An Interview with Tara L. Masih: Author & Publisher
Sylvia: Welcome Tara. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Tara: Hi Sylvia. Thank you for this opportunity. I grew up on Long Island, and loved playing in meadows, woods, and on beaches. So nature is very important to me. I’ve always wanted to write, so I pursued English and Professional Publishing Degrees, and then a career in publishing. I became a single mother at one point, so had to put my own dreams aside in order to make a living. When my son reached a more independent age, and I remarried, I was able to put together The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (a ForeWord Book of the Year) and to publish my debut story collection, Where the Dog Star Never Glows (a National Best Books Award finalist). I judge the intercultural essay prize for the annual Soul-Making Keats Literary Contest and out of that contest grew The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays, published by Wyatt-MacKenzie.
I’ve been lucky to receive some awards, including first place in The Ledge Magazine’s fiction contest and a finalist fiction grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. I’ve also been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prize nominations, and a Best New American Voices, Best of the Web, and a Million Writer’s Award nomination. I now work as a freelance book editor.
Sylvia: Congratulations on your success. What inspired you to write your first book?
Tara: The first book I wrote was a short story collection, titled Where the Dog Star Never Glows. It’s a compilation of stories, mostly standard in length, with some flash fiction sprinkled in. The stories reflect my interest in nature, culture, travel, and human relationships.
The Chalk Circlewas inspired by my desire to give voice to writers who tackle difficult subject matter. Mainly issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and culture.
Sylvia: “The Chalk Circle,” such a beautifully designed book… I’ve enjoyed reading through it and plan to provide you with a review. Is there a message in your anthology that you want readers to grasp?
Tara: I want people to read these brave personal memoirs and be touched by them. I want people to discover that small words, looks, or actions can have large ramifications. I want people’s minds to open up, even just a tiny bit, so that they see someone in a different light. Hopefully, a more empathetic one! I think we are in short supply of empathy lately, with all the flaming on the Internet. What’s happening to basic kindness and respect?
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Tara: Yes, if you love to write, keep writing, even through the rejections. Read, take workshops, and join writing groups, whatever it takes to improve your writing. Eventually you will get published, if you accept that writing is a craft to be learned. Weed out bad criticism from the good; you will get both. Love the process of creating, because that’s the best part. It even beats publication in the long run.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Tara: I’ve found that positive reviews generally sell the most books. Keep working at getting reviews, as the shelf life a book can increase with each new review. I also love Goodreads, a social site that is all about books. I like connecting directly with readers and learning from them what they like to read. I’ve made some great online friendships through there, and have met up with some members at local readings. It’s the best part of publishing, from my point of view, connecting with readers.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Tara: Because there just aren’t many books out there like this one. Because folks like Robert Olen Butler called it a “truly important book.” And I believe it is. It will change how you view the world, if not in a grand way, at least in a small way. It will make you think, laugh, cry.
Sylvia: Can you tell me about the food section, and why you included that?
Tara: Food is such an integral part of culture. Many of the essays that come to me through the contest I judge deal with food. So it was natural that it found its own section in the book. Some of the essays will be hard for Westerners to read, one is just plain fun and mouth watering. How each writer uses food to allude to cultural issues is fascinating.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Tara: I have a tiny office with a window. I love gazing out of it when I’m thinking. It helps me stay connected to the outside world. In front of me are shelves with all my favorite books, and books I have yet to read. Not enough time….But they inspire me.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Tara: I’m taking a break right now, attending to family. The family can get neglected when I’m working on a project. So, I like to get back to them and work on that part of my life. I’m guest editing the next print issue for Thumbnail Magazine, which publishes flash prose and art. And next I’ll turn to a novel. But 3 books in 3 years is a lot, and I need to recharge a bit.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Tara: I can’t say I have one word. I like the Nike phrase: “Just do it.”
Sylvia: Yes, that is a classic! Well Tara, thank you! Please share your social media and book contact information. Please use full links.
Tara: Thanks, Sylvia; I appreciate your interest in this book.
- Website: http://www.taramasih.com
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1936214717
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2889627.Tara_L_Masih
It’s also available at B&N, and you can order it through your local bookstore, if you want to support the indie market.