TT Thomas

                   

Tarra Thomas writes as T. T. Thomas and is the author of two novels: A Delicate Refusal (July 2013) and The Blondness of Honey (October 2012); her third full-length novel, The Girl With Two Hearts, will be released in late 2014. She has also written a quarter of a New Adult book, title unknown, release date unknown as well as two short novels, Vivien and Rose, (December 2012), and Two Weeks At Gay Banana Hot Springs (July 2011), and a short story collection, Sex on A Regular Basis (August 2011). T. T. Thomas lives in Southern California and publishes under her own Indie imprint, Bon View Publishing. She is a former newspaper reporter, editor and public relations consultant.

 

AJ: I met TT Thomas when I won one of her books online. As we exchanged E-mails, I got the brilliant idea to ask her if she'd be interested in doing an interview for me, or is it with me? Whichever, I hope you'll enjoy getting to know a little bit more about this witty woman. I'd like to offer a warm welcome to my guest this week, TT Thomas.

Hi A.J---thanks for having me here!

AJ: Thank you TT for the interview. Let's start off with an easy question...what’s the most important thing you want us to know about your book?

Hmm..The most important thing to know about A Delicate Refusal is that it's a story about two women who find one another and fall in love on the eve of World War I. This is the story of their romantic relationship that is asked to persevere against a maelstrom of personal issues of intimacy between them and a world stage of deprivation, fear, anxiety, conflict, and death that is the flag of war in general and the hallmark of World War I, in particular.

But I have a lot of humor in most of my books. A lot. And that's part of the point. I adore eccentric characters, and although none of my characters would ever dream of thinking he or she could be called eccentric, they all are, to varying degrees. The interplay among the wildly eccentric and the moderately eccentric  is what provides not only the tone of probable inprobables but also the dialog that is somewhere between ordinary and outrageous. But everyone is human, and that's what I try to show.

I suppose ADR is a metaphor of sorts for all the universal truth about love and war that each generation seems to have to learn anew. ADR takes place in Hampshire, England in the three or four months leading up to the eve of The Greatest War, as it later became known.

A lot of people know that this war would mark the first time weaponry of literal mass destruction was used, in the form of poison gas. The armaments would be such that soldiers on all sides, as well as the nurses, doctors and support staffs, would be constant victims of what we now call post-traumatic stress syndrome. The miseries of trench warfare would be so harsh and inhuman that soldiers would forget what they were fighting for in their often useless attempts to just stay alive.

But the characters in my book do not know this yet, for the most part. What they feel is the generalized anxiety, depression, fear and emotional paralysis that filled the general populace of England who would be left behind to carry on at home. This is a story about people trying to live their lives knowing that the war is coming and lives will be lost, maimed and forever changed. This is the story of life's panache...as Edmond Rostand's quote indicated, the ability and willingness "...to joke in the face of danger...a delicate refusal to cast oneself as a tragic hero." Even in the face of such momentous hardships, the soldiers on the field and the people left at home kept the will to live and love and doing so enabled survivals that defied death and defeat.

AJ: We all have favorite books we've written—for one reason or another. For me, Sunset Island was so difficult to write, that when I finally got it 'right', it became my favorite. However, I like the story told in Awaiting My Assignment better, because I had lots of fun writing the twists and turns in it. What about you? Of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

Yes, I believe that A Delicate Refusal is my favorite.

AJ: What makes A Delicate Refusal your favorite?

I think it's my favorite, so far, because I really like the juxtaposition of the history, the love affair and the ways all the characters have secrets that lead, inevitably, to mixed messages, misunderstandings and missed opportunities. What is salvaged and resurrected or regained is by virtue of each character's genuine desire to love and be loved. I think I captured that, and I think the urgency of impending war brings all my characters to a visceral understanding that what really matters is a love of life, not merely love, not merely life, but a real passion for the experience of both. Then too, I had a ton of fun with this book...the humor, the love letters, the encounters. I think I'll read it again myself!

AJ: You’ve written many books, so you must have a wealth of experience to share with new authors. How do you market your books, and do you have any advice for new authors on how to market their books?

Before talking about marketing, I'd tell new writers not to rush to publication, like I did and like so many of my fellow lesfic writers did! We had to, in a way, and most of us were "good enough" at the beginning, but "good enough" won't cut it in the world of digital publishing today. We got away with it three or four years ago, but the competition for exposure, the sheer number of books being published and the incredible levels of talent writing today demand that you make sure your book is ready for market.

