B.D. Tharp, author of Feisty Family Values and the recently completed Patchwork Family. She's currently working on another novel tentatively titled Close to You.
B.D. has been writing stories since she learned to write, but she didn't start trying to share them until 1999 when one of her college instructors encouraged her to write fiction. Soon after, she went to a writer's retreat and her muse moved in.
Characters, for B.D., usually come from someone she has seen that made an impression on her. Tillie, one of the characters in Feisty Family Values was inspired by a friend of hers who is tiny in stature but has tons of spunk. Regina was physically modeled after an instructor she had in college who glided into a room in her flowing skirts and long hair.
"It may sound silly, but once I 'knew' the characters, the interactions between them developed almost naturally, as if they were telling me the story," she told me. "But only part of the time – the rest of the development is just plain hard work and research driven by an idea in my head.
"The sequel, Patchwork Family picks up a year later, with all the same characters, and a new one here and there. It’s been a year since Annabelle became her grandchildren’s guardian. After a ten-year absence their father reappears, disrupting their lives. Tillie and Regina are still around, with their handsome 'mature' mates. And the kids adopt a new dog and a kitten to add to the household. Much like Feisty Family Values the characters learn about family, love and what it takes to make them work."
"What was the inspiration for you to write Feisty Family Values?" I asked.
"I spent the first few years of my life being raised by my grandmother. She was a wonderful woman who cooked, crocheted, and made The Beatles band out of roasted peanuts. She was very creative and we were very close. My memories of her and the friendships I’ve enjoyed with other women over the years were the impetus for me to write Feisty Family Values.”
In B.D.'s opinion, the most important elements of good writing are "interesting characters that are three-dimensional, a plot that holds together through the whole story and is resolved at the end, and a story that is so compelling I don’t want to put the book down."
When B.D.'s not writing, she like to read and walk her dogs ("not necessarily at the same time," she specified).
"I’ve created quite a library and it keeps growing," she told me. "There are SO many wonderful books out there, and more being created every day. Once a year I donate the books I don’t think I’ll read again to the library."
"Do you hear from your readers much?" I wondered.
"On the BD Tharp Books Facebook page I’ve had the pleasure of being 'liked' by many readers. I love it! They ask about the new book, they tell me who they bought copies of Feisty Family Values for and let me know when their library gets a copy. I also blog at BDTharp.com and readers often comment or ask questions. I’m honored to have gotten such great questions and reviews from my readers. They’ve said things like 'I couldn’t put FFV down,' 'Annabelle is so much like their grandmother,' and I even had one reader who was ready to kick one of the less than nice character’s butt."
B.D. didn't want to be a writer when she grew up. First, she wanted to be an artist. She would draw pictures on any open scrap of paper—even in the margins of the daily news—usually of people or animals that she eventually painted on canvas in oil. Then she wanted to be a pop singer.
"My dad said, 'No, you’ll marry a drummer and live in poverty,'" she remembered. "That made quite an impression on me; at 16, poverty wasn’t on my list of things to do."
Once she got married and had her son, she just wanted to have fun with her family. When he was almost grown, B.D. went back to college and that’s when the writing journey really began for her.
"I loved writing papers for school, but other things started churning in my brain," she explained. "Characters and scenes were vivid enough that I began to write them down between classes and on my meal breaks at work and school. I started painting portraits with words. I love being a writer."
On a personal note, I asked, "Do you hate how you look in pictures?"
"Yes, but I think most people don’t like how they look in photos. That’s why they invented the air brushing technique. My son once told me that I smile with my whole face and my eyes disappear. He’s right, of course, but I can’t help it. So, if you see a picture of a woman with squinty eyes and a huge smile, it might be me."
Her strangest habit?
"When I make a sandwich and put the top slice of bread on I give it a pat with my hand. It drives my husband crazy and I have no idea why I do it."
Her favorite animal is dogs, and she's had at least one all her life. Her husband is also a dog fan and they've had as many as three at a time. She admitted, though, that three are a little hard to handle.
"I prefer medium to large sized dogs like the Brittany Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers, but I enjoy the antics of all breeds," she said.
"Have you ever cried during a movie?" I wanted to know.
"OMG, have I Ever? I cried my eyes out in Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias. I love to cry at movies, and sometimes, when he doesn’t know I’m looking, I’ve caught my big strong husband crying, too."
B.D. told me she's neither a morning nor a night person, but she's at her best from 10 AM to 3 PM.
"Before 10:00 a.m. I’m groggy, even after a couple of cups or glasses of tea. At about 3:00 I begin to get tired," she told me. "That’s when I hit the chocolate or a diet soda with caffeine. That’s not to say I don’t get up early to walk my dogs before work (6:30 a.m.), when it’s blistering hot. And there are times I stay up late watching a movie or playing cards (New Years Eve, for example). The fact of the matter is this, I NEED my beauty sleep."
About the Author: BDTharp.com