DG: When did you first realise you wanted to write?
What was going on in your life at this time?
TM: It sounds odd, but I’ve always felt my compunction to write was as much a genetic thing as the colour of my eyes or the shape of my nose. It just arrived with the package and never went away.
DG: Was it long after that knowing that you started writing?
TM: Having mastered the art of holding a pen and joining letters together to make whole sentences, I cannot recall a time when I was not writing something. My early attempts often took the form of poetry (I use the word loosely, as some of it was shocking in the extreme), and much of the angst of my teenage years was thus recorded. Fortunately, for humanity’s sake, the bulk of that particular evidence against me was lost in a house fire some time ago.
DG: What were you early successes? Who encouraged you in your quest? A member of your family? Your mother?
TM: I suppose my very earliest successes dated back to my school days and writing compositions. It was the one area in which I seemed to excel, which was fortunate as I hadn’t much else to crow about. One nun, in particular, Sr. Betty, encouraged me and I recall one particular essay where her praise was exceptionally fulsome. This spurred me on to even greater feats, but when I wrote a five-page composition entirely from the POV of a door knob, it was a stretch too far and the poor woman could only gape at me in a ‘somebody call the white coats quick’ kind of way. Regardless, I still feel it was not entirely without merit.
The first complete book I ever wrote was an Irish saga, originally entitled Warm Hay And Dandelions. It was later published (as my third book) under the name Sunshine And Shadows, and was the means of winning me a three-book contract with premier Irish publishers, Poolbeg. It has lately been released as an ebook.
DG: What early work, or author inspired you?
TM: So many! So many! I was and am a prolific and eclectic reader, so here’s just a few. Enid Blyton. Edna O’Brien. Steinbeck. James Joyce. Patrick Kavanagh. Walter Macken. Susan Howatch. Jilly Cooper. Maeve Binchy. Stephen King. James Patterson. Jane Austen. The Bronte sisters. P.G. Wodehouse. Margaret Mitchell. Victoria Hislop. Agatha Christie. Charles Dickens. Philippa Gregory. Hilary Mantell. Ian McEwan. Catherine Cookson. Marquis de Sade (told you I was eclectic!), Robert Louis Stevenson. Oh Lordy, how long is a piece of string . . .
DG: What book do you wish you had written?
TM: So many! So many! Wuthering Heights, Pride And Prejudice, Forever Amber, The Satanic Verses (not really!), Fifty Shades of Grey (for the money), Bring Up the Bodies (for the kudos and the Booker), Brigid Jones’ Diary (for the entertainment, the kudos, the money and Colin Firth!). Jane Eyre. An obscure book I read many years ago called Black Cock’s Feather, set in Scotland, which made me go all clannish and long to wear tartan and grrrrowl when I spoke. And on to infinity . . .
DG: Is there a novel out there that mirrors your life?
TM: God no! Perhaps there’s a few parallels but, if so, it’s purely down to coincidence. Writers create their own worlds, since, in general, our own aren’t much to write home about.
DG: Do you make a secret appearance in any of your novels?
A Hitchcockian cameo? No. Absolutely not. Any ego I had was stamped upon and obliterated many years ago by the nuns – and a good thing too. There are enough over-sized egos in this world without me adding my pathetic tuppence worth.
DG: Are you able to say which is your favourite novel from your own collection?
TM: Yes, it’s always the one I am currently working on, in this case Satan’s Wife, my first work of historical fiction, and I am absolutely loving it, eating, sleeping, breathing it. And writing it!
DG: Do you have a routine? Do you need all your pens in a row before you can start?
Tidy or messy environment? Food, drinks, a bout of praying, or smashing cutlery to get going?
TM: When the muse is upon me I can write any time, any place, anywhere. I routinely filter out background noise. The world and the house could be in chaos – the latter frequently is – but if I need to write, write I will, regardless. The only time it becomes something of an impossibility is when the cat lies across my keyboard – I’m fighting her off even as I write this. NB. She’s winning!
