Interview with Tammy Vreeland, author of “Transporter of Souls”

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

I have always been fascinated with things that scare me. Growing up I lived in a small quiet town, reading was my only escape. I found when I read something terrifying it took me away from my own problems. This is what I want to give to my readers. A chance to escape their everyday horrors but in the end realize that their horror is not nearly as bad as it is in the story.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Research is extremely important in my stories. Some may think because you write fiction you simply can “make everything up”. Where they may be true in some aspects, you still want to make your story credible. A story needs to take a reader into another realm of reality but not one where the reader is not comfortable in the surroundings. Whether it is a location, an item, a service or even an idea, the reader has to believe it is real. This is where research comes in and ties everything together.

What inspires you to write?

My dreams, I have the most fabulous horrific dreams you can imagine. I keep a notebook by the bed for when I wake up so I can quickly write down the dream. I honestly believe it is easier to write something that you know, even though it is a dream it is something I have felt and lived through thus writing about it comes easy.

Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

I guess that would depend on how you define normal. For myself, I try to maintain normalcy throughout the day however I do think writers are unique. They go through life seeing everything as a story. We question the beginning, struggle through the middle and ultimately look forward to the end.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I actually do an outline. I first write down the premise of my story. I then take a look at it and wonder what happened before the story that made it a story, giving myself a Prologue. Next I tentatively put down an ending and what sort of twist I would like to have for the Epilogue. This gives me something to work towards. After that I write down each chapter a simple sentence that I would like to happen in that chapter. A couple examples would be when I want to introduce a certain character or perhaps when would be a good time to kill someone off. When it becomes time to write the story I look at my outline and see what I want to accomplish for that chapter. I then create a story from that idea in each chapter. So as not to get overwhelmed I tend to make each chapter a story in itself and then tie the main story together. I guess you could say I have structure and yet I create off of that structure.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

Yes I have, I was struggling with my fourth book. I simply did not know what direction I wanted to take it. A girlfriend from school contacted me about our Class Reunion and teased that she wanted to be in my next book. In fact, she thought I should write a book with all of our classmates in it. I laughed and told her that would mean I would have to kill them off and I wasn’t sure I could do it to them. After the conversation I started thinking about it and quickly wrote down some ideas for a story. I was so intrigued by the idea I decided to hold off on my fourth book and concentrate on the new story. Never in a million years did I think I would write a “slasher” type story. However, I did and I had a fun time doing it. As soon as Class Reunion was finished I was refreshed and I finished The Family Tree within months. I think taking a step back, if you are struggling with a story, gives you a chance to come back to an old friend with new ideas and experiences. I usually have two to three stories going on at one time.

Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

I prefer to write with a lot of dialogue. I think it is easier to read and I think sometimes we do not give the reader enough credit. Readers have wonderful imaginations of their own. It is our job to allow the readers’ own imagination to come in play with our story. For example, I have had many readers come up to me and say, “I really hated that guy David, in your book The Folks. You described him just like a guy I know!” In turn, I ask, “What does your David look like?” They tell me and then I tell them how I pictured the David in the book. More often than not, it’s quite different. Why is that? Because I described David minimally in the book, however his attitude and persona is displayed quite prominently. If I had described David’s looks completely maybe the reader would not have had such a connection with the character because it didn’t resemble anyone the reader knows. We all know obnoxious people however all obnoxious people do not look the same. If your reader can connect with your characters then they become part of your story.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

I would say quite a bit, not only in the main character but in all the characters. I sometimes like to play Devil’s Advocate, what I may believe in may not be what the main character would believe in. Therefore, I express my opinion through another character, it is one of the perks of writing your own story.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes, actually my first story The Folks was based on my son and his imaginary friends. The first day we moved into this house he acquired them. Strange things happened in the house over a course of five years. Nothing to make you go screaming from the house but a couple of things were a little unnerving. I simply took the things that happened and created a fictional story around them. Transporter of Souls, my third book, is based on how I met my husband and the business he was in. He would actually pick up cars that people had died in, thus giving a great basis for a horror story.

How realistic are your books?

I love answering this question. I constantly am looking for the “fear factor” in my books. One of my all-time favorite books is Jaws. Many are surprised with that but seriously who of us has not once thought of Jaws while in the water? Jaws is a tangible threat whereas my stories can range anywhere from supernatural to serial killers, however I still strive to put the reader in a real situation. For example, Transporter of Souls. Many of us, at one time, has purchased a used car without ever thinking about the previous owner. My desire is that after a reader reads Transporter of Souls, the next time they go to buy a used car, they will think of my story.

It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?

Unfortunately, it is true at least for me. Though I do believe writing can be a great healing process. Sometimes writing about the pain eases the pain.

What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?

That Horror can be entertaining even inspiring. I have had friends and family who had never read Horror until they read one of my books. They were surprised how much they enjoyed it. They found themselves worrying about different characters, vindicated at certain deaths, and inspired by actions taken. Horror can have romance, mystery, humor and tragedy. Unlike pop ups at the movies, you as the reader have placed yourself in the story. And although the fear you have felt while reading may stay longer with you than a movie, the ride is definitely worth it.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to ride my motorcycle. My husband and I enjoy short trips around the area. I grew up in Indiana so New Jersey is quite a different riding style. However, New Jersey can surprise you, it is quite beautiful. There is one road we take where there is a horse farm of racing horses. When they hear you coming they like to race alongside you. A remarkable feeling of nature and machine coexisting.

What is your motivation for writing more?

I have some really good ideas for new stories that aren’t in the main stream. Ones that will be unique and challenging for me to write. Eventually I have a tribology I would like to attempt as well. However, bottom line I enjoy it. I love putting my ideas into a story and creating new characters. It takes me on a new journey each and every time.

Doesn’t it bother you that when books are turned into movies, they are often changed to suit the audience needs?

Actually no, I understand that movie goers are different from readers. I know, often more than not, readers are disappointed when a book is turned into a movie. However, I find that if a movie goer really likes the movie and you tell them that the book was even better, they look forward to reading the book. A book they more than likely would have never read which in turn may turn them on to other books the Author has written.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I have two stories that I have been going back and forth on, it’ll be interesting to see which one makes it to the finish line first. Once one is finished the other one will shortly follow, it seems to work that way with me.

Fiction or non-fiction? Which is easier?

I have only written fictional books. Although some of them have non-fiction in them, for the most part they are fiction. I would like to write at least one non-fiction book, however due to the topic of the book I am waiting until the right moment. It is a promise I have made to myself and yet out of respect I wait.

What are you views about elaborate synopsis of books at the back of the cover? Do you think they reveal too much?

I have to admit I absolutely hate writing a synopsis for a book. You want to reveal enough to entice the reader and yet not too much in that there is no reason to read the book. It’s a difficult fine line to walk. I think you should introduce the main characters, kind of let the reader know what the characters are up against and end with somewhat of a cliff hanger leaving the reader to want to read more.

How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?

Like any Author, I was concerned when Kindle and e-books came out. However, because of my son I have a little bit different take on it than most. He is in the Coast Guard, was stationed on a boat in the middle of the sea. Little room for personal effects and non-existent internet service. As a surprise I sent him a Kindle loaded up with books I thought he might enjoy. He was overjoyed with the flexibility of having so many books at his fingertips. I think a person who enjoys to read will read whatever is available. Whether it be magazines or books, I think having the ability to take different types along with you on a commute is a wonderful concept. Although e-books may not be for everyone, it is an avenue that may expand the reader audience.

Do you think the charm of public libraries has toned down much in the last decade?

No, if anything I think it has improved. I am amazed at how many activities libraries now offer. Plus, I see many libraries trying to keep up with technology by having e-readers and e-books. Unfortunately, I think many people simply forget about their libraries. However, if they would just take the time to stop in or bring the children I think they are in for a pleasant surprise.

Who’s your childhood literary superhero?

Mary Shelley author of Frankenstein. Not only was I fascinated with the story but I was inspired that a woman was the author, especially during that time frame. I later became even more interested in her as I found out about her life, her political stance at the time, along with her tragedies. Simply an amazing woman, Mary Shelley is my inspiration.

Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?

I love going over ideas with my husband. In fact many times when we discuss a certain idea, he will add his own idea which in turn gets me to look in a direction I may not have thought to look. I will admit it is quite frustrating being married to a person who has absolutely no desire to read. On the upside, if I can peak his interest, I must be moving in the right direction.

How long do you take to write a book?

When I first began writing, I had an aggressive goal to write one book a year. The first three books I finished my goal with no problem. My fourth book was a bit more challenging for me so I started writing another book and actually had both of them finished within two years. Now that my sixth book is finished I’ve been taking my time between two stories, I’ve come to realize there is no rush. The story will tell itself in its own time.

Do you prefer being intoxicated to write? Or would you rather write sober?

I never thought about writing while intoxicated. I usually write first thing in the morning where my ideas are fresh. Not a good time to drink, I would think. As for later in the day, I’m not a drinker so it has never been an issue.

What is that dream goal you want to achieve before you die?

I like to think I’ve already achieved it when I finished my first book. Something I thought I would never accomplish let alone six books. Though I do like to joke and say I would feel like I “made it” if I ever saw one of my books as a worn copy at a garage sale. Growing up that was how I acquired all of my reading material. Knowing my books are out there used and wanted is a deep satisfaction.

How do you handle the perception that authors instantly become rich when their books are published?

I find it to be one of the most challenging misconception out there. I would like to think that if you took the monetary gain away most authors would continue to write because it is their passion. All too often a new author can become disillusioned with the idea of wealth and fame. My advice is if it happens, it happens. Meanwhile, to me time is money. As chaotic and stressful that society is today if a person takes the time to read one of my stories, they have not only purchased but have given something more precious, their time.

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