Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers on her website.
How to connect with Melissa...
Purchase her book: Here to Stay
Author Interview | Melissa Tagg
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’m your typical “always wanted to be a writer” girl. I loved books as a kid, still do, and at some point had this realization as a child that, whoa, people could write stories for a job. I decided that needed to be my job one day. It was nice because it made things like answering the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?" and picking a college major really easy.
...As for what’s kept me writing…I just love stories. I love making people laugh or swoon or think or feel things they might not otherwise.
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...That’s a hard one! In many ways, Made to Last will always have a special, special place in my heart simply because it was the first one published. Here to Stay, though, challenged me in a huge way. I feel like I dug deeper as I wrote that one—there were definitely personal nuggets in Made to Last, but even more in Here to Stay. So at this moment in time, Here to Stay is my fave.
...Of course, if I ever get book three finished, it’ll probably be favorite. Then same with book four… :-)
What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I think probably the hardest thing was the wait before that first contract…wondering if I was really on the right path…if this was really something God wanted for me. I hated the thought that I could be pouring so much time and energy, even money, into this writing dream if it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. But I kept telling myself, as long as God kept opening doors, I’d walk through them. And honestly, even though it wasn’t always fun, I’m thankful for the way the wait tested my patience, trust and willingness to take risks.
...The easiest? If we’re talking writing itself, then dialogue and voice has always come the easiest for me. If we’re talking the writing journey, then probably the easiest—and most surprising, too—has been connecting with others in the writing world. I am soooo beyond thankful for the amazing relationships God has brought into my life as a result of the publishing journey.
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...Here to Stay is a follow-up to my first book, Made to Last, though it could be read as a standalone. It features a guy named Blake who first appeared in MTL…and many people told me he was their favorite character in that book. The story starts out with Blake finally getting up the nerve to face his past and return to his hometown. He’s sick of playing nomad and wants to find some semblance of stability and normalcy. By contrast, the other main character, Autumn, feels like she’s been trapped at home forever. All she wants is to have her own adventure.
...When Blake returns home, he’s offered a full-time job on the condition that he coordinate and successfully pull off their little tourist town’s biggest annual event. To do so, he needs Autumn’s help. She’s already deep in the throes of trying to fix up her family inn to impress an investor. If she can do so, she might finally be free to pursue her own dream job in Paris. So despite their Hatfield & McCoy-esque family history, they pair up to help each other.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Easy question: Blake Hunziker. I just love the guy. He’s a little on the crazy side—as anyone who read my first book probably already knows. But in Here to Stay I got to explore his deeper layers…his sensitive side. He has this desperate desire to make up for his past and be this stable, normal guy…and he’s got a heart of gold, for sure.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Definitely both. :)
...Both Autumn and Blake have elements of me in their personalities, dreams and desires. But some of it is pure imagination, too. For instance, I’ve never owned a family business. I’ve never sand-boarded in the dunes. And to me, the fun part of storytelling is where real life meets imagination…so much fun stuff happens in that place!
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...My goal is to make people swoon at the romance…and laugh at the humor. :)
...But I also really believe both humor and romance can pave the way to the truth. Laughter pulls us into a place of openness; romance tugs on our vulnerabilities. So for me, romantic comedy creates a great and natural space for exploring universal themes and spiritual truth.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Definitely one of the best things I ever did for my writing was join My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers founded by award-winning author Susan May Warren. Community is just so important! And too, embrace the joy of rewrites. Whoever said “writing is rewriting” hit the nail on the head.
...But beyond those things, my best advice is to trust God for open doors. Which sounds simplistic, I know, but truly…he can surprise us with the most amazing open doors in the most amazing ways. So stay flexible, stay expectant…and trust.
What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
...Oh wow, I could list about a bazillion things here. I have an amazing mom! So picking one favorite memory is hard. Here’s one totally random one. When my mom was a teenager, she was heartbroken when my dad (her boyfriend at the time) had to move with his family to another state. She wrote a song called Two Leaves. Every once in awhile when she’s in the right mood, we can get her to sing it to us. It’s this adorable, sad-sounding song…well, one time, I have no idea why, she was holding a guitar and we were trying to get her to sing the song…and instead of singing it like she usually does, she broke into a hard rock version of it. It. Was. Hilarious.
...Just one of many awesome memories.
If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
...AHH trying to pick between Thai, Chinese, Indian and Italian is ridiculously hard. But because I tend to treat pizza as a staple food, I should probably go with Italian.
April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite? ...I’m weird in that I love orchids and wildflowers. Talk about two opposite ends of the flower spectrum! But my favorite? Probably dahlias.
Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and share with us today, Melissa! I enjoyed guest posting on your blog awhile back and, from our email convo's I just knew I had to get you and your amazing humor over to Thinking Thoughts to share about your fantastic books!
I am really excited about Here to Stay and have Made to Last in my reading cute on Goodreads. Your advice for waiting on the Lord to open doors really hits home for me and I'm sure some of my readers as well who are just waiting on the Lord to lead the next step. It doesn't even have to be about writing - just life in general! You mom also sounds pretty amazing and I'll definitely agree with the Italian food ;) Thanks again for joining us and to my readers - make sure you go and check out Melissa's latest book, Here to Stay (and of course Made to Last) if you haven't read it already!