Have your insecurities ever driven you to writer’s block? How can we use feedback, rejection, and self-encouragement to break out of writing-related anxiety? We unpack all of that and so much more with today’s guest Tamora Pierce.
Tamora, a #1 New York Times bestseller and recipient of the 2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of Alanna: The First Adventure, Lady Knight, Wild Magic, and many, many more. Her most recent novel, Tempests and Slaughter, begins the journey into her new series called The Numair Chronicles and is out on the shelves now.
In our conversation, Tamora takes us on a journey throughout her life and describes the moments she first fell in love with writing, found her passion for crafting female heroes, what she’s learned from rejection, and much more. We talk about creative block and how we can encourage ourselves to believe in our craft. Her wisdom shines through as she discusses her research process into the world of magic, how she builds dynamic characters, and how she approaches writing more serious topics for young adults.
Books and resources:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition by Robert Graves
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham
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Check out these highlights:
- We trace back the dots of Tamora’s life to discover how she fell in love with writing. (5:21-27:06)
- How her self-awareness of patriarchy inspired her to break boundaries in the fantasy genre to write more female heroes. (9:16)
- The importance of impulse control when writing for young adults. (48:47)
- Tamora talks about the letter she wrote to J. Edgar Hoover asking why women weren’t allowed to join the FBI and the shocking response she received. (32:41)
- How writing for yourself versus writing for the market can prevent writer’s block. (35:56)
- How “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Dare To Be Stupid inspires Tamora to break away from her insecurities and take risks with her craft. (43:06)
- How to productively sit with rejection without letting it consume you. (45:01)
- The importance of research and a look into Tamora’s life-long research process (1:00:21)
- We talk about character building and how to draw inspiration from those around us. (49:53)
- We also discuss a few of our listener’s questions:
- How does Tamora balance writing the serious topics in regards to sex, violence, and racism while staying in a young adult age rating? (48:47)
- How did Tamora manage to make a lifelong career of writing? Any tips on being part of the industry for a long time, not a fun time? (54:04)
- Does she have any world building tips specifically regarding the creation of magic systems and their rules? (59:06)
“Being too stubborn to know when to quit is a real asset if you want to make a living in the arts.“
“If I inspire enough other writers, I ensure that I never run out of anything to read.“
“The more you do, the better you get. So the more you do, and the more you send out, the more you work on.“
Say ‘Hi’ to Tamora Pierce!
Learn More About “Tempests and Slaughter”
Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day–soon–he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Learn More About Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce is the winner of the 2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in Young Adult Literature, the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, and the 2005 Skylark Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. She is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than 28 fantasy novels for teenagers, and has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including Worldcon 2016. She has written comic books, radio plays, articles, and short stories, and currently devotes her minimal free time to local feline rescue. TORTALL: A SPY’S GUIDE, a collaborative effort with other experts on her Tortall universe, came out in October 2017. It was followed in February 2018 by the first in a three-book Tortall series, TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER. Tammy lives in central New York with her husband Tim Liebe and their uncountable number of cats, two parakeets, and the various freeloading wildlife that reside in their backyard.