This week I’m featuring author Pinar Tarhan on the blog. Pinar released her first romantic comedy book, M.A.D. (Making A Difference) last year. She also released a fabulous book about how to write a romance novel earlier this year.
If you want to learn how to write your romance, I highly recommend her new book How to Write an Amazing Romance Novel. Pinar is a fantastic writer with a passion for dancing and 80’s hair bands.
1. What made you first realize you were a writer?
I think deep down, I always knew. You should have seen the complicated plots I concocted for my Barbies. I knew I was a storyteller when I was a kid.
Whenever an episode of Spider-Man or Spider-Woman ended, I‘d write their next adventure in my head. But I officially wrote my first story when I was about 11-12, in English class.
2. How long have you been writing?
Since I was 12. Our English teachers often gave us prompts to write, and our end-of-term assignment would be to create a short story or a play we’d write and act out in front of the whole class.
3. What is your writing background?
It started with the plays and short stories in the English class. I keep referring to my English classes; at this point, I should mention that it is my second language, hence my emphasis.
I started learning it right after primary school, and I studied at this high school (2 years of English prep + 3 years middle school + 3 years high school) where English skills were the most
important thing during the first two years.
But because I fell in love with both writing and the language itself, it was just a lot of fun for me. My friends thought I was crazy. I was just having the time of my life.
At this time, I was already writing screenplays for my own amusement (and friends’ entertainment). I’ve been into movies for as long as I can remember. So to me, screenwriting is the most natural form.
I taught myself the format by buying a Quentin Tarantino screenplay from a bookstore. Yep, this was all before the Internet.
So I would write my screenplay or TV episode (I also created a TV series when I was in high school), print it out and hand it out to my friends.
If they didn’t mind, I’d sit and read (quietly) with them. It gave me such a kick. If I mentioned a song playing in a scene, I also lent them the cassette with the song in it.
I’ve always wanted to be the next Edward Burns. He is an American film director, actor, producer, and screenwriter. I didn’t mind if I didn’t direct my films, but I’ve fantasized about having a say in casting, soundtrack, and costume as well.
I also want to write the screenplay and play the role of my own choosing. That’s the ultimate dream.
4. Where do you get your ideas?
From various places, including weird what if questions that come to me, and the dreams I have at night. But I’m most definitely influenced by my love for rock music, movies, and pop culture.
I’m currently working on a new non-fiction book called How to Write An Amazing Romance Novel (working title, but the how to write a romance novel bit won’t change.:)) and I dedicate an
entire chapter to this from writing prompts to getting inspired from real life, from dreams to combinations of different “what if” questions.
I’m also working on a romantic comedy-drama screenplay right now that is inspired almost solely by a dream I had, which was influenced by my love for Hollywood.
5. Do you prefer to write fiction or nonfiction? Why?
A decade ago, I’d have said fiction without hesitation. And even though I will always favor fiction a bit more because it is my first love, I also love writing non-fiction.
The Writing Process
6. What was the process of writing your first book like?
Long. Very long. I created the story in 2004 and published it in 2018. But obviously, it wasn’t the only project I was working on. I also dabbled in various formats before deciding it should be a novel.
And then I had to teach myself how to write one because even though I’d always been an avid reader, I had only written screenplays. Two formats are vastly different.
7. What is the message you hope people will receive from it?
That true love can make the biggest difference in your life. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m a romantic, and it is a contemporary romantic comedy about two humanitarian PR experts fallingin love, so…
8. When is your ideal time to write?
Inspiration can strike at any time, but usually, it is late morning and early afternoon, and whenever I’m drinking coffee. I have stomach issues, so I’m only allowed 2 cups of coffee a day (which I naughtily interpret as mugs). I make those mugs last.
9. Do you have a favorite character that you like to write about specifically?
I love all of my characters, but I think I particularly love Kevin, who is the male protagonist in an ensemble cast in my second novel (which will hopefully be a series). At first glance, he seems insensitive and shallow, but as you get to know him, you realize he is more human and vulnerable than we realize.
He is not a misunderstood bad boy; I hate that trope. He is just a lucky guy who didn’t have to confront with much in his life. When he’s faced with different and difficult challenges, he gets to know himself better.
It is also a reflection of how people are in real life. Most of us have a selfish, insensitive side as well as a more emotional and fragile one. But often, our capacity for empathy becomes bigger after we have been through to hell and back ourselves.
