I’m having so much fun connecting with all the smart authors and bloggers I’ve met online. This is the latest entry in my series of conversations with other romance authors, who join us to share about their creative process, their habits, their inspiration, and more. Our guest today is Tabitha Barrett.
1. You’ve been writing stories since middle school, however, you weren’t really introduced to paranormal romances until you read Twilight and realized you wanted to write in that genre too. What did you love so much about paranormal romances?
Tabitha Barrett: I wanted to thank Julie for this amazing opportunity to talk about my steamy Paranormal Romance series, The Third Throne, and say hello to all the readers!
Paranormal Romance offered me complex characters that were flawed so that I could relate to them. Romances tend to be light and fun, in many cases, so I didn’t really identify with them. There were billionaires and young girls, there were neighbors falling in love, and there were office romances, but these people were normal. They met, they flirted, and they fell in love. Paranormal Romance appealed to my darker side.
The first series I read was the Carpathian series, followed by the Dark Hunters. Both series had characters struggling with darkness who believed they were beyond redemption. Having survived a troubled past, I found myself crying over these characters. I felt that if they could be redeemed by love, then maybe I could be too. I know there are plenty of people who feel the same way. Love isn’t perfect and we have to work at it. These books highlighted the fears we all have about finding a person who can accept us for who we are, while bringing out the best in us. Add a dangerous vampire, werewolf, or angel and it makes the story more interesting. There are always two different stories going on in Paranormal Romances. The couples are fighting to get together or stay together and fighting for their lives. It’s exciting.
2. The character for your first book lived in your head for a long time before you had a story for them. How did you go about building a story around the characters in your head?
Tabitha Barrett: My characters in the Third Throne series were created over the years whenever I was bored and needed something to think about. When I finally got serious about writing them, I sat down and created the main characters…my Predznak. I knew that the angels carried various sins inside of them in order to tempt the mortals. Once I decided on my sins, Death, Vengeance, Fear, Distrust, Illness, Desire, Anger, Agony, Deception, and Hunger, I had to give them their own personalities. I did character treatments for each of them and found photos to match their personalities. (I have photos of nearly all my characters. It helps to motivate me.)
Once I had the characters, I created the framework for the series. Each book takes place in a different city across the world, though the bulk of the story takes place in Hell. I also had to create all the Realms and prison locations within Hell.
From the start, I knew this would be a longer series with about twelve books. I didn’t want to write one book and see how well it did before deciding to write the next book. I wanted a cohesive world, so I created the storylines for each book in the series. I made sure to change up the plots to keep things fresh, but kept the basic premise of my main character Anjali having to tame one of the Predznak and then finding a mortal from her past that she once loved. I’ve had a lot of fun changing up the plots while creating a forward-progressing story arc. Sometimes I feel like I’m juggling because the lives of these characters span thousands of years, in some cases.
3. On your Q&A page, you said the first book in your series was the hardest one because you had to establish the rules for the world your characters live in. How do you keep track of the rules of your worlds?
Tabitha Barrett: I use every piece of technology I can get my hands on to keep my storylines, time frames, and characters straight. Excel was used to create a master list of characters that details which book they appear in, are mentioned in, or die in. I have a spreadsheet for various time lines. I use PowerPoint to create my room layouts and organizational charts so that I remember which Fallen Angels work in which Realms. I even have a general layout of Hell. My most important program is OneNote. The drag and drop feature makes it easier to use than PowerPoint. I plan battles there, create short character descriptions for each book, and jot down my ideas. I also drop in the photos of the characters to create my story visually. The best feature is the checkbox list where I can keep track of my plot holes so that I can fix them later.
4. What is your writing routine like?
Tabitha Barrett: When I started the series, I actually wrote the first three books at the same time. I found that it was easier to create the world when I knew which direction I needed to go in. Characters vital to the series have been created by using this method. Though I am currently working on Book 5, Distrust, I have already have over 50,000 words written for the last book of the series. Again, it’s easier to write a series when I know where I need to be in the end.
Writing in general takes place after work and on the weekends. I can madly type out about 7,000 words on a Sunday if I know what I need to write. Most of the time, I think about what I want to write while driving to work, driving the kids somewhere, washing my hair in the shower, or sitting in any place where there are no distractions for five minutes. I see the characters in my head and I speak for them, when I’m alone…so that people don’t think I’m crazy. Then, when I have the concept, I sit and write it down only to find that my fingers have gone down a different road, a darker road, and the story starts to write itself. I love when that happens! In November, I challenged myself to enter the NaNoWriMo challenge and write 50,000 words in 30 days. I accomplished it in 14 non-consecutive days. It was a major boost to my writing process and it proved that I can create a story in a short amount of time when I’m motivated to do so. I challenged myself again in February, and finished the last half of my fourth book, The Third Throne: Angel of Fear!
5. What advice would you give to new authors?
Tabitha Barrett: I have so many things to say to new authors, but they have to be willing to listen and willing to work at it. Success won’t just come to you; you have to work for it. Don’t immediately brush a new marketing opportunity aside because you think it won’t work; otherwise you have already lost the battle. Do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING you can to promote your work, even if that means taking a hard look at your book and rewriting or reediting it if something isn’t working. Be honest with yourself and listen to your book reviews. If the same comments keep popping up, then you might have to accept that you need to change something.
I recently posted a description of an “Indie Author” on Facebook and had a great response from the others authors I know. I said, “What is the definition of an Indie Author? An Indie Author is a writer who is insane and creative enough to find new ways to promote their book 365 days of the year, year after year.” I had so many authors love this quote. It means that you have to work hard to promote your book and you can’t stop if you want to succeed. You have to try new things. You have to create new ways of talking about your book. You need to change up your ad strategies. Figure out how to interact with others authors and readers. Join events on Facebook, sign up for newsletter promotions, blog about your writing, or join live book signings. No two authors will achieve success the same way, but successful authors have the same thing in common. They busted their backsides to become successful!
Special thanks to Tabitha Barret for participating in this series! To find out more about Tabitha Barrett, visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter (@tabithabarret), Facebook, and Goodreads, You can purchase her books on Amazon (US).
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen