# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hello! I’m TammyJo Eckhart or T.J. Eckhart depending on the type of book. I’ve been a professionally published author since 1995. I write in a wide range of genres including fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, horror, YA, and erotica. You can learn about me at my website: https://www.tammyjoeckhart.com/
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
My mother and my teachers taught me to write what I know and research what I don’t. Depending on the genre I’m writing in, I may draw upon a situation from my past or a friends/family member’s past, but I would never share those details without their permissions or unless we were discussing a specific piece. Emotions are common to make people so those good real-life matters to base any story upon.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Often, I set challenges for myself based on greater questions about society, humanity, or the individual. I also think about the subjects of anthologies or magazines that are looking for pieces and see what my Imagination comes up with. If I can’t see a story in about a half hour, I know that call-out isn’t for me at this time. Readers can also inspire me by asking questions about a piece that might get me to keep creating in that world or with those characters. For example, the readers of True You 101 have asked me questions and that got me thinking about the entire four-years of school that Blake would have in that institution.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t get creative blocks or writers blocks. I have a long list of story ideas and I just move on to another one during my set writing period of a current project hits a snag. Rereading what you wrote the previous writing period is often all it takes to get me in the mindset I need to continue the work.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think that skipping text is a horrific error that can happen on the layout of the book. That happened to one of my books once (two pages were skipped in the middle of a sentence) and what could have been a big seller got negative press because of that. The publisher had to eat the cost of recalling and reprinting those books. It was too late, the people who bought books at the roll-out event at a convention, already had damaged goods and the word got out.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I don’t choose these things as a traditionally published writer. I have been asked for suggestions which may or may not be followed by the publisher. When I think of suggestions, I research comparable works if there are any. A lot of the time, my work crosses genres and doesn’t neatly fit into a category.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Normally, I can tell from bad/negative reviews that the person hasn’t read the work, or they came to the piece with their own agenda. I ignore them. I think it is unhealthy and unproductive to respond to negative reviews especially on online stores. If an editor has a negative opinion of a piece, they simply won’t want it and again there is really nothing to respond to unless you want to ask for an example of what was wrong and perhaps learn from it.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
I do better at keeping notes while I write. I’ve also developed a schedule for my writing though a new part-time job I got three years ago tests that a few days a week. If my family didn’t like the extra income, I’d focus on writing full-time.
# What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
I have dyslexia and that can be frustrating as a writer. Luckily, my hubby is an excellent editor, he’s even taught classes at fandom conventions on editing. He and I can get into the details and argue so that nothing I send into an editor is every in near of a ton of clean up.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I write the stories that my muses inspire me to tell. That other people enjoy those stories is a blessing. The only readers I aim to please are those who subscribe to my Patreon and I ask for their feedback on the serialized work I’m creating for them there. I also have to please publishers and editors because I a traditionally published author, only self-published on Patreon.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
For any reader to connect with a work of fiction, the story needs to appeal to the emotions and be drawn from emotions. Even if my story is set in ancient Sumer or over a thousand years in the future, human needs and desires are unlikely to have differed too much from our own. It is important to make your characters realistic by considering those emotions.
Emotions can get in the way of being creative. This is one reason it is important to treat your writing as a job, one you do at certain and certain days, not simply one you do when the mood hits you.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
Not really. I’m methodical about research and taking notes while I write, nothing “tricky” about any of that. I am blessed with an active and detailed imagination, but again that’s just me, not a “trick.” The only “trick” I can think of is to reread what you last wrote, but that’s basic good practice as an author.
# What are your plans for future books?
Earlier in 2021, I signed two new publishing contracts for five more novels. If the pandemic and a mysterious headache would cooperate, I’d also be working on a new Blake Trudeau book, that one to take place in their first year at Reinholdt.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I live in a non-traditional family and consider myself to be androgynous in terms of gender but female in terms of bio sex. I also hold a PhD in ancient History with minors in Folklore and the History of Gender and Sexuality.