TammyJo Eckhart will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Author Interview: TammyJo Eckhart
1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book?
I don’t set out to write in a genre. I write whatever genre works best to tell the story I want to tell at that time, or whatever magazine or anthology I may be thinking of submitting to is looking for at the time. In fact, Day Unto Night is a cross-genre novel including historical, contemporary, and futuristic fiction.
I’ve always loved vampires, ever since I was a child. At the same time, I’m a very picky fan of vampires. While I give it all a try, I don’t love the angst or the whininess of some vampires that have become popular over the decades. An outright monster, though, is also unappealing. I wanted to do something unique, so I looked farther and farther back in time and discovered a potential vampire-like entity that the ancient Sumerians mentioned, though not much information is given. That allowed me freedom to expand and develop a new mythos while meeting some current expectations for what vampires are and can do. That also allowed me to work across genres.
2. Writers write what they know, and must observe the world. Are you a firstborn, middle or last child, and how does this shape your view of the world?
You opened the door to so much that you were probably not expecting with this question, so hold on for this explanation. I am the youngest of five children. However, when I was born, three of my siblings were already or were about to be married, and the fourth was in her senior year of high school. Or to paraphrase her: How could my parents embarrass her by having another kid at their age? By the time I was two years old, I was the only child living at home. However, I had a nephew who was only six months younger than me, and he was soon followed by other nephews and nieces.
In a sense, I was the youngest, the only, and the oldest child at the same time, because when my nieces and nephews were around, I was expected to look out for them, play with them, and care for them, particularly as more appeared and the age differences grew between myself and the youngest ones. I took that responsibility seriously for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into here.
If nothing else, this gave me the ability to see the world from different viewpoints. It made it necessary for me to be adaptive to the situation I was in. Was I the baby sister, the only daughter, or the big aunt? Did I have everyone’s attention, or did I need to be watching over someone else? I hope that comes out in my fiction when I create complex characters.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I don’t have a favorite place, because I have only one place that I can easily write, and that is my office. I am blessed that we have a house where I am the only person with a dedicated office-only space. I have a desktop computer with a huge screen now, a keyboard, a decent chair, and okay lighting. I can close myself off when I need to focus, or I can be aware of what is happening in the rest of the house simply by opening my door. I really do not write well in other venues. I need to concentrate when I’ve tried writing at conventions or on trips; that’s usually by hand, and there are distractions, as there should be, because I’m there to sell books or teach classes. While I will write by hand if I’m inspired or there’s a deadline, let me tell you that earning a PhD destroyed my handwriting; sometimes even I struggle to read it.
4. How do you feel about killing your darlings, and what do you do with the remains?
If you’re talking about taking out material that I loved writing for the good of the story, most of the time I just delete it. If it’s a story or book that might have a sequel or be part of a series involving the same characters, I’ll save it in a separate file and work it in later. I’ve done this for the next book I’m working on, which the start of a series called Almost Partners.
5. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them?
First, I fall unconscious, because that would be Octavia Butler, and she passed away years ago. Then I’d ask her where she found the internal reserves of strength to keep writing when publishers kept messing up the race and ethnicity of her characters on the covers of her early books. That would have made me so angry. I’m sure it made her angry, sad, a mixture of emotions. She kept writing, and she kept getting books issued with the same and other publishers. Each time they were a bit more accepting of what she was doing in her books. I don’t know that I have the self-control to not get so angry I’d mess up my chance to get published again if I saw a cover with a white woman on it when my main character is so clearly black or Hispanic. She made a sacrifice inside to get those books out.
6. Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows.
I’m a relatively open person about my life. I came out of the closet as poly and kinky back in the mid-1990s when I was first published, but I said, “I’m using my real name.” This is me; I don’t use pen names; a publisher would need to really explain to me why they want me to use a pen name to get me to use one. I live my life with this philosophy: Don’t do things you’re ashamed of. That turns into learning to accept yourself.
7. You are stranded on a deserted island with only a backpack for company. What three items are in your survival pack?
How my brain immediately works is to take what I know is a fun question and treat it seriously, which tells you something about me as a person and a writer. Easy to set up solar-powered long-distance radio Easy to set up water filtration system Large Swiss Army knife or Leatherman’s Tool
8. If you could have one superpower in your existence, what would it be?
This question is quite easy for me to answer. My answer comes from a real-life challenge I am daily struggling with. I would have the ability to communicate in and to understand any human language. This is because I have dyslexia, which is a horrible thing for either a writer or an academic to have. If I could have that superpower, it would save me so much time in terms of creating fiction and non-fiction and also getting it published and into the hands of readers and bloggers like you.
9. Favorite snack?
Some folks will expect me to say chocolate, because they may know about my blog called “The Chocolate Cult,” but chocolate is not a snack; it is more than a mere snack, though it can be used in a snack. For me, the perfect snack would mix protein and carbs in a balanced way that would satisfy me for hours, so that could be cheese with peanut butter on whole-grain crackers or bread. Better would be walnuts or pecans with dried cranberries and 70% chocolate coating them.
10. Indy 500 – Do you know how to get where you’re going or do you drive the speed limit?
Oh, Goddess, I’ve been living south of Indianapolis now for over two decades, and the Indy 500 is this massive deal here. I drive in the other direction and stay away for the entire freaking month before the race. That’s what I do. I’m not knocking the Indy 500 in particular; I’d drive the other way from any sporting event or perhaps go hiking instead.
Day Unto Night
by TammyJo Eckhart
A Sumerian child named Ningai survives the murder of her entire family and cries out to her people’s gods, who answer her prayer in an unexpected way. Now, as the first of the Akhkharu, the living dead, Ningai embarks on a journey across the millennia to rebuild what she lost. The best of her offspring must maintain some shred of goodness to prove worthy to their Child-Mother while fighting the deadly impulses of their kind. Join their journeys across time in a series of interconnected stories from the earliest cities to a brutal future where humans are mere pawns in the hands of near gods. Like all of us, Ningai and the best of her children will stop at nothing to protect her family. Can they succeed before they lose what’s left of their humanity, or will all of humanity become enslaved to the Akhkharu forever?
I remember running.
I ran between their bodies as they did things to her that I didn’t even have words for. I ran over the cold stone floor, slipping on the cooling sticky substance that dripped from my mother’s still body. I ran over the door and my brother’s cold mass trying to block it. I ran over the earth and grass, matted from my father’s slaughter.
I remember running.
I ran until I fell into the Great Water, what you call the Euphrates, but we only called Puranum, and was carried until I could grasp a branch with my hands, tearing at it until my blood also covered the ground as I pulled myself up.
I remember my pain.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
TammyJo Eckhart, PhD, is the published author of science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, horror, and historical fiction. Her non-fiction works covering subjects ranging from history to alternative sexuality to relationship advice and the challenges of trauma recovery. She holds a PhD in Ancient History with doctoral minors in Gender & Sexuality and Folklore. Her blog, The Chocolate Cult, has been the go-to guide for chocolate lovers since 2009. She loves visiting conventions as well as organizations to read, sell books, or share her experiences and insights on various topics in the form of lectures or workshops.
Dr. TammyJo Eckhart’s Edgy World @thetammyjo