Sunday, April 5, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Melissa Tagg

Happy Easter, my wonderful blog readers! I hope you attended a church program yesterday or today to celebrate the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God is SO good! He loves you truly, passionately and deeper than you can ever imagine! *John 3:16* If you do not already know Him, I encourage you to seek Him, trust, He's already waiting for you! :)

Today I am delighted to introduce one of my favorite reporters-turned-authors and friends, Melissa Tagg! She's been here before but I'm especially excited today because she's sharing the story about her latest book release, From the Start!


From the Start is a fictional story close to my real-life heart because the heroine, Kate Walker writes made-for-TV romance movie screenplays which is a dream career goal of mine and she's captured the love interest of a dashingly handsome, smart and funny hero like professional American football player Colton Greene! 

I loved this story from start to finish and highly recommend that you buy and read Melissa's book if you have not already!

Let's proceed to Melissa's author interview now so you can find out how wonderful From the Start is and what a gem the author is too! :)

*Interview questions by Alexis are in bold, answers from Melissa not in bold.

~*~

Alexis: Today is Easter Sunday (April 5)! What do you love the most about this holiday, Melissa? 

Melissa: I love what Easter is all about! Truly, it’s the most joyful and amazing event in history…the culmination of God’s love for us, the ultimate sacrifice. It’s just the best! But I also really like the candy.

How do you usually spend Easter? Share your favorite Easter memory.

I usually spend Easter with my family. I almost always end up at the church I grew up in for a special Easter morning breakfast and service and then go over to my grandparents’ house for dinner with my relatives. I love family time!

One of my favorite Easter memories is going to the passion play at my aunt and uncle's church. It always included thunder sound effects when Jesus was in the grave and Jesus rode in on a white horse at the end. Oh man, I loved that play. 
I grew up hearing about Jesus, attending Sunday School, seeing first-hand what vibrant faith looks like thanks to my parents and so many others. 

But there was something about seeing Jesus' death and resurrection reenacted in story-form year after year that drove home the amazingness and realness of what I believe. I'm praying this year to re-experience that same childlike awe and the heart-deep emotions that go with it as I celebrate Christ's resurrection. 

Earlier this month, you wrote a post on your blog titled “How I got my writing joy back.” Tell me about it.


Melissa: Sure, well, people can read the long story here: http://www.melissatagg.com/on-writing/how-i-got-my-writing-joy-back

But the short version goes like this: In 2014, I really struggled with my writing—specifically with writing my third book. I think quite a few factors contributed to that, but truly, by the end of the year I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep writing. I prayed a lot about it, told God I was willing to give the whole thing up…I just didn’t like the stressed-out, wrung-out person I’d become. And amazingly, it’s like deciding I was willing to give it all up freed something in me. God did something so awesome in my heart…I can’t even really explain it. Again, the long version on my blog goes into more detail. But it really does boil down to God renewing my spirit and giving me my joy back. And I’m so grateful!

What would you say is the most difficult part about being a novelist? What is the easiest and what is the most rewarding?


Definitely the hardest thing for me is balancing writing with the rest of my life. That’s a struggle and something I’m still working on.

The easiest for me is writing dialogue. I think it’s the thing that comes most naturally to me, and it’s definitely where I have the most fun in a story! The most rewarding, hands-down, is hearing from readers—specifically, hearing a line or a character or story in general in some way impacted, encouraged or challenged them.

Okay now let’s talk about what I know you’re excited about, the release of your latest book, From the Start! I’ve read it, loved it and you can count on a five-star rating from me! But tell me, what do your readers not know about what it took for you to write and publish this book?


Oh man! Well, hmm, here’s one thing I haven’t really shared too much about the writing of this book. About two weeks before the original deadline for this story, I tore the entire story apart. I mean, seriously, tore. it. apart. This made for an incredibly stressful couple weeks…thankfully my editor was incredibly gracious, let me turn in a story that needed a LOT of work and gave me extra time to finesse the draft.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I loved that your main character Kate Walker in From the Start churns out “made-for-TV” romance movie screenplays! What a dream career! How did you think of Kate? Did anything from your personal experience inspire you as you created this character?


Okay, don’t hate me, but I actually don’t really like Hallmark movies! I know, I know, that’s such a horrible thing to admit. And I know there are some good ones out there. But somehow I seem to have only seen the bad ones and it soured me toward them. So I started to think, what would it be like to be writing movies…and to not like the movies you’re writing?

Also, I have a friend who writes fiction…but she really doesn’t like writing romance. Like, not even a little bit. And over the years I’ve encouraged (i.e. nagged) her to let her characters dabble in romance a little more. Maybe even, gasp, fall in love.

I think those two things combined helped form Kate in my mind. Probably even more than that, Kate really struggle with feeling like she’s making a difference through the stories she writes. She feels like she should be writing something deeper, heavier, grittier. And I can relate to that.

Your hero in From the Start, NFL quarterback Colton Greene sounds like a hottie with a brain and a great sense of humor. I loved reading the interactions between him and Kate! What was the most challenging part of writing this character named Colton? How did you overcome those challenges?

Definitely the biggest struggle in writing Colton was simply the fact that he’s a football player…and prior to writing this story, I had just about zero interest in football. I have no idea why I decided to make him a football player! Thankfully, several football-loving friends really helped me out. One in particular was hugely helpful. He answered all my questions, even sent me some YouTube videos, and ended up giving me a football story that changed the direction of Colton’s spiritual journey.

Did any part of From the Start take play from your real-life love story?


Ooh, you know, not so much. I just finished writing my fourth book and in that book, there are definitely moments taken from my own, ahem, romantic history. But Kate and Colton’s romance is pretty much straight out of my imagination.

You mentioned in a blog post somewhere a few weeks ago that you poured a lot of yourself into From the Start and were more vulnerable than usual. What do you mean? Explain in detail.

Well, I almost don’t want to admit this, but I think the reason From the Start was so hard to write is that I prodded much deeper into my own emotions in this story than I have in the past. There are big pieces of me in all the stories I write, but From the Start probed some of my more vulnerable places. My heroine, especially, embodies some of my own insecurities. She struggles to feel like she’s doing something important with her life. She wishes she were as brave as the characters she writes. She has trouble admitting what she wants and how she feels, even to the people closest to her. All of which is very...me. And so writing her story was emotional for me because, well, I felt like I was baring my own heart and vulnerabilities.

Working as a grant writer is your day job. When do you find time to write all of these wonderful, full-length, creative and so good novels?

It’s definitely an exercise in balance…and not one I’m always that good at! (Also, thanks for the kind words about my novels!) My writing schedule differs from season to season, depending on where I’m at deadline-wise. But when I’m in the throes of drafting a book, I tend to rise early and write for an hour or so before work, and then fit another couple hours in in the evening. I’m usually writing a couple Saturdays each month as well.

What are you working on now? Tell us about your next novel.

I actually just turned in my fourth novel! It’s called Like Never Before and those who’ve read From the Start will recognize both main characters—Logan Walker and Amelia Bentley. Logan Walker is a former reporter turned political speech writer and Amelia is the editor of the Maple Valley newspaper.

Describe your writing space. What makes it special to you?

I actually write all over the place. I have a writing room with a desk and a big white board, so I do a lot of work in there. But I also love sitting in bed, under the covers, laptop in my lap. Or on my comfy couch. Or in this rocking chair that used to be my grandparents'.

What is your favorite season? Why?

Autumn. I love everything about it. The crisp air. Pretty leaves. Everything pumpkin. Apple cider. Bonfires. And now, surprisingly, I even kinda like football!

What is your go-to food or drink when you’re on deadline?

Baby carrots. Grapes. Pretzels. And yes, M&M's! Ms. I also always have coffee, pop and water in front of me when I write.

What was your favorite scene to write in From the Start?

I have several favorites but one of my very favorites is when Kate and Colton first meet…in Kate’s bedroom…rather surprisingly. I giggled so much during that scene!

What do you want your readers to remember the most about your book, From the Start?

In From the Start, both Kate and Colton have a very clear picture in their heads of what their lives should look like. And every decision they make in the first half of the book is an effort to make those pictures in their heads a reality. But they both learn, slooowly and at times not-so-smoothly, that God might be weaving together a completely different picture. 


He (God) uses change and circumstance, reshapes broken dreams and heals wounds...He’s been there, at work, from the start. And there’s great peace and confidence in that truth…I hope readers take that away.

Complete this sentence: At the end of the day, I am ____________ because ____________.


At the end of the day, I am hopeful because I have big dreams and serve an even bigger God.

Thanks for the interview, Melissa!

~*~
Author bio: 

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. 

When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. 

Melissa loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Buy Melissa's book, From the Start:

Amazon, http://amzn.to/19TnO12

Barnes and Noble, http://bit.ly/1IfdQpZ

Books-A-Million, http://bit.ly/1xPltQh

Christianbook.com, http://bit.ly/1GUROau


Connect with Melissa:

Website: www.melissatagg.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaTagg

Instagram: melissatagg

Twitter: @Melissa_Tagg

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