Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interview of AT V Finalist Tamara Hughes...

Please join me in welcoming the third of our AT V finalists...Tamara Hughes. I
don't know about you all, but I'm finding the stories fascinating. It makes me
wish I had some reading time right now!

So, with no further ado...

LO: What is your name and where are you from?

TH: My name is Tamara Hughes, and I’m originally from the small town of
Stratford in central Wisconsin, but I now live in the Twin Cities.

LO: What is the title of your finaling manuscript? What sub-genre is it?

TH: Once Upon a Masquerade is a historical romance set in
New York City in 1883.

LO: Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?

TH: Shipping magnate, Christopher Black, meets Rebecca Bailey
at a masquerade ball and is captivated. He’s certain Rebecca
can mend his broken heart until he spies an emerald comb in
her hair—a comb that links her to his friend’s murder.

Rebecca is drawn to Christopher, but fears he’ll discover
her secret: she’s a house maid impersonating an heiress to
attract a wealthy suitor. She’s risking it all to save her
father, a gambler who owes hundreds of dollars to brutal men.
When those men threaten her life, she has no choice but to
trust Christopher. As evidence against her mounts, Christopher
is forced to choose where his loyalties lie.

LO: That sounds intriguing. I think I’m going to have to read all
of the AT V books now that we’re learning so much about them?
What was your reaction when you found out you’ve finaled?

TH: Pessimist that I am, when I first saw the email from the
Romantic Times, I thought, “Oh great. Another rejection.”
Then I read the word congratulations in the subject and could
only say one thing, “No way.” My critique partner and I both had
requests for full manuscripts for this contest,
so as soon as I saw the list of names inside the email I
scanned for hers, and found it. Yes, freaky. I immediately
called Barb and asked if she’d read her email and then spilled,
which is a good thing since the email had gone into her
spam folder, and she would have missed it!

LO: That’s amazing. Whatever you two are doing as critique partners must be working—fantastic! Is this your first completed book? Fifth?

TH: This is my first completed manuscript although I’ve rewritten it so many times, it might as well be my third.

LO: Do you have a website?

TH: I do. Feel free to visit me at www.tamarahughes.com.

LO: I just did…and I love the fresh approach to your website. And the pictures of
San Francisco—lucky you! So…moving past my jealousy…what kind of books do you
like to read? Who are your auto-buy authors?

TH: I’ve always loved to read historical romance, but in the last few years I’ve
also gotten into paranormal romance. My favorite authors for historical have
been Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Elizabeth Lowell, Christina Dodd, and
Judith McNaught. For paranormal, I’ve enjoyed books by Kresley Cole, Lara
Adrian, and J.R. Ward.

LO: I’ve read every single one of the historical authors you mentioned, and I’m
writing fantasy. So, we have some common ground here. What was your biggest
inspiration for the story?

TH: Believe it or not, Cinderella. When I first thought up this story, I
envisioned a woman at a low point in her life, someone who was a decent human
being caught in a bad circumstance. Because of events outside of her control,
she’s forced to make choices she wouldn’t ordinarily make and winds up mingling
with high society. I really like that I had a chance to explore what the upper
classes were really like from the view of a person who would be considered an
outsider. While she looks and acts, for the most part, like those around her,
it becomes more and more obvious why she’ll never be one of them.

LO: What is it you like most and admire about your hero(s)?

TH: Christopher is that strong man every girl dreams about. He’s perceptive and
intelligent, but has a huge chip on his shoulder. He’s an honest man torn
between his duty to find the truth of his friend’s murder and the overwhelming
pull of a woman who may lead him down the dark path.

Rebecca is an ordinary person thrust into an odd situation. I really like her
because she’s not perfect. She’s clumsy at times; she’s a horrible liar; and
as the story progresses, she seems to dig herself a deeper hole with everything
she says and does. She doesn’t mean to be funny, but she really is.

LO: How did you come up with one of your secondary characters?

TH: My favorite secondary character just might need his own book. His name is
Spencer Henley, and I created him to be the friend and confidant my hero
needed. While my hero is a serious guy, for a very good reason, Spencer is the
friend who pushes his buttons. Spencer is a high society gentleman who is out
to have a good time. He’s rarely serious and does the most outrageous things
for his own amusement, like dressing up as a drunken Hamlet for a masquerade
ball, quoting odd lines from Hamlet just to see if he can get a rise out of

LO: What is the major conflict in your story?

