I met Tanya a while back, and we’ve become good friends. She’s a witty, vivacious lady who happens to have some darkness in her past. She does not let that get her down, but instead uses it to help others. Now that I’ve finally started offering interviews, I’ve managed to coax her out of her chosen shadows so that you can all get to know her, and discover what a wonderful person she is as well.
Tanya, I know you like to keep some secrets, but do you have anywhere you admit to haling from?
- I like my anonymity so I put Alexandria, VA on my Facebook page and while I did live there for quite some time. I was born and raised in New Mexico.
What can you tell us about your yourself and your history?
- My current family life is the most blissful I have known. I live in my own apartment with my beautiful furbaby. One of my best friends, my mother, lives down the hall. I am an incest survivor and activist for raising awareness about Non-Stranger Danger. I am religiously eclectic. Love to read almost all genres. Love movies, except comedies.
What was your inspiration for becoming a writer?
- I had a pompous and somewhat unimaginative college professor tell me that I couldn’t. My stories were to complicated and twisted, was his opinion, to ever be published. And I despaired that he was right when I receive rejection after rejection from the major houses. When I entered the ABNA in 2014 and didn’t even make it past the pitch round, I had a decision to make. Throw in the towel and whither away or self-publish. I have never regretted my decision. I am a writer, it is how I define myself and what I need to do to be in balance with myself.
Was that when you began writing, or do you have some other work before that particular class?
- I was a storyteller before I could write. As soon as I could write I would write down my stories to amuse myself and family with later. On long trips I would tell everyone stories or we would play games where you had to build onto a story with a sentence or scene. Mine would always head the book back to horror, no matter where the others took it. I excelled at writing above any other subject in school and loved when we were given writing assignments. I even loved doing term papers and satires.
Was that when you first considered yourself a writer?
- The first time I wrote down one of the stories that live in my head. Lest, I sound insane, let me explain. I have stories in my mind that are always asking to be next to be written. I will have three or four story ideas jotted down. And the characters who make the most noise usually win the battle to have their tale told next.
Can you tell me us anything about your current project(s)?
- I am working on a rewrite of my first novel, The Choice, (mostly fixing some typos, grammar issues and minor plot tweakage) and the sequel to The Choice, Roodmasi. It is exciting to have these characters alive in my mind again, and they brought friends for the sequel!
- I can’t give you too much on the sequel without blowing the close of the first book. However, the Roodmasi are causing trouble and starting fires again and the stakes are bigger than last time. The new book is the first in a series of five about a immortal witch who is a homicide detective, her partner who is a Chi Vampire, and her soul mate, who is metaphysically bound to her and no longer aging. They are on the run from a shadow group that they escaped who uses people with gifts to perform assassinations and change the course of politics to meet their ends. While this is going on, there are bizarre and twisted serial murders that most be solved. I am having a blast writing them!
- I am blogging about my weight loss journey. And under my other pseudonym, Z. M. Dawson, I am kicking off a paranormal romance series, by blogging about the process of writing it from idea to published. And the occasional idea demands attention, so I lay down the basics for it and then go back to the other more demanding ones.
Do have a particular style or “voice” that you could consider your own?
- I tend to write like the author I am that day. I write like Tanya when I am writing horror or blogging about horror. I write like a scared little girl who has been broken on the inside when I write poetry. I write like a warrior when I write about recovery. And most recently, I write like Z. M. Dawson when I write paranormal suspense. ( I should have a book done some time this year and then good ole Zoie will get to do the marketing J)
Do you have a favorite method for choosing your titles?
- Honestly, I have never really liked the title of The Choice, but it was born from the decision my main character has to make. She has to decide whether to be with her son, go back to the parents she never knew or save the world from her family and unimaginable evil. This Present Garden of Pain, came to me, because after I was abused everywhere, everything was changed, it seemed to be thorny and harsh, even the flowers seemed too bright to bear. I realized that the world had become a garden full of pain. My hope is that this is only for the present and someday it will again be a garden of wonder.
Do you leave messages in your work for readers to find?
- The Choice: be open to the possibilities or reality may just bite you in two.
- This Present Garden of Pain: you are not alone. Your pain is valid. Your choices, while not necessarily healthy are not wrong, you are not wrong. And if you keep holding on there will be places where the sun shines. You can have a good life.
What challenges have you discovered in your own writing or writing process?
- Discipline. With so many stories begging me to tell them, I can become extremely scattered and not get any of them told. I have to fight with myself to zero in on one story and write until it is done. Sometimes, I win. Other times, like now, I am writing 5 books at once. Hehehehe! I have reined myself in and I am primarily focusing on the actual writing of Roodmasi, they others I am just planning and outlining thoughts as they come.
- This Present garden of Pain, took me back to places and people I never wanted to go or see again. In the end, it made it easier to breathe.
How much of your work comes from your personal experience?
- This Present Garden of Pain, all of the poetry is based on feelings from my own life, the flash fiction and short stories are based either on my own experiences and feelings or someone I met in my travels. The Seven Deadly Sins section, I have known all of those women.
As you over came the challenges, and drew from your personal experience, is there anything you learned about writing that you’d like to share?
- I learned that writing is not easy, it is hard, frustrating, terrifying and maddening. And I would not give it up for anything in the world. My new favorite quote says it best, “Writing is a pleasurable torment and anyone who endeavors to do it is a masochist.” – unknown.
Have books ever influenced your life? If so, which ones had the most influence?
- Every book I have read whether I liked it or hated it has left its mark. I am inspired by the work of some of the more obscure horror novelists, Dana Reed, Mary Ann Mitchell, Devin O’Branagan and I don’t think he is obscure to anyone into horror, but more recently, Brian Keene. I liked that they just dive right into the taboo, roll around in it and come out with a wonderfully crafted tale that is not for the faint-hearted but for true horror connoisseurs.
Do you have a particular author you would consider a mentor, even if you haven’t met them?
- Dana Read. I love her books, most are out of print now, but she was the first I read who didn’t make all the evil beings one-sided and always without the ability to feel something other than rage. I do not believe that any being is one-sided, even if the other sides are much shallower than the one most often seen, they exist.
Is she your favorite author? If not, who is it, and what makes their work stand out for you?
- I love Laurell K Hamilton. I love how she lives her life fearlessly. I love her devotion to her fans. And I actually love her writing, her characters become friends. I am partial to Anitaverse as I think of the world of Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner.
All right, we all know writers are readers. So, what book currently is holding a place of honor in your reading stack?
- When I am writing I have a hard time reading anything new, plus I am always afraid that I will use a plot device from something I am not familiar with, and not even know I have done it until the lawsuit happens. J So, I stick to the already read and re-read. So, to answer your question, I am reading The MacGregor Grooms by Nora Roberts and P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern.
From your journey, have you had any authors that snagged your attention, and led you to new places?
- Through my marketing of my own books, my literary horizons have widened to include most of the people I have become friends with. I willing support all Indie Authors, but I am not likely to read a Christian Romance novel. However, if I were to name just a couple, K. Caffee, Micah Ackerman, Mike Wells, Jenny Hayworth, K. Morris, just to name a few. I have many on my too read list who will most likely end up being “my authors”.
Besides your closest circle, was there any single person who proved to be a major pillar of support for you on your journey?
- One would mean I left someone out. I have received amazing support from fellow writers. Their have been agents who are not currently taking my genre, who nonetheless offered my valuable gems about the market as a whole and encouraged me to branch out. And I get tons of support from my mother, she wishes I would pick another genre to write, but she is a good cheerleader!
Do you see writing as a career?
- No, I have to write or I think I would perish. If I am lucky enough to be someone whose writing is well-read then that is a bonus. With This Present Garden, my only wish is that enough people who are survivors read it and find something in it that will help them in some small way.
If you had to go back and start on your most recent book again, is there anything you would want to change?
- Yes, and I am. I am fixing some typos, changing the name and giving it a new cover.
You mentioned you are recovering The Choice. Who designed your covers?
- First time out I designed both covers. This next time and for the sequel, a very talented cover artist by the name of Ash Arcenaux., who has designed the covers for The Choice and Roodmasi. I also designed the cover of This Present Garden of Pain. I am out of the cover design business, it is too hard to find existing artwork that is free domain and then make it your own.
Looking ahead, what would you say to any new, aspiring writers that you meet?
- If you want to write, write. Do not let anyone convince you can’t. Once you have written, listen carefully for the gems of knowledge among the inevitable discontent with your writing. Not everyone will like what you write, some who have bad things to say about it are just mean or bitter, but some have valid points about your writing. Take those that are valid and use them to make yourself into a better writer.
One more question. Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers?
- Thank you for stepping into the world I created. I hope that you enjoy your stay there, and will return whenever our world is too much for you. And that you will be waiting to dive into the next world I create..
There you have it folks!
Thank you Tanya for stopping by, and talking with me. It was great having you, and I’m sure others have enjoyed getting you know you.
If you want to reach Tanya, you can find her on one of her many blogs:
And, if you are interested, here are links for the books available at the time of this post: