Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Author Tara McTiernan: Voracious Reader Turns Writer

When an insatiable reader turns to writing, you know
you’re in for a treat. That’s the case with author Tara McTiernan and her current release, BAREFOOT GIRLS.

Here’s a brief synopsis of BAREFOOT GIRLS:
When her hometown newspaper reviews Hannah O’Brien’s newly released novel, the nature of her book is called into question when the reviewer suggests it is a memoir depicting her neglectful alcoholic mother – Keeley O’Brien Cohen, the most beloved of the Barefoot Girls -  a little too accurately for fiction, citing rumors rather than sources.

Deeply hurt and betrayed, Keeley cuts Hannah out of her life. Desperate, Hannah does everything she can to apologize and explain, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the rest of Hannah’s life starts to unravel, pushing her to risk her engagement to Daniel, the one man who had been able to scale the high walls around her heart. At the eleventh hour, the Barefoot Girls are able to convince Keeley to send Hannah the keys to the Barefooter house, the home and heart of their friendship. Barred from their clubhouse since she was twelve, Hannah grabs the chance to visit the little shack filled with memories and perched at the tip of Captain’s Island in the Great South Bay on Long Island, New York.
As Hannah battles to come to terms with her equally blessed and troubled childhood and understand her mother and her sister-close friends, she’s confronted with the power of forgiveness and the dangers of holding on to the past.

Tara joins us today to answers some questions about her writing.

Mason - The age-old question, What inspired you to write this book?

TARA - It was a combination of things that inspired BAREFOOT GIRLS. I've always loved books about the mother-daughter relationship and wanted to write about it. I felt that there had been many books that explored a mother's feelings of jealousy toward her daughter - missed opportunities and lost youth usually playing a large part. However, I had never read of a daughter envying her mother, and I had envied my mother quite a bit during certain stages growing up. It felt that it was something that needed to be explored. 

Secondly, one of the things that I see going on more and more with women today is the loss of long-term friendships in our lives due to various factors including the increased mobility of our culture, people rarely remaining in their home-town. Yet most women I know crave these close long-term friendships desperately. I wanted to show a lifelong friendship between four women with the hope that women would identify with the "Barefooters" and enjoy getting to know them.

And finally, I spent many summers of my youth on a similar island to Captain's and thought it was such a unique and special place. Wanted to share that, too!

Mason - What was the best/worst thing about writing?

barefoot3TARA - Best thing: when I'm writing well and the story is flowing. Worst thing: when it's not. Sounds simplistic, but being in the throes of creativity is when I'm happiest. When I can't do it for whatever reason, usually because I'm tired or the story is going in the wrong direction, it's a unique kind of agony.

Mason - Is there a message you’d like readers to take away from your book or is it just for fun entertainment?

TARA - Certainly there's a message; there are several in fact. I believe the thing that drives most writers of fiction are the things that matter most to them, the life-lessons we've learned and would to like to impart. The trick is never preaching, but instead focusing on the story and let it tell its message without jumping in and wagging a finger around like a know-it-all. 

One of the messages of BAREFOOT GIRLS is: don't let fear make your decisions. Two: holding grudges doesn't hurt anyone but you. And one of the messages is contained in the words of a lead character, Zo, near the end of the book, "Love is all that matters. We do the best we can in this crazy world, we make our stupid mistakes, but if we have love and we show it to each other, nothing can be that wrong that it can’t be fixed."

Mason - Have you always wanted to write or was there an event that led you to writing?

TARA - I've wanted to be a writer since I got my first creative writing assignment in fourth grade (or at least the first assignment I remember). I ran all the way home because I couldn't wait to start writing the narrative that was already unfurling in my head. Of course, it didn't hurt that all of my teachers constantly praised my writing until my head blew up to the size of a zeppelin. 

Mason - What can readers expect next from you?

TARA - I'm working on another novel, but I prefer not to discuss the story until it's completed. I find discussion of an ongoing work damages my ability to write it. I will say that it's in the same genre, contemporary women's fiction, and that I'm very excited about it!

Tara, thanks for answering these questions for me. The messages you weave into BAREFOOT GIRLS are important and are done in a way (as you said) that’s not preachy, but still gets the point across.

Here’s a bit of background on Tara. A voracious reader known to complete a book in a single sitting, Tara grew up in Riverside, Connecticut where the librarians learned that she had a terrible addiction to certain books - re-reading them and continually checking them out until her parents had to be called in and limits set to the number of times she was allowed to take out a book. "Other children would like to have a chance to read this book, too," she was told to her great consternation. To this day, there are certain books Tara will not lend out to others as she has to have them on hand at all times.

Around the same time as the library-lending--debacle, Tara started writing and found her true calling. The only problem was that she was told that, unless she was ridiculously lucky along the lines of a lottery winner, she would never make a living as a writer. So, she dabbled in various careers, never finding her way back until her forties, when she became obstreperous about her writing, refusing to back down again. The result is her novel BAREFOOT GIRLS, as well as several published short stories in literary magazines. 

She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, Ash, and their collection of dog-eared books. For more on Tara and her writing, visit her blog at http://taramctiernanfiction.blogspot.com/ .  

The ebook of BAREFOOT GIRLS can be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. A print version will be available early this summer. 

Do you enjoy stories that relay a message in a subtle way? Do you enjoy mother-daughter relationship stories? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have a great day and remember to share the love of reading.


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Tara.

    Tara - I know exactly what you mean about feeling best when the writing is flowing well. I love that feeling! I wish you success with Barefoot Girls!

  2. Tara, thanks so much for guest blogging today. I so agree with you about the loss of long-term friendships. Wishing you much success with your writing.

  3. Margot, thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. Thank you, Mason, for hosting me today on your blog! What a great pleasure it has been. I'm also very glad to hear that the subject matter of my novel resonates with you!

  5. Thanks, Margot! Yes, I wish the "flow" was going all the time :) Thanks for the well-wishes!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.