Friday, February 15, 2008

I give you debut author - Tera Lynn Childs!

I'm thrilled to have the chance to interview our very own Tera Lynn Childs or TLC as she's affectionaly known as.

Tera's debut novel OH. MY. GODS. comes out in May of this year and we're just all so proud of her and happy for the release. Pull up and chair and learn a little bit more about TLC.

MARLEY: Hey TLC! Thanks so much for your time! Let's just dive head first into the interview with a good ol' stand by question. What's the first thing you remember writing? How old were you?

TLC: When I was in elementary school, like third or fourth grade, I started a “book” about a little boy whose toy soldiers came to life at night. They carried out missions like retrieving juice and crackers from the kitchen. I still have it, hidden away somewhere.

MARLEY: fun it would be to find that and post here or on your website. Maybe the Buzz Girls will do a feature like that one day. = ) tell our readers what your writing habit often, where, when?

TLC: Not often enough (unless I’m on deadline, then I write every day). Almost always at Starbucks, for the following reasons: 1) no internet (unless I want to pay--which I don’t), 2) no distractions (i.e. the aforementioned internet, television, dirty dishes, laundry, etc.), 3) comfy chairs, and 4) the deliciousness that is a caramel Frappuccino. I’m most productive, writing-wise, in late morning/early afternoon.

MARLEY: See, I'm not a coffee person, so going to Starbucks just makes me come out of there smelling like the beand. LOL! They do have the comfy chairs and free internet, which is definitely a bonus. So, can you tell us how you came up with the initial idea for OH. MY. GODS.?

TLC: It all started with the original title, GROWING UP GODLY, which sounded like the title of an inspirational book. I knew I could never write that, so I had to come up with some other concept to fit the title. Eureka! The Greek gods. The premise just fell into place after that.

MARLEY: And luck for that is did. What person or person(s) has/have helped you the most in your writing career?

TLC: Ugh, that’s a tough one. There’s my writing mentor, Shane Bolks, who gave me loads of encouragement and stellar advice on how to approach this business as a career. There’s my critique partner, Sharie Kohler, who is an amazing writer and always helps me fix my plot holes. And, of course, my agent, who keeps me sane, on track, and looking to the future.

[TLC with fellow West Houston RWA members Shane Bolks (aka Shana Galen), Sharie Kohler (aka Sophie Jordan), and Sharon Forret.]

MARLEY: Agents are great that way, don'tcha think? What's your most memorable teenage experience? Why?

TLC: Another toughie.

MARLEY: I'm no Tyra Banks...this is hardball, baby!

TLC: I think I would have my mot memorable teenage experience was starting college. I was only seventeen when I left Missouri to start school in New York City. At the time it seemed like a totally normal and common thing to do, but looking back, I think it was pretty gutsy. I’m proud of that.

MARLEY: You certainly should be! You've lived in several places, how has that helped you as a writer?

TLC: Having lived in every time zone, at a variety of latitudes and altitudes, and in one foreign country has helped me in the way that any variation of experience helps a writer. Every new person you meet and new place you visit broadens your mind. Even if you never use that experience directly, it comes across in your writing as a greater sense of understanding and of perspective.

MARLEY: That's so true. Now, in addition to being a talented writer, you're also a master with web-design (case in point our lovely Books, Boys, Buzz blog.) How do you channel all of your creative energies?

TLC: Web and graphic design is my guilty pleasure. It’s how I procrastinate. It uses such a different type of thinking, much more logical and technical, that it give my writing brain a break.

MARLEY: It's great that you can "take a break" by continuing to do creative things. Tell me, what made you want to write young adult stories?

TLC: I never consciously thought, "Hey, I’d like to write for teens." The story of OH. MY. GODS. came to me, and it fit into a teen world. But the more I learn about the teen market, the more I love it and the more I realize that I’m perfectly happy here.

MARLEY: I'm sure your readers will be happy to hear that. Do you have any advice for young writers?

TLC: Besides the standard, "Read and write," I would have to say, "Observe." Becoming an observer of people, places, and situations is the quickest path to writing believable fiction. Notice things, like how cafeterias always smell like over-cooked tuna casserole, how your science teacher takes three deep breaths when she’s really frustrated, or how your best friend sits up a little straighter when her crush walks by. Those are the kind of details that lend realism to your writing.

MARLEY: Such great advice. (And you're right about caf smelling like tuna noodle casserole!) Okay, a very, very serious question...who's your favorite Buzz Girl? Hahaha...just kidding! I'd never make you answer that (me, me, me!! ) question...that's just not fair. (hee hee) Okay, seriously...this is...what's your favorite teen movie and why? And how many times have you seen it?

TLC: DRIVE ME CRAZY starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier. Omigod, I looove this movie. It has all the best teen romantic comedy elements: a former best boy friend, next door neighbor, makeover-the-outcast-boy-into-the-coolest-guy-in-school plot, revenge, and some really smart views on the nature of high school social politics. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

MARLEY: I've never seen that! I totally have to add that to my Netflix list. All right, some fun questions for you...what's the best ice cream you've ever had in your life...flavor and brand. (Calories and fat grams don't count!)

TLC: Ben and Jerry’s White Russian!!! But it’s been discontinued and no attempts at resurrection have been successful. If anyone has connections...

MARLEY: Mmm...sounds decadent. Are you a cat or dog person?

TLC: (with little hesitation) Dog!

MARLEY: TiVo or DVR? OnDemand or Netflix?

TLC: DVR and Netflix!

MARLEY: Channing Tatum or Wentworth Miller?

TLC: Wentworth Miller!

MARLEY: Okay, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that one. Last question...if you were stranded on a desert island with only three books and three music CDs (okay, and a player with an endless supply of is a deserted island after all), what would they be and why?

TLC: Well, for books - 1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- #1 favorite of all time; 2) A survival manual -- so I don’t: a) starve, b) get eaten, or c) accidentally lick one of those hallucinogenic toads (not that I go around licking toads regularly); 3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- I would hate to leave it unfinished. As for CDs - 1) Come Away With Me from Norah Jones -- I can listen to her over and over and over; 2) A compilation of 80s one-hit wonders -- nothing picks me up like good 80s music; 3) Queen: Greatest Hits -- their songs would motivate me while I’m building a raft.

MARLEY: Wow! What a list! Sounds awesome. Well, thanks for chatting with me, Tera. I hope the readers get a better sense of who you are as a person and a writer. Remember to pick up Tera's book in May 2008!

Marley = )

SORORITY 101: Zeta or Omega? (May 2008, Puffin Books)
SORORITY 101: The New Sisters (May 2008, Puffin Books)
GHOST HUNTRESS SERIES (May 2009, Houghton Mifflin)


TinaFerraro said...

What a fantastic interview! There's so much to comment on...but let me just say that 1) I'm going to my Netflix queue right now to add DRIVE ME CRAZY; 2) I, too, want to see your toy soldiers book, but FYI, none of my first efforts lived past a basement flood, so I don't have to "play" if the Buzz Girls ever go that route; and 3) After reading this, I really, really, want May to come quickly so I can read OH.MY.GODS.

stephhale said...

Great interview, ladies! Tera, I've always admired you for being able to pick up and move somewhere new. I think it shows such courage. (this coming from a girl who lives a block away from her high school!)And now that I've read OH MY GODS, I admire you even more! :)

Anonymous said...

now all your book covers are gone

C E said...

I hope your debut sales give you bundles and bundles of TLC, Tara !

Anonymous said...

Ok, as your best bud/crit. partner, it's just not right that I would actually learn more cool stuff about you (I should know everything, right?)-- but I did. Great interview!

Speaking from experience, the world is in for a rare treat when OMG's hits shelves!!

Love you, TLC!!


Simone Elkeles said...

Your toy soldier story reminds me of Toy Story. Tera, I'm so excited for your book to come out. Love the cover. Love the title. Love your creativity, it amazes me!

Christie Craig said...


Great, great answers. And ya know, I haven't thought about you being TLC. brain created the smell of tuna casserole. Not so good.

You guys have a great site. You did good Tera!

Christie Craig

Me said...

T -- You'll love DRIVE ME CRAZY. I don't know why more people haven't seen it.

Steph -- I think it takes courage to commit to a single place, too. You have to face your problems because you can't just run away from them. =)

Petra -- Maybe they're just taking longer to show?

Chuck, Sharie, and Christie (aka the West Houstoners I strong-armed into commenting) -- Thanks for popping by.

Simone -- If only I'd sold my idea to Disney!!!

Kwana said...

Great interview, Marley. Thanks TLC now I'll have to watch Drive Me Crazy and rethink my lost on an island book list. Why did I never think of a survival guide? So smart.

Heather Davis said...

You guys are so funny together! I loved the pics, too.