Welcome, Tara. How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
First, a huge thank you, Pat, for having me here today! My novels began as paranormal action adventure (Lash series) and paranormal romance (Promise Me series), but are quickly morphing into straight paranormal fiction. I think that classification is the best, as its broad in scope. I don’t want to worry about specific elements of a book having a checklist of attributes to make it fit into a specific genre. My Lash novels—as well as the character himself—have always been an irregular peg, fitting neither the round or square holes. And my Promise Me series is also going to move out of the paranormal romance genre and become more paranormal drama with romantic elements in sequels #3 and #4, coming in 2013.Do you set your books/stories in your hometown, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
I set both series in the United States, with which I’m most familiar. While the Lash series moves all over the country in various books—and even internationally, beginning in the third installment—the Promise Me series is mainly based in the Northeast, in New York. Later sequels will take place in other parts of the United States. I probably will not set many stories outside the United States, unless I put a lot of research into location to make it realistic. It’s much easier to write where you know.What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
A believable protagonist, a well thought out conflict, and a logical setting that the reader can relate to and imagine happening, at bare minimum. A story that transcends its trappings, and has a meaning that stays with the reader is a good work. A novel that encompasses the reader and swallows their reality, then substitutes its own, compelling the reader to stay engrossed to the final page when they should doing something else on the SECOND reading is the best of the best.How did you come up with the title?
The title of Shadow Man has a two-fold meaning. The first to make reference to Lash’s line of work as an assassin and bodyguard. He is someone that shadows both those he is trying to protect, and those he is hired to kill. The second reference is to Lash’s own wide shadow he casts of murder, death, and tragedy to all who know him. Relatives, business associates, and friends of Lash come to grief in Shadow Man because they associate with and/or care about Lash, or he cares about them. Even those who are innocent when they meet Lash—such as street boy he nicknames Spiderboy—fall under his shadow and are affected by his lack of morals, his brutal code of life, and his aptitude for violence.Was there much research involved?
I did research into the time period in which the book was set, trying to find slang for the 30’s, memorable events, inventions, and other historical aspects. The mention of The Hindenburg, Scotch tape, and Lash’s phrases like "Go screw" rather than "Screw yourself" are factual and accurate for the time period. I wrote this series as a drama work first. It’s a genre book only because I love supernatural characters. Take away the supernatural aspects, and you still have a hell of a good story.Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
The central themes of the book are banding together to rise up against corruption, deception, betrayal, the evils of addiction, the strength of friendship, old grudges, and the consequences of choices, whether hastily made or well-contemplated.What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
But there are many other themes that run through my Lash Series: being an outsider, discrimination, the benefits and drawbacks of family loyalty, evil begetting evil, and the lengths a person will go to in order to protect someone they love. The protagonist, Trystan, initially becomes Lash because he sees no other way to save his loved ones or himself. His actions to protect his loved ones and himself drive the book series, and change the course of his life, putting him on the path to infamy. When you have everything in your life reinforcing the worst in you, it’s a hard not to succumb.
I’m not afraid to write whatever story I feel is important to tell, or to try new genres. I recently published a transgender short story Grow a Pair because I felt strongly about it, and thought it was a story worth sharing. If I’m inspired to tell a tale, it will be told. It just may take me a while to find the right publisher.Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I put a moratorium on anything else for the night, pour a glass of wine, and do as little as possible.Do you listen to music when you write?
