Much to her husband’s delight, Author Tarrant Smith is a practicing kitchen witch. She lives near the picturesque town of Madison, Georgia in a slightly dilapidated Antebellum house with the love of her life, her college-aged son, two cats, one worried rat-terrier, and a blind dachshund. She graduated Queen’s University in Charlotte, North Carolina with a degree in English Literature because…well, she was told to do something she loved.
She abandoned corporate retail within a year or two of college and bounced from job to job earning a variety of skills and meeting interesting people. Among other things, she’s been a horse breeder and trainer, a cook, a baker, kitchen manager, waitress, dog trainer, yoga teacher, and Reiki master. When she’s not in nature hiking, kayaking, or cycling, she’s curled up in a comfortable chair reading or working on her next book.
Ramona: Tell me more about your latest book:
Tarrant Smith: Without dropping spoilers, The Fate of Wolves is a stand-alone paranormal romance that can be read on several levels. On the surface it is a romance between Deegan, a world-weary werewolf alpha who has lost everything he’s ever loved to the curse, and Eva who is the very last of her bloodline and the culmination of a prophecy written by a god hundreds of years before her birth. The book is steamy in parts and delivers an unexpected twist for the reader near the end.
On a deeper level, the book wrestles with themes like the worthiness of being loved, can monsters find redemption, the duality of mind, and how do you hang on to your humanity when the world you live in is cursed.
Because of the depth and insights into the nature of love and the various forms that love takes within its pages, I’m very proud of this book.
Ramona: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
Tarrant Smith: I had three challenges with The Fate of Wolves. The first was that it was the second book in a series of stand-alone novels. I knew that the gods would make appearance in each of the books, but I had to find a method of introducing the concept of the Pale and gods in a way a new reader would understand, and yet not bore a reader who’d already read The Love of Gods. It had to be succinct and something I could replicate in the books that would follow.
My second challenge was creating a werewolf mythology and a prophecy that could ultimately be fulfilled by the end of the book. That took a good bit of research into the various werewolf traditions—movie, literature, and lore. My love of history also helped me decide the place and time the original curse might have occurred.
The last challenge, and probably my biggest, was establishing the duality of the wolf-mind verses the human-mind, monster verses humanity. I wanted the reader to understand the different motivating factors within each character and also be willing to accept the mind-speak that occurs later in the book when the pack is in their wolf forms.
Ramona: When writing a book, how do you keep things fresh, for both your reader and yourself?
Tarrant Smith: To stay fresh, I give myself a new skill to master or angle to explore with each book. Whether it’s dialogue with multiple characters in a single scene, creating clear action sequences, exploring new mythology, or genre-bending, I never want to bore myself or the reader. As a whole, the genre of romance is dismissed far too often. Prospective readers have told me that romance is just too predictable, which translates to me as too shallow or lacking in deeper themes. Yes, some elements are required, but that can be said of any genre. I love nothing more than giving a new reader an appreciation for the sophistication my genre can offer.
Ramona: What is your normal procedure to get your books published?
Tarrant Smith: While producing a first draft, I’m usually working on more than one book at a time. This allows me to jump between books whenever I get bogged down because I’ve written my characters into situations that I don’t have answers to yet. It happens quite often. They’re a rowdy bunch and tend to exactly the opposite of what I had planned. But once I have a first draft, there are the rounds of rewrites and edits where I look for plot holes and sharpen the themes and dialogue. The actual rounds of grammatical edits happen once the book feels whole to me. This often take months. Once I’ve done all I can, I send the book to my editor who I trust with my life.
During my initial editing process, I am also working on designing possible covers and blurbs. I’m updating my website so readers know where in the process each book is and when they can expect a book to reach the marketplace. I don’t like to keep secrets from my readers. I don’t do last minute cover reveals. I operate more like Marvel movies by starting the book buzz a year before the release date.
Once I get the book back from April, my editor, I do a read through with her suggested changes. I then format the book myself and let Microsoft Word read it back to me so I have a chance to catch any lingering mistakes. Even with this final proofreading, one or two errors sometimes make it to final print and publication. Over the years I’ve learned to let that go. All I can do is give my very best effort and hope I’ve gotten them all.
I use Amazon platform to produce both a paperback and kindle edition. I use Draft2Digital to create and distribute the epub file to other retailers like Barnes & Noble, Nook, Apple, and others. After that, it’s all marketing. And a lot of hope.
Ramona: What motivated you to become an author?
