Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a world of thieves? Well, author Tristan J. Tarwater enters such a world and sits down with OBS reviewer Annabell to discuss the world she creates in Thieves at Heart, her first book in the Valley Ten Crescents Series. She opens up about her first crush on a boy, why she wrote a book from the perspective a child, her favorite spots in NY, and which author she would interview if she got the chance and what she would ask.

Annabell: Where did the idea to create a world centered around thieves come from?

Tristan J. Tarwater: Well, the region of Ten Crescents itself isn’t centered around thieves but Tavera and Derk’s microcosm is to a large extent. I got the idea for Tavera as an idea for a character for a Role Playing Game campaign and tried to think of what kind of world and dynamics would have to be in place for her to exist? So the Valley of Ten Crescents is kind of light on rules. There are loopholes in the local laws that allow people to get away with things that makes it a bit easier to live a life of nicking.

Annabell: Thieves at Heart is centered around Tavera who starts the story off as a child and grows into a teenager. Why did you decide to create the main character as a child?

Tristan J. Tarwater: I wanted to start her off as a child because I wanted to show why Tavera is the person she is and that she genuinely likes the life she leads with Derk, that she isn’t forced into this and blindly follows. I think people don’t realize that kids are watching when they’re very young and a lot of their personality is there.  I wanted to lay a history for Tavera and let people know her in a more intimate way. Knowing someone all of their life is a bit more…well, it draws you in, I think.

Annabell: The names of the characters and locations within the story are wonderfully odd. How did you choose them? Do any of them have specific meanings that drew you to them?

Tristan J. Tarwater: ‘Tavera’ and ‘Tavi’ just kind of came to me, to be totally honest. Derk, I wanted something that had something to rhyme with it and Lurk popped into my head…Derk is also synonymous with a knife, so that definitely helped! Shamsee has the word ‘Sham’ in it, which is kind of dead giveaway to how sketchy he is. I think about how names sound when people say them, you know? As far as the towns and cities go, I was going to start in with very fantastic sounding names but I realized, most names mean something, usually people’s names or something about the area so I went with that. It helped to flesh out what the location was like or what it was known for. And well, you have to have naming conventions when you write. It helps save time when you need a name for a new person.

Annabell: Derk comes off as a very mysterious character throughout the book. Will any of the other books in the Valley of Ten Crescents Series explore more of his past?

Tristan J. Tarwater: Actually, the second book Self-Made Scoundrel deals almost entirely with Derk’s past and goes into some more aspects of the Valley politics and religion. It’s in the process of being edited, and will be available sometime this spring, heh.

Annabell: If you could be part of elite group of thieves, what would the group be named and what type of mischief would you get yourselves into?

Tristan J. Tarwater: You know, to be honest? I would not make a good thief. Though as a writer you always take bits and pieces of things you hear about and turn a bit of fluff into a tapestry.

Annabell: Where did the title for the book come from (both the main title Thieves at Heart and the title of the series The Valley of Ten Crescents)?

Trsitan J. Tarwater: The Valley of Ten Crescents comes from the main defining feature of the region. Ten crescent shaped lakes in a Valley. They follow a Moon Goddess so the crescent shape feature is important to the people living there. And Thieves at Heart is about who Tavi is. It’s not just something imposed upon her. She actually is a thief at heart, she likes doing it. I wanted that to be clear, that these people are trying to enjoy their lives and be themselves.

Annabell: Tavera discovers a likeness of boys once she reaches that all important age of puberty. What was it like when you discovered you liked a boy?

Tristan J. Tarwater: Well, the first boy I liked? Well, that was in Kindergarten. But once I hit puberty, well, I was kind of a geeky girl. I liked having boys as friends, I had a lot of older guy friends. Sometimes I liked boys and I dated a bit but I never really felt like not having a boyfriend would destroy my existence.

Annabel: If you got to be an elf, what would you want to look like? What kind of magic would you want to possess?

Tristan J. Tarwater: I wouldn’t mind looking like myself, just with pointy ears! And magic? Hmm. If I was graced with a bit of magic, I’d like to be a bit better with plants, to be honest. I love plants and nature and I am just…terrible with them.

