I get questions all. the. time. And I love it! Below are some of the most often asked ones. Feel free to submit your own questions in the form at the bottom!
Where did the idea for Haelo’s story come from? How did you come up with the idea for “candeons?”
I went to college on the North Shore of Oahu (BYU-Hawai’i), just up the coast from the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple. There’s a koi pond in front of the temple, filled with these beautiful fish, covered with patchwork scales. A few days after one of our many visits to the temple’s gardens, I was trying to think through a compositional issue I was having (music major over here) and I couldn’t get an image of those scales, layered & slightly transparent, out of my head. One thought lead to another, lead to another, lead to another, and next thing I knew I was dreaming up this fantasy world of magical water people living among us humans. So instead of finishing that composition assignment, I mapped out a story line (Sorry, Dr. B.). I then finished the first chapter in a handwritten notebook while on vacation in San Diego with my in-laws.
In the book, Candeons have a patch of scales on their lower backs called mosaics. I picture these just like the koi fish: layered, variably transparent, organized chaos. Only on a smaller scale.
As for the name Candeon, I looked up a series of Greek words for “charcoal,” “gray,” etc. and found a word I could tweak it a bit. It seemed fitting for the dark grey scales that some of those koi fish have. In my first draft, Candeon mosaics were a patchwork of white and charcoal scales. It’s since evolved. Also, I’ve gone back to try to find out what that original word was, and I can’t for the life of me figure it out.
Who are your favorite characters?
Martha & Zeta. They aren’t main characters, and so far in the story, readers don’t get to see a whole lot beyond the façade that Martha and Zeta let the world see, but I find them fascinating, and really fun to write. I have my own elaborate backstories for them and find myself wishing I could be more like them in a lot of ways.
And Haelo. She’s become part of me. Or maybe I’ve written myself into her. Either way, I can see more and more of myself in her and it’s a bit surreal.
Aaaaaand Dagger. Because… well, he’s Dagger.
And as I get older, I find myself pondering the life and Haelo and Griffin could have. So, in a way, Griffin has become one of my favorites, too.
Are we supposed to have figured out Zeta’s secret power? What is it!?
Ha! I had no idea this would be such a big deal to readers. This is by far the most often asked question I’ve gotten in reader emails since releasing book two. There is one hint in Hiding Haelo and four hints in Haelo Hunted. They seem pretty vague, but once you figure it out, you’ll be hitting yourself. And once you read book three, you (and Haelo!) will know.
Why is Dagger mad at Haelo at the end of Haelo Hunted?
He’s not exactly mad at her. She just got the brunt of it in the heat of battle. He’s angry, and she’s an easy target for that anger. He explains this in Haelo Rising, and some more in book four!
Is Haelo going to end up with Dagger or Griffin!?
No spoilers. Just keep reading. 🙂
Are we ever going to see Rebecca again?
You and your spoiler questions.
How did you come up with your characters’ names? Are they based on real people?
A lot of periphery characters (like Haelo’s friends at school) are named after some of my favorite musicians. Sam’s family are all jazzy classics or throwbacks (Amy Winehouse, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Norah Jones, and John Legend). There’s a nod to the Blues Brothers in there too.
A few characters are based on real people. The orphan Ellie is based off of a very, very brave girl I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a little bit. Lauryn Locke is based on my real life best friend, and Trevor Allen is based off of her real life husband. An aunt and uncle of mine make their cameo, along with a mother and daughter duo of great family friends. There’s also a cameo in book three of a courageous and delightful friend of mine (Mandie) who lives with cystic fibrosis.
Most all of the ancient or Pankyran candeons are named from Greek words that allude to their personalities. Karchardeus is named after the Greek word for shark. Magari is named after the word for pearl. Pankyra is from the greek words for anchor and city. And so on.
Martha is, in her own way, like Martha from the Bible. A do-er. She uses her means in the service of others.
One that makes me giggle is Hank Abrams. Because Abrams is the name of the US military’s third generation battle tank. Hank… the Tank. 🙂
Funny enough, the only name that I have no idea where I got it, was Haelo. Which serendipitously, means “having a blessed aura.”
Will this be a three-book series?
That was the original plan and the original outline. But I couldn’t wrap this up in just three books! So it will be four books. But I also have a few spin-offs or prequels of other characters stewing in my brain, so we’ll see.
Merch, Tara. I need merch.
I finally have an online merch store set up! Just click on the “shop” menu item above. There are shirts, first edition books, stickers, and more.
Why do you write?
I write for me. The story is inside and I can’t not type it out. Writing makes me a better mother, too. It’s a cathartic release of creative energy and keeps me from mom burn-out.
I publish for my kids. I want to show them that you can set goals, work hard, and accomplish them, even when life is crazy. I also publish for me: that validation of accomplishment. And I keep publishing for my readers, because you guys are my most enthusiastic supporters and I LOVE you for it.
When and how do you write?
It’s tricky. Though I’ve written with babies in my lap, while stirring dinner, between home remodeling projects (dusty hands included), curled up in bed at two in the morning, and everything in between, I’ve recently started setting “office hours” and treat it more like an actual job. I ignore phone calls, and let other people know that I’m unavailable. It’s the only thing that seems to work. Otherwise, I really only get significant writing done if I escape to solitude for a few days and do nothing but write. I have a fantastic husband who supports me (i.e. wrangles children) whenever he can to give me time. My favorite places to write are while on vacation. And if I’m being honest, I write when I am procrastinating other things. 🙂
The only hobby that seems to steal some of my novel writing time is music arrangement, mostly choral and orchestral arrangements of hymns. Like I mentioned on my About page, movie score composition would be so cool!
What has been your favorite part of the publishing journey? Your least favorite part?
Favorite: Interacting with readers. It seriously makes my day. To hear your stories and get to know you has been such a journey for me. I also love it when my husband and kids are proud of me.
Another favorite: when one aspect or set-up of Haelo’s world comes together with another aspect. That rush I get when a hint I mentioned chapters ago finally gets it’s day. I smirk to myself hoping that readers catch those.
Least favorite: Writing those dang blurbs. Spiels are not my forte, ladies & gentlemen. Every single book description I’ve written sounds so weird! This is not a weird book. I promise.
How long does book production take?
It’s a long process. Even after all the writing is done, there’s still weeks (or months!) of editing, cover design, typesetting, setting up with printers and distributors, social media, and you would not believe the red-tape. But in the end, it’s worth it.
Have you written other stories/novels?
Yes. I started a different series in a totally different genre (contemporary rom-com), but I won’t launch that until I have a few of the books finished. I have a handful of novellas sketched out for other Candeon characters that I will launch as a box set. And back in 2008 when I only had a few chapters of Haelo, I started another novel in a completely different setting. It was dystopian, though I didn’t know that word at the time. It was about a teenage girl and her mom trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness away from the “new world order”-type government. I shelved it when dystopian lit got super saturated. Other than the stories mentioned above, I haven’t written much more than a few scenes or short stories. My favorite short story was about a little boy with cancer who has a brash, prankster guardian angel that keeps getting him in trouble, but teaches him to live.