|Who is that Masked er, Hatted woman?|
Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’ Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other’s work. Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs (there’s a list below the questions).
And now, I’ve got the great pleasure of interviewing Tara Dairman. Tara is a novelist, playwright, and recovering round-the-world traveler who now lives in Colorado. Her first middle-grade novel, The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby, will be published by Putnam/Penguin in 2014.
1) How did participating with MSFV blog get you where you are now?
In October 2011, I entered the first page of my novel into Authoress’s Secret Agent contest, where lurking agent Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA) read it and invited me to query her. EMLA is usually closed to unsolicited queries, so I was ecstatic to get this “in”…and even more ecstatic when Joan requested the full manuscript the day after she received my query.
Then, that December, I was lucky enough to make it to the final round of the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction at MSFV, which led to a few offers of representation. I let Joan know as soon as I had an offer, and when she offered herself a few days later, I knew that she was the perfect fit for me.
But before I even entered any contests, MSFV was extremely helpful in pushing me to get my opening pages into the best possible shape before querying. Reading through months of Secret Agent contests—seeing which entries grabbed me and which ones grabbed the agents, and why—was like taking a master class in how to entice a reader.
Thank you, Angela!
Gladys Gatsby is an 11-year-old girl who loves to cook and dreams of one day becoming a restaurant critic for The New York Times—she just doesn’t expect for that to happen until she’s a lot older. But when an essay contest goes awry and Gladys’s entry ends up on a Times editor’s desk, she quickly finds herself contracted to review a fancy “dessert bistro” in Manhattan. Now, if she wants to meet her deadline, she has to find a way to get from the suburbs to the city without her fast-food-loving parents finding out what she’s up to or her editor finding out that she’s only in sixth grade. As you might expect, shenanigans ensue.
3) Is it true that your honeymoon lasted 2 years and that you traveled around the world? We need details! What was your favorite stop on this amazing tour? What prompted this amazing trip? Where would you go back to again if you could?
It’s true! Three weeks after we got married in 2009, my husband and I sold all of our possessions and embarked on a two-year, 74-country honeymoon. We backpacked through every country in South and Central America and about half the countries in Africa, followed by as much as we could cover of the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, China, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe. We rarely spent more than three days in the same place, so it was a real whirlwind!
It’s impossible to pick a favorite stop, but I will say that traveling in Africa was extremely rewarding since so few tourists make the effort to go there. Sleeping on a Saharan dune in Mauritania, kayaking on Lake Malawi, observing lemurs in Madagascar, and eating our way through Ethiopia are definitely some of my favorite memories. And Moshi, Tanzania will always hold a special place in my heart, since that’s where I finished writing my first draft of Gladys Gatsby. You can find many more trip highlights our travel blog, www.andyandtara.com.
As for what prompted the trip, it was pretty simple: We both love traveling and were tired of our jobs and the New York grind, so we took getting married as an excuse to completely shake up our lives. And I would love to go back to Argentina and China—both such huge countries with so many amazing things to see and do (and eat)!
4) Your main character, Gladys Gatsby, is a real foodie…would you consider yourself a foodie as well?
I hesitate to use the word foodie to describe myself, because except for very special occasions, I’m not really big on eating at fancy or trendy restaurants. Gladys definitely has fancier taste than I do. I guess that I’m more of a street foodie. =) And I do love to cook at home and try to replicate some of the amazing meals that I was served up at street stalls or in hole-in-the-wall restaurants around the world!
5) Of all the things you ate all over the world, what dish was your favorite? What did you eat that you wish you hadn’t, and if you could take Gladys with you on another round the world trip, which delicious morsel would she want to try out most?
Oh, gosh, such good questions! I’ll force myself just to choose one favorite dish and name soto ayam (click for a recipe!) an Indonesian chicken soup with rice noodles and coconut milk and lemongrass. Variations are made all over Indonesia, but the version we loved came from a stall near the shore in Carita, Java, where we were the only tourists in town trying to hire a boat to sail us out to the Krakatau volcano. It took the family running the stall about an hour to make us the soup, but it was so incredible that we came back the following night and ordered it again. And I’m thrilled to report that I’ve tinkered with a few recipes and now make a pretty good version at home!
There’s not much I ate that I wish I hadn’t—it was fun to experiment and try new foods like camel (not my favorite, though one-humped tasted better than two-humped) and hippo and donkey (both delicious!). In Sichuan, China, they’re fond of cooking with a pepper that numbs your mouth and kind of makes you feel like you may be having a stroke, so I guess I’d rather not repeat that experience.
If Gladys went traveling with me, she’d definitely want to eat her way through India, and I don’t blame her! Maybe we’d start in Mumbai, which has an amazing mix of street food and posh-but-affordable restaurants.
Tomorrow’s post is at Tara’s interview of David Kazzie. See you there!
Visit the whole crew & discover their MSFV Success Stories:
David Kazzie @davidkazzie
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats
J.M. Frey @scifrey
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen
Monica Bustamante Wagner @Monica_BW
Emily Kokie @emkokie
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet
Peter Salomon @petersalomon
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus
Tara Dairman @TaraDairman