2020 Debut Author Interview: Tara K. Ross!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Tara K. Ross and her novel FADE TO WHITE, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Tara on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Tara K. Ross

As a teen, Tara learned that well written prose can change the entire trajectory of a person's life. Case in point: her life. She now has the joy of sharing this discovery with youth everyday, through her work as a school Speech Pathologist and mentor with local youth programs. She is blessed with a ridiculously supportive family that carves out time each week for her to create stories that tackle the interplay of faith and mental health. 

Keep up with Tara: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / Tumblr / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Tara: Thank you so much! Honestly, it’s this strange combination of surreal accomplishment, mixed with overwhelming fear. But there is also this steady undercurrent of pure joy.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Tara: I love and live for the formation of an idea. There is this intense, and sometimes overwhelming, need to sort out the lives of the characters in my head. I have been known to tiptoe to the bathroom at two in the morning with a stack of cue cards. When I wake up the next day, it’s like a sprout has emerged from the muck of my mind. Getting to then organize those ideas into character sketches and an outline is exhilarating. Yup, I’m a geek. But then comes the revisions. There is beauty in revisions. I know this and appreciate the process. The fruit tree needs to be pruned of dying branches, the hedges sheared to esthetic perfection and the garden weeded, but man is it painful. I’ve grieved hacked off characters, refused to trim 20-line paragraphs of brilliant (to me) prose, and literally cried from the hours of plucking out overused just’s. It’s worse than weeding! There is beauty in the process, but I don’t have to like it.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for FADE TO WHITE?
Tara: When I first started writing Fade to White, I began with the story of a girl who had anxiety. There was nothing particularly special about her. She was just working through these irrational thoughts on the page. It was cathartic for me during my own struggles with post-partum anxiety. It wasn’t until I began to attend group counseling, started to exercise and eat better and dig deeper into my faith that the greater story of Fade to White formed. In my own life, I was being reminded I had a purpose beyond wallowing in my fears. I had gifts that might encourage others. I began to recognize a small light in my own life. I wanted to share that spark with others. And so, I wrote a story with that same thread of light. It’s one journey of healing. It won’t be everyone’s. But it is a great reminder that there are many ways out of the spiral.    

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Tara: My favourite character to write was hands down Thea. In creating her character, I pulled from both my own experiences and those of countless young people who have also struggled with their own mental health. Despite her painful internal landscape, it was such a joy to journey with her, to build in real-life quirks and humour amidst the struggle. On the other hand, I found writing Khi very challenging. I wanted him to come across as mysterious, encouraging and wise, but at the same time, flawed without the typical clichés. One of my early beta readers thought he was an angel because of his squeaky- clean personality and appearance. I took her feedback and wrote a short story of his most wounding moments. It was so helpful and hopefully translated to the larger story.

The Book Bratz: Self-harm and mental health are huge parts of this story. How did you go about deciding to tackle that?
Tara: Mental health is something I am deeply passionate about, both from my own personal experiences with anxiety and through my work with youth. Within my day job, I support students with significant mental health challenges; I see first hand how challenging each day can be for a young person who can quite think about his or her thinking yet. Simply making it to school, interacting with peers, and acknowledging their neurodiversity in a world that is still learning about it as a whole is next to impossible. I wanted to share a story that could be enjoyed, while also allowing for conversations to be started between friends, parents and counselors.  

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from FADE TO WHITE?
Tara: It may sound cliché, but I hope they take away hope. The stories that have most impacted my own life were those that left me inspired for the future, that urged me to change who I am today, and that reminded me, no matter what mistakes I’ve made in the past, there will always be a chance to start again. Fade to White was built on those narrative. If this story reminds someone that they are not alone within their struggles— that there is still hope—I will breathe a little deeper.  

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of FADE TO WHITE in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Tara: I do have plans to return to the town of Ridgefield for the beginning of my next novel, but the cast of characters will be almost entirely different. I can’t share a lot of details yet, but I am continuing to explore themes of mental health and faith. There may be mentions of addiction and how strong a pull the online world can have on our own perceived futures.  

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Title: Fade to White
Author: Tara K. Ross
Publisher: IlluminateYA
Publication Date: May 30th, 2020

Summary: Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is falling apart. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside. When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety skyrockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever. Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship. Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love.

Thank you so much to Tara for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about FADE TO WHITE and can't wait for it to be out in the world on May 30th

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  1. This book sounds really needed. So many people I know have anxiety issues and could use a book like this. Nice interview-- this author sounds like she really dug deep for this book!

  2. Thanks so much for chatting with me ladies! And for the comment Michelle. Feeling the love. Hope you enjoy it!


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