Tari Faris has been writing fiction for fifteen years but has been creating fiction in her head as long as she can remember. She is represented by Wendy Lawton at Books & Such Literary Management and is a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy. She was the 2017 Genesis winner, 2016 Genesis finalist, and 2014 Genesis finalist. In addition to her writing, she also works for My Book Therapy as a special project manager and writes for LearnHowToWriteANovel.com . You can connect with her at www.tarifaris.com
Tell us about your latest book, Until I Met You.
When she hears that the town of Heritage is looking for a new librarian, Libby Kingsley jumps at the opportunity. Little does she know the library is barely more than a basement room stuffed with dusty, outdated books. What the community really needs is a new building. But the only funds available are those being channeled into the new town square, and the landscape architect in charge of the project wants nothing to do with her plans.
All Austin Williams wants to do is get the town square project finished, and he hopes it is enough to save the family business. Then he can extricate himself from the town that reveres the brother who cost him so much. But the local media and the town’s new librarian seem to be conspiring against him at every turn. Will the determined bookworm find her way into his blueprints–and possibly even his heart?
What was your inspiration for the fictional town of Heritage, MI?
I grew up in a small town, and I am sure that had an influence, but I also love shows like Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, and Sweet Magnolias, so it was a natural fit for me. When I was creating it, I pulled some elements from my hometown, but I also tried to add what I always wished out town had more of: old buildings and a town square.
Otis, a statue of a brass hippo, makes appearances in both the first and second books of the Restoring Heritage series. How did you come up with this very unique “character”? Will we ever discover how Otis moves around town?
Otis was a late addition to the first book. I realized that I spent so much time focusing on what needed change about the town in the opening chapter, it didn’t leave a lot of love for the town. I wanted something likable and memorable. In my hometown, there is cement statue shop as you are driving into town. One of the statues for sale is a large green gorilla. It has become so iconic that the owners refuse to sell it. I loved this idea, but I knew I wanted it to move and neither the shape or material would work. So, I tapped into another local icon—the brass hippo in the Westwood Mall. It was a perfect fit, and locals love the connection.
Will you ever find out how he moves? Yes, I have already written it into the third book. I hate for it to lose some of that magic by revealing how he moves, but it fits well with the story.
What message would you like readers to take away from Until I Met You?
How important forgiveness is. For the one being forgiven, yes, but even more so it is important to the one doing the forgiving. If we choose not to forgive, it breeds bitterness in us that spills on those closest to us. God gives us the greatest example of forgiveness, but we have to do it.
Did you plan the entire series before writing the first book, or did you write one book at a time?
I had the premise of each book worked out before I received my contract with Revell, and I had started the second, but most of the second and the third were finished just in time to turn in.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your writing career?
Self-doubt. I am dyslexic and struggled with reading and spelling a lot in school. I didn’t even become an avid reader until I was almost thirty. When I started writing, I met so many who had wanted to be authors their whole life. I was just figuring that out. I felt so underqualified to do this, in some ways I still do, but I had to learn to remind myself that I started writing because I felt God calling me to the journey, not because it seemed easy. Before Gideon could see his worth, God called him mighty warrior. And before I could see it, God called me author. That was why I wrote, and when I remembered that, I could give it my best and leave the rest up to him.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Oh my! So many. Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Melissa Tagg, Becky Wade, Denise Hunter, Beth K. Vogt, Lisa Jordan, Kara Isaac, Jessica Kate, Janine Roche. . . should I go on?
What books are on your nightstand right now?
The Marshal series by Susan May Warren. I got halfway through but ran into my own deadlines, so I had to wait to finish it. But it is amazing!
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
1) Be teachable. You aren’t as great as you think you are. We all have room to grow. And the authors that I see grow the fastest are those willing to learn.
2) Join My Book Therapy. Haha. Okay, that may be a little self-serving, since that is where I work, but I work there because I truly love it and believe in it. I know I would not be published without it. But even if My Book Therapy isn’t a good fit for you, find a learning community of writers. It is key.
What is your work in progress?
I am writing like mad these days to finish my Christmas novella to get out this year. The main characters are Danielle and Gideon who you meet in the first book. Although, it has been hard to get in the Christmas mood since we are still over a hundred degrees every day in Phoenix.
Thank you so much for having me!
Thank you, Tari! Looking forward to book number three of the Restoring Heritage series and that Christmas novella!
Readers, visit www.tarifaris.com for more information or click below. Hope you enjoyed the interview with this award-winning author who overcomes dyslexia and self-doubt to pen charming, fun, inspirational stories.
9/27/2020 04:10:39 pm
I love series and have been hunting for a new author! And there’s a brass hippo? I’m intrigued! Also, it sounds like it speaks to forgiveness, what our country is going through now politically, forgiveness is something I need to work on amongst friends and differences in opinions. I can’t wait to check this author out! Thanks for leading me to her, Stacy!
9/27/2020 04:21:28 pm
I love series too, and this one has a prequel!
Mary Jo Gulbranson
9/27/2020 09:32:31 pm
I love small towns! I grew up in a town of 300 which I now refer to as “my Mayberry!” So, you got my interest there! I’m always interested in learning how people work out their differences and come to forgiveness and reconciliation. Looking forward to reading the book and maybe even discussing it with my daughter Stacy and her sisters!!
9/27/2020 09:49:38 pm
A great novel is able to weave life-changing lessons (such as with forgiveness) into an entertaining, relatable story. I'm sure your daughters would love to read and discuss this book with you. ;)
9/28/2020 08:21:31 am
I can't wait to get my hands on this series. I also appreciate how Tari shared the insight that she sometimes feels unqualified.It is so easy to doubt our calling, whatever that may be. I love Tari's statement that, "Before Gideon could see his worth, God called him mighty warrior. And before I could see it, God called me author." Thank you for sharing this interview, Stacy!
9/28/2020 10:03:30 am
Yes, Tari's honesty was encouragement for anyone (like me!) about how God will carry us through whatever it is he calls us to.
9/28/2020 08:24:59 am
Great interview, Stacy! Looking forward to reading this!!
9/28/2020 10:12:24 am
I'm sure you'd like it. The characters are so "real", with interesting, complicated backgrounds, unlike a basic romance novel. And the heroes are dreamy. ;)
9/28/2020 12:14:47 pm
Fun hearing from an author! I’m looking forward to hearing more from other authors too!
9/29/2020 07:03:49 pm
I enjoy hearing where authors get their ideas from,, especially seemingly random, unique ones like a Brass Hippo :)
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"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."