Rad-Reader:  Was this a story you had been wanting to write for a while?  (Were the characters talking to you like they say?)

Tavi: Yes, indeed.  Every time I listened to the morning news on NPR, I imagined Tie talking to Laney (Tie is an NPR radio host).

Laney also had many internal monologues that I “heard,” mostly regarding her conflicted feelings about being in an interracial relationship.  And then I could hear Tie’s responses.

Laney’s friend, Nette, jumped in from time to time, too, when I was in the mood to smile. 

Rad-Reader:  Did you visualize Tie and Laney’s looks first or the story first?

Tavi: The story first, mostly.  With Tie, he was vaguely imagined, physically, because of every morning hearing the voice that inspired his character.   

Rad-Reader:  What made you choose Tie, having a talk radio show as his job?

Tavi: Confession:  I just fell in love with Steve Inskeep’s reporting voice, and wondered what kind of man he is, what he looks like…what kind of romantic partner he would be.  And my writer's brain just nudged me into creating the radio host I wanted to know and to reincarnate my own feelings for his reporting voice in the feelings that Laney would instantly have for Tie.  But much more intense, of course. 

Rad-Reader:  Was it always your intention to have the female character be concerned or worried about appearances and not the male?

Tavi: You mean appearances about the relationship?  Yes.  I didn’t want to complicate it by having them both concerned about appearances.  I wanted that, to be a major source of conflict.  In addition, not many people are aware of the potential conflicted feelings from a Black woman’s perspective. 

Rad-Reader:  He was worried about not having a college degree would make him less in her eyes.  Her other issues were a surprise to him.  Was that planned or always in your story?

Tavi: Initially, I had Tie worried about not having his graduate degree, but then I thought that readers would not be able to identify with such a concern.  

Laney’s issues snuck up on me, too, but they felt embedded in her character.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had another (perhaps less shocking) secret or two.

Rad-Reader:  Was Laney’s friend Nette based on anyone or just a character you came up with?

Tavi: Nette was just a character that came to me when I needed some humor or “lightness” in the story.  And Laney definitely needed a “bestie.”  I knew she’d be a White woman because the irony was needed for Laney to later realize. 

Rad-Reader:  Was Laney just happy with that one night not really thinking that they could be a couple so everything was a shock?  Or am I reading too much into it?

Tavi:  Laney wanted to be okay with just one night and tried to tell herself that that’s all it was, but she really wanted more.  Her feelings for Tie were already strong just from that one night.  The “shock” was his arriving with no warning, and his contacting her so late in the game.

Rad-Reader:  When they met up at the bar on his night back in town or was she just feeling cornered because she had not heard from him in a couple of months?

Tavi: Yes, she could not make sense of why she hadn’t heard from him.  She was indignant and did not want to come across as a woman who would just drop at a guy’s feet whenever he was ready to make an appearance. 

Rad-Reader:  Her character seemed very planned out in her life, as she wants it in her mind to go a certain way. When they didn’t, did she feel like she was being pushed or forced into something?

Tavi: That’s the tension she feels throughout the book.  But ultimately she feels like this was probably meant to happen. 

Rad-Reader:  In this story coming from the women’s point.  You show so many different points of view going through her mind.  Was that what you were wanting to portray here, different thoughts progressing along the way?

Tavi: Yes, she was in major internal conflict. And part of her realization is that much of the conflict was indeed coming from within rather than forces without.  There was some resistance on the outside, but she tended to magnify it.  Getting tenure was on her mind beneath it all.

Rad-Reader:  I liked your Tracey character telling her that she said, “He treated her better than any man has before,” but she was still feeling guilty for being with him, why?

Tavi: Well, folks on the outside wouldn’t necessarily know that he was a gift to her, no matter his color.  And she was very concerned with the perceptions of people, particularly racially-conscious people who advocated American American solidarity.  And part of her worried that such appearances—appearing to eschew Black solidarity—could hinder her chances at tenure in a political academic climate. 

Rad-Reader:  I liked how you had her friends show the double standards between men and women and their dating practices.  Was that always your idea?

Tavi: No.  I guess I wasn’t even aware that I was doing that!  I guess talking with girlfriends inevitably brings up such subjects.  Especially in a heteronormative context. 

Rad-Reader:  Did you have Laney in her mind overthinking everything for a reason?

Tavi: Yes.  Thinking things through fully helped her to get where she is.  Making very logical decisions.  But she has to learn that love is in a category of its own. 

