Friday, December 5, 2014

Interview Friday: YA Author A.J. Tupps




Author Bio: Aimee Tupps grew up in a small farm community in Connersville, Indiana.  She currently resides in Grand Blanc, Michigan.  In her spare time she enjoys daydreaming, traveling, sunsets, the outdoors but most of all spending time with her family.  As a young girl she entertained herself by living adventures from her imagination.  Aimee looks at every day as a blessing and another day to make her dreams a reality.  She is still in touch with her inner teenager and enjoys the mischief she can get into. Family is one of the most important things in her life.  She has a degree in Medical Transcription.  Currently she works as an optical technician/tester.  She has one adoring husband who joins in her mischief or is the recipient of it along with her two loveable children and one hyper dog. 


VS:
What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?


A.J: That is not an easy question.  This is something I work on daily.  My children are now older but that doesn’t mean they don’t need me.  When they were little I worked during sleep times or used a laptop while watching them when they were occupied in their own experiences.  I tried not to interfere with our everyday routine.  However around seven or eight o’clock I would sit down and work on my stories with them.  I have involved them by placing their own desk and computers with mine.  I made our study special by placing a children’s corner filled with books to read or practice with, toys puzzles, blocks, you name it probably was there. 

As they grew it was already a habit to use this room.  They use our comfy room for their homework or gaming central until they were teenagers.  Then they decided to move into their own rooms.  Still they each spend time at their desk with me.  I proof all their papers and they proof my stories.  My husband is involved too.  He doesn’t have a desk though.  He complains about that from time to time.  That room won’t hold but the three.  Still I placed a comfy chair for anybody to sit down and read.

One thing I did when they were little was work way into the night.  Unfortunately I went back to work when my little girl was in third grade to help with the medical bills.  I was blessed to be able to stay at home that long.  Now that my children don’t need my attention full time we all do as we please.  Here is one thing I made a mandate for myself.  If at any time my children or my husband seem to have a problem whether or not they came to me, I shut down where I am, no matter what I am dealing with.  That means I literally shut down my computer and walked away.  To me my family comes before anything else.  Trust me it has not always been easy.  There were times that this caused rewrites galore. 

As with any teenager you have to keep those communications open and not make them feel like they are a problem.  When they come home from work (hubby) or school (college kids) I stop what I am doing and make a snack and talk to them.  Usually they follow me back into the room and we continue to talk or work on their projects at the same time.  We always have dinner at the table.  As a mom my job, our job is to nurture…We do have insights into the emotions of our children.  Sometimes they do need space but only for a time like Shep does with Selena.  I never let them hideaway for too long.  Luckily for me my children do talk to me on every level imaginable.  We have rules about conversations and one thing is I can be upset with something but they are individuals with their own lives who can make mistakes. 

When we are having a discussion we will never interrupt until they are finished.  Then we are allowed to voice our opinion and then as a family we work through whatever the problem is.  I seem to be the neighborhood mom and many teenagers come just to talk things over with my children and me.  My eldest is now 22 years old and I believe this open communication is what has helped him turn into such a wonderful man.  My daughter just graduated from high school and from a graphic arts course through college.  She is just as wonderful.  I thank God for my kids and my husband every day.  Writing can be a part of the household routine.


VS: How long have you been writing?

A.J: I have been writing seriously for the past eleven years. 


VS: What inspired you to write your coming of age novel, Shadow TEARS?

A.J: My husband had cancer when my children were younger.  We spent a lot of time going to appointments, staying in a hotel across from Cleveland Clinic.  During those times I made up stories for my children.  They have heard many different parts of this series.  One night while in the hotel room my son asked for the book.  It hit me that there was no book for him to read.  I told him the story was in my head.  Like any child he thought it was a simple matter.  He and his sister wanted me to write it down for them and their friends.  It was Christmas time and I watched them looking out the misty window and came up with the title Shadow Tears.  My children didn’t cry.  At times I felt the environment cried for them especially when they looked out those windows.  My little girl and I spent a lot of time looking out all the different windows we would come across. 
That night I began writing the story down.  At first I thought I would have it bound at an office store and give it to them as a present.  Then I found out how much relief it gave me to concentrate on these stories.  I love my story and there is a lot of me in this book.  Here we are eleven years later and the series is written and waiting to be edited.  My husband was very encouraging and felt my books needed to be shared with others.   
The second part of your question is; "Why am I sharing this?"  We are a family who has survived the big C and are now facing it again.  There are a number of reasons.  I want to be an encouragement to someone facing life.  Writing was an escape for me and telling those stories helped my children to cope as well.  The Lord provided the guidance to lead me in this direction.  I want people to be inspired to overcome what they feel is impossible.  My stories encourage that, even though my characters are fallible…human.  I didn’t want the fairytale story.  I wanted young adults, caregivers, or adults to see this is the road given us - fight.  Writing is my way of coping.       

VS: What is a typical writing day like for you? 

