Interview with Tracy Tappan, Author of Justice

06 Apr 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Justice?

The most notable part of JUSTICE is that it completely breaks the mold in romance storytelling.

The main character of Justice is a trained cat burglar and star athlete who must survive Navy SEAL training (BUD/S) in order to nab her dream job—to steal intelligence to stop terrorism. Along the way she locks horns with two rugged SEAL candidates and a cocky Navy pilot, and…here’s where things get interesting!

About 2/3 of the way into the main book the story ends on a cliffhanger, and now it’s up to the reader to choose which hunky hero will earn a happily ever after with Justice.

A reader can choose one hero to win the day, then head off on a different timeline and choose another…then another. It’s all at her fingertips.

In these crazy days, who wouldn’t want more choice and control in her life? It’s a great way to enjoy a romance.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always wanted to have an impact on people—this is why I originally worked as a therapist. But my husband was a Navy pilot back when I was first starting out, and my career had to become a matter of have computer, will travel.

So taking people on an emotional journey through storytelling morphed into the way I could have an impact.

I love writing scenes that invoke deep emotion, where the reader is compelled, driven, and feels like she has no other choice but to read on. When I see reviews that say things like, “My hands were shaking” or “This was amazing. I actually cried a little when I finished,” I know I’ve succeeded in touching a person’s heart.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

This is difficult to answer, because my top 5 are always changing. Mostly, I like to read what I write—innovative storytelling. What author is trying something new? What author came up with a dynamic and diverse character that really resonates with me?

In my own writing, I like to take risks—push boundaries and explore edgy themes. The worst thing that could ever happen to my work would be for my stories to become stagnant. So I’m always pressing myself to improve. Each book I write should be better than the last.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

As odd as it sounds, my first guest would be ME, but the me of eight years ago, when I first started out on my publishing journey in 2013.

I would ask my former self, “Do you know how difficult it’s going to be to market yourself as an author? Do you have a plan to stand out from the crowd?”

When the ME of yesterday answered, “Yes, I know. My plan is to study and analyze what works for other successful authors, and do that.” The ME of today would set myself straight.

You have no clue about how unpredictable and saturated the romance industry will be in the future. 

Back in 2013, Amazon was just becoming the behemoth it is today, and the floodgates of self-publishing had not yet fully opened. Early authors were lucky enough to hop on board Twitter and Facebook for advertising and rode those social markets to the top.

I had no idea just how challenging it would be to compete for readers’ eyes on my work as tens of thousands of romance authors joined the ranks. I’m a strong writer, I tell good stories, but I was spending more and more time marketing, instead of writing.

My learning curve was also steepened by the reality that at any given time every author is in a different lifecycle of his or her career. Simply copying what one successful author did to make it won’t necessarily work for another. The key is not only to write great books—although that is essential—but to learn how to stand out from a crowd.

So I think I would want the ME of today to discuss with the ME of yesterday the merits of creating a special niche for like-minded authors—someplace where we could survive outside of the obscurity offered by Amazon’s overly competitive size.

And today that’s exactly what I’m accomplishing with the Choose A Hero Romance™ community of authors. Here, a group of us who want to write romances in this unique way can band together and finally stand out.

More can be found out about this on www.chooseahero.com

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

As seen in the question above, I love it when my stories have an impact on readers. My favorite thing about writing is to create this impact in a way that is emotionally unique to an individual reader. I do this by trying not to overly explain a scene—I show behaviors and the internal thoughts of a character, and from there, I let a reader make her own determinations.

In this way, the reader has her experience, not mine (and I trust my editors to let me know if a scene is too vague).

This has led to some interesting reviews, however. I’ll sometimes laugh while reading one, thinking, I didn’t mean that! But it’s okay. The reader has viewed the scene through the lens of her own life experiences, and that makes everything more meaningful.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’m currently living in Rome, Italy, with my husband. After 30 years of service, he retired from the Navy and now works as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy. Outside of pandemic times, we occasionally attend state functions, but most days start with an amazing cappuccino and end with great pasta and red wine. In between I do what I love—write! Hey, what can I say? It’s pretty cool.

What scene from Justice was your favorite to write?

A Choose A Hero Romance™ is such a complex animal that it’s difficult to pick just one scene that’s a favorite.

But my favorite part about writing JUSTICE was creating three endings that were different. I wanted the Choose A Hero reading experience to be one where a fan still felt fully immersed in the story (already familiar with the characters and the world), while she went off to have a totally unique adventure with each ending.

This turned out to be incredibly difficult! It was especially challenging to make sure that Justice was only drawn to her three potential heroes, while not falling completely head over heels for any one. She only gets to fall in love with the hero the reader chooses.

Actually the challenge of writing a book like this was one of the things that pushed me to try this idea in the first place.

But somewhere along the way what started out as a test to my writing chops ended up being something quite special.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

In writing, my motto is about being true to my vision. I don’t write to market—I write the stories that move me, but also with the reader first and foremost in my mind. What do readers want? It always has to be about that.

Personally, I think readers are hungry for something new, and Choose A Hero Romance™ was born from that belief.

In life, my motto is live life to the fullest. Refer back to comment regarding daily wine and pasta.


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