DG: When you’ve been involved in your work, how do you ‘come down’ or renter the world of reality?
TM: Wine! Wine works. Red wine. White wine. Rose. Only stipulation is that it must be in large quantities.
DG: Do you plan your plots or do you write in free flow, watching what turns up on the page?
TM: I usually start off with a general idea and see where it leads me. I have learned that making a chapter synopsis doesn’t really work for me, since my characters often take-off and get up to all sorts of shenanigans, thumbing their noses at my carefully constructed plan. So, to a large degree, I tend to go with the flow and instinct tells me if I’ve got it right. My editor certainly tells me if I’ve got it wrong.
DG: Would you say you lead with plot or character/s?
TM: On balance, I would say with my characters, who tend to be quirky and strong-willed and, hopefully, memorable. A weakish plot can be saved to a degree if the characters are engaging and properly executed, but badly-drawn characters will ruin a book, no matter how good the plot – in which case it’s the author who should be properly executed!
DG: Do you ever get a sticky patch when you might get stuck, or even seem to irrationally hate your work? If so, how do you get out of it?
TM: All of the above, and often several times a day. Wine again! And faith! Faith that ‘this sticky patch too shall pass’ and faith that if it doesn’t, there’s always more wine.
DG: In your recent two novels: “RSVP” and “Blue Eyed Girl”, I notice you have a unique style, which gives the reader a genuine lift as they are reading. Are you a happy person?
TM: How lovely of you to say so and I’m thrilled you felt like that. Prozac works better for me, I find. Seriously, though, I have my ups and downs like everyone else and I will never be competition for Pollyanna or happy-clappy types.
DG: I know you are a complete inspiration to those that know you – what advice can you give to new authors out there?
TM: Careful! Is that the flutter of a resurrecting ego I feel?! On the level, I never set out to be nor would claim to be an inspiration to anybody. If any misguided soul feels that way I would recommend they attend their GP for immediate re-evaluation of their prescriptive medication. To new authors I would say ‘welcome, well done, and now the hard work starts in earnest. There’s no room for complacency and no time – once you type ‘the end’, you already need to be thinking about typing ‘Chapter One’ of your next book.
DG: Many female writers talk about the pushchair in the hallway syndrome, saying that children prevent them from writing. I know you’ve raised two boys and been a prolific writer. How did you do it?
TM: Easy! I’m a writer and I need to write and if you want something badly enough you will always find a way regardless of obstacles. And to anyone thinking ‘it’s all very well for you to say, but I’ve got blah, blah and blah’, I had ‘blahs’ too; an alcoholic husband, a child with a serious medical condition, a full-time stressful job and zero money. No excuses accepted! Just shut up and do it!
DG: Your work is appreciated internationally. You were born in Ireland and “Blue-Eyed Girl” was set there. I know they love your work in Portugal – do you have plans to go there?
TM: It’s both humbling and gratifying (more so the latter) to know that your work is enjoyed and appreciated in so many countries. The Portuguese have been exceptionally lovely and supportive and I am certainly planning to go there, hopefully later on this year. First though, I have a little trip to Marrakech planned and who knows what literary inspirational nuggets I will pick up there.
DG: What next? What challenges are twinkling away on your horizon?
TM: Next – my first foray into historical fiction, something I have long wanted to do and which I am enjoying immensely.
DG: Can you give us a sneak preview of what you are working on now?
Satan’s Wife – the work of historical fiction referred to above.
1600s Thanet, East Kent, England
In England, there is unrest between the Parliamentarians and the Roundheads and civil war is imminent. But for Cathy Leuknor, war is already to hand, for she has married the infamous Adam Sprackling and, in so doing, earned the unwelcome eptithet of Satan’s Wife. (read an excerpt on http://www.taramoore.com).
DG: If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
TM: I would reincarnate as Emily Bronte only with a longer lifespan and a house somewhere a great deal warmer than Haworth.
You can learn more about Tara and her novels on her website: http://www.taramoore.com