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Thursday, March 8, 2012

INTERVIEW: TARA CHEVRESTT

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Chevrestt. Tara is the author of A Facebook Affair which features a hearing-impaired heroine trying to find love on the Internet. Old demons arise, however, which threaten her happiness.


"It's an attempt at educating the hearing public about life for the hearing impaired," Tara explained, "and I'm hoping it encourages parents to talk to their own children about school bullying and the harm it does in the long run."


Tara started losing her hearing when she was four years old, so she understands deafness. However, it doesn't bother her.


"I like being deaf," she told me. "I communicate with others just fine. I read lips. I can talk. I can write dialogue."


In high school, however, she was a loner. She was very much like Kelly in A Facebook Affair when she was younger. She was made fun of and bullied for her disability. By high school, most of the kids had become more interested in sex or drugs and had lost interest in making fun of her. She didn't have many friends, though, she told me.


"If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?" I wondered.


"Gawd. There was this girl named Linda. In middle school, she was made fun of just like me. She was just different from the others. There was nothing wrong with her. She was just timid and beaten down. Knowing how she felt, I was nice to her. I sat with her at lunch and stuff. Well, after a while, she began following me everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I could not go to the bathroom alone. I'm an only child and easily smothered. I snapped at her one day to leave me alone, and I could tell I'd hurt her feelings. I'd give anything to take it back. She never bothered me again, but I felt horrible from that day on. I felt that I was no better than the kids that mistreated me. If I knew her last name, I'd look her up."


I asked Tara what inspired her to start writing.


"For real? A trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum," she said. "That's where I first learned about the Van Buren sisters who rode their Indian motorbikes across the United States in 1916. They were even arrested for wearing pants! Well, as we left the museum, I had their names written down, and I told my husband, 'I want to see if I can find a novel about these women!' (I'm a huge historical fiction buff.) Well, there was no novel, so I said, 'I'll write one.' And I did! It's Ride for Rights."


"When did you first consider yourself a writer?" I asked.


"That's a tough one. At times, I still don't. It seems no matter how stories I write, how many pieces get published, someone always manages to burst my bubble with a question like this: 'Is this a real book? Can I walk into a story and buy this? Or is this just another ebook?' Ouch. So, I'm still struggling with that," she said with a laugh.


Tara said that most of the time, she feels as if she's just talking to herself when it comes to getting word of her books out.


"I Facebook, blog, twitter, and it seems to do nothing. People aren't buying or reading my work unless I hand it to them on a platter." She laughed. "I sit there sometimes…just saying, 'Why do I bother?' I've discovered the only way to get people to read your work is to make it free. The only way to do that is to self-pub. Then your book is free and everyone comes running, but yet they then bash you for self-pubbing. So, it feels like a no win situation at times. Though I don't write for the money, if I give everything away, I (or the publisher) don't get reimbursed for cover art/editing expenses. So what to do? I just keep hoping that the quality of my work will speak for itself."


Tara has written ten stories now, some of them short stories. Her favorite is Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers, because it is based on her own dogs—Lola, Pudgy, and Jazzy.


"I had a ton of fun writing that one as I planted myself in their minds and thought like a dog and tried to capture their individual personalities," she said.


She loves hearing from readers, but she did have a request. If you just want to criticize her or tell her about an error you found, she asks that you please write up a review and just take away a few stars.


"It gets trying," she admits. "It doesn't help motivate me getting messages like that!"


The best letter she has received was about A Facebook Affair.


"The reader told me that her mother was deaf and that the book was touching her and teaching her stuff about her mother that she never knew or thought of. It was lovely."


Tara actually wanted to be an F-16 fighter pilot while she was growing up, but her deafness did not allow that to happen. She was, however, an aircraft mechanic for eleven years.


"I love airplanes. I have conveyed this in my writing. Afterburn is about a female sheet metal mechanic. That comes out March 23rd from Breathless Press. It is under my pen name, Sonia Hightower. I also talk a lot about my dreams and being deaf in the aviation industry in my memoir, Deaf Isn't Dumb, coming April 27th from Breathless Press. And, I have a fun Christmas story coming out December of 2012 featuring a woman fighter pilot. Operation: Enduring Santa."


Tara told me that it's funny how she came up with the pen name of Sonia Hightower.


"Okay, my married name is Hightower, but being a modern day woman with my own identity, I kept my own name. I told my husband I wasn't his property. SO, if I had taken his name, I'd be Tara Hightower. Well, when I first thought of a pen name, that's what I was leaning towards, BUT my husband's brother married a Tara. Ack! Basically, if I chose Tara Hightower, I would be using my sister-in-law's name. So I went with Sonia, part of my middle name, Soniamarie."


Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"


"Listen to your editor. An author never has an unbiased opinion about their work. Listen to others, learn, and grow. Remember that reviews are constructive criticism, and that you can't improve if you don't know what you are doing wrong, and trust me, we all do something wrong. Without criticism, you cannot improve!!! Also, write about what you love. If you write about what you love, readers will love what they read. Your own interest in the matter will leap off the page."


About the Author: I'm a reader, writer, and a dog mom. I like to both read and write about strong women. My works include: Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers (based on my own pooches), A Facebook Affair, Ride for Rights, When We Meet Again, Deaf Isn't Dumb (April 2012), and Operation: Enduring Santa (December 2012).


I also write racier stories as Sonia Hightower. Sonia has penned Sinful Urges, Afterburn (March 2012), and Taking It Too Far (October 2012.)
Find the author online at:


Website: http://tarachevrestt.weebly.com/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Chevrestt/218383211513877

Blog: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/


When Kelly and Brandon rediscover each other on Facebook after twenty years apart, it sparks an attraction that even distance can't extinguish. Do they truly have a future, or is this just a Facebook affair?


Kelly Littleton takes the plunge and finally joins Facebook to socialize without the limits that her hearing impairment gives her. On a whim, she looks up a childhood friend. In sending him that first message, she ignites the memories of a crush from twenty years ago. But will they turn into the flames of romance, or end up the ashes of a Facebook affair?


Brandon Hopkins has a lot on his plate. A recent divorce, a pregnant sister, and now, he realizes he's in love with a woman who lives states away. Can he overcome the boundaries of internet romance to make this desire turn into something real, or will adversity and distance be their undoing?
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3 comments:

W. Lynn Chantale said...

Really good interview. I've read a few of your titles now, so I can't wait to get to some of the others. You have a fan here for life, my friend.

Liberty said...

Wonderful interview. I especially liked the story about the girl from middle school.

rbooth43 said...

Great interview! I have wondered if people have rekindled a romance from long ago by Facebook! Great storyline!