Welcome to the one hundred and twenty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with romantic murder mystery author Tiffany A Snow. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Tiffany. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Tiffany: I never thought I would be a writer, actually. I’ve devoured books for as long as I’ve been able to read, but never thought I’d be able to write one myself. Frustration with a current popular author’s series led me to write my own ending as I would have chosen it to be, which in turn led me to try my hand at creating my own characters and story. To my surprise, not only did I complete the first novel in what I intend to be a series, I found I loved the process of writing and bringing to life the characters and story I saw in my mind.
Morgen: Is it great? I keep telling my non-writer (but reader) friends to have a go but they say they leave it to me, which is a shame… that they don’t write, not that I do. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Tiffany: The genre I chose is Romantic Suspense. My first love always has been and always will be Romance. Relationships, love, loyalty – those are the bedrock of any story close to my heart. I particularly enjoy a mystery that is twined around that core of love and romance, so that is what I wrote. Paranormal Romance is all the rage now, but I wanted to create a character that was relatable – without the ability to read minds, hunt vampires or see dead people. Kathleen Turner, the woman I created, is kind, loyal, smart, sexy, impulsive, sometimes foolhardy, and brave. In short, she’s someone who could be a neighbor, best friend, sister, or ourselves. Additionally, I am a big history buff and Kathleen Woodiwiss has always been an idol of mine. I would like to write a Historical Romance one day.
Morgen: It’s a very popular genre. What have you had published to-date?
Tiffany: I have published the first book in the Kathleen Turner Series, entitled No Turning Back.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Tiffany: I do all the marketing, though Rachel Skinner of RDS Manuscript Services has been an enormous help in online marketing. The usual online tools apply – website, Facebook, GoodReads. Additionally, I offer two chapters of my novel available for free download on my website – a try-before-you-buy, so to speak.
Morgen: Ah yes, my lovely editor (hello Rachel :)). Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Tiffany: Yes, I changed my last name to “Snow” for writing. My actual name is difficult for most people to pronounce and is often misspelled. It seemed wiser to go with something a bit simpler.
Morgen: Snough… Snoh… sorry, only kidding. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Tiffany: Yes, No Turning Back is available in both Nook and Kindle formats. I converted both of them myself and the process was fairly simple. I received a Kindle as a gift a couple years ago, and as an avid reader, I must say it is nearly the best gift I’ve ever been given.
Morgen: ‘Simple’ I like that word… I’m at the beginning of the process (throwing things at Rachel, dealing with them when they come back). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Tiffany: I am working on the sequel to No Turning Back; its current working title is Turn to Me. I plan on the Kathleen Turner Series to contain five books.
Morgen: Series are very popular. Agents always love series – sign of a writer’s staying power. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Tiffany: I try to write every day, but since I still work a day job as well as am raising two young children, time is a precious commodity.
Morgen: Wow, that’s busy.
Tiffany: The most I’ve written in a day is about fifteen pages.
Morgen: That’s good going. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Tiffany: I don’t know if I would call what happens to me “writer’s block”. It’s more that I’m at a loss as to how to answer the never-ending question of “What happens next?” Focusing on the characters and all the “what-ifs”, playing them out in my head and seeing which one moves the plot and characterization forward helps me get past a stumbling block.
Morgen: Talking of plot, do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Tiffany: I start with what character and relational development I want to accomplish in the book – where do I want this or that relationship to be in the end? Then I will come up with a plot that will help move the characters in that direction. The core of the book is really the characters and their relationships with each other.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Tiffany: I like my characters to have a reason for who they are – a product of their upbringing, environment and family. They have a back-story that unfolds over time which helps the reader understand why they are the way they are. For names, I try to vary it and suit the character. Their believability rests in their humor, foibles, strengths and weaknesses.
Morgen: It’s funny who names do suit their characterists… or don’t in some cases. And yes, they should have flaws; perfect is boring (sorry, anyone who’s reading this who is actually perfect :)). Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Tiffany: My best friend, also an avid reader, who doesn’t pull any punches with me in critiquing the plot or characterization.
Morgen: That’s what you need. My writing group is like that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Tiffany: I read and reread a chapter as I write it so by the time I send it to my editor, I’ve edited it myself several times. By making corrections from my editor, I’ve learned my own bad writing habits and mistakes I’m prone to make – whether it be overuse of a particular word or phrase, or where the comma is placed in a bit of dialogue.
