Writers on Writing: Every Last Word with Tamara Ireland Stone
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I recently had the pleasure of chatting via telephone with Tamara Ireland Stone. Self-described as a word lover, music addict, world traveler, and hyperproductive insomniac, the mother of two who resides with her family in California is the author of three wonderful books: Time Between Us and its sequel, Time After Time, and her brand new release, Every Last Word.
If you ask me which of Stone’s books I like best, I’d have to say it’s a toss-up. They are all beautifully written, and I especially enjoyed the sweet and complicated romance between Anna and Bennett in Stone’s first two books. If you’ve ever been a teenager in love, you know how exciting and complicated that can be. But imagine if your boyfriend had to travel through space and time to be with you? That’s Bennett’s blessing and curse, and it makes his relationship with Anna even more compelling and much more challenging. Stone makes us care about the characters and feel for each of them on their unique journey. I also got to know and understand the main characters because Stone gave each of them an opportunity to tell their story. Time Between Us is told from Anna’s perspective, and Time After Time is told from Bennett’s perspective.
Having an undergraduate degree in psychology, I also enjoyed reading Stone’s latest book, Every Last Word. It’s the story of Sam, a popular junior in high school who works hard to conceal her secret diagnosis, Purely Obsessional OCD, from her friends. The condition consumes Sam with deep-seeded worry and morbid thoughts. You really get a sense of what goes on inside Sam’s head and Stone does a wonderful job of showing how Sam finds ‘her people’—others with whom she feels she can be herself without fear of judgment or not being accepted. Don’t we all need and deserve this?
When we spoke, it was clear that besides being a talented writer, Stone was friendly and unpretentious despite all her success. Below are just a few things I learned about Stone as well as some of her sage advice for aspiring authors.
*Her favorite color is blue
*Her all-time literary hero is Judy Blume. Stone said, “Her books shaped my youth and were so meaningful to me as a teen. I related with her characters so closely; they really spoke to me. They felt like my friends and people I could talk to.” Amen to that!
*She does her best work in her windowed office usually between 9-3 when her kids are at school but also writes anywhere and everywhere on her iPhone
*She loves to snow ski and hike, and often writes while working out on an elliptical (Stone says she’s always in motion and likes to move often—something I can definitely relate to)
*When writing, she often listens to piano or guitar music without lyrics “so the words in the songs don’t compete with the words in my head,” she said
*She does not write everyday unless she’s on deadline; she feels she writes better when she does it in big chunks several days a week rather than every day
*When asked about her writing process or style, Stone said she relates much more to a panter than to a plotter; however, she says that creating an extensive outline for Every Last Word made the writing process so much easier and more productive for her
*Stone says she owes everything to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators –you can learn about how she met her agent here. (Incidentally, I joined SCBWI several months ago and will attend my first annual conference this summer, so stay tuned.)
*As far as resources for novelists go, Stone recommends Save the Cat resources (even though technically they’re designed to help with screenplays); she likes to use the Save the Cat outline early in the process of writing a novel to help her figure out top to bottom how to tell the story and what happens. She says it helps her with the flow of the story and to not miss big moments.
At the end of our wonderful conversation, Stone offered one last piece of advice for aspiring novelists. She says that if you love to write – if it’s something that’s a part of you and if you really want to be published and want to get your words out there into the world – find 15 minutes, find a half hour. She admits that when she began on her novel writing journey, she stopped watching TV because she was more excited to be with Time Between Us (her first book) than to watch TV. As a former TV addict and someone who loves and is entrenched in writing my first YA novel, I can definitely relate!
To learn more about Tamara Ireland Stone and her work, visit her website here. To learn more about Every Last Word and her other books, visit Amazon or wherever books are sold. And if you’re going to the launch of Every Last Word at Books of Wonder in New York City (Manhattan) on 6/17/15 at 6 pm, please say hello!
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