Actually, I'd say being ready for publication is the first step in a successful marketing campaign.

Then there are basics, and believe it or not, some established writers and many new authors still do not follow these steps.

1) It's absolutely mandatory that you subject your book to first) a few trusted beta readers

2) a professional story structure editor

3) a good line edit

4) a full-on proof read

5) a second or third full-on proof read where I guarantee you will find errors missed the first two times!

While all that's going on, you should hire a professional cover designer, who can also double as your interior designer for any print copies. Patty G. Henderson is my cover designer for print and eBook, and she designs the interiors of my print editions. Then you must arrange to have the book properly formatted for all the various venues. If you can't do it yourself, I recommend 52 Novels---they will get you into Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes & Noble and more.

Then it helps if you already have a strong social media network presence, like Facebook. I also use Twitter, but just for quick release notes or links to a great review. The study of just those two outlets is huge, and there are people who are better at explaining how to leverage social media than I am. Firstly, I'm not overly social! LOL. Secondly, it can wear me out physically, so I limit my interaction each day.

I am self-published, so traditionally published authors have a slightly different but essentially similar set of promotional tasks. We all do give-aways, we all participate in blogs, as well as write our own, we try to participate in some other online forums, and, in my case, I also review books. I don't recommend the book reviewing for most writers because it can be like walking through a landmine. LOL....one should get hazardous duty pay but I pay myself and can't afford overtime! Lately I've not been reviewing so many books because I've been writing so much, but I like to write reviews.

AJ: What process do you use when writing? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I think now they call what I used to do organic writing, but they also used to call it seat-of-your-pants writing: start and see where it all goes. I still have a lot of "see where it goes" in my writing process, and that keeps the feel and the tone fresh for me, but starting with A Delicate Refusal, I planned where it was going and the key points of getting there. It made a huge difference in that it was the easiest book I've ever written, it flowed well and people tell me they loved the story.

I do not make an outline, but I do make story notes and character notes. Under the story notes umbrella, I further break down the main acts of a story, and the scenes within each act. I may only write a paragraph for each scene, but it seems to be all I need. In this regard, I found the Scrivener program to be of great benefit. I took Gwen Hernandez' online course and I was first in line, online, for the print edition of Scrivener for Dummies. I use one half of one percent of the program's potential, but what I use I like.

AJ: What is your most amusing interaction with a fan? (in person or in writing) 

In my day job, working for a Mercedes Benz franchise, I engage my clients quite a bit, and part of it is telling them about me. So most of them know I write historical romance fiction. Depending on the clients, a good number of them know that I write lesfic, and now they all do if I give them my writer's business card, which has four of my covers on the back. You'd probably have to have been living in a cave to not know somethingwhen you see the cover for the Blondness of Honey. As soon as one client saw it, she immediately began asking me about her gay 20-year old son and whether or not she should let him go to a White Party in Palm Springs. She said his father and she were dead against it. I listened to her reasons (AIDS was number one, and getting arrested for being drunk was number two). I gave her my informed perspective, and, well, I've been to those parties...back in the day, so we discussed that for 20 minutes. To this day that young man doesn't know I'm the reason he got to go to Palm Springs that weekend. I hope he had fun! And his mother bought my book! LOL.

AJ: Is there a question you wish I’d asked you and haven’t?

Well, I'm very tempted to go on and on about my next book, The Girl With Two Hearts, but I'll try to restrict it to a brief summary. Patty G. Henderson, btw, has already designed the cover, and it's a knockout! Anyway, TGW2H, which I hope will be out fall of 2014, is an "air punk" historical fantasy. Air punk is steam punk with airplanes! LOL...I made it up, so it is now, anyway!

Anyway, this is the story of Margaret Mary Regina Elizabeth Victoria Dormier, motorcyclist in the Women's Nursing Auxiliary corp. during the Second Boer War in Africa. Dormier is the entirely fictional, errant niece of Queen Victoria of England, and 65th in line for the throne. Oh, and she has some majik powers inherited from her mother. We follow Dormier to Africa, back to England and head into the First World War with her. But for the Great War, Dormier exchanges her motorbike for an aeroplane. And gets taken prisoner. And meets up, again, with an early love of hers...a forbidden love. And Oh. My. Gawd. What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong?!? LOL Although the history is historically accurate, the characters and plot of the story, are enthusiastically, unabashedly, heroically romantic fiction!

AJ: Thank you TT, for your time and for sharing information with us. For readers, you may contact TT Thomas here:

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