Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interview with Tate Hallaway

Interview with Author Tate Hallaway.  

Hey Book readers and Vampire lovers, I have asked the talented author of the book, Almost to Die For, Tate Hallaway, some important questions that inquiring minds would want to know the answers too.  So please read on!!

  1. Tate, Tell us a little bit about yourself?

One thing that you might be interested in knowing about me is that when I was in high school, Ronald Reagan was president.  I’m also a practicing Wiccan, though I can’t do anything like what Bea or Ana can do in ALMOST TO DIE FOR.

  1. Tell us in one sentence what your book is about?

ALMOST TO DIE FOR is about a girl who discovers she’s both witch and vampire, and has to decide what she wants to do about it.

  1. How did you decide on the title for your book?

Honestly?  After the Garnet Lacey series, in which, my editor insisted my titles always have the word “Dead” in it, I wanted something a bit more flexible.  The next book will repeat the ALMOST, but nothing else.  Trust me, you can do a lot more with “almost…” something than you can trying to come up with yet another pun/familiar phrase around the word dead that Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, or Kim Harrison hasn’t already used!

  1. What inspired you to tell this story?

A number of things…but probably the biggest one is that I really wanted to write about a teenage girl who is, at her heart, a geek/nerd, like I was.  I don’t think there are nearly enough stories with nerdy smart chicks in the lead.  We often get to be best friends in these kinds of books, but rarely the princess.

  1. How many books have you written in your career as a writer?
           Which one was the most fun to write?  Which one do you consider your best?

I’ve written nearly a dozen books.  I wrote an adult science fiction “tetrology” (or, as friend calls it, a four book trilogy) under my given name, Lyda Morehouse, with a fifth book in that series coming out next March.  So, that’s five…

Next, I wrote five books in the Garnet Lacey series… so, we’re up to ten.

I’m contracted for three of the vampire princess of St. Paul series (so far,) and I’ve completed two of those.  ALMOST TO DIE FOR which came out in August, and ALMOST FINAL CURTAIN, which I’m currently revising for my editor, which will be out early next spring (I think.)

My editor also bought another adult book in a completely new series, which I’ve been describing as CSI meets X-Files, a kind of urban fantasy police procedural.

  1. Is this your first Young Adult novel and if so, why did you decide to write for this age group?

It is.  I decided to write for the teen market, because, honestly, this is where all the cool kids are.  I’ve been really impressed with the young adult books I’ve been reading lately, things like Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES series, and I’ve been devouring Suzanne Collin’s HUNGER GAMES books (I haven’t read MOCKINGJAY yet, though I ripped through the first two.)  To me, the YA market is really the most exciting place to be, and I think one of the reasons is that “YA” is the category, as it were, and so you’re much more free as a writer to stretch the boundaries of genre (or not) as the spirit moves you.

  1. I know this book is part of the Vampire Princess series.  When can we expect the next book to be in stores?  Can you share something about the next book?

While I try to hunt through my stuff to figure out when the next book is officially supposed to hit the shelves, what I can tell you is that the pitch line I’ve been using to describe ALMOST FINAL CURTAIN is “Glee meets Vampire Dairies.”  Because in the next book Ana tries out for a play… and vampire hijinx ensue.

  1. In my review post I wrote about some real life issues that teens face in your book.  Can you tell me why you chose to give the characters real-life issues and maybe what some of those issues are?

A lot of reviewers have picked up on this idea of divorce, as Ana clearly feels pulled between what her mother wants her to be (a True Witch) and what her father wants her to be (a vampire princess.)  But, those associations were accidental on my part, as I can’t say that I’m writing from experience there… my parents have been together my entire life.  What I was trying to tap into is something that’s probably a lot less common, which why it transmutes for most readers into the issues surrounding divorce. I wanted to write about the experiences of someone walking between two cultures – an immigrant experience, really, which is part of why one of Ana’s best friends is a Somali-American. 

I very intentionally structured Ana’s life on stories that I heard people talking about when I worked at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota – missing Saturday morning cartoon references because those hours were spent attending Hebrew class, or Latvian or Ukrainian language classes… things like that.  Ana’s sense of never really fitting in with “normal” kids, because she had this other life that only a few of her friends really understood.

  1. Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book.  Did you do that?  Do you have anything in common with your characters? 

Oh yes, several things.  Ana’s theatre stuff is all me, as are any of her more nerdy/geeky pursuits – although I was not as smart in school as I’ve made Ana (I took advanced courses, but I got Cs).  My father is a college professor, and I grew up in a house that is over a hundred years old.  

  1. Why did you have Ana attend a fictional St. Paul high school as opposed to a current existing school? 

I actually have a very specific reason: I wanted to have an open campus, and I don’t think that any of the St. Paul high schools are.  It’s very clearly Central High School, in terms of where it’s located, but I wanted to have more freedom in design and rules, etc.

  1. OK, I know that Tate Hallaway is not your real name.  What made you decide to write under a pen name? 

Alas, it wasn’t *my* decision, though I think that the universe was definitely guiding me to an interesting career.  Probably, if it had been up to me, I’d still be writing very obscure science fiction novels.  The good news/bad news is that science fiction (or at least the stuff I wrote) doesn’t sell very well, and my editor at the time was visionary when it came to directing my career into a more sustainable genre.  At a science fiction convention he and I were talking about the book I was supposed to be writing next for him, and neither of us was all that into it, honestly.  When we got to talking about other stuff and I confessed a guilty sort of pleasure in vampire novels, he suggested I propose paranormal romance with vampires…

The rest, as they say, is history.

The name change came about because I was writing in such a different genre that we both thought a fresh start and, let’s be honest, new a “branding” opportunity, was appropriate.  Thus Tate Hallaway was born!

  1. Could you tell us in one sentence why we should read Almost to Die For?

Because you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss ten bucks good-bye!

Again thanks for taking your valuable time to answer these questions!  I loved the book and I thought it was super fun reading a book that takes place in Saint Paul.

Go, St. Paulies!  And, you’re very welcome.  Thanks for the opportunity! (Tate)