I know you have a tale to tell about your twisty path to publication. Doesn’t everyone?
I am certain everyone does! For me, my love for putting words together for the consumption of others didn’t start until I was in college, and I wasn’t in college until my thirties. I was a bit of a wild child and took some—well, let’s just say, less than stellar turns before I found my way back to school. I took a literature course in my second semester of community college. The instructor wore the craziest neon colors, and her hair was everywhere hair that she held semi in place with a bandana. She swept in and out like a psychedelic dream every day, and I wanted to be her. I hung on her every word. I read everything she gave us to read. I analyzed and wrote and studied like a fiend. And what I discovered was I loved every minute of it. From there, my love for words grew. By the time I was working on my next degree, I was also writing for academic anthologies and conferences. Then came short stories, and finally a novel.
The Book of Promises is your second thriller. Where did the idea for the book come from?
This idea stemmed from a conversation a group of students had in my class a couple of years ago. We were reading a piece of literature that was about coming out as a lesbian. An older woman commented about how good the younger generation has it now, how they just come out and, “POOF,” everyone is cool with it. A younger person countered, saying that she did not have that experience at all, and in fact she was still trying to rebuild some of her family relationships. Someone else said that her best friend’s mom kicked her out and some of their friends were bullying her. The conversation was intense. As an older lesbian, I am ashamed to say, I thought similarly to the woman who made the first comment. After that day, the ideas swirled in my head for some time. Eventually I started researching. And a year later I started writing The Book of Promises.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
I had to research The Choking Game, for one thing. That was tough. I talked to several teens who have either been involved with this or knew someone who had been. I also did a lot of research on young sociopaths. What I found would truly scare you. I barely touched the tip of the iceberg. We often think of men as sociopaths, but there are a lot of examples of women who fit under this umbrella, as well, and they were once manipulative teens and children. I did some fun research, too. I had to find out what young people on the LGBTQAI spectrum were reading and discussing and how they are treated in the worlds they inhabit. That was awesome. It was fun to compare my coming out to theirs.
They say all writers should have an elevator pitch for their novels. What’s your elevator pitch for The Book of Promises?
This is a tough one. I am still trying to perfect this. I had a reader make a comment about the book that kind of stuck. I revised it a tiny bit. It goes like this: The Book of Promises is a YA coming out and coming of age novel about learning the difference between a caring friendship and manipulation, between a loving relationship and a toxic one, and about learning to hold one’s own self-worth above the noise of the world.
Were there any surprises for you as you wrote The Book of Promises? Character developments or plot twists that you didn’t expect?
Yes! I don’t want to say too much for fear of slipping in spoilers, but one person who I thought was going to be good, ended up not so good. I couldn’t help it. The character bucked at almost every one of my suggestions and attempts at control. LOL
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I went through the GCLS Writing Academy. I was leery about putting out that much money on a dream, but I was determined to give this writing gig a go. I have been living in this surreal dream-world ever since. I have met so many wonderful readers and writers from putting myself in a position to be surrounded by readers and writers! It is amazing.
If I came to your home and looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
Well, we are quarantined now, and we want to stay as well stocked as possible, so we just got a delivery. There is some fresh spinach, carrots, and bell peppers in the crisper, I know, and I think there is orange juice, skim milk, yogurt and picante sauce on the top shelf. My wife likely has a few beers in there, too, and we always have cheese—lots of cheese!
Last question. What’s your favorite material object that you already own?
My Note 10 cell phone. It has a pen. I use it to take notes constantly. When I don’t have pen and paper, but I have an idea, there it is, attached to my hand. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Okay. One more. Where can readers find you and your books?
I would love to connect on any of the following platforms: https://www.Instagram.com/tammybirdauthor
And both of my novels are on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07MFG1YP1
And on Bella Books here: https://www.bellabooks.com/category/author-tammy-bird/