NY Times bestselling author Tami Hoag was the guest speaker at the Florida Romance Writers August 11th meeting. Tami began by describing how different things were in the publishing world when she started out at this career. She wrote in longhand and typed up her pages. Then she sold the second book she’d written and the computer age dawned. In those days, computers were expensive, unusual to own, and not justified in her mind until her career blossomed.
Tami Hoag and FRW President Rose Lawson Tami, Rose, and Nancy J. Cohen (center)
“I always wanted to be a writer”, Tami said, but she admitted that in those days, she didn’t read romance. She was a self-confessed “book snob” with preconceived notions about the romance genre. But then a friend at an event gave her a historical romance by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and on the way home, Tami’s car broke down. She had nothing else to read and started the book. That hooked her, and she went on to become an avid romance fan.
Still, she wanted to write but wasn’t sure where to start. She’d been learning about the business through Romantic Times Magazine and didn’t know any other writers in the area. After researching the markets on her own, she realized she could write comedy and chose Bantam Loveswept as her target. She liked them because they didn’t pigeonhole their authors. They allowed their writers to push the boundaries within category romance. Tami acquired an agent and got published writing romantic comedies. She joined RWA and eventually crossed over into suspense.
My camera battery is about to die; hence the discoloration.
Why does she like to write dark stories now? Her interest in psychology compels her to write edge-of-your-seat thrillers. “Character is the heart of everything.” Psychology and the dynamics between characters are the driving force behind these tales. “Crime is the structure for human interaction.” Also, readers must care about the characters. She begins her stories with a crime and then focuses on the investigators. The cops are the linchpins who can see all sides of a case and who can delve into the psyches of the other characters. Tami admits she’s a pantser rather than a plotter, and she never outlines. Does she ever face a hurdle? Sometimes she’ll write a character into a corner, but she views this as an opportunity, not a blockade.
Tami has another occupation, and that’s what keeps her sane. She’s into horse dressage or “horse dancing”, as some people call it. Both this field and writing require strict discipline. She enters show competitions during the winter. Whenever deadlines are getting to her, she tells herself to “go to the barn.” Being with her horses frees up her subconscious. She compares being on a horse and centered on what she’s doing to meditation. “It’s essential to my creative process.”
Chatting before the meeting FRW Board/Past and Present
Does writing get any easier? Her answer is negative, not even after so many books. As for the current state of publishing, “It’s a fear-driven business.” The market is terrible, and there’s competition from other media. You won’t find the same optimism that we found in the eighties. Back then, publishers said, “there are so many readers, we want content!” Now they say, “there are so many readers and we want content, but we have no money to pay you.” The prevailing climate is one of fear and desperation. On the good side, more opportunities exist for new writers to break in.
Regarding research, Tami started out with a hands-on approach, where she consulted cops and FBI personnel, but by now she pretty much has a handle on the procedures. Movies? A two-part miniseries was done on her book in 1997 but nothing since. She’s had a lot of film options but they haven’t led anywhere.
What’s next for her? The Ninth Girl brings back homicide cops from Minneapolis who appeared in a previous story. Pressured by her publisher to write an ebook, she penned a novella that acts as a prequel. Normally, Tami says, “I’m not known for brevity. I don’t write short stories.” As for her novels, she has ideas “stacked up on the runway.” While friends of hers are writing to double their capacity, Tami believes you have to fight for time to enjoy life. And although she likes to challenge herself and grow as a writer, Tami still manages to be surprised when she achieves something new.
After the morning meeting adjourned, a bunch of members took Tami to lunch at The Field Irish Pub in Davie.
My husband and I had just eaten there the night before, so I didn’t go. It’s a neat place with entertainment on weekends.
Hummus Appetizer Here’s a toast to you!
Tami Hoag asked her Facebook friends the following question. They voted for number one. What would you say?
Would you rather (1) wait for a really good book by your favorite author, or (2) have your favorite author produce more books at a faster rate but knowing that might lessen the quality?