I am SO excited that the lovely Melissa Tagg agreed to let me pester her with questions for an interview! As you may or may not be aware, her newest book, From the Start, releases this week and next (ebook, then paper), so the fact that she had time to answer all of my nosy questions just astounds me. I probably would've been freaking out, trying to keep up with everything. Who am I kidding, that's my usual day and I don't even have anything that exciting going on. LOL So, without further ado, say hi to Melissa! :)
I love this picture, by the way! I hope it's not weird if I say that you are beautiful, Melissa! :)
Made to Last Here to Stay My Book Therapy
Let's start with some random questions about you:
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Good question - I’ve never been able to figure out! I really think I’m straight down the middle. There’s a term for that: ambivert. The first time I heard someone use it, I thought, “Finally! I have a category!” I love being alone and I love being in crowds.
Oh, that's a good word! I admit to being an introvert - I love people, but after a while I just need my own space.
What are three “fun” or “unique” things about you?
1. I love flannel probably more than any person in the world. Flannel pajamas, flannel sheets, flannel shirts. I just love it. Weird, I know!
2. I can say the alphabet backwards really quickly. Why I need this skill, I have no idea.
3. I’ve decided my new dream in life is to become the social media manager for my favorite band. Not to sound cocky, but I think I’d be really good at it AND it would give me an exuse to follow them around the country. Such a great life plan, don’t you think?
LOL sounds like a great life plan to me! I wish that was an option for
Describe yourself in one word.
LOL! Just kidding! “Quirky” is probably more accurate.
I think "quirky" is a great word - probably because most people use it for me. I choose to take it as "unique" or perhaps "interesting." :)
What’s your favorite color?
It’s a toss up between blue and green.
What is the most random question someone has asked you about writing/being an author?
I don’t know if this is random, but it’s definitely the thing that makes me laugh the most: How can you write about romance if you’re not married??
My perfect comeback: How do sci-fi writers write about space when they’re not astronauts?
LOL That is a GREAT comeback! I wish I could see someone's face when you reply with that!
When you have a spare moment to read, who is your go-to author(s)?
YAY I love this question! There are probably a ridiculous number, but these are the latest author I’m obsessed with: Lori Benton, Kristy Cambron, Cathy Gohlke, and Susan Meissner. I also adore every single thing Susan May Warren has ever written. I've reread so many of her books so many times.
*Sigh* Now I have more books to add to my TBR list - I have a never-ending one it seems. I do have Kristy's first book in my pile, I just haven't found the time to read it yet. That's next on my to-do list.
Now, I should probably find some questions about your book. :)
If you were meeting me for the first time and I had never read your books, how would you describe them and your writing style?
Probably like this: My books are like updated classic Hollywood movies - think black and white, 1940s, romance, comedy, and plenty of banter.
Okay, I would so be hooked if I didn't already love your books!
I heard that you knew next to nothing about football prior to writing this book, so I have to ask: where did you get the inspiration for Colton Greene?
Honestly, I have no idea! I really don’t. I don’t know what possessed me to drop a former quarterback into this story because football has never really been my thing. However, I did love the idea of writing about a guy with a big, BIG career . . . the kind of career he could hide away in while in the public spotlight. And when he loses that career, suddenly he’s forced out of his make believe world and has to face his past and his very empty-looking future.
Well, I adored Colton, regardless of the fact that I probably know less about football than you and Kate combined. His story really challenged me and I loved how down-to-Earth he is.
I loved that Kate is a romance writer and a fan of old movies, but despite those similarities, I was wondering if she’s much like you?
She’s actually very much like me . . . scarily so, in some ways. There were moments writing this story when I had to fight the temptation to delete certain paragraphs they just felt way too vulnerable. For instance, there’s a spot in the middle of the story where Kate’s friend tells her to stop letting her characters be braver than she is . . .to finally be brave enough to admit what she wants and go after it.
Like Kate, I sometimes have trouble admitting what I really want . . .deep down. Oh, I can joke about the big and crazy dreams. But those vulnerable desires don’t often make their way to the surface. And I play things too safe sometimes, hold back from taking risks. It’s true that my own characters are sometimes braver than I am. So we’re very much alike in that way.
I can definitely relate with that - being brave is often the hardest thing for me to do. It requires I step outside my comfort zone . . . I actually scribbled that quote down while I was reading, because it just struck me.
I know most authors don’t play favorites with their books, but do you have a favorite Walker sibling? If so, which one and why?
Oh, this is so hard. I love them all! I love Seth, the Walker cousin who is the main guy in the novella. But right now, I have a pretty big crush on Logan. He’s the oldest and I just finished writing his story and he is . . .*heart flutters* . . .wonderful.
I know! They felt so much like family by the time I finished the book! I'm not sure I could pick a favorite, so I don't even know why I asked yours. Logan is awesome, though. I can't wait for his story!
