Saturday, June 23, 2012

Author Interview: Tanya J Peterson

Ah, yes. Interview time! I am coming to find that I have a newfound love for interviewing authors. They're so nice, and I love finding out that I have things in common with them. Oh, and since I know you're all wondering--yes, I am listening to Mr. Jones by Counting Crows again. THIS SONG IS AMAZING.

Now, for the interview!
I interviewed Tanya J Peterson, the author of Losing Elizabeth. I reviewed Losing Elizabeth on Thursday; if you want to take a look click HERE.

 What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
 I love the outdoors, and I relish the opportunity to do things outside. My very favorite things are kayaking, hiking, and my new passion, mountain biking. I enjoy doing these things with my two children (I have a daughter who is almost 16 and a son who is nearly 11), and I also enjoy doing them on my own for some nice solitary time.

 Where did you come up with the names of your characters in Losing Elizabeth? (This always interests me.)
 I have to know my characters a little bit before I can give them names. I have their general stories in mind first, and then I develop an image of them in my head. I “spend time” with them in my mind. Usually, I’ll get the impression that their names begin with a certain letter (I know this probably sounds quite strange). Then, I often look at baby name books and/or websites and peruse names in that letter until I find one that clicks. That’s how I decided on the names in Losing Elizabeth, and that’s how I came up with the names in the novel I’m writing now.
I search baby name websites, too! It really is helpful.

 What inspired you to write Losing Elizabeth?
 As a high school teacher and school counselor, I have encountered numerous adolescents who become involved in abusive relationships. Too often, people mistake controlling behavior for love, like Elizabeth does when she believes that Brad is sweet for wanting to be able to spend time with her. Frequently, too, the abused is too close to the forest for the trees and thus can’t see the abusive behavior the way those on the outside can. Classic abusive behavior is for an abuser to chip away at the other person’s self-esteem, convincing him/her that no one else will put up with them and that he/she is lucky to have the abuser in their lives, like Brad does to Elizabeth. I have witnessed many teenagers become sucked into unhealthy, abusive relationships, and I wanted to tell a story that enlightened teens to the dangers of such relationships in an entertaining manner that (hopefully) isn’t preachy. Thus, I wrote Losing Elizabeth.

A note: While in Losing Elizabeth the abuser happens to be male, this isn’t always the case. Guys can just as easily fall into an abusive relationship, and girls can be abusers.
This is very true. If you watch Teen Mom, amber and Gary would be an example of this. And for the record, I mean nothing bad by that statement. Amber's getting help and whatnot for her problems, last I heard, and I just meant to point out the example.

 What was the writing process for Losing Elizabeth like?
 Extremely fun! Writing is the one place in my life where I truly get into a flow. The process doesn’t involve non-stop writing, of course. I do a lot of brain storming, note taking, research, etc., but to me these things are part of the fun. Then when I do the actual writing, I get lost in it. Even the challenging spots are enjoyable. (That’s not to say that I do things perfectly! I’m still learning and evolving. I’m happy with Losing Elizabeth, but there are spots where I see lots of room for improvement. I hope my subsequent novels show growth, and I also hope I always continue to find ways to get better.)

 Which character did you enjoy writing about the most in Losing Elizabeth? Least? Why?
 While I certainly don’t like Brad the most, I think I enjoyed writing about him the most. I enjoyed the challenge of portraying the complexity and motivation of an abuser. I probably enjoyed writing about Sarah the least, probably because her actual role was small. I didn’t have a chance to really develop her; thus, writing her parts felt a bit canned. If I were to re-write the novel, she’s one that I would do more with.
I really liked reading about Brad the most, so that totally works out! And Sarah was okay to me, though you're right--not much goes on with her.

Now it’s time for favorites! Just tell your favorite!
 Movie: Schindler’s List, Regarding Henry, and The King’s Speech (Okay, so that’s three; I have a hard time making decisions!)
As do I, Taya. As do I. :)
Food: Grilled fish (any mild fish) with grilled or roasted vegetables (no red onions, though)
Book Character: Seth in Adam Schwartz’s A Stranger on the Planet
I love the name Seth!
Book Cover: A Stranger on the Planet  (You might have figured out that I’m a sucker for this book. I love the cover because it’s simple but not bland, and there are no human images that interfere with my own mental picture of the characters. Plus, as I read and then would look at the cover, the broken heart on it tugged at my own heart.) The cover does so much because it has so little on it.
Song: Imagine by John Lennon.
OH, John Lennon♥
Season: A tie between summer and autumn.
Funny, mine's a tie between winter and spring. Though I think winter would seriously win. I'm not sure.

All right, now just some this or thats—all you have to do is pick one!
Day or Night? Day
I'm somewhat of a night owl myself (and by that I mean--I'm practically nocturnal)
Warm or Cold? Warm, with an explanation: Between hot and cold, I’d definitely prefer cold, but between warm and cool, I’d go with warm. There’s really no explaining me. :)
Sweet or Spicy? Spicy if it’s mild. Once again, I defy explanation. I also have a REALLY difficult time limiting myself to single word answers, much to the annoyance of my husband and kids. Ha!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview! I’m just getting started as an author, and I love any opportunity to connect with readers.
Thank YOU so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Nice people are awesome.

Tanya J. Peterson was born and raised in the Midwest.  Looking for adventure, she recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.  While she is embracing new experiences, she is continuing to pursue her life-long passion of working closely with young adults to help them learn and thrive.  Tanya has a bachelor of science in secondary education and a master of science in school counseling and has worked with youth in schools and other settings throughout her adult life.  Currently, she teaches in a school for homeless and runaway adolescents where she helps them remove barriers and create success.

Tanya enjoys spending time with her family in the outdoors.  She loves to hike, bike, and kayak.  She also enjoys the arts and is delighted to live in a city with many diverse venues for music, theater, dance, and the visual arts.  Her personal artistic pursuit is the written word.  She has published the short story Challenge!, a book review in a national counseling publication, and the novel Losing Elizabeth.  She has more novels on the way.
 (ABOUT THE AUTHOR and picture taken from Tanya's website. Click HERE to check it out!)

Okay, that's it for today, y'all. Thank you for checking out this interview!

Have a great day, Friends!

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