TH: Christopher believes Rebecca is involved in the murder of his friend. As the
story progresses, the evidence against her mounts, and we discover Rebecca is
indeed a part of the murder, she doesn’t realize it until the end.

LO: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TH: I’m a bit of both. I really try to start my stories with a plot and character
sketches, but what happens is I end up with a solid plan for the first three
chapters, maybe a whammy for the end of Act II, and an idea for the ending
that I’m not quite sure if I can pull off. It’s weird; I’m a very organized,
almost anal person, but when it comes to writing I just can’t think through
the whole story until I start to write and mull things over, learning who the
characters are and building the scenes as I go.

LO: I see my stories as a movie--I have to watch it unfold. Do you write to
silence, or do you prefer a little noise?

TH: I get distracted easily, so silence is best, but sometimes I have to take
what I can get.

LO: Who is your muse?

TH: Initially my muses were my husband and my sister who encouraged me to keep at
it. And while they still are my muses, I also have a critique group that
cheers me on. For my work in progress, I’m also inspired by Evanescence songs
for whatever reason, so I listen to them a lot. That type of muse though seems
to change with every story.

LO: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

TH: When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my husband and two daughters (and our new kitten, Oscar). When I get the chance I also like to read romances, do logic puzzles like Sudoku, and play poker.

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! Thank you so much for joining us here at Title Magic—and best of luck in the voting! --Lexie


Tamara Hughes said...

Thank you to Lexie and all of the American Title IV finalists for inviting me to blog today! This should be a lot of fun.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Tamara,

Thanks for joining us on Title Magic. Your entry in the American Title contest sounds interesting. Have fun with the new kitten. I'm a cat person. :)

Lots of luck in the contest.

Edie said...

Tami, I said it before, but this sounds like a book I'd love to read.

My CPs cheer me on too! In this business, we need cheerleaders.

Jessica said...

I agree with Lexie. I can't wait to read this! Also, you darn well better write a book about Spencer, because I think I have a crush on him already. :)

Tamara Hughes said...

Helen - Thanks for having me. I never thought I was a cat person, but Oscar is changing my mind. He's very sweet.

Edie - Thanks Edie! I agree, critique partners are the best.

Jessica - Thank you! If this book sells, I think Spencer will get his chance. I loved writing him. He was a total fun-loving nut.

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Poker, Tami you play Poker!
We'll have to get a game going if we ever meet at a writer's conference!

Nice interview Lexie. I learned even more about Tamara now :)

Tamara Hughes said...

I do play poker. I especially like Omaha, and of course Hold 'em. I don't get a chance to play all that much though. What are your favorite games?

Evonne Wareham said...


Welcome to TM. With all our entries coming from different genres, those voters are going to have an even harder time making a choice this year.

Tamara Hughes said...

Thanks Evonne! I agree; this will be an interesting contest.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Tamara, welcome. Love the title of your mss, and the premise. I used to reed a lot of historical romances, the very authors you mentioned. What an intriguing time in history to write about.
Best of luck!

Tamara Hughes said...

Thank you Savanna!

barbaralongley said...

Tami, you play poker?? I did not know that! Great interview. Great book, and I oughta know—I've read it.
Barbara Longley

Tamara Hughes said...

Thanks Barb! Apparently there is much you don't know about me. Mooaaahahaha!

Qwillia Rain said...

Hold 'em? Hmmm, I'll have to get you to play 5 or 7 Card Draw--that's the poker I grew up playing in Vegas (Halloween was the best time--all that candy)
We'll have to get together for a friendly game some time.
I'm intrigued by the blurb you gave...I'll have to get it when it comes out in print.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thank you again for the interview...and I apologize for chiming in late. I just came from a great MasterClass at the beach session where we worked on the plot for my WIP and I'm excited!
By the way, more common ground...I love poker, too, even though I only get to play with my sister when she's in town.
Best of luck!

Trish Milburn said...

Sorry I'm so late posting a comment. Long day. Heck, long week, and yet it's flown by.

Yay, an American-set historical. No offense to anyone who writes European-set historicals, because I've enjoyed many of those, but my first love in historicals is American-set ones. It's the history student in me. :)

Tamara Hughes said...

Thank you Quillia, Trish, and Lexie. This has been a lot of fun.