22 January 2014

Author Interview - Tierney James

Please welcome Tierney James to the blog this week!

1. Have you always had a passion for writing?

I wrote my first puppet play when I was ten years old. I had an amazing teacher that encouraged creativity. Since that time I’ve tried different genres and loved them all. The passion part came several years ago when I finally got the courage to show my work to a published author. Her words of praise made me realize that maybe I could be a writer. I’ve never looked back. I’m obsessed with storytelling.

2. Does what you read influence what you write and what are some of your favourite authors/books?

About five years ago I read the James Rollins book The Judas Strain. When I finished I thought, “I want to be able to write like that.” I read everything he’d written to study his style. I loved how he left me hanging, wanting more, excited over the possibilities and then a surprise. After that I started reading other authors who wrote thrillers, mysteries, paranormal and non-fiction about subjects I was interested in. They all have had an impact on me. Some of the authors I always read are Rollins, Thor, Flynn, Child, Roberts, Clancy, Cussler, Berry, Silva and Brooks. I love geo-political thrillers with a touch of romance.

3. What are your biggest inspirations?

Having been able to travel the world greatly inspires what I write. Being a mother and grandmother helps me on day to day bases as does my faith in God. Education has led me down numerous paths of discovery which I’m so thankful. NASA has always inspired my imagination. I was fortunate to have been selected to serve as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab several years ago. Strong, independent people who give back also inspire me. The military of this country are some of those remarkable individuals.

4. Do you have a technique in how you choose characters and/or locational settings?

If I’m writing an adult thriller my choice of characters or location usually has something to do with my travels or where I’ve lived. One of my main characters in An Unlikely Hero is part Cherokee from North Carolina. I actually lived on the reservation a for time so I felt like I knew him well. My heroine in the same book is from Grass Valley, California. Again some of her “sticky” situations actually happened to me. 

If I’m writing a children’s book my choice of characters depends on what I’m writing about. In There’s a Superhero in the Library a little boy discovers his teacher has cancer. He struggles with welcoming the replacement that strangely has no hair or eyebrows and dresses like a superhero. This little story was based on my good friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was so devoted to making her students not be afraid of her changed appearance that she became my hero. Today she is cancer free. Another book in progress, Zombie Meatloaf, deals with the importance of nutrition. I like for my children’s books to have important information or a lesson.

5. Do you listen to music while you are creating your masterpieces?

When I write it’s like a movie in my head. Music as background makes the action, romance, creepiness and surprises come alive to me. For every manuscript I start I choose soundtracks from movies or video games to be my background. That way when I’m stuck I play the music and can still see my characters.

6. What do you do to stay motivated and avoid writer’s block?

I keep a notebook for every book I write. There are notes about personalities, rough summaries, characters sketches and chapter notes. If I’m in the middle of taking down a terrorist or standing in the middle of a forest fire and can’t figure out how I’m going to solve the problem I take out the notebook and brainstorm. Sometimes I never use the notes but it always breaks that block that is holding me back.

Staying motivated can be a problem if I let social media manipulate my time. Favourite movies, music, reading and drinking lots of coffee keep me in the right frame of mind. Sometimes I need a break and visit friends. One of the best motivators is attending writing groups and conferences. Inspiration is always close at hand there. I love it.

7. How has becoming a published author (independent or traditional) changed your perspective on life and is it everything you expected it to be? (If you are not published yet – what changes do you foresee?)

Becoming a published author definitely changed my life. It was a dream I never thought would happen. I didn’t realize how amazing I would feel on the inside after being published. The surprise of friends and family at what I’d accomplished pleased me greatly. My circle of friends has changed. I continually meet new fans and authors who become a part of my writing life. I’ve even met authors I greatly admire. It has made me realize that I am capable of many things if I just take the first step. The fear of failure can hold me back. I refuse to do that now.

8. What are your biggest challenges as an author?

My biggest challenge currently is the decision to whether or not give up my part time job at a local college. That little bit of gravy money is nice to have and I probably will never be independently wealthy on my book sales. But as an author I want to spend more time writing and promoting. It’s hard to do everything.

9. Do you have any pets?

I have a couple of dogs. Both of them were adopted and I love them very much. One follows me in the garden and the other sits near me when I write.

10. What hobbies do you have outside of reading and writing?

I love to garden. I’ve been known to buy plants instead of food. Playing the piano, scrapbooking, studying art, Hebrew classes and traveling doesn’t leave anytime for boredom. The Hebrew class was to help me with a new character I’m creating who is a Biblical archaeologist.

11. Where is the most exciting/memorable place you have been in the world?

The most exciting place would have to be floating on the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa. The silence could be deafening. I feared a hippo would rise up under our mokoro and flip us over but fortunately we remained safe. The most memorable place would have to be standing on the Great Wall of China. My heart was in my throat the whole time. I was there with a friend who adopted a precious little girl.

12. Tell us about your latest work in progress or most recent published work…

My first published novel was An Unlikely Hero. It’s about a woman caught up in a terrorist plot. She is like most of us, believing that she doesn’t process any special talents that can make a difference. Her complicated relationship with Captain Hunter begins when he saves her life. Because of her actions she evolves into the most unlikely of heroes. This is the first in a series. I’ve just sent the sequel Winds of Deception to my editor. The easiest way to purchase is to order it on Amazon but it can be ordered at your favourite bookstore as well. There’s a Superhero in the Library is my first children’s book. It can be ordered the same way. If you are doing a fundraiser for cancer research it would be best to order it from Mirror Publishing who can beat Amazon’s price. I’m also working on a middle grade fantasy and a romance which takes place in an Ozark mining town.

If you’d like to see some of my books or characters you might try http://www.pinterest.com/ptierneyjames/boards/ I had a lot of fun creating these boards. https://www.facebook.com/TierneyJamesAction Please go to my Facebook page to “like”. I love meeting new people. I’m also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TierneyJames1

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