Hey everyone! Tara Wyatt and Harper St. George here, the co-authors of the Blood and Glory series. We’re so excited to have you here today, so sit back, relax, and enjoy as we interview each other and talk about books, writing, and more!
Tara: Hey dude! Ready to get your interview on?
Harper: Yes, but why do you have to say it that way?
Tara: Because I try to cover up my awkwardness with humor and slang?
Harper: And circle gets the square. Okay, my turn first. Ready?
Harper: Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
Tara: Oh, this is dangerous. So very, very dangerous. *closes eyes, hits shuffle* Phew. It’s Horse Print Dress by Corinne Bailey Rae. Okay, my turn. What was your favorite book as a child?
Harper: I loved CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl. It was the first novel I remember reading on my own as a kid. It was also the first time I remember reading a book and having no idea what would happen next and needing to get back to it so that I could read the next chapter. I’ve been addicted to that feeling of immersing myself into a literary world ever since. Are you reading anything good right now?
Tara: I’m reading a couple of things right now. I’m doing a Harry Potter read with my friend Nicki (hi Bae!)—sort of like our own little nerdy book club. I’m also reading The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall, and Call to Honor by Tawny Weber. I also recently finished Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren, which was excellent. Since you got into books as a kid, did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a writer?
Harper: I knew that I wanted to be a writer in seventh grade. At the end of every class we’d take a few minutes to work on our own stories. Every Friday we’d sit on the floor in a giant circle and read aloud from our stories. As you can imagine, this was super embarrassing, but I’m glad we had to do it because it was my first experience seeing how my words could touch readers. I remember reading and watching the kids’ faces as they waited to see what happened next and it was a great feeling. I knew then that I wanted to keep writing. What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
Tara: La Nora once said “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page,” and I think there’s a really simple truth in that, that if you’re not writing, then…well, then you’re not writing. Writing is work. It’s hard. Some days it sucks. But if you want it to be your job, you still have to show up every day. Or most days. So even on days when the words come like frozen honey, all sticky and slow and not at all what they’re supposed to be like, keep going.
Harper: That’s very true. And also, La Nora?
Tara: Yes, La Nora. Every queen deserves a special title. And you’ve got to admit, it’s good advice. What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
Harper: Just keep doing it. I think that applies to all parts of life, not only to writing. No one ever succeeded at anything by quitting. It’s hard and sometimes it really, really sucks, and sometimes you’ll fail, but you just have to keep doing it if you want to get anywhere.
Harper: Are you giggling because I said “doing it?”
Harper: Okay, so what do you do if the words just aren’t flowing?
Tara: Keep going. Sometimes they start to flow. Sometimes they don’t. I’ll change the music I’m listening to, re-read the previous scene, but some days the words don’t come easily. Write them down anyway. How many hours a day do you write?
Harper: I try to write about 4-5 hours during the week and a couple hours each day on the weekend. I do take time off between books to recharge. How do you get inspired?
Tara: Inspiration is everywhere, and you never know what’s going to trigger something in your writer’s brain. I’m really into pop culture, so it could be a movie, a TV show, a song, even a music video, that sparks an idea. Conferences are good for recharging the ol’ mojo too. Who are your writing idols? Have you ever met any of them? Did you fangirl?
Harper: I have a few writing idols. LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, Susan Johnson, and Molly O’Keefe to name a few. I was fortunate enough to meet Molly O’Keefe at a writing conference where she was moderating a panel. I went up and introduced myself to her and had to try very hard not to hyperventilate. I think I managed to have a conversation, but to this day I could not tell you what we talked about.
Tara: Ha! So I’m not the only awkward one.
Harper: Moving on…Where do you write, and what tools do you use? And please, let the record show that she’s giggling at “tools.”
Tara: I usually write in my office, but sometimes I change it up and write in the living room or even the basement (how exciting!) I can’t write in public places. I’m too easily distracted. When I’m writing, I usually have headphones on with music that fits the scene I’m working on playing (but at a low volume—that whole easily distracted thing again. I’ll have a beverage of some kind on the go—wine or tea, coffee if it’s the weekend and I’m working in the morning. I’ll often light a scented candle, and I usually have my “Just Write” blanket wrapped around me. I also have a little cube timer I use for my 30-minute sprints. In terms of the technical details, I write using Microsoft Word on my laptop, and keep track of my writing progress on an Excel spreadsheet (each sprint gets an entry), as well as on Pacemaker Press, which is a really fantastic project planning and organizational tool. Hey, do you ever base your characters off of people in your real life?
Harper: I don’t generally base a character on a real person, but there are definitely aspects of different people in my life who show up in my characters. How do you name your characters?
Tara: Sometimes, when I think up the character, the name seems really obvious, right from the start. Otherwise, I’ll go on websites like Nameberry and poke around, looking for something that clicks and fits the character. Okay, last question: if you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be?
Harper: Be patient and it really is okay to write what you want to write. You can’t make yourself into something you’re not, so write what speaks to your soul.
Tara: Ooooh. Deep. And now it’s time for the *jazz hands* lightning round! I feel like that needs a jingle or something. Or at least a thunder sound effect.
Harper: Something. A cymbal crash?
Tara: Maybe like a big gong.
Tara: Okay, ready?
Beach or mountains?
Coffee or tea?
Harper: If hot, then coffee. Tea if we’re talking iced.
Tara: Depends on the time of day.
Skydive or bungee jump?
Tara: Oh, hell no. Neither, ever, in a million years.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Winter or summer?
Harper: I love winter. I love sweaters and curling up with a good book in front of a fire place, I love the idea of snow swirling outside the window, but I HATE cold. I’m afraid of it and can’t handle it. So I’ll take two weeks of winter and have summer for the rest of the year.
Cake or pie?
Cats or dogs?
Tara: Dogs. [Fun fact: we both have dachshunds]
Pens or pencils?
Truth or dare?
Tara: Truth. I’m way too lazy for dares.
Print or ebook?
Harper: Print, you can’t beat the feel of a real book in your hands.
Tara: I read both. I love the feel of print books, but the convenience of my ereader is pretty hard to beat.