Open Book Society recently did a book review on the YA novel Hereafter, now we are pleased to announce we had the fantastic opportunity of gaining an exclusive author interview with Tara Hudson, author of this romantic love story with a ghostly twist, to discuss ghosts, learn about her writing rituals, and what’s in store for the future.

Here’s what she had to say…

Why did you choose the path of YA instead of Mature?

I didn’t actually intend to pursue YA; I simply decided to pick back up on a short story I wrote in college, more than ten years ago.  That short story centered on a young woman who wanders lost and unaware that she is dead.  When I revisited the story and turned it into HEREAFTER, it just so happened that the girl – Amelia – was 18 when she died!

We hear you’re a pet owner…dogs? Cats? Both?

All kinds!  English Bulldogs, both champion-bred and rescue, as well as cats, frogs, rabbits, and a handful of deer that I like to claim, even though I only see them about once a month.  I often joke that I’m running an illegal zoo in the wilderness behind my house.

Where did you get your inspiration for the characters in Hereafter?

Amelia came from that short story I wrote so many years ago.  Joshua actually gets a little of his personality from my husband as well as my favorite character from Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE – the girl Door, if you can believe it!  I drew some of Ruth from my own grandmother, who had a tendency to be too rigid at times.  Eli is amalgamation of every jerk I dated in college.  Then there’s Jillian, who’s all me!

Once Hereafter was fleshed out – how did you know it would become a trilogy? and how difficult was it to get your book published?

When I finished the original draft of HEREAFTER, I had an idea of where the story was going and how it would end. Luckily, HarperCollins agreed with me!  My publication path is an unusual one, though. I queried agents for several months, receiving some slight nibbles along with a lot of rejections.  Finally, I decided to go for broke and query my dream agent, Catherine Drayton at InkWell management. Catherine read HEREAFTER and liked it, but requested revisions before she would agree to represent me. I hadn’t even had a chance to start those revisions when Barbara Lalicki at Harper contacted Catherine in search of something much like HEREAFTER. With my permission, Catherine pitched the novel and Barbara fell in love with it.  So I got an agent, an editor, and a 3 book deal, all within two weeks!

How do you prepare for a day of writing? Do you have certain rituals?

Since I’m a new mom, my ritual includes diving for the computer, any moment I can!  I don’t have time for specific rituals yet, but when I eventually do, I imagine that some detailed playlists and a massive bowl of chocolates will come into play.

Have you ever had writer’s block and how did you handle it?

I have, and it’s horrible! There’s really only one piece of advice that works every time, even though it’s kind of harsh: work on something else. Maybe the project on which you’re stuck has turned stagnant for you, or maybe you’ve written yourself into a corner. Start on something new, whether it’s a new character, scene, or even book. That time away from my “blocked” problem gives me some much needed perspective on it.

If you weren’t creative with writing what other creative outlet would you have?

Architecture and interior design!  Dorky confession time? I used to make my own dollhouses out of shoe boxes. These were pretty complex affairs: three story Victorian houses, one story summer-camp cabins, interconnected gardens, etc. I drew everything with pen, from wallpaper to coffee table accessories!  MAJOR nerd.

If you had to name 3 of your all time favorite books, which would they be?

Ugh – hardest question ever!  Number One is the easiest, since I’ve read Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE at least seventeen times. Second place goes to Stephen King’s THE STAND, which is responsible for all my post-apocalyptic nightmares. Finally, I absolutely love Karen Russell’s ST. LUCY’S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES, which contains some of the best short stories I’ve ever read.

Do you believe in Ghosts?

I believe in the ghosts of emotions.  I think that a place where something important occurred – whether it was a tragic battle or a first kiss – carries the imprint of the emotions experienced there. These events can change places…haunt them.

What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

Like Joshua, I’m wildly optimistic. I believe that everybody is innately good until they prove themselves otherwise. So feel free to come up and chat with me – I guarantee you that we’ll laugh!