Readers, I apologize for being so late with the interview today. I had to take my husband to the ER yesterday at 4:30 pm, and I've been there all day today, too. I know this is later than usual, but this is a very special interview. I was privileged to read the book before it was published and write an endorsement for it. You'll find these words I wrote on the cover:
Love Finds You in Maiden, North Carolina, takes you back to a gentler time. I love the characters, the feel of the 1920s, and especially the romance in this book. It's a keeper.
Welcome, Tamela. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I think it’s impossible for writers not to include something about themselves in their characters. My friends say they can hear me speak as they read my books because of the characters’ voice patterns. Most of my heroines display more patience than I do sometimes in real life. I write the type of women I can look up to. I hope my readers feel the same.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I convinced people to ride the Rebel Yell roller coaster at King’s Dominion in Ashland, Virginia, over and over until the park closed. The first time, I was a teenager spending the day with my best friend. The second time was about three years ago with my husband. I hope we can go back soon!
I'd love that, but James would be throwing up after the first trip. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In fifth grade, when a classmate copied word for word a poem I wrote in third grade and passed it off as his own. He denied it, of course.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Because I’m a literary agent as well as a writer, I get to read a wide variety of books. I enjoy thought-provoking and inspirational nonfiction. I also love to read romance and romantic suspense. The different types of Bibles being released fascinate me. I think CBA is doing a great job in every category!
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written many novels and novellas, plus Bible trivia for both children and adults. The complete list is on my web site, except for a couple of titles that have gone out of print. Like most writers, I have a couple of unpublished novels sitting on a computer somewhere. When I go back and read these long-ago attempts, for the most part I’m grateful to the editors who decided not to publish them.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
A few years ago our wise pastor told the congregation that on Sundays, we shouldn’t shop or engage in other activities that aren’t God-centered. Inspired by him, we changed our habits and now Sundays are much more restful for us. I also try to limit my computer time on Saturdays, because our family spends time together then, both in accomplishing errands and in fun activities. I realize many writers hold down full-time jobs and this solution doesn’t work for them. However, I hope all writers will do everything possible to find at least one afternoon a week for some down time. You deserve it!
Well, my down time this week went down the tube. How do you choose your characters’ names?
When choosing, I try to assign the characters names with meanings that have some relationship to their role in the story. I have several baby name books I enjoy consulting. Some are out of print. I also consult Social Security listings and “most popular names of the decade” lists. However, most popular name listings aren’t especially inspiring to me because the same names appear too often on those.
In talking to publishing industry professionals, I find that some say, “Choose a name from the decade of the 1880s for your heroine and hero living in that decade.” Actually, you need to go back to the time when the characters were born.
That is so true. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That I have managed to convince my husband to stay with me going on 25 years now. I told him I’m aiming for 70 years since by then I’ll only be 91 and he will not have seen his 100th birthday. Anything after that will be pure gravy!
Speaking from the perspective if going on 45 years, I'm glad that as your youthfulness fades, so does his eyesight, so you still look really good to him. :-) If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a bunny, because everyone loves bunnies! We have a bunny family living in our yard and we love to see them hop about.
I also wouldn’t mind being a honeybee, because they are so important to humans. Besides, I like honey drizzled over Greek yogurt.
I love honey on lots of things. What is your favorite food?
Chateau Briand. I associate this dish with romance. It requires a relatively large piece of filet mignon and preparation of béarnaise sauce, so many restaurants only serve it for two. I love to share this dish with my husband. When we were dating and first married, on special occasions we enjoyed driving into Washington, D.C., and dining at Maison Blanche. This restaurant has since closed, but it was there that I first encountered and enjoyed Chateau Briand.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I started writing professionally when I was a young mother, so the greatest roadblock was finding time because I didn’t want to ignore my daughters. Not to mention, the irony of neglecting my husband so I could write romance novels didn’t escape me. Since I was in every club and on every committee in college, I used time management skills learned during school to organize my days so I could write while still dedicating time to my family. Of course, the occasional unplanned event happens, but I make a point of getting back on track as soon as possible.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Today’s new authors have an advantage I didn’t when I started, and that is the chance to use the Internet to network. Writing used to be a solitary profession. In some ways, it still is because there are big chunks of time when it’s just you and the blank computer screen. But now, writers can access huge numbers of friends who share a passion for writing. This is a priceless gift. Writing for God is about Him, but it’s also about people, and our relationships are really what matters.
Tell us about the featured book?
I loved writing LOVE FINDS YOU IN MAIDEN, NORTH CAROLINA. This story focuses on two cousins who are different in appearance, temperament, and upbringing, but are alike in that they want to be loved by a good man. But Selene is concealing a scandalous secret.
Like many eras, the 1920s brought about many important changes as technology advanced at an unheard of pace and values were reassessed and examined. The cousins’ worlds collide and each learns from the other.
To write this book, I visited Maiden with my family. This charming town provided a wonderful backdrop for the story to unfold. I have a special love for North Carolina because many of my relatives live in the state. I hope readers will enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Hestia Myatt paused before knocking on the door of her aunt’s gray Victorian with white trim situated in the foothills of the Appalachians in Maiden, North Carolina. She would only be staying three weeks, giving her the chance to help her relative recover from a broken pelvis. During that time, Hestia hoped to collect her thoughts and make plans for a new life after a broken engagement.
A train whistled as it passed. The familiar sound always reminded Hestia of her aunt’s house. An afternoon autumn rain had left burnished leaves lying on thin grass and a musty smell in its wake. Loving the season, Hestia took a moment to invigorate herself with a breath of chilly air for a welcome respite. Aunt Louisa’s friend Mrs. Howard had picked Hestia up from the train station in her Model T and, after a harrowing ride thanks to her inexperience with the motorcar, had dropped Hestia at the end of the sidewalk and departed.
Undaunted, Hestia handled her two brown leather bags with ease. After composing herself, she rapped twice on the front door.
“Come on in.” Hestia could hear the familiar voice through the open window. It helped that her aunt’s bedroom was on the front left side of the modest house. “Door’s open.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m at: http://www.tamelahancockmurray.com/
Please stop by and drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!
Lena, thank you for granting me the chance to appear on this blog. I appreciate this opportunity, and have been thrilled to spend time with you and your readers. Hugs, Tamela
And thank you, Tamela, for the visit.
Readers, you'll want to get your hands on this book. Tell your friends about the book and this interview. If you're having trouble finding the book, here's a link where you can order it.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The only way I'll contact you about winning will be in the announcement blog, so check back on Saturday in two weeks to see if you won.