Tarrant Smith: I’ve always written and been an avid reader. When I was younger, I mainly wrote very bad poetry. By college, I discovered my narrative voice and began learning the rules and forms of short story, novella, and novel writing. Even then I dreamed of being a published author, but I didn’t attempt it because of a college professor who warned me about how hard the publishing process could be. She wasn’t saying I didn’t possess talent, but she understood that I was too easily shattered by criticism and rejection at that point in my life. I’m now grateful that I waited to put myself out there.
With age comes a certain level of confidence and knowledge about life and relationships. I have far more to offer readers noe than I did as a twenty-three-year-old. As to why I began publishing? It was for the money. My family was in need when I published in 2010. I had to find a way to pay bills. I needed another source of income, however small. And luckily for me, Amazon allowed me to bypass the traditional publishing world’s gatekeepers. Ebooks were still catching on with the reading public and I understood how to market myself using social media. In the end, I had a decent amount of success for an indie author, but more importantly the bills got paid.
Ever since that first royalty check, I’ve never looked back. I love being an indie author.
Ramona: How many books have you written so far? List and name them all here:
Tarrant Smith: Between the two series, I’ve published seven books thus far.
My first paranormal romance series consists of five tightly knit books which draw heavily on Celtic mythology, fey (fae) folklore, and Arthurian Legend. I began publishing these in 2010 with Enchanted Darkly. It was quickly followed up with Bound Darkly and Kept Darkly. Surrendered Darkly came next but it took until 2019 to release Resurrected Darkly. This final book was delayed because these were characters I loved, and I found it quite hard to say goodbye to the series. I now offer this series in a completed boxed set in ebook format only for readers who binge read like me.
In March of 2019 I also released the first book in my Legends of the Pales Series, The Love of Gods. It was followed up with The Fate of Wolves in October. Unlike the Darkly books, I wanted to give readers the freedom of reading the books out of order without feeling as if they’d missed anything from a previous book. Creating stand-alone books that all take place in the same universe has been a challenge, but I’ve populated the world of the Pale with so many supernatural communities that I don’t think I will be limited creatively as an author. My eighth book, The Dreams of Demons, will be released this June and the ninth, The Souls of Witches, in the fall of this year. I’m currently writing two more books scheduled for release in 2021. They too will be a part of the Legends of the Pale Series.
Ramona: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotion strongly?
Tarrant Smith: Depending on the genre, I absolutely believe that someone could be a writer even if they don’t feel emotions strongly. Non-fiction and History are prime examples where emotion is not your friend. However, for the genre of romance—my genre—it’s all about the emotional connection between the author and his/her characters, the strong pull between the characters themselves, and the emotional ties between the reader and the book’s characters. To really make an impact, it’s best if I delve deep into that pool. If I don’t fall in love, hurt, laugh, and cry while writing then neither will the reader.
Ramona: How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing? What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Tarrant Smith: I’m going to combine the last two questions because if you read my website blog, The Chalkboard, you’ll see that I spend a good bit of time answering these two questions for myself and others. My answer is always: Writing is Hard. And Publishing is Brutal. At least, this has been my experience.
Once a writer has learned the nuts and bolts of the form and formatting of a novel or short story, your success rests entirely on perseverance and a bit of luck. That is probably not what an aspiring writer wants to hear, but there’s no sugar coating this truth. Most writers I know have a 40 hour a week side-hustle to pay the bills and fund their writing habit. The exceptions are these…I have one friend that earns enough income with content writing to write fulltime. Or like me, a writer that is retired from their previous careers and is now writing fulltime. Or, they are independently wealthy and don’t need the income. The JK Rowling’s of the world, going from living in your car to selling millions of books, is that bit of luck I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t happen often.
However, that doesn’t mean you should give up writing. The best writers write because they must write. They have a story to tell, even if it’s to themselves. The indie authors that make the most income are the ones who are consistently producing good work. Their readers can rely on a new book coming out, usually twice a year. They understand how to brand and market themselves. And, they give back to the writing community whenever they can. For example, I keep an updated resource guide on my website for authors to utilize. When I learn some new marketing idea or avenue, I share it. I also do book reviews for indie authors whenever I have extra time. All of that effort plus consistent marketing across social media culminates in name recognition. And name recognition can get your books past the marketing noise and into the hands of readers.
So, if you are an aspiring writer. Write. Get the first draft done. Then keep writing because it takes writing a novel to learn how to write a novel. All the other stuff like marketing you can learn along the way. There will be others to help you. But first you have to begin.
The Darkly Series Boxed Set: https://books2read.com/b/47rkZj
Enchanted Darkly: https://books2read.com/b/3LpzK0
Bound Darkly: https://books2read.com/b/mdGoLl
Kept Darkly: https://books2read.com/b/mgGW07
Surrendered Darkly: https://books2read.com/b/4AxWQA
Resurrected Darkly: https://books2read.com/b/38E19O
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