10. How do you go about your editing, formatting, and cover design? Can you recommend anyone you work with?
I first edit as well as I can, but writer blindness is a thing. Because we know our story so well, it is easy to see what we are supposed to see as opposed to what is actually written on the screen.
So after I give it my best shot – and I do it by reading and rereading myself, using and then editing Grammarly pro (it is a great, paid editing tool, but it doesn’t always suggest the right thing. It is not human.
You have a perfect command of the language to decide what to take and what to leave), I send it over to my writer friends. I can’t always afford an editor, so I’m always happy to pay my writer friends by offering to read and edit their stuff.
Novelist, screenwriter, and my good friend Fiona Leitch did me a huge favor by both being a beta reader and going over the final edits.
I worked with a self-publishing company to produce electronic formats. My cover, which I love, was designed by Michelle Fairbanks.
She involved me in the process, so I’m satisfied with the results, and I sing her praises whenever someone says cover designer. I’m planning to work with her on my second novel as well.
11. When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?
If I’m not writing, I’m dancing (lindy hop – a form of swing, I love it!, or I freestyle to rock music), listening to rock music, watching more stuff on Netflix than I should, meeting with friends for coffee, and talking to my writer friends about writing. I also love traveling abroad.
12. What is your next book about?
It is called A Change Would Do You Good. A grieving young woman giving her life a complete makeover to get over the death of her boyfriend, and her colorful (and sometimes downright crazy!) new neighbors and friends give her more distraction than she could ever imagine.
It is a romantic comedy-drama, and features an eclectic cast of characters including pro surfers, a therapist, marketing professionals, fashion models, cops and more.
13. What are some of your favorite books?
Pride and Prejudice, The Brethren, The Partner Runaway Jury by John Grisham, Can You Keep a Secret? By Sophie Kinsella, Where have all the boys gone by Jenny Colgan and Highland
Fling by Katie Fforde. Also, any Jack Reacher novel.
14. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love John Grisham. I grew up adoring Enid Blyton. Jane Austen is amazing. I also read a lot of Dan Brown, Lee Child, and Sophie Kinsella.
15. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
That they make peace that writing will be difficult. The hard work isn’t really the problem, but the fact that you don’t always get a happy ending for that return.
You have to deal with rejection, health issues (carpal tunnel syndrome, anyone? Or weight gain from sitting down too much?), questioning whether you are good enough, disappointment….
But if you are a writer, and you are one if you can’t help but write no matter what, then none of the negative stuff matters. At the end of the day, you just have to keep writing and putting the work out there.
One way or other, you find your readers. And that makes everything worth it.
16. What has been your biggest obstacle as an author?
Time and money. If the day had an extra 24 hours, I’d probably write in it. No matter how well you manage your time or how productive you are; you can’t quite keep up with the stories you
have in you.
And because self-publishing (or even traditional publishing, really) doesn’t always generate enough income.
So you have to write other things to pay the bills. Even though I always try to take on projects I’m passionate about, it still takes away from the magical fictional worlds of my own making.
17. Are you glad you went the self-published route? Why or why not?
I am. Don’t get me wrong, the fantasy of having the weight and resources of a big traditional publisher supporting me is still there, but sometimes, the wait is not worth it.
I aimed for traditional publishing initially. But after the 30 or so rejection, I decided just to go ahead and do it myself. It had already taken so long to write the thing. I didn’t want to wait any longer.
I can always reevaluate my options later, but for now, I’m self-publishing the next one as well.
18. What is the one thing you must to have to write? (Coffee/something to eat/music/silence,etc)
Water. Coffee is great, but I can’t always drink it due to health issues. If I’m in the zone, no amount of noise can distract me. So I just need water and my laptop.
19. What are you currently reading?
Match Me If You Can by Michele Gorman.
20. What is your favorite resource as a writer?
I really like Writer’s Digest. The magazine, the website, and their books. I have a ton of favorite resources, but if I had to pick one, I say WD.
Pinar Tarhan is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance writer, and blogger. She has been creating worlds and stories for as long as she can remember. Her first novel, Making A Difference (M.A.D.) is a contemporary lighthearted comedy set in New York.
She is an old millennial, rock music addict, movie lover and travel enthusiast. She might also love dancing a bit too much. You can catch up with her on her blog Addicted to Writing, or on Twitter @zoeyclark.