Tara Kelly is the author of Harmonic Feedback (which I loved) and the just-barely-released Amplified which I have not yet read but am dying to). I knew I had to ask Tara to participate after how much I loved Harmonic Feedback so I am thrilled to have this interview with her to post for you! You can see more of Tara at her website — The Tara Tracks
Why write Contemporary? What is it about the genre that draws you?
It's funny because I grew up reading a lot of horror, but I also had a soft spot for realistic contemp books. The book that made me fall in love with reading as a child was Anne of Green Gables. I found the heroine so relatable--I loved how stubborn she was, how she didn't just fall over the minute a cute boy talked to her, how she was strong, independent, and not afraid to be herself in a time when women were expected to follow a certain path. Drea in Harmonic Feedback was inspired by her in some ways, I think. What draws me in most about the contemporary genre is relatability. I like reading about characters who could've been me or someone I knew. As a teen these books made me feel less alone. Sometimes the stories took me to a place I wished I could be. Sometimes they inspired me to try something new or be more tolerant of others. It's amazing how you end up relating to a character you never expected to connect with.
So, why do I write it? It's the genre that calls to me. I think some of the most powerful stories come out of the real world. A teen who fights their way out of a really bad situation with their own strength (no superpowers or angels in shining armor to bail them out). A tragic, but realistic event that tests real and flawed human beings to their limits. I'm all for escape and 'other' realities (hello, I'm a huge Buffy fan), but I think it's important for teens to read stories about what CAN happen too. Stories that feature other teens in similar situations.
Do you have any interest/desire/ideas for a book outside the Realistic/Contemporary genre?
Well, the book I'm working on right now falls into the psychological-thriller/horror category. It's quite a bit different than the coming-of-age stories I've written so far. But it's set in the real world... and it's something that CAN happen, which I find kind of scary. I always found thrillers that can happen the most frightening. I'm pretty excited about this book--even if it's shaping up to be the most intense/difficult story I've written yet.
You talk about it some in your author's note, but what inspired Harmonic Feedback? What made it the story you had to write?
My younger brother is on the spectrum, and due to that I've been fascinated with autism since I was quite young. I remember doing a 7th grade research project on it and presenting it to the class--I got an A+:) I also have friends on the spectrum (mostly mild AS, like Drea) Nobody on the spectrum I know is defined by their diagnosis. They aren't walking boxes of symptoms--in fact, they're all quite different from each other. My brother is talkative, social, and outgoing, for example. Not something you picture when you think of 'autism'. The one commonality they have is they've had problems with socializing. A lot of them felt different their whole lives, but never understood why. Drea popped in my head one day, and she had quite a bit to say. I think she's kind of a mix of all the people I've known, including myself, who have had trouble making friends or were judged based on a 'label'. But Harmonic Feedback wasn't just about Drea. I've known quite a few people like Naomi, and I've known a couple Justins. I wanted to see what happened when you gave three completely different people a shared passion. How would they shape and change each other?
Music plays a huge role in the lives of the main characters in both of your novels. What role has music played in your own life?
Music has had a starring role in my life since I can remember. Both of my parents are musicians--my mom is this insanely talented piano prodigy (she was playing entire songs at 2, I'm not kidding), and my dad has been playing guitar since he was quite young. I don't think a day went by where my mom didn't play piano. Sometimes they'd have jam sessions in the living room for hours. Oddly enough, I had no interest in playing an instrument until high school. In fact, my piano lessons went so poorly (I never wanted to practice) my parents were convinced I hadn't inherited the musical gene. But that wasn't actually the problem. The problem was they pushed me toward the wrong instrument. I'm first and foremost a guitarist, although these days I love to play everything. In the last five years I've developed a deep love for the piano... and I'm currently wishing I knew how to play the violin. On top of all that, I'm a huge music FAN. I simply cannot write or create art without great music.
If you could ask one thing of your readers, before or after they read your book(s), what would it be?
Who is your favorite/least favorite character and why? I'm always fascinated by how readers react to and interpret my characters.
Do you have a favorite novel? A book that you read and recommend over and over again? (or more than one?:) )
Anne of Green Gables. It's a classic and a story I don't think I'll ever grow tired of... which is saying a lot since I'm more of a dark, gritty kind of girl.
What's next from you? Anything you are working on that you can share with us?
Like I said above, I'm currently working on a thriller. Not ready to share the details yet, but I'm hoping I'll be able to share a bit more in the near future:)
Thank you so much Tara! I can't wait to see what you come up with next and will definitely be stalking the internets to see about this psychological thriller! And I agree, those are the most terrifying because they are the most real!