Morgen: I’m hot on repetition; only say the word twice for emphasis. And dialogue punctuation yes, that’s hard; took me ages to get the hang of it. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Tiffany: I like to plan a chapter out in my head before I sit down to write, I find my time is more effectively used that way. It can be frustrating if I just sit down to write and don’t have anything planned in my head of what is going to happen. Yet there are things that still happen spontaneously in the story when I’m writing that aren’t pre-planned.
Morgen: That’s one of my favourite bits. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Tiffany: Always a computer.
Morgen: Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Tiffany: None. Noise of any sort is a distraction. Silence is preferable.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Tiffany: I decided on first person for this particular series and it was a difficult choice to make since, as a reader, I enjoy knowing what other characters are thinking. As a writer, it does make it more of a challenge to show what a particular character is thinking or feeling through their actions or others’ reactions to them rather than relying on third person, though I’m sure I’ll write third person at some point as well.
Morgen: Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Tiffany: I will be using both a prologue and epilogue in the second book in the Kathleen Turner Series. So long as they’re effective, I think the practice can be a little “bonus” so to speak for the reader.
Morgen: 🙂 If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Tiffany: How very much I enjoy it. I’m not a patient person and when I begin an endeavour, I want to be able to show results quickly. Writing is a time-consuming, evolutionary process and the finished product is months in the making. I was pleasantly surprised that the process is not frustrating to me – though I do get frustrated if several days go by and I have not had time to write.
Morgen: You say get frustrated, I know that feeling oh so well, what’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Tiffany: My least favourite aspect is marketing myself and my writing. I’m not a sales person at heart, which you rather need to be to sell people on your work, so I have a more difficult time with that aspect.
Morgen: Me neither – I’ll say “you don’t want it, oh OK” and move on. I hate the hard sell – the quickest way to get de-followed on Twitter is to only say what you have for sale. I think 9/10 tweets should be fun and / or interesting with 1/10 (max) come buy my book. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Tiffany: Write, write and write. Like anything else, writing gets better with practice.
Morgen: It does. I always compare it with piano playing. We all start with chopsticks don’t we? 🙂 What do you like to read?
Tiffany: I read to escape so I want something that is going to be involved, not cause me to weep buckets and resolves itself into a wonderful happily-ever-after. For those types of books, I turn to authors such as Sherry Thomas, Eloisa James or Sabrina Jeffries. I also enjoy political thrillers so Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy are on my list when their new books come out. Historical non-fiction is also a passion of mine and I read a great deal of American History – David Hackett Fischer writes amazing some books on this subject. Sci-fi / Fantasy / Cyberpunk are also genres I’ll read and really enjoy, Neal Stephenson being an author I’d recommend.
Morgen: A great variety. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Tiffany: Raising two children and having a full-time job take up most of my time.
Morgen: Yes, I’d say it would. 🙂 In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Tiffany: I’m based in the United States. With the internet, it doesn’t seem to matter where you are located. It’s a wonderful levelling of the playing field for all writers. Amazon and the advent of eBook readers has been instrumental in getting more works out there for public consumption.
Morgen: Isn’t it great – I can’t wait to get mine out there. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Tiffany: My website is the best place to keep up to date, www.TiffanyASnow.com. You can sign up for my emailing list there to be informed of when new novels are coming out and also get sneak peeks before they are released.
Morgen: Ooh great. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Tiffany: I think the future is very exciting for writers, especially first-time writers. The self-publishing options available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com allow writers to reach millions of potential readers without going through the traditional brick-and-mortar publishing houses. And now that Amazon is stepping into the publishing world itself, that can only be more beneficial to writers and readers.
Morgen: Absolutely. Thank you Tiffany.
Tiffany is an IT Manager by day and an author at night and any other time she can find to write. Two daughters, a husband and a dog that’s only still alive after chewing so much furniture because he’s so cute keep her very busy. She graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia in 1995 with degrees in History and Social Studies Education and married in May of 1997. A self-taught network specialist, she was very fortunate to have been mentored by another amazing woman in the IT field and achieved her MCSE certification in 1999. Tiffany worked as a Technical Instructor before staying home for a year with her newborn daughter. She went back to work in 2001 as an IT Consultant and stayed at the same business for ten years before recently leaving for an IT Manager position. Tiffany and her family make their home in Kansas City, Missouri.
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