Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interview with Melissa Tagg, author of "All This Time"

Welcome my creative friend Melissa Tagg to the blog! 

She's a former reporter who is now a famous author with a passion for creative storytelling. Readers have made her books to be bestsellers because as an author, she's just that good! :)

Melissa is here to talk about her new novel, All This Time


Interview with Melissa Tagg, author of All This Time:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book and why did you name it “All This Time”?

Melissa: Well, to be honest, what inspired me most of all was the need to finish the series. LOL! This is a book I’d been building up to throughout the whole Walker series and I didn’t really know what the plot would entail as I approached it. I just knew I wanted to give Raegan and Bear a story worthy of the buildup and give readers a satisfying finale.

But when it came time to figure out just who these characters were, characters we’d only seen in snippets here and there throughout previous books, I was very inspired by the idea of writing about one character who can’t seem to outrun his past…and another who is too scared to chase her future.

I named it All This Time because it just fit. We’ve seen Bear and Rae “all this time,” in other stories, but we haven’t truly had a chance to get to know them. They’ve both been keeping secrets “all this time,” too.

Alexis: What was the most heart-wrenching scene for you as the author to write?

Melissa: Probably one of the most heart-wrenching scenes was a moment early on in the story when Bear realizes what kind of childhood his niece and nephew have had so far. Because I happen to work in a nonprofit that serves struggling people—including children—who’ve led very unstable lives, it made me tear up just to think about it. Jamie and Erin, the two kids in the story, are fictional. But there are so many real hurting people in this world…lonely people who don’t realize life can be different than what they’ve always known. The reality of that pricked my heart as I wrote.

Alexis: What scene or line from this book warmed your heart?

Melissa: So many because I just love these characters SO much. But the scene that warmed my heart more than anything is the epilogue. I don’t often write epilogues but this story just begged for one. It was a chance to give every Walker siblings—and their dad—a final send-off into their unwritten futures. Each one is walking into a new season in their lives and I just loved getting those final moments with them.

Alexis: Would you say that Bear is a family man? Why or why not?

Melissa: What’s funny is that in the beginning of the story, he’d probably tell you he’s not. He has quite a few family wounds in his past and for that reason, he tends to hold people at arm’s length…or at least he tries to. But at heart, he is very much a family man. Even though he’s purposely distanced himself from his family, he still loves and cares for them, no matter how much he denies it. He’s incredibly hungry for a family of his own. Throughout the story, we see ways in which he knowingly and unknowingly searches for a “stand-in family.” And when we see him with his niece and nephew, that seals the deal.

Alexis: How did you create Maple Valley? Paint a picture with words about how it looks, smells, and feels, then explain why it’s a special place for your main characters.

Melissa: Maple Valley is quirky and unique and cute and quaint and so many things I love about real-life small towns. Think Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls with just a tad more reality. Haha! A charming town square. A heritage railroad. A thriving orchard. And a river that cuts right through the center of town. It’s special to my characters simply because it’s home. It’s full of memories. It’s also a safe haven when life doesn’t go as planned…a place where they can “press pause” and confront what’s going on both inside and outside them.

Alexis: Describe Bear as the hero of your story. Why is he worthy of this role?

Melissa: I don’t want to give away too much of Bear’s personality and past and characteristics because I really want readers to discover him as they read…just like I did as I wrote! But I will say that the Bear we saw in previous books, the one who seemed so put-together and settled and wise, is much more broken than we might’ve realized. He has a very messy past and because of it, he’s sort of man at war with himself. 

What makes him a hero? He’s unflaggingly kind. More than that, he really embodies sacrificial love. He’s given up a lot in his life, made huge sacrifices for the people he loves. That’s definitely his biggest heroic quality. 

Alexis: Raegan Walker is your story’s heroine. Describe her looks, personality, heart, and flaws.

Melissa: Much like Bear, readers are going to find out that the spunky, carefree Raegan they encountered in previous books has much more going on under the surface. She has very real fears that hold her back from boldly chasing her dreams. She tells herself she likes her life just the way it is, but right from the opening of the book, we see that she’s beginning to doubt her own claims. Raegan is artsy and creative and unfailingly loyal to her family.

Alexis: Why does Raegan think she has to hide her struggles from her family?

Melissa: In previous Walker books, we see how successful all her siblings have been. Sure, they’ve all had struggles and past books show us that. But at the end of the day, Logan is a successful speechwriter, Kate has written movies and books, and Beckett has gone from the partner track at a major Boston law firm to happily co-managing an orchard.

So, Raegan already feels like the odd one out. She doesn’t have a career. She’s never moved away from home. She still lives in her childhood bedroom! So to then admit she’s struggling with deeper issues—it’s just too much for her.

Alexis: Why did you make Raegan an artist? What significance does her creative talent set play in this story?

Melissa: You know, I honestly don’t remember where the seed of that particular story angle was planted. But in past books, we always see Raegan with colorful hair and lots of bracelets and bright clothing. I suppose it just made sense for someone with such an artsy look to also have an artistic background. And it really worked well for her character. Her creative talent is significant because it’s one of the things she’s shelved due to her fears and struggles. We get to see old artistic dreams slowly revive during the story.

Alexis: How does Bear help Raegan out of her hardened shell?

Melissa: You know, I think Raegan’s actually a very soft person…she simply has fears she’s scared to reveal. She has a secret…one that Bear happens to stumble on by accident, actually. But once Bear learns what she’s been hiding, he becomes a natural safe space for her simply because he’s, well, Bear. In past books and in this book, we see that Bear is the kind of person people just naturally gravitate toward. In fact, we’ve seen both Kate and Logan Walker at various times in past books spill their angsty thoughts to Bear without hardly even knowing him! He’s just that kind of person. I’ve known people like that in my own life, who were able to draw me into sharing pieces of myself I wouldn’t naturally be inclined to share without knowing them a long time—that’s an amazing quality to have.

Alexis: What does Bear love the most about Raegan? Why does he love her so much?

Melissa: Bear loves Raegan’s creativity and her humor and the fact that she comes from such a wonderful family. He’s always wished for a family like hers. He will also eventually love that she doesn’t judge him for his past…that, in fact, she values the way his past has shaped him into the man he is today.

Alexis: Why does Raegan desire Bear? What is it about him that makes her want to marry him? Describe how he’s completely captivated her heart.

Melissa: Raegan has had a thing for Bear since she met him. I’m actually not a huge fan of “insta-love” tropes, but I think with Raegan, it wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-intrigue. LOL! When this story opens, Raegan has known Bear for about six years. He showed up years ago as a stranger in town with a past he never talked about. For a girl who has basically never left her hometown, that’s just plain interesting. But by the end of this story, it’s not the mystery surrounding Bear that she loves but the man he is. Sacrificial. Loyal (sometimes to a fault). And incredibly noble.

Alexis: What’s the moral of this story?

Melissa: I try not to write “morals.” LOL! When I start out writing a book, I don’t think to myself, “Okay, what’s the message of this story?” Because I feel like if that’s my goal, then there’s a danger of forcing characters into situations just to teach a lesson to readers. Instead, I want the characters to drive the story…and if I tell a good story, then a natural theme or emotional journey will emerge…which will, I hope, have readers walking away impacted in some way or at least thinking about questions and timeless truths.

The theme that emerged in All This Time centered on what it means to be honest and truly vulnerable with the people we love. It’s something neither Bear nor Raegan are good at. Bear doesn’t want anyone to know about his past and Raegan is hiding her panic disorder. There’s a spot where Raegan finally says something along the lines of, “Why do any of us keep things from the people we love?” That’s a very personal moment in the story for me because I found myself asking the same question about myself…why do I hold back sometimes in relationships? What does it really mean to live authentically? I hope that’s something readers find themselves thinking about as they close the pages of All This Time.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about All This Time?

Melissa: I really want them to close the book with thoughts on their own lives and relationships. I hope All This Time points toward truth and grace in an intriguing enough way to send readers looking for it in real life. I’d love for a reader to close this book thinking about the depth of their own relationships. But I also want them to simply swoon and laugh and maybe shed a tear or two as they walk this final journey with the Walker Family.

Alexis: If you could have a coffee date with Reagan, what would you say to her and how would you take your coffee (flavor/mixture/order details)?

Melissa: Oh, I’d order a venti Americano, no doubt. Black. And if I could chat with Raegan, I’d tell her, "Don’t let Bear get away again! and don’t be afraid to walk into the future God has for you, even if it looks completely different than you planned." (And I’d be simultaneously preaching to myself on that last point.)

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Melissa! God bless your dear heart.

Author Bio: 

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer, and total Iowa girl. She’s the author of the Walker Family series, the Where Love Begins series and the Enchanted Christmas novella collection. 

Her books have made both the Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten and bestselling lists. 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.

Book Blurb: Bear McKinley’s past refuses to let go. 

Ten years ago, Bear gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him once again. Suddenly he finds himself back in Maple Valley, charged with the care of his missing brother’s children, convinced he’s out of second chances to make his life count. And yet, with every day that passes, these kids, this quirky town and the woman he never stopped missing help patch the holes in his heart. Maybe this is the fresh start he’s been longing for all along. But as his newfound hope grows, so does the mystery surrounding his brother’s activities—and when the threat reaches into the lives of those he loves, it’s clear he can’t run away this time.

Fear holds Raegan’s future captive.

Raegan Walker is fine. She’s happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more than fine. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending?

Buy Melissa's book: 

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  1. This sounds soooo good! But it’s the finale! I need the previous books too! Guess I’ll need to get my wishlist going. I think I can see snippets of both characters in myself. I don’t know if I lean one way other other. I’ve been eyeing this book for a while, can’t wait to get it! Hey Melissa!

  2. Oh this sounds like such a good story!! I have to honestly say that I'm a little mix of both Bear and Raegan. I can be completely grounded and settled one day and the complete opposite the next. I think it's what keeps life interesting.

  3. Is it possible to choose just one of Melissa Tagg's characters? I love the first two books in the series, I haven't read Keep Holding On and All This Time yet.

  4. I'm more like Bear than Raegan, although I can see some of Rae in me, too. This was such a delightful book! Another winner from Melissa. :-)

  5. I think I'm like Bear. Very messy inside but people think I portray a put together person....sometimes....


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