Q&A with Tammara Webber

Posted by Goodreads on December 18, 2017
Nothing worth having ever comes easy, romance readers know. (In fact, if you're a main character in a seemingly straightforward love story, something is probably about to go very wrong. Good luck!) Bestselling author Tammara Webber specializes in the rocky paths that lead to happily ever after, helping soul mates find each other despite the best efforts of crazy exes, stalkers, and more.

Brave, her new book and the fourth installment in her popular Contours of the Heart series, tackles a beloved trope of the genre: the forbidden office romance. Smart, gorgeous Erin is everything Isaac thought he wanted in a woman—except for the fact that he's her boss…and that she's the daughter of his sworn business enemy. Stubborn at work and in love, Isaac and Erin fight to figure out their complicated future.

Webber, who is also the author of Easy and Good for You, answers your questions about what true love means to her, how she put together Brave's steamy cover (with a little help from her husband!), and why you should never give up on even your biggest dreams.

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Mac: What's the theme of Brave? What can we expect from Erin as a heroine?

Tammara Webber: Courage is the theme of Brave. This is a story of two people who are redefining themselves—when we do that, it means we cease allowing others to define us. It can also mean unlearning and surrendering views we've kept of ourselves or others, whether those views are good or bad.

For all her strength as a friend and advocate, Erin was mostly a sunny character in Easy. What I knew about her was that a lot of that cheerfulness was faked. In Brave, she's forced to confront internal demons that no one else knows about, and her lifelong faux-happy veneer doesn't work, especially with Isaac.

Megan: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

TW: Don't give up. I researched and began writing a novel when I was 19, but I threw it away when I got to the murky middle. I abandoned a second manuscript in my late twenties. Then in my early thirties, I began a third manuscript and made myself finish it. That process taught me that writing the middle of a novel is akin to swimming through mud (still true), but you can push through.

I returned to college and completed a B.A. in English. I then finished a fourth manuscript, which I queried unsuccessfully for a year. My fifth attempt was Between the Lines. I queried again, I went to writing conferences, and I pitched it to agents. But I couldn't find representation for that book, either.

Then 2011 came along—and with it widespread self-publishing. After receiving another agent rejection email, I licensed a stock photo and made a digital cover; my husband formatted the book. I was shocked when readers found it, read it, and wanted more.

Fast-forward to Easy, my eighth novel-writing attempt (and fourth published book). It was on the NYT bestseller list for nine weeks, came in second to The Fault in Our Stars in the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards for Young Adult Fiction, has been translated into 25 languages, and was acquired by Penguin Random House four months after I self-published it. I was 47. DON'T GIVE UP.

Rebecca: Who is your favorite fictional couple?

TW: Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. They are the quintessential couple who belong together…even if they don't see it at all for most of the book. They're both strong-minded, independent, loyal characters. I love the book, the miniseries, the movies. Even if I have thoughts on some of the adaptations, I love them anyway.

Julia: How do you feel when you write the first word of a new book?

TW: Writing a novel is not a linear process for me. It's more like a giant puzzle. I jot down bits of dialogue, settings, and character details for weeks (or months) before I actually start writing the story itself. I'm almost sure that the first word written has never remained the first word. (Many times it gets cut entirely.) But finishing a book is really awesome!

Gisell: If you could go on a romantic rendezvous with anyone in history, who would it be?

TW: No question, it would be my husband of 33 years. Our youngest child is about to move out (again—all three have left home, returned, and relaunched), and we are GIDDY with empty-nest excitement.

Ctriko: What is true love to you?

TW: Wanting the best for someone with no regard to what you want from them. (In a relationship, that must go both ways, or the relationship will eventually break down, as it should.)

Szilvia: Which one of your book covers is your favorite?

TW: After seeing Easy's (stock photo) cover EVERYWHERE, I decided to commission Brave's. I chose the models (shout-out to Kaiser Ford and Haley Halter!) and the photographer (Brandon Lyon), who took about 500 photos for the cover. I bought the clothes they're wearing (special thanks to my husband for choosing Kaiser's—and for tying the tie because no one else there knew how to do it!).

The cover pic I had in mind was a back-to-back shot (they are office adversaries, after all), and Brandon did lots of those, but he was brilliant enough to direct a few shots of his own. When I looked through all the pictures, the one I eventually chose gave me chills the first time I saw it. It was nothing like what I envisioned, but I kept coming back to it. Finally, I sent it to my cover designer (Alisha at Damonza), and by April 2016, I had a cover…but no book because life happens. (Bonus silver lining: I had a completed book cover up on my monitor as inspiration while I finished writing!)

M: You write both male and female POVs with brilliance. Is there a technique you use to capture the patterns of speech and thoughts for each?

TW: Thank you! When I began writing Between the Lines, my oldest was a junior at NYU, studying to be an actor. My younger two were in high school. Getting the dialogue right was as easy as listening to them and their friends converse.

I also steal from my husband (who's been my first reader for everything I've written) and anyone I overhear. Because that's what writers do. (If you ever get the feeling someone in the coffee shop is listening to your conversation a little too closely, they might be a writer.)

Sritama: Are you romantic by nature?

TW: I'm a practical person with a mushy romantic center. I'm not fond of expected gifts or extravagant (especially if public) shows of affection. I hated my wedding and just wanted it to be over because spotlights are not my thing; if I had to do it over, I'd elope.

But when it comes to just-because things—like bringing home my favorite dessert, making sure my computer stays updated, watching You've Got Mail for the 30th time, helping me care for my aging parents—those are the romantic things my wonderful partner does for me. I see them, I appreciate them, and I try to repay them in kind.

Roopa: If you could escape into one of your books and become one of the characters you've created, which one would it be?

TW: This may sound weird, but I'm afraid that if I became one of the characters, I would alter the plot. None of my characters are me, and between my age and personality differences, I might mess up their stories!

That said, I identify with Dori the most out of every character I've written. Reid and Dori's story is my personal favorite, so if forced to choose, I'd leap into Good for You.

Read more of our exclusive author interviews on our Voice page.

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Ezi (new)

Ezi Chinny I love it. Thanks Tammara and the cover is fire!!!!
I love characters that are strong so i look forward to their journey.
I bought it and now I’m hoping the audiobook is in the works.

message 2: by Geo (new)

Geo Marcovici One of The authors i love! Great interview!

message 3: by John (new)

John Victor Awesome work, done with lots of brilliance. Congratulations are in order

message 4: by Livia (new)

Livia Lovely interview! I pre-ordered the Kindle e-book, but I'd love to read it via audiobook when/if it gets released.

message 5: by Ctriko (new)

Ctriko Thank you TW for your comments. Really appreciate and lurve it. I can't wait and looking forward reading your new book.

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