Rad-Reader:  Follow up, do you think a lot of people in interracial relationships overthink everything?

Tavi: I’m not sure.  In my interracial relationships initially, I might have overthought things but as the relationship progressed that worry stops.  I think having a sense of humor and feeling secure helps. 

Rad-Reader:  Did you always plan the car accident or did it just comes into the story as you were writing?

Tavi: The car accident originally came into the story when I depicted Laney as also having drinking problems.  But Laney had enough drama without the drinking.  But the accident stayed because it’s just one of those things that feels like “the last straw” somedays when you already feel like you can’t endure another bad thing happening. 

Rad-Reader:  I took this story for once coming from a woman’s point of view and the guy giving her strength, wanting to be there for her yet, she continued to push him away, example Tie picking her up from the police station, usually it is the other way around or am I reading too much into it?

Tavi: Maybe it’s usually the other way around.  I don’t know.  But Laney is so invested in protecting herself (and protecting Tie’s reputation as well) that she keeps thinking distancing herself might be the best way to go. 

Rad-Reader:  Being in an interracial (Mexican & Caucasian) relationship, for over 40 years I never paid attention to the looks early on, nor did my wife.  Was this something you brought up with Laney because it is still there?  Maybe I am just old and been married for too long.  Although, we did experience barriers within our families.

Tavi: Yes, brought it up because it’s definitely still there.  As Laney said, there is literature on Black-White interracial relationships and lately, there was an especially harsh look at Black women/White men relationships.  Celebrities put in their 2 cents and everything. 

Rad-Reader:  I like your Tracey character how did you come up with her and she seemed like the voice of reason?

Tavi: I thought Laney could use a compadre on campus, for these very reasons.  She was concerned about the same issues as Laney, such as financial literacy for minoritized people.  And I thought it was crucial to show diversity in perspectives on interracial relationships.  Nette tries to get Laney to see that there was nothing wrong with dating a White man, but coming from Tracey, who is Black, might have been the extra impact she needed. 

Rad-Reader:  Was it your plan to have Tie talk with his father and it to go so light and smoothly?  (Mine went the opposite and I was told I would have the darkest kids in the family and my mother did get her wish we (adopted three siblings, two were half black.) 😊

Tavi: Yes.  I expected that Tie grew up around forward-thinking, progressive parents, as academics are “supposed” to be. Tie’s dad was more concerned about educational/career status more than anything.  That was how he evaluated people.

And my and my husband’s discussions with our parents were forgettable.  No drama at all.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…

Tie & Laney:  Pinterest couple

Tavi: This top picture is a promising possibility if she had looser curls and Tie’s eyes were distinctively greener.  I had pretty good images for each character that I had to submit as part of my art cover.  I can’t think of any famous people, though.

Nette:  Karen Gillan

Nette: This is more the look, although with even shorter hair:
The actress Lauren Holly gave me some inspiration.

Rad-Reader:  Maybe this will work.

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your characters or your book as a whole?

“Twisted –Keith Sweat”
The way Tie felt.

“Getting’ You Home – Chris Young”

“PS. I’m Still Not Over You – Rihanna”

Tavi: All these songs are new to me (except perhaps for Twisted).  They could all work!  None others occur to me besides “Still the One” by Shania Twain, but that’s not an accurate selection since the only person who REALLY doubted their relationship was Laney. 

Rad-Reader:  If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?  And why?

Tavi: Probably Superwoman or Superman because I always dream of flying.  I’m a free spirit at heart, so flying fits.  The strength is also nice.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite food?

Tavi: It used to be sushi, but that’s faded by now.  Now, I don’t think anyone food jumps to the front of the line

Rad-Reader:  What do you like to do during your downtime?

Tavi: Writing is my ultimate desire, but since downtime is short, I usually just catch a little TV or part of a book.  I wish I liked to exercise!  Playing a game with my son is also a preference since quality time is limited.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite genre to read?

Tavi: I like a young adult because I flirt with writing YA.  Romance is nice and fantasy is fun.

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when will with it be coming out?

Tavi: I’m juggling different projects right now and I wish I could even give a general idea of when something will come out but I have no idea.  I really wish I had more time to write.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links


Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?  Links

We have been very excited to have you here with your first book off the shelf.  Looking forward to reading the next.  This first book was a pleasure and you taking the time to do the interview, a fun experience getting to know your book and you too.  Nice to get our fanboy questions answered.
Thanks again,
Pat and Char

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