Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is T. M. Becker, which is short for something long and (mostly) unpronounceable, so my friends call me Steph. I am 39 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised (and still live) in South Central Pennsylvania, USA. I’ve lived my whole life with the Appalachian Mountains as a backdrop.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.)
I graduated from high school in 1996 and then completed one year of college as a music ed. major—much to the chagrin of my English professors—before leaving school and getting married. I have now been happily married for almost 20 years, and my husband and I have nine children, aged 18 years to 9 months.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My debut novel, Full Moon Rising, is coming out with Prospective Press on January 16. The whole publishing experience has been a dream come true.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Why did I begin writing? Hmmm. I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. The easy answer is that I had a story idea I had to get out of my head. Considering my head is now cluttered with dozens more stories, I suppose being a writer is now part of who I am. As to when—I began Full Moon Rising when I was pregnant with our fourth child—thirteen years ago.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When does one become a writer? After the first page, the first chapter, the first book? When the writing becomes more about the journey than the destination, I think you can call yourself a writer. I don’t really know when that happened…probably when I knew I had something worth sharing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I read two books that served as major inspiration—Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. In Beauty, the title character refuses to marry the beast at the end because she doesn’t feel she is beautiful enough for him. Her issues with self-image have been reinforced by the dearth of mirrors in the Beast’s enchanted castle. The Thief is told in first person, but the MC is withholding information from the reader throughout the entire book, with a spectacular reveal at the end. So I thought, what if a mirror didn’t show someone their true reflection? How would that influence their psyche and interpersonal interactions? And what if the MC was the last one to figure that out? And so the basis of Full Moon Rising was born.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title was actually my husband’s brainchild. I was in the midst of writing the first draft when he suggested the title Full Moon Rising…and I loved it!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I consider myself a quilter. I have any number of scenes running through my head (usually involving dialogue of some sort), and then I have to stitch them together into a cohesive narrative. This scene-by-scene style works well for me, but it still has its share of challenges. I write slowly and rather painstakingly, so my first draft is very finished, but sometimes I wish I could just blow out a couple thousand words in a short time. I wrote the first draft of Full Moon Rising much faster, but I edited it a dozen times. Now I writer slower, but there’s less editing. I’m not sure which is better.
Fiona: How much of your book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Every author brings their own experiences and observations to their writing, and my books are no different. There is a touch of my daughters in my female MC and hints of my sons in my later books, and the dialogue is very much what I wish I could say if I didn’t have to think about every word first. Besides characters, my settings are highly influenced by things I see. Trees growing in the footprint of an old basement inspired one setting, and fainting goats produced an idea for a subplot in another novel. Using real things I see in nature gives my settings a more realistic flavor…or so I hope.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’d love to be a globetrotting author who gets to write off their travels expenses as “research,” but no such luck. My travel is limited to a couple vacations and family visits. But even as I go about my day-to-day life, I try to be observant, and I take note of any unique things I see. Since my genre of choice is fantasy, I can incorporate almost anything I want. I do have one planned urban fantasy set on the Outer Banks. It’s a setting I’m reasonably familiar with since we have vacationed there a number of times. When I finally get around to writing that book, I may wrangle for another visit in order to get my details right.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, Prospective Press, is in charge of cover design. I asked for some changes on the initial cover, and I am very happy with the final result. Jason Graves has designed some great covers for the press, and he’s outdone himself with mine.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The two strongest themes running through my book are about self-image and sacrifice. Self-image is the cornerstone on which the plot is built as the MC’s self-image colors her interactions with all the other characters. And after being mostly self-sufficient for her entire childhood, she struggles to understand and accept the sacrifice of others.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I admit I am always somewhat behind the times when it comes to new writers and their works, but one current author that I love is Markus Zusak. He writes in prose, yet his work is so lyrical that in many ways it is like reading poetry. And his metaphors and description! In many ways, his writing transcends the genres we like to pigeonhole works into. He is also one of the only authors that has successfully mastered first-person present tense writing. Somehow, he makes it work beautifully. As for my favorite writer…that is so difficult. I grew up with so many favorites…my list is endless. But if I must choose, my two favorite is Megan Whalen Turner.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
This one is easy…The Central PA Writers Workshop, my critique group. The workshop has had a rotating list of members over the years and two steadfast friends without whom I never would have learned how to write, edit, and produce a work of fiction that was worthy of publication. My two longtime friends in the group are my go-to beta readers. I’m actually afraid to let anyone else see anything I write before they take their red pens to it. J Even though I have outgrown the group as a whole, I will always (I hope) exchange work with those two members. I trust their judgment and their advice, and I will always be grateful for the role they took in shaping me into the writer I am today.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Wow. I wish I could, but I am a realist. Unless my book(s) sell much better than those of other Indie writers, that won’t be possible. However, any income I generate from writing is more than the zero I have earned in the last thirteen years. And if I can earn a little money writing, it will be easier to justify the time I spend writing when I probably should be teaching, cooking, cleaning, taxiing, changing diapers,chasing the baby,waitressing, going to the gym, running, shopping for food, folding laundry,washing dishes… 😀
