THE AUTHOR BEHIND THE WORDS SERIES: MEET TAMMY BRANDONISIO

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Tammy describes herself as a writer, mother to two boys, and a military spouse. “I was born in Bari, Italy, and migrated to Chicago, IL with my parents when I was 6 months old. I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area most of my life, until I married in 2010, and set sail for military life with my husband. I graduated from Dominican University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Italian, and a minor in Communications. I moved back to Chicago in 2019 and currently reside in Park Ridge with our two cats”, she tells us.

Her book, titled “Lost Among the Tide” unravels the story of a woman named Rebecca and her journey of self-discovery, in which she learns there are only two constants in life – family and the call of the ocean.

In this series of interviews, Zaftyg will share with you the stories and the people behind the words of talented artists.

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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was thirteen when I realized I loved writing. At the time, I was in between schools, waiting for my records to be transferred to my new school. I was home and started writing. I wrote my first short story and several poems by the time I started high school.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on some short stories, and a novel.

What’s your career highlight until now?

I self-published my debut novella, Lost Among the Tide, January of 2021.

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When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Lost Among the Tide is my first published book. I started writing the book back in 2016 when I was a stay-at-home mother and published earlier this year as a forty-two-year-old woman.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and photography.

Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from various places and things around me. Sometimes it might be from lyrics in a song, a scenic area or a dialogue between people.

What is your writing process like?

I like to jot down notes before I start writing. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle of a pantser and plotter.

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Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

No, I don’t write under a pseudonym, but I do include my maiden name initial (B for Brandonisio) in my author name. Being an author and writer is an integral part of who I am, so I feel that this should be part of my branding.

What do you think makes a good story?

I believe well developed characters make a good story. You might have a great plot, but without good characters your story won’t resonate with readers in the same way.

What difference do you see between a writer and an author?

A writer tends to be someone who doesn’t publish his or her work and is interested more in the writing process for personal satisfaction rather than publication. An author writes for both him or herself and the reader.

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What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I usually need minimal distractions when I write. I can write anywhere – on a desk or even a bed – as long as I have my laptop and the ability to focus.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I find that most of the time writing energizes me. If I’m writing an emotional scene, it’ll get so into it that I experience some of the emotions myself, but it never seems to exhaust me. It feels satisfying if it’s done right.

Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

It depends on what I’m writing. I don’t listen to music often when I write, unless I need inspiration for a scene, then I’ll put something on. If I’m writing a romantic scene, I’ll listen to love songs, but overall, I enjoy big band music all around. It puts me in a happy place and helps me get focused.

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What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I write when I have some free time. Usually, I carve larger amounts of time out on the weekends because I work full time during the week. I also try to get in an hour of work during my lunch time or after work during the week. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I also have a family, so I often write around our family’s schedules or obligations, if I can.

What is your kryptonite as a writer?

My kryptonite as a writer is being out in nature. It helps me get in touch with my creativity.

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What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

The most difficult part of writing is finding time to write when your schedule is busy with other life obligations. If I could change anything, it would be having more time to devote to writing.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

For me plot or a theme seems to come first before my characters. My plot could change once my characters start to become more developed.

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How do you develop your plot and characters?

If I have an idea, I’ll often ruminate on it, asking myself lots of “what if” questions to see if it would be a viable idea for a story. I’ll think about character relationships to see if the actions or thoughts I’m giving them make sense.

How do you select the names of your characters?

When naming my characters, I usually go with a gut feeling. If my setting is during a specific time in history, I’ll research names during that era so that they can be as authentic as possible.

Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?

Yes, I believe modeling a character after someone you know can be quite therapeutic and helpful, actually. As a writer, we write best about what we know or experience, and if we know people in our lives well, we’re able to predict how they would react to certain things. We can use this concept for developing our characters.  I’ve also modeled a villain or two after someone I didn’t like in real life and it was quite a satisfying.

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How did you come up with the title for your first book?

I had a working title, but I ended up naming it after a phrase that was repeated in my story by two of the main characters. It symbolized the overall feeling of the story and the characters.

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

I’ve seen some unethical practices especially in the self-publishing realm. There are many scams out there that you have to be aware of. Many times, vanity presses claim to be traditional publishers or scammers will pose as publishers and steal your material. It’s important to do your research before sending out any of your work. I also recommend copywriting your material to give yourself extra protection.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

There are lots of traps and scams especially now that it’s easier to publish our work. We’ll run into people claiming to work with publishers or people offering services for lots of money, but very little reward. It’s always important to research any people and services you’re considering using. Be leery of anyone who wants you to pay them instead of them paying you for your work.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I belong to several Facebook groups and some of my friends are writers, as well. I exchange ideas with them, and in particular in the Facebook groups, I’m able to learn tips about successfully marketing my work. You learn best when you network.

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What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My early experience with the power of language was the time I made the revelation that I loved writing when I was thirteen. I learned that language could be used as a copping mechanism when you’re trying to get through difficult emotions in your teenage years.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write, write, write as much as you can, learn as much as you can and don’t give up. My only regret is that it took me so long to pursue.

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How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have 3 unpublished short stories, 1 unfinished poem, and 1 unpublished poem.

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

I would ask them if I did my best at portraying their story and their emotions. I would want them to come out happier and more self-aware.

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How do you want to help moving humanity forward?

I want to inspire people to be the best they can be. I want them to be comfortable in their own skin and to help each other. Being human is a wonderful thing and we need to embrace it more.

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