I know you generally can’t talk about the next book so soon, but can you at least tell me who’s it is? The suspense is killing me!!
I can! The next book, Like Never Before, is Logan Walker’s story. He’s a former reporter turned political speech writer . . . .a total wordsmith kinda guy. The heroine in that story is named Amelia. You met her just briefly in From the Start.
Ooo, I love the title! And YAY! That means I don't have to wait so long for Logan's book! :)
What was your favorite part of writing From the Start? Least favorite?
My favorite part, hands-down, was writing The End. This story was a struggle for me, so finally finishing it was . . .relieving. But I also loooooved writing Kate and Colton’s scenes together. I love flirty, banter-y scenes. So the scene where they first meet, the scene in the corn crib, the one with the waterfight in the shower . . . Sigh, I loved writing those.
I remember reading a couple of your blog posts where you talked about how much trouble you were having reaching that elusive phrase. I'm glad there were fun parts for you and I definitely loved reading those scenes - especially when they met!
What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?
In From the Start, both Kate and Colton have a very clear picture in their heads of what their lives should look like. And every decision they make in the first half of the book is an effort to make those pictures in their heads a reality. But they both learn, slooowly and at times not-so-smoothly, that God might be weaving together a completely different picture. That he uses change and circumstance, reshapes broken dreams and heals wounds . . .that he’s been there, at work, from the start. And there’s great peace and confidence in that truth.
I think that’s a theme we can all connect with . . .because I have a feeling no matter how wonderful our lives may look on the outside, we probably all have that pesky unfulfilled dream or that nagging voice whispering that we’re missing out or a failure we can’t seem to let go of. And so we push back and try to make our dream come true on our own or do ALL the things so we couldn’t possibly miss out or strive and strive for success to cover up that one failure . . .we try to paint our own pictures and we get frustrated when they turn out smudged and imperfect. And all the while, God is there, saying “Give me the paintbrush, Melissa. Give me the paintbrush and you’ll see what a beautiful picture I can paint with your life.”
I love this! That is definitely a theme I can relate with and I know many other people will, too. Following Kate and Colton as they learned to let God have the paintbrush, it felt like God was trying to get my attention with your words. He kept bringing me back to the same theme, to the same quotes, the ones that challenged me and forced me to take a close look at myself and where I am.
Describe From the Start with 5 adjectives.
Witty (I hope)
F-U-N (again, I hope!)
I agree with all of these!
I love choosing favorite quotes from the books I read! Do YOU have a particular favorite quote in From the Start that you can share with us?
Ooh, that's hard! I have a lot of favorite lines for different reasons. Here's one of my favorites and I'll tell you why . . . because I remember the exact moment the lines came to me. I was standing outside my front door after a Target run. I'd been mulling a scene that just wasn't working out. And as I unlocked my front door, it's like God said, "Melissa, here's why I've go you writing this book. Because in this scene, at this time in your life, you're Kate." Here's the quote:
Stop letting your characters be braver than you are. Be the girl who takes a risk . . .It's okay to admit what you want. When you do, you might finally be brave enough to go after it."
That's one of my favorite quotes! Definitely one that challenged me. I just sat there looking at it, like "God, are You trying to tell me something?"
What are some ways we can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author?
I'm very tempted to say "buy the book." LOL! But seriously, anytime I hear someone has actually gone online or out to a store and plunked down money for a story I poured my heart into, well, we're talking warm fuzzies by the boatload.
But something readers can do to encourage me personally is to simply drop me a line - whether it's via email or Facebook or Twitter or wherever, I absolutely love hearing from readers. Knowing there's someone on the other side of a story, investing in my characters - and thus, me - it's hugely impacting.
I want to note that Melissa just gave me free reign to email/message my favorite authors! I always feel like I'm bothering them when I do that, so I try to keep the fangirling to a minimum, but now I have an excuse. So if any authors read this and you get messages from me - you know who to blame. ;)
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Sarah. You are a treasure of a person and I've loved reading your comments on my blog and getting to know you some online. I hope we get to meet in person someday!
Oh! Thank you so much! I would love to one day meet you! Just be ready, I'd probably start crying from excitement or turn bright red because I stuck my foot in my mouth. LOL
If you'd like to connect with Melissa, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram at: melissatagg, and for the other book addicts, Goodreads. You can also check out her website at www.melissatagg.com. She has a newsletter and a blog, if you'd like to keep up with what's going on with her and her writing.
Oh! And before I forget! Melissa's novella, Three Little Words, the prequel to From the Start is currently FREE on all ebook formats! So, if you haven't read her books and would like to try them, this is a great way to do that, or if you already love them and don't want to wait to visit Maple Valley, here's your chance!
Sorry, I don't have the ones for other eReaders.
Thank you for spending time here! I hope you enjoyed the interview and will come back next week for my review of From the Start!