Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday guest blogger Tara Taylor Quinn

Vicki here welcoming our guest blogger Tara Taylor Quinn author of the Chapman Files books

I’m not big on murder. As a matter of fact, I’m not big on conflict at all. I recently read something a friend of mine had written about me and surprisingly felt as though I was reading about myself. She captured my essence so well – as only the closest of friends can do. Here’s what she said, “That she has never retaliated (not even to spill a Diet Coke on a perp) is a testament to her character.” The character part isn’t the topic here, it’s the retaliation. I don’t do it. For better or worse. I’ve also been described as one who gets run over in the middle of the street. Because I don’t retaliate.

So what I am I doing blogging on a murder site?

In a little more than two weeks The Third Secret, the third book in The Chapman Files Series, debuts. The Chapman Files are a series of books centered around expert witness psychologist Kelly Chapman. Each book is one of her files. One of her cases.

In The Third Secret the protagonist is an ex-covert ops agent who shows up to his construction job at a Homeland Security office and finds an agent dead on the floor. By day’s end, he’s been arrested for murder.

Murder. That word again. “Tara dives into the darkest heart of evil, to places I dare not go, in ways I cannot imagine.” Wait, this is still me we’re talking about. She didn’t wait, though. She kept right on expostulating. “…led her to interweave malice, depravity, and terrifying actions with the struggle for trust, truth, and justice.”

Before I go any further, let me make very clear, this is a very close friend of mine. She is not reviewing a book. And I’m left looking at myself from both sides now – just like the song says – and shaking my head. I am not a fighter. I don’t even kill bugs because I can’t bear to squish them. And I spend my days alone living in dark worlds of violence and mayhem for a living.

How did I get this job?

And how does someone like me write stuff like that?

I’d love to continue on here and give you all the answers. Truth is, I don’t have them. Writing is not and never has been, for me, a choice. Nor has it ever been a practical or logical entity to which I bring myself. I write because I am called to write. I am driven to write. There is nothing else I want to do.

And the stories that I tell? They are not practical or logical entities to which I bring myself. They aren’t plotted circumstances that I create and weave together to form good reads. I don’t make the stories. They present themselves to me. Entirely. The few times I’ve had to struggle to write are the few times I, as the author, have tried to interfere with the process. Those were the times I tried to create the story, rather than simply listening to the story and allowing it to create itself.

I learned early on, I am the conduit. Not the controller. I do not choose my stories. They choose me.

I have to fill holes sometimes. I have to figure out how someone got from one point to another. Sometimes I have to figure out what kind of gun someone was using, or dispose of body parts in a way that they won’t be found. I usually go to others for that kind of information. Often times that ‘other’ is my husband. He has a much more murderous mind than I do! And it’s convenient having him so close and all. But overall, the stories tell me who did what. And they tell me in their own time. In The Second Lie, out this month from MIRA books, I didn’t even know for sure if a crime was being committed until I was almost through with the book. I knew part. I didn’t know the other part. And yet it all flowed together as though I’d masterminded it.

I’ve been reading a lot about rituals among the folks here and I, of course, have them, too. And that got me to thinking about all of this. My rituals are my stability in an unstable world. They are the fence inside which I sit when I allow myself to be catapulted into unknown worlds. I have music that sustains me when I write – a cd for every book. I use aromatherapy. I eat frosted mini wheats at my desk. These are the things that hold on to me, the things that stay the same. I have Raggedy Ann quilts in my chair. A space heater at my feet even when it’s a hundred degrees outside (it isn’t always on!). They are my feel goods. And when all of these things are in place, I let go. I put my fingers on the keyboard, I open my mind, and I trust the energy that takes me away to land me safely back in my life when it’s through with me. I trust it to have a story worth telling. And I trust it to tell it to me.

I’m not big on murder. But I don’t have to be. I just have to be willing to listen. And to type. That I can do.

Tara is raising money for Strengthen Our Sisters, the US’s first battered women’s shelter. If you can, join us in our fight against Domestic Abuse. Go to and click the donate button to go directly to a secure Paypal site. Or just comment here to show your support.

The author of more than 50 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold. She is known for delivering deeply emotional and psychologically astute novels of suspense and romance. Tara is a four time finalist for the RWA Rita Award, and appears regularly on the Waldenbooks bestsellers list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning and is a frequent guest speaker. Tara loves to travel with her husband. They’ve been spotted in casinos and small town antique shops across the country


Lee Williams said...

great cause to support! keep up the good work!

Darla said...

I can't wait for Chapman File 3!

Anonymous said...

It's fascinating to read about your writing process. I'm looking forward to The Third Secret too! I haven't tried it but I heard there's a code for Free Shipping on until January 15 2011: EHQNFREESHIP.

Mary M

Lynda K said...

Another great site to introduce us to on the tour! Thanks, too, for the "behind-the-curtain" look at how the writing process works for you.

And I echo the others -- it's such a worthy cause you are supporting, and we all can't wait for The Third Secret!

Tara Taylor Quinn said...

Thanks everyone! I posted yesterday, but I'm on the road and relying on technology other than my own!

I hope you all like The Third Secret. Critics tell me you won't be disappointed. But I don't put a lot of stock in them. I'm anxious for you all to get your hands on it!