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
One of the advantages of being unpublished for thirteen years (and writing other books in the meantime) is that I have already made all the changes to my story that I wanted to. I’ve added in those hints to later books and those intriguing little details that play out further in the series…because it wasn’t published. J So in all, I am really happy with the way Full Moon Rising has turned out. I’m sure plenty of people will find fault with it, but it is very solid, both from a plot standpoint and for readability and grammar.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I learned I am stubborn beyond belief, at least when it comes to my goal of publication. I could have given up a dozen times along the way, but I didn’t, either in my agent search or later in my quest for a publisher. I hung in there. And I’m pretty sure I now have brain damage from banging my head against the wall so many times, but I achieved what I set out to do—publication.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
That is such a hard question. There are so many talented young actresses out there. If I had to pick one, I guess I would go with Emma Watson, though my MC is only fifteen during much of the book.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. And find a critique group. Constructive criticism is imperative to success. And you must grow a thick skin yet also be able to separate useful advice from useless garble. Lots of people don’t know nearly as much about writing as they think they do. Find someone you trust…find a couple someone’s you trust, and let them tear down your work so you can build something worth reading. And a fierce stubborn streak is helpful as well. And most importantly, don’t give up on your writing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Write to me! Send me messages! I want to hear your thoughts, criticisms, fan fics, and even slam poetry! If my characters feel as real to you as they do to me, then I’ve done my job.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m in the middle of an unpublished book called Prophecy written by my friend and critique partner, Ashley Hurd. She has some short fiction published, so it’s only a matter of time until her novels find a home.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Oh, I do! I was five-years-old, and I found a ragged, abridged version of Little Women with four girls in beautiful dresses on the cover. My mom suggested I try something shorter and easier, but I wanted to read that book about the lovely girls, and I did! I think it was the only version of Little Women I have ever read, but it’s always been one of my favorites.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My children. They make me smile, grin, chuckle, chortle, laugh, and pull my hair out, sometimes all at the same time. They are each so unique and interesting. I take so much joy in watching them mature, grow up, and discover who they are going to be. So far, they have never made me cry, though I am wise enough to know that will come someday. But hopefully my sorrow will be fleeting and my joy will continue to overflow, as it always has.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’ve always been fascinated by women in history: Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra, Ruth, Esther, etc. If I could meet one, I think I would pick Cleopatra. What attributes did she possess that made her so irresistible to Caesar and Marc Antony? How did she hold her country together for so long in the face of inevitable invasion? She is quite a compelling woman, and one whose story I find intriguing.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Besides writing? Not really. I love to cook and run and workout and watch my children play soccer, but nearly all my ‘spare’ time is spent writing, editing, or completing other writing/book related tasks.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
We don’t have cable, so we spend our evenings watching shows on Netflix. (I’m so spoiled, I can’t stand to watch network television anymore…all those commercials!) We watch soccer, football, and March Madness on streaming sites like WatchESPN. Currently, we’re rewatching NCIS. We also like Hawaii Five-0 and I’m starting to get into Travellers and Dark Matter. The last movie I watched was The Arrival. That was a great one. Before that it was Rogue One.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love cooking, and so do my daughters. I love a great burger, a good steak, all things seafood, the complex flavors of sushi, and I’m a sucker for chocolate. (Hence my new gym membership.)My favorite colors are deep blue, cranberry, and emerald green. I grew up on classical music and show tunes and they are my first love, but my husband and children have greatly broadened my tastes. I like Bon Jovi, Fun, Adele, Carrie Underwood, U2, and a little bit of lots of other artists. My go to group, The Piano Guys, blends everything I love about popular music and classical music. Piano and cello…need I say more? And I have my daughter to thank for the discovery of my newest favorite, Pentatonix. So amazing!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I can’t imagine that. But if I couldn’t write anymore, I would…Nope. Can’t imagine that.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Readers can visit www.tmbecker.com where they can read about me and subscribe to an email list for updates. I am also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FullMoonRising.ProspectivePress/and very active on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.m.becker/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/TsiphBecker. I’d love to hear from readers and followers on all my social media sites!
Here are some links for me and my book:
My book on Barnesandnobles.com: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/full-moon-rising-t-m-becker/1127706649?ean=9781943419630
My Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tmbecker
My Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/FullMoonRising.ProspectivePress/
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/TsiphBecker
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.m.becker/