After reading and loving Melissa Tagg's debut novel, Made to Last, I was extremely excited for the chance to interview this amazing author! (You can read my review HERE)
Sure thing! I’m a former reporter turned author. Well, author by early morning and late night, that is. By day, I work for a Christian nonprofit that serves homeless and hungry men, women and children. I do grant writing and communications stuff. I have the coolest family, love to travel and can talk your ears off about classic movies.
What is your book, Made to Last, about?
Made to Last is a romantic comedy about figuring out who we are underneath the trappings of success—or lack thereof—and in the process finding a faith and love that’s made to last. It’s about a homebuilding TV show host/DIY guru who’s trying to boost her ratings and save her show, even if it means pretending to be married to a man who’s definitely not the fiancé who ran out on her. And shadowing her every move is a handsome reporter whose digging brings him a little too close to the truth—and to her.
What made you want to start writing?
I was a total bookworm as a kid…still am. I love stories and bringing characters to life. So I’m a definite storyteller at heart. As for writing, it’s my most natural form of communication. So put them together, and I’m an author.
Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your life?
Definitely my parents. They are two of the coolest people you will ever meet and definitely the biggest cheerleaders in my life. Their combined love for God and each other is awesome.
What is one of the best names you ever gave a character in a story-published or unpublished?
Ooh, fun question. So, in a book that will probably never be published, I named a guy Case Matthews. I thought it was a fabulous name…I have no idea why, I just did. But the funny thing is, this character was a farmer who always talked about his John Deere equipment. If you’re at all ag-savvy, you know Case IH is one of John Deere’s biggest competitors…which didn't even compute with me until about halfway through the writing of the book.
Case Matthews is a really cool name-I love it! I'm not at all "ag-savvy" but that is quite amusing!
Where is your favorite place to write?
My mom and dad’s house! They live about an hour north of me, just a few miles outside my hometown. They have a pretty backyard and tree-filled ravine in back…AND…no wi-fi. So it’s like completely distraction-less. Obviously I can’t do all my writing there, though, so I’m usually at my desk in my place.
That sounds like such a cool place to write!
What would you say is your most interesting writer's quirk?
Hmm, I’m not sure this is interesting per se but I always feel the need to have a Diet Coke with Lime, a cup
of coffee and a glass of water when I sit down to write for a long chunk of time. Otherwise, if I only have one thing, I will convince myself I need something different…in other words, I am great at looking for excuses to leave my desk. Haha! So if I have all three to start with, I am less likely to wander off to the kitchen.
I'm pretty good at looking for excuses to put off doing things too though it's usually with reading a book that I need to finish for review. I often "bribe" myself with a small snack that I can eat one piece of every 5 or 10 pages so that I keep reading. I just did it with chocolate chips yesterday!
What activities do you enjoy besides writing?
Reading, watching classic movies, taking long walks…seriously, walks with friends are like my favorite thing ever. I also love hanging out with my family. We’re kind of spread out now, but I take ever chance I can to get together with them.
How do you to get over writer's block?
I push through it. I force myself to put words on the page (er, screen) even if I know I’ll eventually delete them all. Too, this is odd, but the TV show Gilmore Girls always gets my brain pinging. The dialogue in it is really quick and witty—it reminds me of the movie His Girl Friday (so good!!). And for some reason, I can
watch it for like 10-15 minutes and it’s enough to get me refueled.
Gilmore Girls is awesome and that is such a fun way to get over writer's block! I can totally see how it would help!
If you could switch places with one of your characters for a day, which one would you pick?
FUN question. Probably my main character, Miranda Woodruff, because I’d get to see what it feels like—even if only for one day—to be good at building things and DIY projects.
I’m reading Anne Mateer’s “A Home for My Heart” right now. Such a great book. Also just finished Jody Hedlund’s “Rebellious Heart” and Laura Frantz’s “Love’s Awakening.” Fabulous, both of them!
Rebellious Heart was SO good and I can't wait to read Love's Awakening!
What kind of music do you like to listen to?/Who are your favorite artists?
I am CRAZY about Coldplay. Crazy. I love them SO much. So that’s what I listen to tons. I also adore Needtobreathe. And just recently, I got super into Erin McCarley. I also seem to have this thing for British bands—Keane, Travis, Muse…
What are some of your all-time favorite books and/or authors?
Ooh, good question. I grew up slightly obsessed with the book Christy by Catherine Marshall, so that has to go on the favorites list. I also love The Brothers K by David James Duncan which is about four brothers, baseball and even politics and religion. It’s an odd sort of book for me to like, but it’s just amazing. And I read tons of CBA. Favorite authors include Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Jenny B. Jones, Jody Hedlund, Beth Vogt, Laura Frantz, Anne Mateer, Joanne Bischof, Lisa Jordan…I could go on and on. I also think Ted Dekker is brilliant and could (and do) read his Circle series over and over.
Susan May Warren, Jenny B. Jones, and Jody Hedlund are all favorites of mine too and I've really enjoyed the books I've read of Rachel Hauk and Laura Frantz. I'm not a huge Ted Dekker fan (though I haven't read the Circle series) but my sister is a huge fan!
What are some of your favorite TV shows/movies?
Oh my, you’ve opened Pandora’s Box. J I don’t watch much television—basically just Downton Abbey and
Sherlock (LOVE!)—these days BUT I was obsessed with 24 back in the day. Jack Bauer’s so cool! As for movies, I love classic movies so much. SO much. Anything with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Clark Gable…oh, and I can pretty much quote the entirety of What’s Up Doc from 1972.
Sherlock is awesome! I still need to watch the last two episodes of season 2 though! Classic movies are great-especially musicals!
Favorite book you read as a child?
Christy by Catherine Marshall.
Favorite book or verse of the Bible?
I LOVE the book of Romans. Romans 15:13 is one of my faves—it talks about the God of hope filling us with peace and joy as we trust in him. I also love 2 Thessalonians 1:11, especially as its paraphrased in The Message: “Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you.”
Love Romans and that is a really cool verse! I don't think I ever really noticed it much before!
What is your favorite color?
Blue and green are tied.
Early bird or Night owl?
Both! I’m totally serious. I used to be solely a night owl but a couple years ago I trained myself to become a morning person. A friend promised me if I got up at 5 a.m. for 21 days in a row, it’d be habit. She was right. But I still love late nights. Thus, sleep and I have a bit of a rift in our relationship right now. Haha!
Cat or dog?
Dogs. So totally dogs.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee! But…I did study in London and eventually finally did get hooked on it. But coffee is still my first choice.
What is a charity or mission that you are passionate about?
Haha, I should probably say the charity I work for. We are a Christ-centered nonprofit—the largest privately-funded provider of programs and services for those who are homeless and hungry in Iowa. It’s a very cool ministry. I also love Compassion International and Project Rescue (thanks to my friend, Jessica Patch, for introducing me to the latter).
Are you currently working on a new book and can you tell us a bit about it?
I am! I’m currently finishing up edits on my second book—Here to Stay—which releases May 1 next year. It features one of my favorite characters from Made to Last. And I’m also putting together a proposal for another series I’m pretty excited and hopeful about!
I can't wait!
Thank you so much Melissa for this fun interview!