Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview with Tamara Carlisle

 Today, I'm pleased to have with me author Tamara Carlisle for an interview!

Hi Tamara, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and welcome to my blog!

Tell me about yourself, and your writing.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my Scottish husband and 13-year-old daughter.  I am a graduate of the University of Southern California, where I obtained both my undergraduate and law degrees.  I practiced law until after I had my daughter and decided that the 60-80 hour work weeks were too much.  I currently serve as a consultant for a large, national company with a more modest schedule, comparatively speaking, allowing more time for my family and writing.  Writing fiction has been a hobby of mine since I was a child.  I wrote Away from the Spotlight for my own enjoyment.  The recent success of a number of self-published authors inspired me to publish.

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?

I have written fiction as a hobby since I was a child.  Away from the Spotlight, a contemporary romance, is my first published work.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

I have written as a hobby since I was a child.  I liked to write short stories in multiple genres.  For my own pleasure, I’ve written short ghost stories, mysteries, spy thrillers, science fiction and romance.  Away from the Spotlight, a contemporary romance, is my first completed full-length novel.  I have a handful of other full-length novels in the works, all in the romance genre, but in different subgenres:  historical romance, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.  When I have a good idea for a full-length novel in another genre, I will run with it just as I have with the various romance novels.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?

I am both a plotter and a pantser.  I channel the story as if transcribing a movie playing in my head.  However, I follow with an outline/timeline to fill in the gaps and ensure consistency and ensure a logical progression of the story.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I write in the evenings since I have a full-time job and a long commute.  I write while my daughter is doing homework or on the phone with friends and my husband is catching up on the day’s sports on television.   I shut out the world so that I can channel the story without distraction or interruption.  When I am finished writing for the day, I add to my outline/timeline that I create to ensure consistency and logical progression of the story.

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?

My all-time favorite book is The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins.  I love that Higgins turns a World War II spy thriller on its head, making the bad guy sympathetic and the good guys flawed and not always so good.  I referenced this book in Away from the Spotlight as follows:

“Pam has this fantasy of meeting someone like a character in her favorite book.  It’s a World War II Spy Thriller and the bad guy, who’s really not a bad guy, just on the wrong side, is a tall, blond Prussian-type.  She’s hoping to meet someone like him while we’re in Germany.  Tonight is her last chance.”
I am a prolific reader.  I particularly am impressed with a lot of self-published authors lately.  While I could go on forever listing the authors I’ve loved recently, two books I read this past summer were my favorites:  Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens (Kellan Kyle is one of my favorite heroes of all time, music fanatic that I am) and Slammed by Colleen Hoover (I cried my eyes out and I almost never cry).

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

By the beginning of next year, I would like to have two published novels and a third nearing completion.  I have three other novels in the works that I would like to publish as well.  In addition to these, I am considering a sequel to Away from the Spotlight about Will MacKenzie’s son, William.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

I would love to read minds if I could turn it on and off at will.  I love to try to figure people out; it would be easier if I knew what they were thinking since thoughts and actions don’t always match.

If you could keep a mythical/paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

I would love to have a unicorn - yeah, I’m six-years-old at heart.  I like dragons too, but I don’t like heights so I would never consider riding one.

Tell us a little about your latest release.

Away from the Spotlight details the romance between graduating law student, Shannon Sutherland, and English actor, Will MacKenzie.  When they meet, Shannon doesn’t know who Will is and Will takes great pains to keep it that way for a while.  Once Shannon learns the truth, Shannon is swept up in both the glamour and the drawbacks of Will’s fame.  At the same time, Shannon has her own busy life to lead in graduating from law school, studying for the California Bar Exam, traveling with a friend through the U.K. and Europe after the Bar Exam, and commencing her legal career.  Further complicating things, Shannon’s co-worker and former crush becomes single and actively campaigns for Shannon’s affections.  Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart?  Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)

Lately, I cannot live without caffeine.  My gas tank is just about on empty between working full-time, family and social obligations, promoting Away from the Spotlight, and writing.  Sugar-Free Red Bull is my best friend these days.

Notwithstanding the short-term time crunch I am in, a more permanent thing I cannot live without is music.  I am a music fanatic, whose tastes span from the 1960’s to the present.  Music entertains me during my long commute, provides a shared activity for my daughter and I (we saw Linkin Park, Incubus and Mute Math in concert recently and plan to see Snow Patrol later this month), improves my mood, and is the basis of or provides a soundtrack for many of my fond memories.

Could you ever co-author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

Because I write by channeling the story, I think it would be difficult.  I’m not opposed to trying though.  Since I have a particular affinity for romances involving musicians, I’d choose S.C. Stephens right now.  I really liked Thoughtless and Effortless.  She seems to be as obsessed with music and musicians as I am, and of the same relative genre, so we likely would get along well.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?

If I had to pick a non-famous person, I would select one of my ancestors from the Scottish Borders in the 16th century.  I am fascinated with that time period.  I would love to hear about his or her life as a Border Reiver.  I have a historical romance in partial draft dealing with that time and place.

If I had to pick a famous person, I would choose Benjamin Franklin (with Jane Austen and Winston Churchill a close second and third).  He is hysterical and, apparently, women loved him.  I don’t have a particular question.  I would love the banter.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?

I’m fanatical about music and a particular fan of alternative rock.  My last concert was Linkin Park, Incubus and Mute Math at Shoreline Amphitheater a few weeks ago.  I love to travel as well.  My last trip was to L.A. for the USC-Cal football game.  I visited a few of my old haunts like El Cholo’s for margaritas and green corn tamales (mentioned in Away from the Spotlight), Chin Chin for my spicy peanut noodles (also mentioned in the novel), and the Ye Olde King’s Head Shoppe to pick up some British foods for my Scottish husband (the pub is the basis for The Royalist).  I am a prolific reader as well, to the tune of about two books a week.  How do I work full-time, take care of a family, write and engage in my hobbies?  Sugar Free Red Bull and very little sleep.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?

Right now, there are two.  I want to see Jamie Fraser in the flesh in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I also want to see Kellan Kyle in the flesh in Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?

I am a frustrated musician who didn’t pursue it because I cannot write music.  I would love to have had that talent.

Favorite color?

I used to say my favorite color is plaid because I love all things Scottish.  However, if I had to pick a single color, it would be dark green.

Weather: Hot or cold?

Cold.  I’m of Scots-Irish descent.  I was made for a cold, rainy place.

Favorite place to read?

My favorite place to read is in my bed with the lights out and my Kindle Fire book in sepia (I can’t do white or black in the dark).  I usually read before going to bed.

Favorite meal

I absolutely love Indian food.  My favorite meal is chicken tikka masala or chicken korma with garlic naan, vegetable biryani, spicy papadums and samosas.  I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.

It’s a three-way tie:  Sugar Free Red Bull, Iced Tea and Tab.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?

I would love to visit India.  I’d eat my way through the country and shop a lot.  For someone who lives in dark-colored clothing almost exclusively, I love that everything there is so bright and colorful


In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?


I took the opportunity to confront John.  “What was that in there?  You know those are Will’s friends.”

“I know.”

“Will is my boyfriend.  You shouldn’t be doing things like that and particularly not in front of his friends.”

“Which is it that bothers you: that I was holding your hand or that Will’s friends might see?”


“I’m not sorry.  I need your friendship right now.  Anyway, isn’t that what friends do?”

“We’re not five-years-old.  At our age, no, it’s not what friends do.”

“Don’t be mad.  I’m sorry.  I can behave myself.”

“Can you?  Because I don’t know if we can be friends if you can’t.”

A pained look crossed John’s face.  “Yes, I can behave myself.  Please.”  We were silent as we continued to walk to my car.  As we approached my car, John asked, “Uh, can you give me a ride back to Max’s?  Because my car’s there and I’m kind of stranded.”

I rolled by eyes and grimaced.  “Get in.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant. Away from the Spotlight is her first published work of fiction. She currently is working on two additional novels: one is about love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction. Tamara currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter. For further information, go to


Tamara’s Goodreads Author Page also includes a blog detailing trivia relating to Away from the Spotlight.


  1. I'd love a dragon, but I'm not too sure about reading minds.


  2. Good morning and happy Monday! Thank you, Nikki, for hosting me today. I look forward to checking in and chatting throughout the day. Thanks for stopping by, Mary. I appreciate it and hope you enjoyed the post.

  3. Great interview, I enjoyed learning more about you.

  4. Thanks, Ingeborg! I appreciate your joining us this morning.

  5. I loved, loved your interview. It was really fascinating to see how you feel about writing and life in general. I love historical stories and regency romances. I feel the same about scottish stories as this is my ancestry also.

  6. Thanks, MomJane - I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I will try to get back to my historical romance soon - hopefully, I can publish it next year.

  7. Thanks for the great interview. I visited Scotland in college so I totally get the love for the country and its people

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  8. Thanks, Shannon! Scotland is a great place, isn't it? I appreciate your joining us today.

  9. My mom raves about Benjamin Franklin's autobiography...I need to read it sometime. And I'm a total Scotophile (what's the proper word, I wonder?) myself.


  10. Vitajex, I think you'll like Benjamin Franklin. I think you are correct with the term, "Scotophile." I use the term, "Anglophile" a lot and mean the U.K. as a whole, but I know my Scottish husband takes offense to it. Thanks for joining us today!

  11. Thanks, Vitajex, for joining us today. I think you'll like Benjamin Franklin. Thank you again, Nikki, for hosting me today. I've had a great time and look forward to continuing to follow your blog.

  12. Congratulations to Mary P. and Shannon R. for winning the Amazon $25 gift cards! I appreciate everyone who joined me on my tour. Please stay in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads!