Six Questions with Tara Leigh Coons

Today's a very special day for me, because I'm interviewing my CP, Tara Leigh Coons. Tara and I met on eHarlequin last June when she posted looking for a CP. I pounced on her immediately and we've been talking about writing, music, life and everything else since. She's my biggest cheerleader, an amazing CP and most importantly, a really good friend. So without further adieu, please welcome Tara.

1) You write fanfiction mainly about Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates, so I have to know: which came first? The love of writing or the love of Jon? And how did each enhance the other?

That’s a great question. I’ve loved Jovi since ’86, but didn’t actually do the whole Jovi FF thing until 2002ish. Back then the FF was nothing serious, just a way to entertain one of my best friends. I’d been doing that since I was 14 actually. (Ahhh, freshman year in HS. LOL)

We’d get bored with TV in the summer—not to mention she hated all the shows I did, so we built this little world and let the main characters be famous people.

People from Def Leppard, Slaughter, *groan* Nelson, Trixter, Jovi, Hardline—if the guy had long hair, he pretty much did it for us. Most of the stories were epically horrible. LOL Like a Rock Soap Opera. If I got bored, I’d do radical things like kill everyone off so I could start over.

But then I started taking writing classes in school. FF took a back seat to art school and college. I took more writing classes and started working on more novel type things. It helped that I had a wonderful teacher in college, she was very supportive. Unfortunately the only thing we didn’t agree on, was that writing romance is just as good as regular fiction.

2) What do you feel are the pros/cons of writing fanfiction? Will you continue to write it after you get published?

Oooh look at you with the positive thoughts! WHEN I get pub’d! Such a good CP you are. LOL.

Pros and cons…Well, the obvious pro is dayum the man is hot and I get to play with him. Ahem. LOL Sorry, but Jon Bon Jovi is super delicious. That’s why I started writing about him in the first place. He’s got this charisma and then all that talent. He’s easy to play with—but at the same time, he’s very challenging. He’s a real life person and I do have to keep with certain mannerisms and timelines if I want to be true to the character and the man. That’s one thing I am a stickler for. I may romanticize him a little, but overall, I try to put myself in his shoes. Even when he’s being a bit of a bitch. Though I kinda like the cranky Jonny ;)

Con – keeping him in character falls into that too. I can play with eras (Album releases and timelines) but for the most part, he’s got certain traits I have to stick with or I might as well write a non-ff story.

Pro – Fans. I have a really great fan base. There’s a lot of ff readers out there—especially Jovi. I’ve been blessed to have them follow me and my story. The thing with FF is that you get that instant response to your work. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to turn off the fun of writing Jon and Co. I know I won’t be able to do something as epic as Home again. Not if I want a serious writing career.

3) Outside of fanfic, what genre(s) do you write? Any you'd love to try you haven't yet?

I love romance. That’s my favorite genre by far. I love the smutty delicious, erotica types when I’m in that kind of mood. Just recently I’ve been drawn to the paranormal fictions. It’s fun to put a twist on a real life character. I don’t know that I’ll ever be the type to world build like authors have to do in fantasy stories, but I do love to give my characters a gift or two to put up with in their story.

4) You're starting a paranormal series now...can you give us a little teaser about what it's about?

Ah, my Zoe Group series. Donovan St. Clare and his band of gifted agents. Donovan’s sister was kidnapped as a child and he’s been looking for her ever since. In trying to find her, he built an empire helping others. But don’t call him altruistic—the more power he has, the more connections he gathers, the closer he gets to finding out what happened to Zoe. He believes in using the conventional and the unconventional to find her. He can be ruthless in getting what he wants and finding Zoe is his obsession.

Book 1 – Strength in Numbers – Jake Owens and Sophie Grey. Sophie is one of triplets, all with special gifts. Sophie is a seer who lost her gift until a vision of Jake’s death brought her abilities back in screaming Technicolor focus. Jake is a telepath, hiding his gift from the world at the pinnacle of stardom as Never Bend’s lead singer.

Only working together can they keep Jake safe and find the first clue about Zoe’s disappearance in 15 years.

Is that teasing enough for you?

***Hmm, I suppose it's enough for now. We'll do another interview when it's time for you to tease for Book 2. ;)

5) World-building. It's kinda my nemesis, because I'm so used to thinking in boxes that I find creating my own fantastical world challenging. You, on the other hand, love plotting out your world. Any tips on how to make world-building a little less intimidating?

Well don’t put me in with Fantasy and SciFi world building. I’m low key world building. I do love creating a cast of characters and supporting cast to create a series though. Go big or go home is my motto these days when it comes to writing. Write a simple Nocturne-esque novel Tara—no, I’d like to start out with a series, thanks. Oy!

My best tip—figure out your characters and use index cards.


You don’t think you’ll forget things like hair color, eyes and who’s related to who—but you do. Trust me! Plot out the roughs of your stories at the very least. Things are always subject to change when you’re working with a series, but at least have a game plan down. And finally, don’t be afraid of your imagination. What’s paranormal romance for except pushing boundaries?

6) And for sandwich with your two loves, Jon and Matt Nathanson. Who comes out on top? Oy vey, I can only imagine your creative answer to this question...;)

You’re just mean! The man who makes me sigh, both the good and the naughty ways is always going to be Jon Bon Jovi. Case in point -

The man I’d end up with is Matt Nathanson. LOL As much as I love Jon Bon Jovi, the guy that ultimately snags me is the goofy guy with pop culture references, open blog posts about how shitty writing can be sometimes and that can make fun of himself and the audience and still be beloved. Become enamored, you can’t help it. He’ll amuse you, I can almost guarantee it. I’m determined to win more fans for him, he so deserves them!

Isn't she delightful? As if this interview wasn't enough, everyone who posts a comment today will be entered into a drawing to win a $10 gift card to Books on Board, a fabulous ebook retailer. So get commenting! I'm sure our resident FF and paranormal goddess would love to answer any questions you may have.

Interested in learning more about Tara's fanfiction Home? Or in more about her? Just check out TaraLeigh's blog or Home's site, updated regularly. At least until she ends the story and moves on to conquering new frontiers. ;)


Ashley said...

Awesome interview with and awesome writer, sounds like. :) The basis of that series sounds really intriguing!

Got a question, for either Tara, or you Cari... what exercises/whatever do you do if a plot point won't come to you? I've got everything else ready to go, except the plot. That sounds kind of contradictory, but it's so frustrating! Argh. Any tips on coaxing the muse?

The Goddess Hathor said...

Great interiew, Cari! I've been a fan of Tara's since Home started. I think it's the third or fourth FF I found, and (even though it's a Jonny fic) she got me hooked. Her writing style is fantastic, and I can't wait to read her non-FF story!

I'm glad to see you legitimize fan fiction. All too often it's dismissed as "pfft! That's not writing." I don't think people understand what goes into it. I have to agree with Tara; it's hard staying in character because these men are their own characters. With "new" characters, you get to make up whatever you want, and don't have to worry about going a little left of center and getting "but he'd NEVER do that..." kind of commentary.

And Tara, honey, you already got me hooked as a Matt fan :)

Neurotic said...

Cari gives the best interviews, doesn't she? All the right questions. Gets the interviewee talking and by the end you wanna go off and Google them.

In a true Tara-fashion she gave a teaser that leaves you with an urge to yell at her for MORE. Damn it Tara. I have been itching for the Zoe Group Series for ages now.

So, finish Home already.

PS. Cari took the role of interviewer. She has an amazing writing voice. Who is interviewing Cari?

TaraLeigh said...

Ashley -

Hmm. I'm not sure I quite know what you mean. If it's a plot hole you're talking about I'd say write out your synopsis, blow by blow. You usually find the worst offenders that way and can pull the loose stragglers together that way. Trying to explain your story to someone tends to bring a lot of things into focus.

Also, I've found a good round of emails or a chat with your CP can work wonders. A different angle will often give you just enough inspiration to push you along.

Let me know if I DIDN'T answer your question. LOL

Queenie said...

Great interview!! I have to admit, I had forgotten this was coming today until it popped up on my Alerts!

Love Home, it was the second FF I ever read and anyone who says FF isn't writing, obviously hasn't read this!

Tara, can't wait to read some non-FF stuff and as for Matt, you got me hooked on him too!

Kaye Manro said...

Nice interview Cari. It was certainly good getting to know Tara, your cp better! You sound awesome, girl!

Anonymous said...

That was a great interview. Tara is most definitely a gifted writer. Thank you Cari for understanding ff is a style of writing. The author still needs to have all the major foundations to really "sell" the story. Tara has such a great way of telling the details that you feel as though you are right there watching it unfold in front of you. You get attached to the characters created, real people or not and she makes you feel as though these are real people and the story is real. That is such a gift.

I am a wicked optimist and Tara I just know that you will get published. Your way too talented to not be. Someone out there will read something you wrote and grab you right up. :) I can't wait to read the Zoe searies you spoke of. Those sound very interesting and right up my alley as well. :)


JBJBounce said...

