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Author Tara Lazar on Finding your Strengths as a Writer

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome an author who writes stellar fiction and manages to make me (and pretty much everyone else, kids and adults alike), laugh out loud. Check out her new book BLOOP, illustrated by Mike Boldt, and published by HarperCollins, and see her journey below…

Please describe the journey to publication for BLOOP. Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
I’m not great at parties. I’m the one in a separate room, petting the family dogs. I think dogs are lucky—they can sleep all day, people feed them, walk them, pet them, even pick up their poop. Dogs have no worries in life.
“If an alien visited earth,” I told a friend at a party, “they’d think the dogs were in charge.”
“Tara,” she replied, “that should be your next book!”

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
There’s a lot of thinking involved. My ideas usually come in the form of titles (ha, except this one), so I have to discover the story to fit that title. Who is the main character? What is their problem? And above all—WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? I have to be firm with all those details before I begin to write a single word. Weeks or months will pass between forming an idea and sitting down to write it.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
The emperor summoned Bloop.
“Mission accomplished, Bloop. Return to Planet XYZ ASAP. Your kingdom awaits.”

You write hilarious books, and you seem like a naturally funny person. For the writers who struggle with infusing their stories with humor, do you have any bits of advice?
Much humor comes from surprise, the unexpected. Misdirection, incongruity. Fitting things together in a unique way is key.
Then again, I don’t necessarily think that humor can be taught. Go with your strengths. I can’t write sweet and lyrical. It just comes out sappy, syrupy and laden with purple prose. Therefore, I don’t write sweet and lyrical books. I write humor instead.

Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
Oh wow, I have a bunch of things under submission, but of course, this year has been slow in publishing. I remain hopeful that I’ll get some of my silliest stories out there. A third book in the 7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I series called TIME FLIES: DOWN TO THE LAST MINUTE will release next year, of course with Ross MacDonald illustrating again.

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.
I don’t believe in using mentor texts. Perhaps it’s great as you’re learning how to construct a story, but I don’t want someone else’s voice or ideas to inadvertently seep into my writing.

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
Keep writing new stories to discover your own process and what works best for you. Lots of people will give you advice, but you shouldn’t necessarily take it as gospel. Find who you are as a writer.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Well, that’s easy! A dog, of course!

taraflowerscircleStreet magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been.

Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books where anything is possible.

My Twitter is @taralazar and my Instagram is @taralaser

Her picture books available now are:

Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Her last name rhymes with “bazaar”—you can listen to Tara pronounce her name on TeachingBooks.net. She’s not Tara Laser-beam (although that would be awesome).

14 thoughts on “Author Tara Lazar on Finding your Strengths as a Writer

    Marci Whitehurst said:
    May 27, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Great blog post! I love Tara’s books, so it was fun to hear how the newest one came about. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    May 27, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting thoughts about mentor texts. I agree to a certain extent. I think they’re quite helpful if I’m looking to absorb specific techniques or finding an entrance into a specific voice, but the leak-through factor needs to be avoided when I get down to writing. I’ve made that mistake! (Oh, and I, too, am the one in the separate room, petting the dogs. They’re so easygoing.)

    Liked by 1 person

    Angie said:
    May 27, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Fun post! I don’t think I could naturally write humor, but I’m glad Tara can!

    Liked by 1 person

    Sarah Meade said:
    May 26, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the interview! This books looks like so much fun, and I look forward to reading it. Thanks for the great advice, Tara!

    Liked by 1 person

    seschipper said:
    May 26, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    Great interview! Tara is amazing! I love every one of her PB’s. I also agree with Tara’s response to using mentor texts. 🙂

    Like

    JEN Garrett said:
    May 26, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I use picture books for inspiration or to study craft in general, but I agree with Tara – when I’m drafting, the mentor texts are less than helpful. My strategy is to read so many books that I can’t pin down just one for my mentor text!

    Liked by 1 person

    kathychalas said:
    May 26, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Great interview! I found Tara’s view on mentor texts very interesting and a bit refreshing – although I admit to have used her fabulous books for inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      May 26, 2021 at 11:35 am

      Yes that was interesting. I do use mentor texts but I also think it can be dangerous, we don’t want to mimic someone else’s writing by copying subconsciously…

      Like

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