Right on the heels of my latest read, Sorrow by Tiffanie DeBartolo… and I can’t believe my LUCK!!!!!! I just interviewed her!!!
I have been a HUGE Tiffanie DeBartolo fan since my early indie-book days. Her book “How to Kill a Rock Star” put me (and many of my fellow readers) into a frenzy. WE. FREAKED. OUT!!!! And I’ve since read and loved two more of her books, and she will be forever, one of my all time favorite authors in the whole world!
If you haven’t discovered her awesome love stories yet, I insist you do! Here are my book reviews just to give you an idea. 😉
- Book Review How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo – 5 stars
- Book Review – God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo – 5 stars
- Book Review – Sorrow by Tiffanie DeBartolo – 4.5 stars <— P.S. This one is on super-bargain sale today!!!! ONE CLICK!!
And if you already know and love her like I do… let’s get to know her better, shall we?
Maryse: Considering Joe’s heavy heart and reticent ways in your latest release, “Sorrow“, can you tell me how he came to you and was it hard being in his head?
Tiffanie: Well, let me say that I know many men and women like Joe. I work with musicians. They can be insecure, and they have a tendency to get in their own way. I also grew up in a place (Youngstown, Ohio) that seemed to have a knack for sucking the dreams right out of people’s spirits.
And, I’ve also had my heart broken by men like Joe. The impetus to write this story was really to explore, and hopefully to come to understand, why so many people are willing to sacrifice their soul’s deepest desires simply because they’re afraid of failing, or afraid of getting hurt.
To answer the second part of that question, yes, sometimes it was hard being in Joe’s head. Sometimes it was frustrating. BUT the beauty of writing this novel was how much insight it gave me into the hows and whys of human behavior. Being Joe taught me a lot about compassion. We’re often so quick to judge people when we’re on the outside looking in, but the minute we stand in their shoes, we see and feel their humanity. We see how much they care, and how hard they try. We realize how sensitive they are. It felt like an important lesson.
Maryse: Yes!! So true… Joe had such an amazing, yet almost broken heart. I’ve always heard of empaths that can completely feel someone else’s energy and even take it on themselves. I had no idea there was a term for it. Do you know someone like October in real life?
Tiffanie: I’ll admit I am a little bit like October. I don’t have it to the degree she does, my ability is not a condition. But I have definitely spent a lot of time in my life feeling like I was being weighed down by pain and sorrow, and not understanding why. It took me decades – and some plant medicine journeys – to realize that those feelings were not always my own.
Maryse: I get that, because I can often feel the energy in a room of people, and the goal is to not let it affect me, if it feels down or negative. Not always easy…
I love how deeply you explore romance and love stories with the potential of emotional catastrophe… love in its elation and in its occasional devastation. What was the hardest scene for you. Do you feel your characters heartbreak like your readers do?
Tiffanie: Yes, I assure you I do! There was one chapter I literally spent almost two months on, but I can’t f*#king remember which one it was! LOL. I think one of the hardest scenes for me to get absolutely right was probably the scene in the forest when they’re on mushrooms, when Joe tells October what happened to Sam. That scene felt very important to both characters, and I knew I had to get it right.
Maryse: Oh definitely. I remember that scene deeply. How do you push through that kind of soul deep ache after writing something so emotional?
Tiffanie: It’s not easy! The hardest part for me is that I get really close to these people. They become dear friends to me, family even. I dream about my characters when I’m working on a book, I think about them all the time, day and night, talk about them as if they’re real, so the moment I’m done with a book, when I no longer get to spend all day with my beloved imaginary friends, I get depressed. I miss them so much. It’s hard to go from thinking about someone every waking hour to not having to think about them anymore. Even now, occasionally I’ll pick up a copy of SORROW and read a chapter, just to get the chance to hang out with them again.
Maryse: I completely relate to that. I often feel the same way after finishing a series, even dreading getting to the end of a series knowing I will no longer be “living” with them anymore. It can take me days to get over that “I miss them” melancholy. And yet I LOVE that feeling because it means I really connected to a story and escaped into “their world”. There is nothing better than that for a reader.
On the lighter side of “Sorrow” 😉 I got a kick out of her Irish Wolfhound, “Diego”. He was such an important character in October and Joe’s life. Big goofy bumbling sweetheart that put a grin on my face, every time he was in the scene (even the harder scenes). He seemed so real. Do you have a “Diego”?
Tiffanie: I DO HAVE A DIEGO! Two of them, in fact! and I’m going to attach a photo of them so you can see just how goofy and bumbling and hilarious they are. I am obsessed with my wolfhounds. They’re magical creatures.
The bigger one, Dipsea, who Diego was inspired by, is 180 pounds, and 7 feet tall on his hind legs. He is the sweetest, gentlest soul you could ever meet. I love him so much I had to put him in the book.
