This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tara Shuler, author of the Blood Haze series. She was kind enough tell us about herself, her writing, and Shelter, the first entry into her vampire series.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm an avid gamer. I enjoy playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Splinter Cell, Legend of Zelda games, and several others. I love almost all types of music. I love science fiction. I consider myself a bit of a nerd. (And I'm proud of the title!)
I'm a very creative person. If it's creative in nature, I've probably tried it at least once. I'm a graphics designer, writer, and artist.
One of my biggest goals in life is to learn to play the piano really well. I've never had the time or money for professional lessons.
2. How long have you been writing?
I've been writing short stories off and on since I was about eight years old, and I wrote a novella when I was fifteen. I just started writing novels in February, 2011.
3. What is Shelter about?
Shelter is about a seventeen-year-old vampire named Alice Wright. She's been tutored at home all her life, and hasn't had much interaction with humans. Her mother decides to send her to a human high school for her senior year, and she has to try to fit in with the humans the best she can, even though she's actually just as afraid of them as they would be of her if they knew what she was. She meets a couple of guys who both develop feelings for her, but they both have secrets that cause serious problems for her.
4. How did you come up with the plot?
It's a little strange, because the plot came up with me, so to speak. I'd already written a novella a few weeks earlier, and I planned to make that into my first book series. However, I started writing a new story one day and it took on a life of its own. It just started playing like a movie in my head, and I had to type like crazy to keep up.
I wanted to write a story with a strong female lead. A lot of books I've read in the genre have human females and male vampires, and the human females are often weak or somewhat unlikable in some way. I wanted the heroine in my story to be the star of the show, rather than the men who fell for her.
5. Tell us about Alice Wright.
Alice is a seventeen-year-old vampire. She's a very strong person, although it's a little difficult to see in the beginning of the story. She's actually afraid of the human students at school, because she's always been taught that vampires really have to blend into human society as seamlessly as possible in order to avoid detection. She struggles with her fear of not fitting in, and manages to find some great friends in the process. Of course, those friends turn out to complicate her life in ways she never could have expected!
6. What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?
A lot of books in the genre have weaker females, or they focus on the male characters so much. I wanted a series where the female is the lead. I wanted her to be strong and protective, rather than the one who needed to be protected. Don't get me wrong... the men in her life are extremely protective of her. But she is smart, and strong, and very capable of taking care of herself (and others.)
7. Did you have any specific goals when writing Shelter? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?
The main thing I wanted was to show that women don't have to play the victim, and they don't always have to have men protect them. Sometimes, they can (and should) take care of themselves, too.
8. How long did it take you to write Shelter? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?
I wrote the draft in less than one week, and I edited it in another week. I created the cover art and design myself. I didn't have the money to hire anyone. Fortunately, I'm kind of a one-woman show!
9. Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?
That's a tough question. I'm not close with my family because of various issues. I guess my biggest supporters have been my children. They've been incredibly encouraging through the entire process.
10. As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?
The book series has an official website at: http://www.bloodhaze.com
I'm on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/TaraShuler
And I have two fan pages set up for myself and the series:
My personal Facebook page is at:
11. What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?
I feel character development is probably the most critical element. If you can't develop some sort of emotional attachment to the characters, it's hard to enjoy the story, no matter how good the plot itself happens to be. I also feel that it's vital to paint a picture of every scene in the reader's mind. Dialogue is important, and action is essential, but if the reader can't see it in their mind, nothing else matters.
12. Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?
Absolutely! When I started to write Shelter, it was going to be very different from the story it is now. The characters took me in a completely unexpected direction, and I am so grateful they did!
13. And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?
I am a die-hard Twilight fan. I absolutely love the series. As for television, I really love Supernatural, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and other sci-fi and paranormal type shows.
14. Do you have any other books available?
Book two in the series, Storm, is also currently available. Book three is due to be released later in May 2011. Not to give too much away, but in books two and three, the action really builds, and Alice discovers she has a lot more "power" than she ever realized!
I also have another series in progress. It's another vampire-based romance, but geared more for adults rather than young adults, and it's a little darker.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work with us, Tara!
Shelter (Blood Haze: Book One) at Amazon.com
Shelter (Blood Haze: Book One) at Smashwords.com
Shelter (Blood Haze: Book One) at Barnes & Noble.com
Tara Shuler on Goodreads