Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview with author B. D. Tharp

Today, my guest is B.D. Tharp, author of Feisty Family Values.

1. Bonnie, tell me a bit about yourself as a writer.
a. When did you start writing? I started writing seriously in 1999 while I was working full time and going to college nights. I felt compelled to write something other than college papers and business material.

b. What do you enjoy writing? I love to write, going to that special place where the story and characters are vivid and surprising. It isn't always easy, though.

c. What other types of writing do you do? I write feature articles for local (Womens Focus) and regional (Active Aging) magazines about interesting people with extraordinary lives or hobbies.

2. This is a delightful romance, yet deals with serious issues. How did you devise the plot for this story? The plot of Feisty Family Values grew out of my getting to know the characters and their background. As the characters grew, the story grew.

3. What is your experience with the issues raised in the book - domestic violence, child abuse, cancer? This is a tough question. I didn't personally experience the abuse or cancer, but I've known people who have. I also worked with cancer patients for several years with the American Cancer Society.

4. Do the characters in any way reflect you as a person? I think every author puts a little bit of themselves in their stories, when we share our emotions, passions and fears. All women have that bitchy side (like Regina), a sassy side (like Tillie), and a vulnerable side (like Annabelle). So, yes, there are little pieces of me in the characters, too.

5. Food seems to play an integral part of your story. Why is food
important to you? Most families gather together for holidays and celebrate with food. Food is often used to comfort or to console, and we can't live without it.

6. Is this type of story considered "hen lit?" How does hen lit differ
from chick lit? I suppose it falls into the category of hen lit, since the main characters are of a more mature age (50's -60's), whereas, the women in chick lit are usually in their 20's-30's.

7. What is your process for writing a novel? Often times I see scenes and hear dialog between the characters, so I capture them on the page. I do character interviews to learn their background, preferences and experiences, and that usually helps me visualize what they look like. Once I have a feel for the story and several scenes, I outline the basic story line, but it's just a basic framework. The story often diverges as it grows.

8. What is your process for researching a novel? In order to gain insight into what the laws were around domestic violence, senior abuse, and child abuse I spoke with professionals associated with a local women's crisis organization. I also interviewed breast cancer patients about their feelings and experience. If the story takes me somewhere where I have no experience, then I interview experts and where possible, people who have been through a similar situation.

9. How do you develop your characters? I usually know or meet someone whose appearance strikes me as memorable or fits with my idea of a character in the story. For example, one of my professors was the physical inspiration for Regina. She was very regal, wore flowing skirts, and had salt-and-pepper hair. One of my friends was the inspiration for Tillie, she's tough, loving, funny, and small in stature. Annabelle is a culmination of many women all rolled into one, but in my mind she's the consummate grandmother.

10. What is your marketing strategy? My plan is to conduct readings and
signings at bookstores within driving distance of my home in Wichita, Kansas. I have a bdtharp web site and am fairly active on Facebook and Twitter. I plan to speak to women's groups, professional communicators’ organizations, and book clubs. I have an author site on Amazon and will sell my books at book fairs and area writers’ conferences.

11. Do you have an agent? Do you believe authors should get one and why? I do not currently have an agent, but I would appreciate having one. I went with a small independent publisher because they did not require that I have an agent. It is my firm belief that better advances can be negotiated through an agent, and it would've been nice to have help with the contracting process.

12. What would you like to see your readers take away from this novel? It is my hope that readers will see a little bit of themselves in the characters in Feisty Family Values. Many of us come from feisty women of strength who love and show us how to deal with what life throws us.

13. Where can people learn more about you and your writing? Please visit my web site at

14. What tips do you have for new authors wanting to write a novel? Start writing, find a writing group and learn everything you can about the craft and the industry. Writing is not only a creative endeavor, it is also a business. The work of writing is solitary, and being in a group of other writers is vital. The most important thing is to never give up your dreams.

Thanks, Bonnie, for being my guest and sharing your thoughts with me.


  1. Interesting interview.

    #6: Thanks for the distinction between chick lit and hen lit.

    #14: Great advice - It's important to remember that writing is a business like any other.

    Karen Cioffi

  2. Hi Karen, Thanks for stopping by. I was curious about the difference between chick lit and hen lit, so I just had to ask!