Maryse: OMG I LOVE THAT!! And… HOLY. MOLY!!! 7′ tall and almost 200 lbs. WOW!!! I still can’t get over that. I absolutely adore your huge cuties. “Dipsea” and “Kazoo”. Cutest names ever!
What was the inspiration for this love story? Did it change as you wrote it, or did you already know exactly where it was going from the start?
Tiffanie: The inspiration for the story really came to me one day when I was listening to a song called “Pink Rabbits” by The National. And I had no idea where the story was going when I first started it. I thought maybe it was going to be Joe and Cal’s story, to be honest, but then October showed up on the scene and changed everything. It was a different way of working for me.
I tend to know the beginning of a story and the ending, and then have to figure out everything in between. This story was really born organically from the characters. They came to me first. Once I had a clear idea of who they were, the story fell into place in a pretty magical way.
Maryse: Going with the flow is a wonderful way to be inspired. And you know what? For me, also… I realized that the amazing connection and friendship between Joe and Cal was as important and defining to this story, as the one with October. Two love stories, in essence, just in different ways.
Any writing surprises along the way?
Tiffanie: This is something of a spoiler so I’ll try to speak in code, knowing anyone who’s already read the novel will understand what I mean – but the biggest surprise for me was what I’ll call “plot point one”.
What I mean is, I didn’t know who was going to walk into October’s kitchen that day until Joe did, and that knocked me for a loop – and sent the story in a direction that was so surprising, but seemed inevitable, you know?
Maryse: Tiffanie, I was GASPING!!! I LOVED THAT!!!! And how cool that it was as much as a surprise to you. GENIUS!
Author confession time:
Maryse: Do you have any writing habits and rituals? Things that must be a certain way for you to feel perfectly entrenched in your story for it to all flow through you?
Tiffanie: Coffee. A lot of coffee. I like to write in libraries and coffee shops, with headphones on, listening to instrumental music. I listened to a lot of Hammock and Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky while I was writing SORROW. And a lot of classical music and jazz.
And I like to write earlier in the day as opposed to later. When I’m working on a book I wake up ridiculously early – like by 5am – and I exercise, then shower, then get to work until my eyes can’t focus any longer.
Maryse: What is your absolute favorite book?
Tiffanie: It’s a three-way tie between
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien,
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Maryse: Your own personal craziest reaction while reading a book? I know my reaction to your book “How to Kill a Rock Star” had me in a frenzied, public tailspin (and it’s all there in my review). LOL!
Tiffanie: OK, well, this might be a really lame answer, but in 2017 my publishers put out a 15-year-anniversary edition of God-Shaped Hole (my first novel), and they asked me to do a deep reread of it to see if there were any editorial changes I wanted to make for the new version. I hadn’t read the book in well over a decade, and when I did reread it, it felt as if I were reading it for the first time. I laughed, I cried, I felt all the feels, as they say. The book really hit me hard.
That was such a cool experience to be able to have, you know? But it did feel a little crazy. Because, well, I wrote it, for God’s sake. Surely I knew what was coming. But everything felt so new and surprising.
Maryse: I absolutely get that. It’s like when we re-read a book, and re-experience everything all over again. Even though we know where it’s going, it still excites (or inspires or elicits a reaction). I think that’s pretty incredible actually that a writer can feel that too, for their own stories. And it totally makes sense. 😀
Your most memorable/crazy/funny fan experience with any of your readers?
Tiffanie: It would have to be meeting Tarryn Fisher for the first time! Tarryn had emailed me randomly when she was in San Francisco (where i live) for a book signing. I hadn’t heard of her yet and I had no idea that I had any kind of cult following of readers. Tarryn said, basically, “I love your books and I really want to meet you. Will you come to the book signing?” It was a Saturday and I had nothing else to do so I said I would, and when I got there, there was a huge line of readers waiting to meet me. I had no idea that many people cared about my books. It blew me away.
But the best part of that day was that I made a friend who would come to mean so much to me. I’m so grateful to Tarryn. It was really her prodding that got me to start writing again after a long hiatus, and cherish her presences in my life.
Maryse: I adore Tarryn. Not only is she a wonderful writer (I read everything she writes and can’t wait for more), but she’s a wonderful human being, and I often save snippets of her real life insights and reflections to my notepad because I connect so deeply with what she said and sometimes when I need to remind myself, I seek out her words. She’s like a super-deep, soul-searching fortune cookie. 😉 Her thoughts resonate with me.
Thank you SO much Tiffanie for letting us into your world, and I can’t wait to see what you write next!!
➔➔➔ Looking for more author interviews & tidbits? Browse my “Behind the Books” section on my blog. 😀
➔➔➔ Love this author? Browse more Tiffanie DeBartolo features and reviews on my blog. 😀