I’d like to introduce you to the eighty-third interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Tami Carter who writes as TK Carter.
Hi, Tami! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
I’m honored to be included in your “Meet the Author” Series. Thank you, Susan!
I feel like I’ve written since I could hold a pen. I wrote mournful stories as a child, terrible poetry as a teen, motivational blogs during my weight-loss journey, and humorous blogs as I transitioned into single motherhood during and after my divorce. I wrote short stories here and there, but in July 2009, I began writing my first novel, Independence.
Your suspense novel Collapse (Volume 1 of The Yellow Flag Series) was published in November 2013. What is the book about?
Collapse is a near-futuristic dystopian/suspense novel set in 2016 in the United States which is on the brink of collapse. Foreign fuel supplies have been cut off leaving America with a significant shortage and need for allocation and fuel vouchers. Doug, a fuel truck driver, sees first-hand the devastation caused by the shortage and soon realizes he is a rolling bulls-eye. Tess, a widowed mother of two teenage girls and nursing home administrator in Centralia, MO, is notified she must participate in the REEP program (Redistribution for Economic Equivalancy Program) and shut down the nursing home after all federal funding is cut from her residents. Tess, however, has other plans. Ten-year-old Brenna from Fulton, MO is excited about her annual trip to see her father in Virginia. During her flight, a band of bandits hears that all flights out of Richmond are being canceled, attacks the airport and waits for the only remaining plane to land. Another fight takes place leaving virtually everyone dead and Brenna on her own.
The book is partially based in central Missouri with scenes taking place in Columbia, Centralia, and Kingdom City. The idea for Collapse came when I was filling out the 2010 census and was looking at all of my demographic information on one little sheet of paper. I wondered what would happen if that information was used improperly, and two of the three storylines instantly formed.
How many books do you have planned for the series? Are you working on one right now?
As of right now, there are three books planned for the series; however, this may change as book two develops. I am currently working on the second book in The Yellow Flag Series.
Your novel Independence was published in 2012. Can you tell us about it? Will it be part of a series, too?
Independence is a book that celebrates friendship. It is women’s fiction and follows the lives of two women in their thirties who have been friends for over twenty years. In that time, they’ve known marriage, children, divorce, heartache and healing, learned the difference between choices and decisions, and watched each other grow into the women they are.
When fed-up Claire Coulter leaves her alcoholic marriage of ten years, and her hot-tempered, man-hating best friend, Brenda, falls in love again, their twenty-year friendship is the only thing real in which they rely and trust. Claire’s challenges include raising her two small children, standing firm against her manipulative soon-to-be-ex-husband, and the new employee in her department, Billy, that challenges her ideas of eternal singlehood. Brenda tries to overcome her loneliness and anger toward her unfaithful ex-husband then finds herself in a relationship that challenges her morals and boundaries. Through friendship, laughter, and tests of character, both women seek freedom from their baggage and pasts as they embrace their independence.
There is a sequel started for Independence, but it got sidelined when the idea for Collapse surfaced.
Your novella An Afternoon With Aunt Viv was your first published book. Can you tell us about it?
Ah, Aunt Viv… my favorite work so far. This is a short-story I wrote in March of 2010. I could spend hours talking about this rich story and all of the little nuggets tucked inside. I feel it’s some of my best writing and shows how the second side to every story can be life-changing.
After the death of her father, Jade visits her Aunt Viv in search of any truth behind the rumors in town. Jade discovers more than she bargained for when she finds herself face-to-face with Maggie, the woman who nearly destroyed their family years earlier.
Would you give us a brief excerpt from one of your books?
From An Afternoon with Aunt Viv
To set the scene, Jade’s father, Charlie, had left Jade’s mother eighteen years earlier to be with Maggie. In her anger and betrayal, Jade made some pretty bold threats, and Charlie couldn’t take the chance that she would follow through with them, so he went back home and never saw Maggie again until his wife died a year ago. Charlie died a week ago, and now the two women have met for the first time in Maggie’s home, and Jade is forced to see the other side of the coin. Jade is looking out the window at the tree Maggie planted to block the view of the empty, “Charlie-less”, driveway.
I felt like I was going to throw up. There, standing in front of me, was physical evidence of the steps people will take to hide themselves from what they don’t want to see. Maggie used a tree to block an empty driveway. I used hundreds of miles and a career. Mom used the orchard. In my mind, I have stepped back in time and am telling my father how much I love him even though I hate what he is doing, and that no matter what, I will still be his daughter. And, I am rewriting the last eighteen years to try to stop seeing that damn tree.
