The Friendship Pact – Tara Taylor Quinn

1. How long have you been writing and how many books do you have published?

I’ve been writing my entire life. I sold my first book in 1992, and I have been continuously contracted since that time. I currently have 88 published titles, 84 with Harlequin/Harper Collins, 1 with HCI Books, and 2 that are indie published.

2. Did you fashion your studies after your desire to write?

Yes. Even in high school. I majored in English in college, with the sole goal of writing for Harlequin. Then I graduated and figured out that I couldn’t just interview with Harlequin to be a writer. I went back to college to certify to teach while I wrote my first book. It took six years of writing and rejection before they bought my first book.

3. Do you fully plot your books before you write them?

I don’t really plot at all. I’m a complete punster, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. In all truth, I have no idea how the stories come to me. They’re just there. I go ‘down in’ and the characters start talking. When I’m writing suspense, I don’t usually know who’s guilty until the characters find out.

4. What kind of books do you write?

My books are all intense, emotional fiction. Specifically I write Suspense, Romance and Women’s Fiction.

5. How long have you known you wanted to be a writer?

My whole life. I wrote my first story, which was published in a tiny school publication, when I was six years old. The story was purely fiction, told in first person and involved a bad guy breaking into the heroine’s home at night. Her mom came and then her dad, and she and her mom told her dad to go back to bed, which he did, and then the young heroine and her mother got rid of the bad buy. This makes me laugh!!

6. Are you an animal lover?

I am a not so secret dog whisperer. Some of my family members accuse me of remembering animal names better than I remember people names, and I can think of two instances that might prove them right. I can tell you the names of the three standard poodles who live next door, but until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t remember the names of their owners. I am most comfortable with four legged companions. I can trust them implicitly.

7. How long does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written a full length novel in ten days. It wasn’t good for my health, but the book did very well and got great reviews. I like to take at least six weeks per book, but that doesn’t include the time I spend with the people in my mind before I sit down to write.

8. Did it take you a while to get used to working with editors?

No. I did my homework before I sold. I targeted a publisher whose books I’d been reading my whole life, whose books I loved, and was so excited to have one of their professional editors taking an interest in my work that it was pure pleasure. I know that editors have to sell books to keep their jobs. I need my books to sell to be able to keep writing full time. I’ve got editors I trust. And they trust my talent, too. When we disagree on a point, we discuss it until we find a way to make it work for both of us. To me it’s like a marriage. If you trust and admire your spouse, the relationship is good. I’ve been lucky enough to have this kind of editorial relationship my entire career.

9. How many hours a day do you write?

Of course it depends on deadlines, but I’m generally in my office between 7 and 7:30 in the morning, and I work until sometime between 4 – 6. I take a break for lunch, and occasional walk-around-the-house, or out in the yard breaks. I generally work at least six days a week and often work at least the morning of the seventh day.

10. Do you do a lot of research?

I research everything, including state laws, for everything I write, and in every state I write. If I’m writing about a dog breed I’ve never owned, I research. If I mention a plant, I research. I’ve learned all about scents and how different scents effect us. When I wrote a book on adoption, I found an adoption message board and asked to join, to lurk, and did so for the entire duration of the book, just so I had a true feel for my people.

11. Did your parents support your desire to write?

Haha, this question is a good one. When I was in high school, reading a book a day, saying I was going to write for Harlequin, my mother was constantly after me to get my nose out of those books. When I wrote my first book, she kindly read it, and patted me on the head. She despaired for me, I’m sure. And I didn’t listen to her when she told me to get away from the books. I just kept reading and writing. When I sold my first book, my parents were the first to celebrate, taking me out to a five star restaurant on top of a mountain. And when my mother retired from her day job, she came to work for me. She’s read every single one of my books, and is my biggest fan.

12. Is writing life glamorous?

Somewhat. And some, not at all. Writing is hard work. It’s scary, when you have to rely on something you can’t control, a creative muse, to pay your bills. When you can’t control the market, when social media becomes king of selling and takes way too much time, when you get the flu and can’t call in sick, it’s just plain tough. And when you get to travel, when you’re treated to VIP rooms and parties, when you’re doing TV interviews, it’s as glamorous as it gets. The hard work part encompasses about 90% of the job.

13. If you could do another job and make the same or more money, would you do it?

Unequivocally not. I could do another job. I shudder at the thought of not being able to write every day.

14. What advice would you give to someone who wants to write.

Write. Period. Don’t worry about what people say. Don’t wait for outside support from friends or family. Don’t think about selling, or market, or branding yourself. Just write. Do it for you. For the story. When you have a project done, then you can start thinking about the practical business end of things. But to begin with, until you’ve at least completed a book, just write.

15. How do you deal with rejection?

Good question. Rejection is hard. It can be debilitating. And it’s a big part of the writing life. There’s just no way around that one. Millions and millions of people want to write, only thousands will make a living at it. I had six books rejected before I sold my first one. And I still have ideas rejected. I’ve learned not to take the rejections personally. They aren’t about me. Or even about my ability to write. They’re about the one book. Or the way the book was presented. Or the mood of the person reading it, even. When I get a rejection with actual explanation, I see that as a win. I’m being given the means to learn, and to improve. And I do learn from it. Getting defensive only hurts me, and helps no one.

16. You’ve been writing a long time. Do you think your books will appeal to the younger generation? The up and coming readers?

Absolutely. I write about emotions, and those are universal, through the centuries. My books are intensely emotional. I look at the tough subjects people deal with, and I deal with them in a way that leaves hope for a happy tomorrow. Right now, one of the series I’m writing (it’s currently 17 books strong and is contracted for more) deals with domestic violence. The series, Where Secrets Are Safe, revolves around a unique women’s shelter I created off the coast of California, called The Lemonade Stand. These books are all stand alone stories. Some are family dramas. Some are suspense. They’re all emotionally intense.

17. What have you got coming up?

I just had a June release from the Where Secrets Are Safe series, A Defender’s Heart. In August I have a release from Harlequin Special Edition, Her Lost and Found Baby, that deals with a woman whose searching for her son who’s been abducted. Then in November, An Unexpected Christmas Baby, which deals with a high powered risk taker whose mother died in prison giving birth, and he’s given the baby to raise. These are both part of the Daycare Chronicles series. And then in December, Fortune’s Christmas Baby releases as part of an ongoing, decades long continuity, The Fortune’s of Texas. In 2019 I have more Special Edition releases, one from the Daycare Chronicles in March, and more Where Secrets Are Safe books, I just don’t have all the dates yet.

18. Have you ever been on national TV?

Yes. I was on CBS Sunday morning. I was pretty tense about that, but it went really well. The tape of it is on a post on my Facebook profile page. I also had my book featured on Kelly and Regis, back when there was a Kelly and Regis! That was fun.

19. Where can I find you on social media?

20. What do you do for time off?

That’s a toughie. I took off yesterday afternoon, to float on a raft in the pool and chill out with a beer and tunes and ended up listening to the hero and heroine in the book I’m writing have an entire conversation that will be in today’s pages. I took a road trip with family last week and two different books presented themselves to me, which I then wrote up (a couple of paragraphs each) and sent to my editor. I’m waiting to hear if she wants them. I love to in line skate – and it’s a time when story conflicts are resolved. I’ve come to realize that being a writer isn’t a job. It’s a life. It’s who you are, soul deep, and whether you’re typing stories or not, it’s what you’ll always be.

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