One of my favorite things to read on a blog is author interviews. Especially when the author wrote a book that I’m excited to read. That’s why I was excited when Mandi Tucker Slack was willing to let me interview her about her book and writing in general. You’ve all got to check out The Alias. I’ve posted the trailer at the bottom of the interview, because it’s awesome! You can learn more about The Alias and Mandi on her website, http://www.mandituckerslack.com and her blog, http://heyyouslackers.blogspot.com (I love that URL).
Tell us a little about yourself and your book(s)?
I’m a mom of three great kids. I have two boys, ages 6 and 5 and a little girl, who is 2. I’ve been married for 11 years and we love living in Utah. I grew up in Emery County and I feel very blessed for the memories I have. I love the desert and mountains, and I’ve been interested in everything from archeology to paleontology…and I could go on and on. Really, I just love the outdoors. One of my favorite hobbies is collecting and searching for fossils in the desert and surrounding areas. I also grew up frequenting museums and accompanying my parents on archeological digs in the San Rafael, and I love to incorporate my hobbies and interests into my writing. I love spending time with my husband and children and we spend most weekends rock hounding or exploring new places as a family. I’ve written several manuscripts, all in various stages of editing, and The Alias is my first published novel.
Do you have any writing mottos or rules for yourself?
I like to finish what I start, even if it is years down the road. I have a ton of ideas written on notebooks that are scattered around my house, but if I start writing an actual manuscript, I like to finish it. It drives me nuts to have a half written novel hiding on my shelf or sitting dormant on my hard drive. Once it’s finished, then I go back and work out all the little (usually big) kinks and quirks.
How do you balance raising three kids with writing? What advice would you give other writer parents with kids at home?
I would give anything to say I am a “Super Mom”, who can balance writing, children, a dog, and housekeeping, but I’m not. I write when I find time to write. Usually that’s when the kids are outside playing or at school. I do try to get up early in the morning and write, but normally I write late into the night when my children are asleep. If I can find time during the day to write, I do, but usually I have my youngest daughter in my lap. I just write when I can and don’t when I can’t. And I love it! Really, I wouldn’t want it any other way. There are times (more often than not) when my house is a mess or my dishes need washed. And quite often, you’ll find me in my pajama pants. Trying to find a balance is definitely difficult, and often times, frustrating, but somehow it all works out. My main focus is my family and I’ve found through the years, when I put them first, everything else just falls into place. I’m not always the Super Mom or dynamic writer that I long to be, but I do the very best I can, and really, that is the best advice I can give to other writer parents. It’s impossible to keep everything in balance all the time. Do the very best you can and try not to stress when you can’t.
Yes, I have a few ideas floating around my head for a sequel to The Alias, but I haven’t settled on one firm idea yet. I would like to write a novel based on Blaze when he is older and reaching those imperative “teen years”.
What do you find is the best thing about writing? What’s the worst?
My favorite thing about writing is being able to create my own adventure. I was a tom-boy through and through and as a child and I craved adventure. I explored exotic countries and conquered high mountain peaks all from the comfort of my own back yard. I had a very vivid imagination and that love of creativity followed me into my adulthood. I have so much fun when I am able to sit down and pound out the ideas floating around in my head, and I enjoy writing the type of stories that I love to read. I grew up reading Dorothy Keddington and Jennie Hansen, both excellent suspense writers. I think the worst thing about writing is simply finding time and…commas! I hate commas. I’m not sure why, but correct comma use is beyond my comprehension at times and I’m blessed to have such a patient husband, who corrects me often.
Is there anything that you wish you had known earlier in your writing career that would have helped when you were just about to attempt your first novel?
Yes, I wish that I had written a storyline first. With my first manuscript titled The Edge of Dawn, a novel that I wrote years before, I just sat down and started writing. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s so much easier to keep facts and character’s straight when write out a detailed storyline. I like to name my characters, build their personalities, and then write a summary— a very detailed summary— of the plot. This way, I can look back and see where I have anomalies before I get into the thick of the story. I can keep names straight and facts accurate, and when writing, I have a quick reference to use when I get lost.
Is there a deleted scene from your book, perhaps a paragraph from The Alias that didn’t make the cut that you could share with us?
I did cut a scene and a character before I sent it to the publisher. Jacey is asked to sing in the ward choir. When she replies, “Okay—well, I’m not a member of your church, so—I…”, a robust, out-spoken woman named Georgia Colbert replies, “I don’t care if you’re a Baptist or a Buddhist. As long as you’re here, we need you. I need more sopranos, especially ones who can sing.”
Are there any facts you could tell us about Jacey or Blaze that weren’t included in the book that readers might like to know?
I tried to include most of Jacey and Blaze’s interests in the book. I have a lot of fun developing my characters. Their unique personalities become real for a time. They become “friends”. Jacey was one of my favorite characters. She’s soft spoken, but spunky when she needs to be.
I hope you all enjoy my book, The Alias!!