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An Interview with Tammy Bird, Author of ‘Sandman’

In December, my friend and fellow author, Tammy Bird, released her debut novel, Sandman, a serial killer thriller set in the Buxton Beach area of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She’s here today to talk about the book and her journey to becoming a published author…and some other fun stuff.

Anne: Hi there, Tammy! Welcome.

Tammy: Hi Anne. Thanks for the invite.

Anne: Let’s talk first about your novel, Sandman. Wow, what a debut! It’s taken me a few years to work up to writing a thriller. You did one out of the gate and what a great book it is. Can you share a little, like what was the inspiration for it?

Tammy: I consider the setting of Sandman to be a character all its own. And I owe its creation in my book to a man I met when I was on vacation in Buxton, NC in the winter. I mentioned that it was very quiet on the beach. To which he answered, “Yes. So quiet you could bury a body in the dune and it would never be found.” Just like that. The beach was central to the story. 

Sandman by Tammy Bird

Anne: That’s creepy and cool all at the same time. Did you go digging in any dunes, after that?

Tammy: Uh, no.

Anne: Probably a good thing! Stick to making stuff up.

Anne: There’s so much detail here and you use real places. Talk to me about researching and writing the book.

Tammy: There was so much research. I think this is such an important part of the process. In Sandman, I have a character who is central to the story who has autism. He is a teenager. I am not a teen, nor do I have autism. I do have a grandson who is on the spectrum, so I talked a lot to him. I also used a subject matter expert (a mom and teenage son) to read Marco’s parts to make sure I was getting it right. I researched Buxton, and I talked to people who live there. I interviewed EMS workers. The list is endless.

Anne: Please tell us you’re working on something else…this isn’t all we’re going to hear from you?

Tammy: I have the outline for the second book in the Sandman series ready. I am about ¾ of the way to completion for another book, a coming out story with a wicked twist. I have a book with probably one hundred or more titles, ideas, and barely started stories, with more coming to me all of the time. This is one of the reasons I wish I started this writing journey when I was twenty instead of fifty.

Anne: LOL. I’m not laughing at you; I’m laughing with you. Every writer ever feels this, no matter when they ‘start’. Welcome to our club!

Talking Writing with Tammy Bird:

Anne: The age old writing question: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Tammy: I was actually just having this conversation with someone. I am a bit of a mix. Intuition gives me the kick in the pants I need to keep going, but logic slows me down and makes me research to get it right. I plan a general outline of a new novel, but if a character wants his own voice I let him have it and follow along in pantser fashion.

Anne: Sometimes those characters have a mind all their own. A question that always comes up whenever I interview an author or someone interviews me, did you hide any secrets in your book that only a few people will find?

Tammy: I love this question, and yes. A non-existent coffee shop that a friend and I named years ago is now a real fictional coffee shop; Marco loves his sister “a lottle,” which is a shout out to someone who created the word for us; The gorgeous red hair of my granddaughter and the freckles that I used to count on her daddy’s elbows. It is fun to watch the smiles on the faces of people who catch the secrets.

Anne: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Tammy: Sex. I think this is mostly because I have heard authors talk about how horribly written sex scenes are in some books. We all write from our own knowledge base, and what I do or don’t do (or can do, for that matter) is not the same as someone else. It is hard to know where the sweet spot is, so to speak. Also, as much as I hate it, I am from a time when talking about sex at all was taboo. I try to not be surprised or affected when someone just boldly discusses vaginas and fluids and allathat.  

Anne: I just knew you were going to say that. Almost every debut author who has ever written a sex scene does…and so do lots of authors who have been around a while. I know it’s my biggest weakness.

Fun Stuff with Tammy Bird:

Anne: It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask you a couple of offbeat questions. So…first, what are you afraid of?

Tammy: Heights. Deep water. Losing my favorites.

Anne: So when you vacation in the Outer Banks, no deep sea fishing or parasailing for you?

Tammy: No.

Anne: Any other fears? What takes you out of your What takes you out of your comfort zone?

Tammy: Readings. Conferences. Speaking engagements. People find this amusing because I’m a teacher. I can walk into a room full of students and instruct for hours, but that is such a different skill.

Anne: One last question, before we go. What item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?

Tammy: Can this be alive? Because I totally want a Boston terrier that doesn’t bark.

Anne: I love that answer. I think they’re so cool, I gave one to one of my characters, Dana, in my mystery series.

Tammy: I had one for sixteen years. Her name was Roxie. She was the best. Now I have two cats who are fifteen and seventeen. They have put their paws down. No dog.

Anne: Too bad. A Boston would give those cats a good run.

That’s all we have for today. I’d like to thank Tammy for hanging out and chatting. You can buy her book Sandman on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, for sure. Look for it wherever you like to buy your books.