At Your Service by Ariel Tachna
Release Date: March 14
Cover Artist L. C. Chase
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ariel Tachna here today to talk about her latest novel and talk a bit about her writing. Welcome, Ariel. Congratulations on At Your Service!
Thank you, Melanie, for hosting me today, and thanks to all your followers for taking the time to read this. In appreciation, I’ll be giving away one copy of At Your Service to someone who comments.
1. Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from? A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?
Book ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes it’s a dream (Partnership in Blood). Sometimes it’s an overheard snippet of conversation (Dance Off). Sometimes it’s a situation I see or read about (Fallout). It might be a line from a book (The Matelot) or a movie (Under the Skin) or a song (The Inventor’s Companion), or a relationship dynamic I want to explore outside the context of that book or movie. I’ve had book ideas come from comments friends (Inherit the Sky) or readers (Cherish the Land) have made. They’ve come from places I’ve visited (Seducing C.C.), journeys I’ve taken (The Path), and people I’ve met (At Your Service). Sometimes it’s a personal experience (Home for Chirappu). In short, the inspiration comes from life. It’s up to me to be open to the world around me and to see everything as a potential source of creativity.
2. Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?
Definitely a pantzer. The only time I’ve successfully planned books prior to writing them is when I’m working with Nicki, and even then, those plans are open for discussion as we write. I go into a story with a set of characters, a conflict (although sometimes I discover as I’m writing that the conflict I envisioned is not the real one), and an ending (happily ever after). I used to try to make more detailed outlines, but I discovered that when I do that, my stories either feel flat or I can’t finish them because the characters rebel against my preconceived notions of who they are and refuse to cooperate until I let them tell their own stories. Ultimately everyone is happier if I just let them have their way.
3. Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else? Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?
I’ve written in pretty much every genre out there at one time or another. Except humor. I don’t do humor. As a reader, I’m most drawn to fantasy because with fantasy (or science fiction), the writer can do away with a lot of the societal norms that irk me. In fantasy, you can have a matriarchal society or an egalitarian one or one where dragons partner with humans or one where interspace travel is a question of finding someone with enough psychic ability to teleport you across the universe. You can have magic and science and any combination of aliens and cultures and languages and races. The limits of the writer’s imagination are the only limits out there. That said, doing it well is not an easy thing. There’s a lot of mediocre fantasy out there. There’s a lot of knock-off fantasy as well. I remember taking my kids to see a children’s fantasy movie a few years ago and spending the entire movie thinking, “And that’s Aragorn. And those are the Orcs. And there you have the Rohirrim.” It was Lord of the Rings all over again with names and faces changed but no real originality. Now, we can’t all be Tolkien (don’t I wish I could be as brilliant as him), but it’s easy to fall into borrowing ideas here and there instead of starting truly from scratch.
4. If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?
I’m sure I have many characters who would be different if I started their story now rather than when I started them, but each book I’ve written is very much a product of who I was as a person and a writer at the time it was written. Even when I’ve had the opportunity to do second editions of books, I’ve chosen not to make a lot of changes in those characters, because whoever they might be if I started telling the same story now, that’s not who they are because I’m not telling that story now. I told it then in the best way I could and as true to those characters as I could. Have I progressed as a writer? Of course I have. Would the text have fewer POV changes or invalid simultaneous actions or epithets or other mistakes I’ve learned not to make if I wrote it now? Possibly. Would that make the characters in any way better? I don’t think so, because my growth as a writer is technical more than it is creative. I don’t create better characters now than I did ten years ago. Different characters, no doubt, but not better, and to try to change them is to deny who they were and who I was then.
5. Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?
It’s a bit like children or students, if you’re a teacher—you’re not supposed to have favorites, but you kind of do anyway. And yes, I have them. Caine and Macklin, Orlando and Alain, and Jean and Raymond are probably my three favorites, although then I start thinking, “what about Christian and Teo?” “But I love Leandre and Perrin.” “Oh, I can’t forget about Frank and Daniel.” So yes, I have my favorites, but I also love them all.
6. If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?
That’s sort of a loaded question because I have different books for different kinds of comfort, but they would have in include The Lord of the Rings, the Sunrunner series by Melanie Rawn, the first six (at least) of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, Cursed and Betrayed by Rhianne Aile, and Change of Heart by Mary Calmes. That would cover most eventualities. 😉
7. How early in your life did you begin writing?
I was twelve when I started writing. By the time I finished high school, I had five completed novels written. I’m pretty sure no one would want to read them now. They were very clearly written by a middle or high school student, but they were good practice for the art of pacing, dialogue, character creation, and more.
8. Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?
I can’t ever remember not reading. I know my mother read to me because I know my mother, but I can’t ever remember not reading along. I think the childhood book that had the most impact on me was the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warren. I read and reread those books so many times that in second grade, I have a vivid memory of recounting the entire first book to a classmate at the end of a field trip. And I don’t mean a two-sentence summary. A little bit later, more late elementary, early middle school, it was the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Everyone talks about Harry Potter, but Will Stanton would totally take Harry to school. (Sorry to all the Potter fans out there, but read the books before you come after me. You’ll see I’m totally right.) Susan Cooper introduced me to two of my enduring loves with those books: King Arthur and fantasy.
9. If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?
I’m SO bad at titles. I’m not sure you want to ask me that question. I can honestly say I have come up with the titles for a total of four of my books. For all the others, I had to throw myself on the mercy of my friends and beta readers.
When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.
Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.
About the Author
When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.
She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).
Other Novels by Ariel Tachna: