writer. It's who I am. So I write.