Annabell: Dark themes are explored within the content of the novel: humans that are sold for profit, murder, poverty, prostitution, bullying, fighting and of course, thievery. What message do you hope your readers take away from Tavera’s story?

Tristan J. Tarwater: I want people, especially younger people to know it’s okay to be yourself. People in all their stages of life have expectations pushed upon them and have to play parts and it’s really difficult to wade through it all and try to figure out who you are, what you like. We all have our own drives and ambitions that are squelched because of pressure from society or family or their jobs. I’m not advocating that people start stealing if they’re good at it, heh. But while Tavera is good at stealing, at the base of that are other qualities making up part of who she is. Self-confidence is important and fostering actual interest and encouraging one another to follow our ambitions in a constructive way. Making our own families is not a bad thing.

Annabell: Time to play “Get to Know the Author:

Name Your Top Five Favorite Fantasy Books:

Tristan J. Tarwater: I really like The Hobbit. I started rereading it with my daughter and it’s so funny and has music and the tone is so wonderful. The Crystal Cave is great. Having a name out of the Arthurian Saga myself, I picked that up as a kid and loved reading about Merlin as a normal person who grew up facing difficulties and trying to figure out how he fit in his world. I just read The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairlyland in a Craft of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente with my daughter and I liked it a lot, it had her asking about the characters, asking herself what she would do in the situations they were in. I’m on the second book of the Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom by MeiLin Miranda and the first book just stuck to me after I read it. It deals very intimately (not to be repetitive) with issues of power, privilege, gender, magic, sex, family. The second book was just released and I’m digging it. I really like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, especially the first three books. That makes more than five. And if this list was Top Five books in general, there would be a few sci-fi books on there and some weird horror. I love Philip K Dick, Robert E Howard, H.P Lovecraft. And a few comics. So yes, I do like to read a bit.

Where is your favorite spot to read? Right now, on our couch with a blanket. Cozy. The only thing missing is a table for my coffee.

Favorite Time of Day You Prefer to Write During: Anytime I can get but the night works best. I love the night.

What are three of the your most favorite place to go to in New York? Oh man. Well, number one is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hands down. I’ve probably visited it several dozen times and I never get tired of it. I mean, how could anyone get tired of it? I sincerely miss it. Chinatown because well, the food is good and you can buy bootleg anime, heh. The next, it’s really a toss up between the East Village and the Lower East Side. The LES is my home and I have an attachment to it. Most of my siblings and mom still live there. But when I could leave my house and hang out? I always went to the East Village. I love it there. It’s more…me.

If you could trade places with anyone of your characters, who would you choose and why? It would be nice to have the stupid amount of luck that Shamsee has because really, the man is absolutely stupid and should not be alive. But he is. I wouldn’t want to be as stupid as him though. Hmm. It’d be weird to be one of my characters. I’m actually for the most part happy with myself, so I would leave them be. Though they do need to shut up when I’m trying to sleep, seriously!

Favorite Word or Words: Most of my favorite words are not in English, though if you would judge from the notes from my editor, my favorite words are ‘that’ ‘seems,’ gerunds and eye colors. Seriously, my manuscripts? Chock full of these things. It’s nuts. But beyond that, I really like the Latin words ‘fortasse’ which means ‘perhaps.’

Also, ‘festinave’ which ‘HURRY UP.’ ‘Grenouille’ in French means frog. Many Arabic words are very beautiful, like leila, ghalib. Spanish…I really like a lot of the curses because they’re very interesting, the derivative meanings. I like the way Spanish sounds. If we got into phrases, this would take up the whole interview. Basically, I’ve come across a lot of languages in my few years. And well, I like words.

Least Favorite Sound: Chewing. Loud chewing. So. Terrible.

If you could ask one of your favorite authors three questions, which author would you choose and what would you ask?

Oh man, jeez. ONE of my favorite authors? Jeez. Wow. Hmm. Okay, since he’s DEAD, I would ask Philip K Dick to return from the dead. I would ask, How’re you doing? Can I hold your hand? Do you know how much your work means to some people? And I’d let him ask me three questions. You know. It’s only fair.

Annabell: Thank you to author Tristan J. Tarwater for the great interview! If you want to find out more about her series, Valley of Ten Crecents or more about the author, check out her website at: You can also find her on Goodreads:
and on Twitter: @backthatelfup.