Great interview. Cari, I love your confidence that Ms. Tara is going to be published. I cannot imagine her NOT being published, she's that talented.

I can certainly understand that she'll never undertake another story like Home because she does need to concentrate on her non-ff stuff. I've been looking forward to that paranormal series of hers for what seems like forever.

For the record, Tara's is the first Jovi FF I ever read and by far my favorite. There are some other very talented FF writers out there and I appreciate, as Hath said, it's nice to see FF legitimized.

I've written both FF and non-FF and FF is far more difficult for all the reasons Tara stated, you have to keep the real person in character and form your story around those traits or you lose your readers to that 'he'd never do that' mindset.

Helen Hardt said...

World-building is hard! So hard I don't do it, LOL. Well, I'll never say never. I need to practice your index card thing, Tara. I can't tell you how many times I've had to go back through a story to check an eye color ;). Fun interview! I wish you much success in your writing!


SoulGirl said...

Ohhh - nice intv Cari, Great questions... nice to get a completely different perspective on writing, like you obv agree we all have to start somewhere.

I've known Tara a little over a year as well. She was an amazing writer then but looking at her work now, from back then -- she's moved in huge leaps and bounds. And I'm very excited she's chosen to try and make something of her amazing talent and the Zoe series is going to be fantastic, I've seen what she can do and how she can make people invest so much into characters, its a gift - and I'm excited for you to do this out there in the world, playing with the big boys. Where you deserve to be.

Matt N - well no need to comment there, amazing songwriter & actually I do think you two would be a good couple. *snort* LOL.

I've been lucky enough to share your gift, especially to enhance my own craft and I'm so looking forward to taking the new journey with you - as I know above all else, you're always so gracious in the support you get. :)

Keri Stevens said...

Cool post! As I read it, I realize I have never written any fanfic. Any. None. What is WRONG with me? I could have been writing about Adam Ant for YEARS!

Tara, you have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. And they have nothing to do with procrastinating on my current WIP.

(captcha is "boxyl," because now I'm thinking out of it.)

Cari Quinn said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I'm glad so many people recognize Tara's talent as much as I do. :)

And Ashley, my best advice is an oldie but goodie. Start with your initial situation and ask, "Now how can I make this worse?" I do this informally in my mind - one way my dear CP Tara and I aren't alike, LOL - but I know I'm going to have to start putting things on paper soon.

Hope that helped a little. :)

Alice Faye said...

Love the Home. Funny meeting Tara this past February,I not only found a writer that I enjoy reading but I thnk a friend too.

Fan Fiction...when I started writing it way back in the 70's it was called "The Stories" Keri I got my star writing them about Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy! lol

Through the ups and downs in life.. fan fiction takes some of the Crap life hands you and sort of makes it easier to swallow. Gives you a place where you can excape and live the life of Tessa or any other character in the story.

This coming from someone who just came off vacation and read only 7 books.

Once again great interview and will be looking for Zoe in the near future? Fingers crossed.

Alice Faye

Anonymous said...

Great interview, although you just proved what we all know, that Tara is a very talented writer.I love Home and am very sad that it's coming to an end, although I can't wait to read the new story.
I agree with Alice wholeheartedly that writing FF lets you escape real life for just a while, it's how I manage to get through some days!


TaraLeigh said...

Wow--thanks everyone for coming on and saying such lovely stuff about my girl Tessa AND me.

Really sweet of you guys to come on over and say hi!!!


Christina Phillips said...

Ooh great interview, ladies! I met up with my CPs on eharlequin too!

And Phillipa Ashley, who writes for Little Black Dress, used to write FF about Richard Armitage/North & South. I think four of the ladies who wrote that FF are published now!

TaraLeigh said...

Wow! Seriously, Christina?

That's awesome to hear! I think Michelle Rowen writes some Supernatural FF too. lol

Sometimes you just want to tweak a character and say...uh. I can make him better. Poor Jon.

Shelly said...

Great interview Cari!

Tara's a great writer. I also write FF and it's great to see it get the credit it so richly deserves.

Tara, i'll have to try the index cards. How many do you use? How many hours Tara do you write a day?

I can't wait to read more about the Zoe Group...Sounds interesting!!

Cari, great interview!!!

TaraLeigh said...

Thanks for stopping in, Shelly---I try to write a minimum of 2hrs a day. Some days are harder than others. And some days--like the weekend...I go hog wild and write like a demon.

Index cards...can you have too many of them? LOL I have one general one for every char in the book (even the minor ones) And I just started using larger ones for plot points.