Interview with Tara Moore: Spring 2016 Flash Fiction 3rd Place Winner
Tara Moore is a teacher who has spent the past year writing her first manuscript, An Unapologetic Love Story. It features a main character who stutters, and while researching, she met amazing people who remind us that when the world doesn’t slow down to really listen, we miss out on so much. She is a member of the National Stuttering Association, the West Hartford Fiction Writer’s Group, and the WOW! Women on Writing group. She holds a BA in Education and a BA in Dance from the University of Massachusetts, as well as a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. In her spare time, she can be found rooting for Triple Crown contenders with her son, binge-watching Gilmore Girls with her daughter, and following Springsteen with her husband anywhere along the eastern seaboard. She credits the supportive arms of the WOW! Women on Writing group for catching her as she made the leap from quietly clacking away at the keyboard to entering her first writing contest.
If you haven't done so already, check out Tara's award-winning story "My Child, The First" and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in WOW!’s Spring 2016 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?
Tara: As the proud mother of a teenaged son and daughter, I write a lot from my mom perspective. I was thinking about names and how much pressure we put on ourselves to choose the perfect one, sometimes believing that this first decision will make or break the person they will become. Then they’re born, and we realize that from day one, they already are these powerful, unique human beings, regardless of any label we place on them. For the short story, “My Child, the First,” I thought it would be fun to step outside my mom role and try taking on the voice of a dad who is contemplating a name for his new baby. He gets a little tangled up in his own male identity issues while his wife is giving birth pretty much superhero-style.
WOW: In your bio you said you “met amazing people who remind us that when the world doesn’t slow down to really listen, we miss out on so much.” Can you tell us more about that? How has that affected your writing?
Tara: The main character in the completed manuscript of my novel, An Unapologetic Love Story, is Caleb, a young man who stutters. He agrees to participate in a study run by Hayley, a well-meaning but naïve speech pathology student. I felt a huge responsibility to “get it right,” and for the fact that Caleb stutters not to feel gratuitous. I knew I had to get out and meet people who live this experience every day. I joined the National Stuttering Association, went to conferences, and made connections on Facebook. What I found were many “Calebs:” intelligent, handsome, funny, talented people who don’t approach the world with the level of confidence we might otherwise expect. In the novel, I tried to juxtapose Caleb’s outward stuttered speech with his inner monologue: what the world hears vs. the way he wants to be heard. I think that makes readers feel especially close to Caleb as they learn, along with Hayley, to slow down in order to understand both worlds.
WOW: What a great way to research for a story, and such an important life lesson for writers and non-writers alike. Thank you for sharing that with us. What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?
Tara: The most wonderful and unexpected outcome has been what it has brought out in my family over the course of the year that I wrote the book. In the beginning when I was seriously questioning what I had gotten myself into, and whether I even had a right to be telling this story, my son Jack would come home from high school, read a chapter, and say, “This is good. You’ve got this. Keep going.” In the end, when the polite inquiries of how the book was going had slowed to a trickle, my daughter Fallon would tackle edits and revisions with me, and somehow make me feel that there was nothing in the world that she’d rather be doing. My husband Tom wanted to wait until the book was finished before he read a word. Some days, he would come home, shake his head, and say that he didn’t quite “get” why I was on cloud nine after spending hours in silence alone on my writing, but it was enough for him that I was so happy. Then he read it, smiled, and said the three most beautiful words he has said to me in twenty years: “I get it.”
WOW: It gives me the good kind of goosebumps to hear that you’ve had such an amazing support network for your writing within you circle of family and friends. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Tara: I just finished the memoir When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. As a neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer who has always sought the meaning of existence through literature and philosophy, you can feel the urgency with which he is writing the book. You can imagine him, as his wife Lucy describes in her epilogue, wrapped in a fleece blanket in an armchair, “singularly focused” on his writing, trying to say everything he has to say in the little time he has left. As a writer, of course, that image resonates. Also, I love fiction, but I think it’s important to read real voices, and things that put our existence in perspective. Paul Kalanithi does this in extraordinary fashion.
WOW: Wonderful – thanks for offering that great review! If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Tara: I’m at the very beginning of my writing/publishing journey, so I will give one piece of advice, then cross my fingers and hope that I still agree with it a year from now: write unapologetically. I chose the title An Unapologetic Love Story as a reflection of the way the characters learn to live and love, but also as a little nod to my own journey. In the beginning, I kept feeling like I was apologizing for my story. “Well, it’s a love story...but it’s not fluff! The characters are young...but the story grows in complexity and maturity along with its characters!” When I stopped to listen to myself, I realized that I just sounded defensive. Now, I am prepared to make changes that editors and publishers might require, but I feel completely confident that there is an audience out there that has been searching for a book like this. I know, because I was one. That’s why I wrote it.
WOW: I always love hearing about a writer’s journey, and it’s important for other writers to hear about yours, so I appreciate your insight. Anything else you’d like to add?
Tara: I truly mean it when I say that if there is anyone out there thinking of submitting a piece of writing, the WOW! group really is the place to begin. Every single interaction and correspondence has been so positive and personal. It has been a pleasure.
WOW: Thanks so much for the kind words! We’re thrilled you’ve had a positive experience with us. Happy writing!
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor.