AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: HOPE TARR
Hope can you tell us a little about what your latest work is and where we can find it…
Tempting, reissued as an ebook by That Book Inc. (February 12, 2012) and as an audio book by Dark Desires Publishing (April 11, 2012). The book was originally published in 2002 by Berkley/Jove as a single-title historical and was nominated for a RT BOOK Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Innovative Historical Romance. That said I have substantially revised the original work, drawing from a decade plus of experience.
Tell us a little about Tempting and what inspired you to write it?
Tempting is a “My Fair Lady” story with a twist, actually several twists, and I’ve always adored the Pygmalion archetype as romantic trope. My hero, Simon Belleville meets the heroine, Christine Tremayne in the attic of the brothel on which, as Queen Victoria’s Morality and Vice Commissioner, he’s just led a raid. Even while believing her to be a prostitute; it’s clear that something about this girl is different. (Unlike the other inmates, she is locked up, for one). Rather than dispatching her to Newgate Gaol, he enrolls her in a finishing school for daughters of tradesmen run by his friend and former mistress, the woman who once taught Simon to “talk proper.” His plan is to prepare Christine for a position as a lady’s maid. Only Christine does a bit too well in the school, attracting the attention of a wealthy lord in the market for a new mistress. Outraged, Simon takes her out of school — and off to his remote country estate where he alone serves as her tutor.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I am somewhere between a plotter and a pantzer in that I start out with a detailed synopsis but then write the book utterly out of order and then cut and paste scenes in the final few weeks.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I started out writing single-title historical romances, took a detour to write contemporary category romances, and now I’m back on my original path of writing single-title historicals, my first love.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I have several but Christine, my heroine in Tempting stands out of the pack for me. When she faces off Simon, whom she dearly loves, and tells him that she will no longer stand for being treated as his creation, that she is “Christine Tremayne, the dairyman’s daughter and proud to be so,” I can’t help it. I cheer her every time. I hope readers new to the book will, too.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
They’re all easy and hard in their own ways. Perhaps my hero Jack in My Lord Jack currently out as an e-book with Carina Press. Jack is a hangman and I learned a lot about the executionary “arts” to write him. The research was fascinating but tough going at times for obvious reasons.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
My characters are all composites, creations of my imagination as well as drawn from real life. The latter could be a quirky conversation I’ve overheard in a restaurant, an odd mannerism or tick I’ve observed on the New York subway, you name it.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Keeping my posterior affixed to the chair. I’m a very social being, an extrovert with a lot of Leo in my astrological natal chart, so even though I love—adore—writing, I’m always torn between the scenes taking place inside my head and wondering what’s going on out “there.”
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I always sleep with the bathroom light on.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I have pleasures aplenty but I can’t think of any “guilty” ones. Life can be hard. Why beat ourselves up about things that bring us joy?
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Not really. A good cup of coffee in the morning and a good glass of red wine at night are nice, civilized certainly, but not strictly speaking necessary. Unless you count that I absolutely cannot tolerate writing in a messy office—so the absence of clutter, I suppose, is my one prerequisite.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Not usually. The closest I’ve come would be in Strokes of Midnight, originally titled Romancing Becky Stone, which has several pivotal scenes take place in Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Hotel. The song by Leonard Cohen tended to repeat a lot in my head while I was writing the book, but I honestly can’t say the song influenced the book.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
When I first wrote Tempting, I imagined the gorgeous German born actress, Nastassja Kinski, as Christine but sadly she’d be too old to play the part now. Rooney Mara maybe. I was so impressed with her performance in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The combination of fragility and strength she portrays is stunning.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I first sold to Berkley in 1999. When the call came I was in a car driving to meet up with friends in Virginia Beach. It was a Friday. And yes, I pulled over to take the call. A MacDonald’s parking lot. Had to—a tunnel was coming up.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Twelve, I think. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor and The Lions Triumphant by Phillippa Carr (AKA Jean Plaidy AKA Victoria Holt). I was hooked. Once I started reading historical romance, I didn’t want to stop. So far I haven’t.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I have a lot of favorite authors both within and without romance, whose works I adore and respect, but I’ve been published for twelve years now, not counting the six years of “pre-publication” activities before that, so Fan Girl squees are a thing of the past—unless someone wants to offer up George Clooney a test case.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’ve been a solo act for a dozen years (published). I’ve co-written articles with other author friends but beyond that, I suspect going it alone suits me best.
How do you pick your characters names?
I don’t pick, they do.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I don’t actually believe in “love” at first sight. I believe in attraction at first sight, and that attraction can be more than physical. There’s nothing more compelling than watching that first spark build toward something bigger and stronger and lasting.
Is there a genre that you love to read but don’t want to (or think it would be tough for you) write?
I couldn’t write a mystery to save my life—OK, well maybe to save my life—but they’re surely fun to read.
What was the hardest book for you to write and why?
Every Breath You Take, a contemporary category romance for Harlequin’s Blaze line. The book was hard going for a number of reasons, not the least of which I was in the midst of an out-of-state move while on deadline.
Coffee, Tea or Soda Pop?
Coffee but only in the mornings.
What is the most recent romance story you have read that you would recommend?
Darker Still, a delicious gothic YA novel set in NYC by Leanna Renee Hieber, a dear friend of mine and a brilliant new talent to watch.
What is in the wings for your readers to look forward to?
I am working on several projects—a contemporary Cinderella romance series, several children’s books (under a pen name), and a memoir.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
My tastes run much more to savory than sweet, so chocolate is something I can take or leave. When I do have the rare craving, it’s for dark chocolate, the bitterer the better. Ask me about cheese and I’ll go on forever.