He wanted to walk me down the aisle. He wanted to be the one to give me away on my wedding day to a man he trusted with his oldest daughter. And, I spent my entire adult life pushing the men I loved away because there was always more time. I had things I wanted to do before I settled down and became some man’s ‘ball and chain’. First it was Eric who begged me to be his wife shortly after I graduated from college. He was too clingy and romantic for my independent ass. Then it was Brian-the-restaurant-manager. He was too serious and drove me crazy with his constant critique of wait-staff at our “trough of choice du jour.” Then Gary. I really liked Gary. He was fun, spontaneous, and so joyful. But I couldn’t imagine relying on him for anything serious in life. He was a fry-cook for God’s sake. I am a Hospital Administrator; I make six figures a year! Which leads me to Quint…the drug-abusing, fun-loving artist who took me for nearly ten thousand dollars in our year-long sex-fest. That was the last time I shared the truth about my profession on a first date, I can tell you that.
And now it’s Brian-the-Doctor. I met Brian in the hospital where we work about two years ago. He is perfect for me in every way. It scares me how much I care about him, honestly. We moved in together about six months ago, rented a condo in Atlanta, and last week, he asked me to be his wife. The next day, my father died. I never even told Dad about Brian.
I couldn’t give him an answer; I told him I needed to think about it, which visibly crushed him. He said that when you are in love with someone, there’s no questioning or thinking to be done; you just know. He said that bond, that core connection you have as a couple is what you hold to- not the “what if’s” or the “maybe when’s”. And he said that if I needed to rationalize spending the rest of my life with him, then maybe I wasn’t the girl for him.
And now I’m standing in front of a window staring at a damned tree. Living proof of how one wrong decision can change an entire pathway to happiness and fulfillment. I do love Brian; I wouldn’t want to wake up one single day and know I wouldn’t get to see him, talk to him, kiss him, and make him pancakes. And, I sure don’t want to be Maggie twenty years from now.
Do you have a favorite review of any of your books?
All of my reviews are so important to me. I am grateful to people who take the time to review and rate my work, because, as an independent author, word of mouth is so valuable! I was elated the first time someone I didn’t know wrote a review.
What books or authors have most influenced you in your own writing? Do you have a mentor?
My writing partner, Joey Houston, and I started writing together in 2009. He bought a copy of On Writing by Stephen King, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and a journal, so I owe a large amount of my success to Joey. He encourages me, inspires me, and he believes I’m a good writer. And, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I am successful today, because I had a friend who believed in me, and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
As for my mentor, I have the best story for this. I think it was summer 2012 when I discovered Denise Grover Swank’s Chosen Series. I fell in love with her technique and the bold way in which she began a chapter by dropping the reader right in the middle of action. I love that she trusted her readers to jump on board and hang on. When I finished Chosen, I was so blown away that I wrote Denise an email (that praise God I no longer have; I can’t imagine how THAT sounded) expressing my absolute fascination and appreciation of her work. I was sitting at the kitchen table when she replied to the email, which was great, because I nearly fainted. I was so star-struck that she wrote back! Over the course of the last nearly two years, I’ve had the privilege of watching her career explode, and I’m so proud to call her my friend and mentor. She has always been so gracious to give me input and share her experiences when I need guidance. I adore her!
Do you have a writing routine?
No, and my work is suffering for that reason. I have a full-time career outside of writing, and when you add that to parenting pre-teens and being a home-owner, sometimes my writing time gets compromised. I prefer to write at night, but I may have to change things up since our evenings are so busy.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
My favorite part of writing is the surprise that comes when a character behaves in a way that was unexpected. Tess, one of the characters in Collapse, had a completely different story line, but she stomped her feet, looked at me and said, “That is NOT how this is going to go down, sister.” She did something drastic in the story that was amazing and changed everything I had envisioned for her. And, it worked.
My least favorite part of writing is the blurb… that dreaded 3-4 sentence synopsis of thousands of words, writing hours, sweat, tears, and mental exhaustion that represents the entire book. Commence mental melt-down in 3…2…1…
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
TK Carter is a Southern born-and-bred middle child with all of the complexes that accompany this birth order. Writing is a way to unchain her conventional mind and allow a thought to expand into a scenario which develops characters.
In response to her chaotic and newly-single life as a divorced mother and head of household, she started a blog called My Ms. Adventures (http://mymsadventures-tami.blogspot.com/). She holds nothing back as she tells it exactly what it’s like to be her.
Tami, as she is casually known, was raised in Mid-Missouri and now lives in Centralia, MO. She has two children, two dogs, a fish, and a mortgage. She has been writing for over twenty years and is the author of Independence, An Afternoon with Aunt Viv, and Collapse: Book One of The Yellow Flag Series.
My Ms. Adventures (http://mymsadventures-tami.blogspot.com/)