Best selling Australian Author, Tara Eglington is a dear friend of Read3r’z Re-Vu and the author of 3 amazing YA novels:
How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You and My Best Friend is a Goddess.
Here, is our exclusive blog interview with Tara!!!
When did you first get inspiration to write?
It’s hard to actually remember when it officially started. I was obsessed with reading when I was a kid, and I remember writing my own little ‘spin-off’ stories that were inspired by my favourite characters. I know my teachers in high school always assumed that I would do something related to writing for a career, but it was only when I was around 20 that I became obsessed with building a story around a girl who didn’t want to be kissed! I played around with the idea in my mind for around six months, before I officially declared at 21 that I was going to write a book. I then sat down at the computer every day for about 10 months, until I had a finished manuscript. That was How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, which was published by Harper Collins Australia seven years later.
What is the title of your debut novel and what inspired you to write this book?
My debut novel was “How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You”, which was followed by a sequel “How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You”. My third and most recent novel is “My Best Friend is a Goddess”. “My Best Friend is a Goddess” is the story of two best friends, Emily and Adriana, who in alternating chapters. I was inspired to write Goddess because I wanted to write about the ups and downs of female friendship, as well as touch upon some topics like envy, self-esteem, the pressure on women to be ‘pretty’, first love, and grief. It was also inspired by a painful falling out with a best friend in high school, at the end of Year 10.
Is there any particular reason you chose this genre?
I love writing Young Adult books – I read a crazy amount of YA when I was a teenager, and still read this genre. It’s a fascinating period to write about because the characters are in the process of discovering who they are in terms of their identity, their passions, hopes, and goals, and are experiencing so many things for the first time. I kept a diary from ages 12-22, and I have drawn upon some of these experiences (like the lost friendship) in my novels. I love re-reading these diaries as there are so many emotionally charged entries! The diary entry in Goddess where Emily talks about how frustrated she is because she feels like she’s always being judged by her appearance – ‘I want to believe that ‘Pretty’ isn’t everything’ – was inspired by a very similar diary entry I made at 15.
What’s the name of your favourite book?
“Anne of Green Gables.” I first read it at 14, and I still love it. Anne and Gilbert were one of the inspirations for the Aurora/Hayden dynamic in “How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You”. Another favourite is “I Capture the Castle” – it’s the story of a 17 year old girl, Cassandra, who lives with her artistic, eccentric family in a decaying English castle – the story is told through Cassandra’s diary entries, and it’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1930’s. There was a film a few years back, but the book is far, far superior.
What’s the first book you ever read?
The first book would have been a picture book, but I can’t recall what one! I do remember reading “Heidi” at age six, and I became obsessed with it. I desperately wanted to live in a cabin in the mountains of Switzerland!!!
Where is your favourite place to read?
In bed, on the weekend. When I’m not writing a new novel I really take the opportunity to indulge in reading. When I’m in writer mode, most of my weekend is spent at the computer, so I go through long periods where I don’t have time to pick up a book. When I’m on break, I start trying to make my way through the stacks of TBR’s that I’ve acquired from online buying sessions via Booktopia.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would you be doing?
Cooking! Or watching a cooking program – my favourite way to relax is to watch “Master Chef” or Netflix’s “Chef’s Table.” Some of the chefs are so incredibly clever and creative – if I wasn’t an author, I would love to do something with food.
If you had the chance to have a dinner date with any fictional literary character, who would it be, where would it be and why?
L M Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) – she is my favourite writer, and there are so many questions I would like to ask her about her characters and her experience as a writer in another era, when being a female writer was incredibly unusual (she lived from 1874-1942). I’d love the dinner to be on Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is where Anne of Green Gables was set, as I have always dreamt of visiting!
What was the last book you read? (title/genre/author/rating out of 5 stars)
The Golden Child by Wendy James (Australian author). It was a real page turner – I’d rate it 4.5 stars!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever received from a fan?
The coolest thing I ever had a reader do was when Amanda, The Bookish Manicurist created nails that were How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You themed! They were amazing and even featured little Aurora’s! Photo Courtesy: The Bookish Manicurist
If your life was turned into a movie, who would you like to play you?
Hmmmm. Tough one. I can’t think of an actress that looks similar to me….my husband suggested Blake Lively, which was unexpected and flattering, so I’ll go with that!
As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
The advice that I would pass on to anyone else who wants to write, is to have confidence in yourself. Listen to constructive feedback from those within the industry, and work on becoming a better writer, but you also have to cultivate a fierce inner determination and optimism.
The other advice I would give is that writing requires sacrifice. Generally that sacrifice is time – and unfortunately, unless you write full time, you’ll have to carve out writing time from what remains after a full working week. Sadly, this is often time that you would spend relaxing, seeing friends or family. I try to juggle what I can, but some area always suffers, it’s unavoidable. You can’t manage everything. Each novel I write is two years of work, and I do have to say ‘no’ and even though I feel guilty about it, I make sacrifices in my personal life to make deadlines, and to achieve big goals. If your family and friends love you, and value what you are trying to achieve, then they will understand. I then try to give more to these areas when I’m on break between novels.
Hmmm. Rather than a particular statement or piece of advice, I think what helped me the most was the confidence that my English teachers in high school, instilled in me. One of my English teachers was formerly an editor at quite a few of the well-known Publishing houses in the UK and Australia, and when she learned through the grapevine that I hoped to be a novelist one day, she actually approached me after class and said seriously ‘I think you can achieve that goal.’ That was huge for me. After I wrote my first novel (which was at that point, un-signed) and other people would tell me that the odds of being published were close to impossible, I always still had that quiet confidence within me that said ‘No, I will be published.’
The Top 10: This or That
Ice cream or Ice Block?
Library or Bookstore?
That’s like choosing your favourite child! Libraries I think, because they were my saving grace growing up in a small town – a portal to a myriad of different worlds!
Vegemite or Peanut Butter?
Vegemite! I wouldn’t cope without it! I feel like it’s one of those ‘cure all’s for any ailment 😉
Chicken or Beef?
I’m a vegetarian actually! ;-/
Winter or Summer?
Tough one. Used to be summer, but now that I ski, winter has become more of a favourite. I have to have mountains around – snow and mountains make winter magical!
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee by a mile! My husband is an amateur barista, so we drink a lot of it!
Ultimate Holiday Destination:
The Maldives! I’m obsessed…mostly because I love snorkelling and spying on fish “Under da sea, under da sea….”
When reading, I love to eat/drink:
Summer fruits – peaches, nectarines, apricots…
Famous last words:
“Imagine if” – that’s the writer-brain in action!
Make sure you get a hold of Tara’s books.. they’re a lot of fun to read!!!
They are the pinnacle of contemporary YA reads!!!
Tara would love to hear from readers, so please feel free to say hello via:
Special thanks to Tara Eglington for spending her time with Read3r’z Re-Vu, we hope to see you again and best wishes for your next project!!! Please keep in touch!!!
-Interview compiled by Annie