No, unless I’m specifically trying to channel a specific emotion that the character is supposed to be feeling. Then I may listen to a song to get me in the mood to write the next scene.If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
I would like to meet James Cagney, an actor who is deceased. He was very popular in the 30’s (The Public Enemy was his breakout movie). From what I’ve read and seen of his many movies, he sounds like he would be a riot to talk to. I’d love to pick his brain regarding fight scenes, as he did many of his own. He was also intelligent, advocating for his fellow actors and himself, and very loyal to his family. He was happiest on his farm here in the Northeast, just like I am. And he’s sexy as hell. What’s not to like?You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
I’d want the WCS Handbook (Which I am happy to report my husband gave to me when we were first dating.) It gives serious advice on how to handle almost any situation, including flying a plane, so I might not have to end up on the island in the first place.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
Yes! If all goes well, the next Lash Book, War, will be out in 2013. Another 3 Promise Me series sequels will also publish in 2013: Taken in the Night, Taken for His Own, and Immortal Confessions. I am also working on collaboration with T. Fox Dunham for a shorter work about a werefox couple during WWII. Here is the promotional blurb written my esteemed colleague:Blurb for Shadow Man:
Human civilization rips itself apart in a second world war. Sions, the race of were-foxes, are forbidden to interfere, but a young werefox reaching maturity, following the dark prescient vision given to each of her kind, breaks this vow for her secret mate. T. Fox Dunham and Tara Fox Hall combine their art to create this tale for a combined anthology with Jay Wilburn for Hazardous Press.
A renegade vampire begins amassing a flock of true believers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy. Weresnake Lash partners with old enemy Danial and new allies Burl and Spiderboy to track down and annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash reemerges the victor, edging ever upward in the Assassin’s Ranking, and catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile. Drawn into drugs by Cassie, Lash begins to doubt himself, yearning to leave his life of violence, even as enemies close in from every side.
It was about this time that my life abruptly got a lot more complex. At the time I thought it was a good thing, not a bad thing. Abraham and I had been in contact with the mail-order-bride organization for about a year now. Although it took forever to get replies from them, we were finally getting someplace. There were four women who’d sent letters to him over the months, telling him about who they were and what they wanted from life. All said they were open to the idea of an "older, quiet man with a demanding but lucrative night job and a highly restricted diet," which was how Abraham had described himself in his message seeking a bride. He assured me the last bit about diet and a night job was code for vampire, according to the mail-service personnel.
He used to read the letters to me some nights right before dawn, asking me what I thought of each woman. The first was a no brainer. Her chief joy was gardening, as she’d been a farmwife in Idaho. She was not going to be a good vampire, not being able to go out in daylight. The next one was okay. She’d taught dance at a university, before it had closed its ballet program as part of cutbacks. Her picture was pretty. The third was also pretty, but in a more sultry way. But she clearly wanted children, and Abraham regretfully wrote her a nice "No thanks" letter. The fourth was not pretty, but she seemed the best choice, at least to me. She’d worked as a bartender and waitress, before the restaurant had closed for good. She said she didn’t mind night hours, that she preferred the quiet. And she said she didn’t mind a restricted diet, as she said she had one of her own.
"The last one," I hissed softly to him. "My vote is for her."
I nodded. "Don’t you think she’d be a good choice?"
"I do," Abraham said happily. "And you? What do you think of the women who’ve written you?"
What I thought was that I was fucking surprised as hell. Compared to Abraham, I’d gotten inundated with letters. But then, maybe that was because of how I’d described myself: "Highly-muscled, young, intelligent man with fondness for snakes (code for weresnake) with high-paying job seeks woman with fondness for snakes to be live-in mistress and possible mate. All expenses paid." Maybe I shouldn’t have been so self-complimentary.
"I don’t know," I hissed, looking at a few of the letters. "I’ve got twenty letters here from women, Abraham. But most have children already."
"That’s why I specified none in my ad, and I still got one who wanted kids. They likely think that’s why you are looking for a possible mate, and not just a mistress. Are there any who don’t have any?"
"There is only one who says she doesn’t have any, or mention the ‘longing to start a family.’" I handed him the letter, and a picture.
He studied it. "She’s fair enough. It says here she’s thirty."
I shifted uncomfortably. My striped honey Candycane was not even twenty. This woman would be ten years older. How different would that be?
Well, I wouldn’t have to pay for it every time, that would be one big difference. The other stuff I’d get used to, right?
* * * * *About Tara Fox Hall:
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Shadow Man / Available from