Friday, January 10, 2014

Feature Friday: Tammar Stein

Tammar Stein is the award-winning author of four YA novels, including Light Years, an ALA Best Book of the Year. Her latest release, Spoils, was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Her e-novella, Debts, a prequel to SPOILS, is now available.
http://www.tammarstein.com/

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Tammar:
My biggest take-away from my own experience is to stick with it. It’s frustrating and lonely to be an aspiring author. Before I was published, it sometimes seemed like a foolish dream to think that one day my books would be in print. It took five long years, but it happened. If I had given up after four and a half years, it wouldn’t have.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Tammar:
Not fair! What kind of question is that? I love all books, if not equally, then with much passion. I self-medicate with books, so it really depends on what mood I’m in. Do I need a quiet, thoughtful book? Do I need something fast-paced and exciting? Do I crave something challenging and intriguing? Sorry, I can’t pick one. But a few of my favorites are (in no particular order): The Handmaid’s Tale, Ender’s Game, A Tree Grows in Brookline, Lions of Al Rassan, The Little Prince, The Penderwicks, The Hunger Games. (I could go on, and on, and on…)

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Spoils? 

Tammar:
I got it from driving by the PowerBall billboard on a daily basis. I would look at the jackpot and wonder: what would I do with all that money? After the first really fun three minutes where I mentally paid off the mortgage, sent my nieces and nephews off to college on the fully paid Stein scholarship, bought a villa in Tuscany, a vineyard in Napa valley, and invited all my favorite authors on an all-expense paid cruise around the world, I started hitting some snags. My fantasy started turning dark. What would happen when someone asked me for a loan I didn’t want to give? What would happen to my friendships when my friends were still working hard and stressing over bills and I’m gallivanting around the world. Would they feel jealous? Would it be awkward hanging out?

The more I thought about, the more I realized it probably wouldn’t turn out well. When I researched it, I saw I was right. 80% of lottery winners are worse off financially, emotionally, and physically ten years after the win than before. Winning millions of dollars isn’t a blessing. For most people, it’s a curse. That’s how Spoils was born.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Spoils?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Tammar:
Nothing too terrible. In my previous books I had major re-writes (which is a nice way of saying a massive proportion of the novel was deleted.) Fortunately it was smoother sailing with Spoils.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Spoils is your favorite and why?

Tammar:
I really like Natasha. She’s complicated and intense and she threatened to take over every scene she was in. Part of the reason I wrote Debts, an e-novella, was to give Natasha some space to take over. It’s basically a prequel to Spoils and it tells what happened to Natasha right before the book begins. 

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Tammar:
I studied English Lit in college. When I graduated, I took a year to live in Italy. I brought my laptop. My thought was that by the end of the year I would be fluent in Italian and have a novel to sell. One of those goal came true. It wasn’t the novel part. I wrote and wrote. I worked on my first novel for 5 years before I sold it. It take a lot of practice to write a decent novel, at least for me. Since then I’ve written a new book about every 2 or so years. I can’t say it gets easy, but at least I’m more familiar with the process and I don’t freak out (as much) when I have to do a “major re-write.”

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Tammar:
Something totally different and it’s giving me fits! But I’ve learned it’s really bad luck to talk about a work-in-progress, so just suffice to say I’m staying humble.

A.L.:
Did you get to live your childhood millionaire dreams through Leni?

Tammar:
Yes, sort of. I threw in everything I could think of that would be fun to buy. It shocked me how quickly that got old. (Shopping? Again?) I’m not saying having millions wouldn’t be fun. But having a ton of new things is only fun for so long before they start piling up and choking everything.

A.L.:
What qualifies as a bilingual dog?  What languages does he/she speak?

Tammar:
I adopted my dog while I was living in Germany. She was already trained in German commands, though over the years, she’s picked up English. (For more about the incomparable Scout, you can visit Coffee and a Canine http://coffeecanine.blogspot.com/)

A.L.:
If Spoils is a companion to Kindred, can readers expect a paranormal or spiritual bend to it like Kindred had?

Tammar:
Absolutely. It’s set in the same world, though it’s about two very minor characters from Kindred. Kindred and Spoils can be read totally independently of each other, but Debts is the bridge between the two. It’s both a prequel to Spoils and a post-script to Kindred. As soon as you read Debts, then it’s suddenly clear that it’s one long narrative arc. I’m pretty proud of that, actually.

The Giveaway:
Tammar is giving away a digital copy of he e-novella, DEBTS.

Debts:  In this 50-page novella by Tammar Stein, the author of KINDRED and SPOILS, Miriam and Natasha think they've escaped their respective brushes with otherworldly beings. Miriam has settled into a normal-seeming life, where her biggest worry is her boyfriend's, Emmett's, faithfulness—a far cry from the troubles of her past. Natasha is far more concerned with Emmett's heart, so much so that she deludes herself into thinking she can escape the deal she made with the devil that won her family 22  million cursed dollars in the lottery. As their lives briefly intersect where Kindred's story ends and Spoils' begins, they learn that debts with the supernatural are not so easily escaped.

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How to Enter:
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