A.J: I answered that back in the first question I think.  I get up and go to work, come home for lunch and most times I spend it with one of my kids.  My husband used to do the same but his job is too far away now.  After work my husband has a family dinner ready and we eat and talk until someone has to go.  I have the privilege of cleaning up on the weekends while my children do the dishes on the weekdays.  After all is settled my children usually have their own things to do and I retire to my study to write for an hour.  After that first hour someone usually joins me until everyone has travelled to our study at one time or another.  I don’t just write in there.  I read, I surf the computer with my family, etc.  Sometimes we have a game night and the weekends we always have something planned on Saturday and church on Sunday.  Writing is my outlet.  If I am really stressed after that first hour I am better.  The last thing is bed.  It used to be me cuddling my children in.  Now they cuddle me in.  Ha! Ha!  They stay up way too late.  I can make it to one but after that, bed.


VS: Is your family supportive of your writing? 

A.J: Most definitely, I couldn’t do it without them.  They allowed me this gift and share it with me.


VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, Shadow TEARS? 

A.J: The series is already written.  I am now editing one at a time and plan on seeing all published.  It has taken eleven years. 

Shadow Tears is the first book in a series.  In this book you meet Selena Goodwin who discovers more about her heritage than she ever wanted.  She has special abilities that are fascinating while others are frightening to her.  All her beliefs are tested when she finds out that the mortal rules don’t apply to everybody or everything.  Her knowledge of the supernatural and myths might become her only means to survive.  She must accept who she is meant to be. 
Being thrust into a world full of secrets, danger, and a family she didn’t know existed is overwhelming, not to mention a responsibility.  Luckily she still has the love and support of her adoptive father who had known all along who she is meant to be.  To make things worse she discovers her very existence is threatened by an unknown enemy.  The normal obstacles of being a teenager are hard enough.  Now she has to learn how to live a lie while falling in love and accepting her life as it was meant to be.  High school is supposed to be the best years of your life. 
Selena must rely on strangers who she is not sure are reliable.  The only person she can rely on must stand between her and the possibility of death.  Selena faces these realms with reality always reminding her she is fallible.  Yet she can overcome anything with the love of her family and friends. 


VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book? 

A.J: Time has always been a challenge because my body does require some sleep.  Sometimes at night when all are asleep or doing their own thing, I write and can’t come to a stopping place easily.  Outside of that my characters pretty well wrote themselves.  Sometimes they surprised me.  Later in the series, I have a character that dies.  I don’t want him to die.  I have rewritten it every possible way to try to fix that but he demands it.  That doesn’t mean I have given up but for now I have conceded to it until I run across that section again.  We will see who wins.


VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

A.J: I love several places in this book but I think my favorite place is the battle and entering the Shadow Realm.  Selena is a determined girl and is willing to fight for what she wants.  She didn’t become the damsel in distress.  Instead she picked up the gauntlet and faced the unknown enemy even with her own insecurities beating at her.  Not only that, but she left everything she knew behind to find assistance. 

When she exited the portal I could see what she must have seen and felt.  To me my books play like movies.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to enter a vortex.  This one moment proved she was not mortal and was bound to accept who she is meant to be.


VS: If this is a work of fiction, what character is most like you?

A.J: Selena is based on my basic moral compass and my insecurities.  I enjoyed using incidents from my life to help move the story along.  There are some things that Selena learns faster than I did.  As I watch Selena grow I see the milestones of things I survived.  I have always been mischievous but in a quiet way.  To hear my children laugh or friends state something they have read in my book I get a kick out of what the truth might be.  One of my friends nailed me to the wall the other day about a section she had read.  She wanted to know if the event actually happened.  I didn’t admit it to her but it did. 


VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

A.J: Shadow Tears is the first book of my series.  Each book will start with the word Shadow in the title and with each book you will have a different prologue perspective of that one event that started Selena and Shep’s life together.  As we read we will grow with each character and see how to overcome life.  The reader will get to enjoy the Shadow Realm, Guardian Realm and Mortal Realm where we visit exotic islands and Japan.  Not only that but we will visit what so many coin as Mt. Olympus and times in the past, along with a new species known as Seheirenel.  Selena and her core group will mature with all the normal challenges that I hear teenagers talk about as well as face the supernatural with an ultimate dark force chasing them. 

The series starts out with Selena being fifteen but with each book she will grow up until she has her own family.  This book gives a future for many.  No one said life is easy or fair but it is worth living. 

Future books in the series will focus on other characters as well in more detail, highlighting their personal adventures.


VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

A.J: Consistency and moving things along.


VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

A.J: I believe characters need to be fallible (human).  They need to be able to mature and if adult, grow.  Every character should have a map or bible of what their natural instincts will allow or abilities.  This brought up a lot of excel programs for me along with other programs to red flag something that might not fit my character and to keep characters to their family/friend units etc.  People are influenced by their ecosystem so there are rules that must be followed.  If they are able to break a bad habit you have to prove how it can be faced and overcome. 

Another item that was important in my series is keeping timelines and events detailed with cross references to where they are mentioned.  I created three other realms besides the Mortal.  Each realm had to have laws so each character could be measured against what his/her personality was willing to do. 

I have a cabinet full of my hard copies of all of my notes. 


VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

A.J: Halo publishing, Amazon.com/kindle, Barnes and Noble, Nook, eBooks, iPad, B. Dalton, Bowker Books and anywhere Ingram Publishing is found.  I truly enjoy writing and am looking forward to speaking to readers about their thoughts on my series.  Readers and fans can contact me on Facebook and on my blog website, (ajtupps.com).  I have a lot more to share.


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