Author interview: Zoe Tasia

  1. What life event has affected your writing the most? When my children started attending school full time, I took writing courses and, for the first time, shared and submitted my work. I’d written several short stories, both fiction and nonfiction, and outlined three novels. One evening, I collapsed. After a week in the hospital, the physicians diagnosed me with viral encephalitis. From the time I collapsed in mid/late October until early December, I remember nothing. The disease impaired my memory, specifically the ability to access them. My attention span was so short that I couldn’t follow the plot of a child’s television show. I couldn’t read a book. By two pages in, I’d forgotten what happened on page one. Over the next year, I healed, but to this day, I’m still troubled by such issues as blanking out on a word only recollect it long after a conversation has ended.
  1. If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it? The Shrouded Isle series will comprise six books and several short stories/novellas. Though each will be a standalone read with expected story and character arcs, there will be several series arcs. It’s fair to say that all is not what it seems on the Shrouded Isle. In Bagpipes and Basil (The Shrouded Isle Book 2), out in December, you’ll meet the Shaw family’s demanding relatives. During their visit, you’ll learn some surprising news related to the island. Becca and Greg face a new threat. In book three, Tartan and Thyme, two islanders move back after a long time away and Greg asks Becca and the girls a very important question. In A Happy Christmas Ceilidh, a novella, Becca, her daughters and Greg spend their first winter holiday together.
  1. How do you come up with character names for your stories? I’m a big fan of baby name lists and the social security list of most popular names by decade. I also like using common nouns as names like Bay, Fen, and Whim.
  1. What characters in your book are most similar to you or to people you know? Becca Shaw is loosely based on my sister, who had to raise three youngsters alone as a widow. She’d never had a job and had depended on her husband for much. Though Becca had a career and was very independent prior to marriage, after she had children, she, too, became dependent on her husband. She didn’t realize how much until she lost him. In the first book, she is still grieving and adapting to the new norm. Through that book and the series, she becomes more confident, takes on more duties, and comes fully into her own.
  1. What books do you enjoy reading? I read tons of fantasy. I also love mysteries, especially cozy ones. I’ll read just about anything. I’m in a book discussion group and two writing groups, which forces me to read books I might normally pass on. I believe in being well read, so I read a variety of different genres, poetry, and short stories.
  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? Originally, I was traditionally published. After I got my rights back, I self-published. Being an indie author and going wide has been illuminating. There’s so much involved. I think many people think once you write a book, you’re done. Nope. There’s editing, formatting, cover designing, marketing and so much more.
  1. What inspired the idea for your book? I challenged myself to write a sweet and wholesome romance. I cuss like a sailor and rarely read romances. Love scenes are my biggest challenge to write. So, I created Becca Shaw, who I always see in my head as Amy Adams.
  1. What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft? In most of my novels, I must go back and change the beginning. I like to start books with action scenes, but I’m bad about writing too much description and info dumping initially. For instance, in a book I’m editing that isn’t in the Shrouded Isle series, Doolittling, I had to completely switch up the beginning so the first scene involved a kidnapping followed by my main character discovering she could communicate with animals when her foster cat started talking to her.
  1. What do you do to get inside your character’s heads? I try to remember each character has good and bad points. In a book, from the bad guy’s perspective, he is the hero. I hope that by the end of the series, readers will sympathize with main antagonist on the Shrouded Isle, the queen. I enjoy tales with sympathetic baddies.
  1. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick? I had so much fun writing the antagonist in Daisy Dukes ‘n Cowboy Boots, a cowritten book published under the name Zari Reede. The most obnoxious, cocky things came out of Lenny’s mouth. He’s the bad boy you love to hate. I enjoyed my co-writing experience with Minette Lauren, and we could get books written in a few months. We still have two completed books that we simply haven’t gotten around to publishing.

Zoe Tasia grew up in Oklahoma and spent seven years in Scotland. Now she resides in the great state of Texas, where everything’s bigger and better, or so she’s told by the natives. Zoe is married to an understanding Greek, has two grown sons, and three cat overlords. When she’s not giving her make-believe friends full rein, she enjoys the opera, ballet, well-chilled champagne and booksKilts and Catnip, a finalist for the 2019 National Readers’ Choice Awards and semi-finalist for the 2019 Ozma Book Awards, is the first book in her fantasy series, The Shrouded Isle. Bagpipes and Basil (The Shrouded Isle Book 2) will be out late this December. Three of her shorter pieces are published in the anthology, Quick Draw!: Fast and Funny Fiction. A short story of hers will be published in early 2023 in the anthology, The Haunted Train: Creep Tales from the Railways. Zoe Tasia has also co-written three books published under the pen name Zari Reede. Reede’s unpublished book, Voodoo Blues on Bayou Lafourche, is a finalist for the 2022 Killer Nashville Claymore Awards.

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