Let's Get to Know Each Other, Shall We?
By that, I mean here's an interview I conducted with myself to get to know me better.
Interviewing Tina: Wow, Tina, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule of aimlessly wandering around Target to answer a few questions for us today.
Answering Tina: Yeah of course, Tina. It's no trouble at all. Glad to be here.
I.T.: Let's start small. Where did you grow up?
A.T.: I'm a product of the east coast. I lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as a kid, but did most of my growing up in Maryland.
I.T.: And is that why you chose to set your debut novel, Burn Before Reading, in Towson, Maryland?
A.T.: Yes, that is exactly why.
I.T.: So you grew up on the east coast, but where did you go to college?
A.T.: Also the east coast. I went to Hollins University in Virginia for a year, then West Virginia University for a year, then I took a year off to do the Disney College Program in Florida. I graduated from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.
I.T.: What a mouthful.
A.T.: Tell me about it.
I.T.: So you did the Disney College Program. Were you a parade performer or something equally as glamorous?
A.T.: Definitely. I wore a colonial dress and sold massive turkey legs in Liberty Square. Living the dream. I also went to the parks for free any time I wanted to and met people who ended up becoming some of my closest friends.
I.T.: Let's talk about other jobs you've had, since being an author isn't paying your bills...yet.
A.T.: I've had a lot of odd jobs over the course of my life. My first job is hard to explain.
I.T.: You're a writer. It's your job to explain.
A.T.: Geez, I didn't realize I was so pushy.
I.T.: Sorry, please continue.
A.T.: It's alright. Anyway, I worked for my mom's friend who worked for Coca-Cola. Basically, if you ever wrote in for a rebate for money or an American Idol folding chair or World Cup soccer ball in the mid-to-late 2000s, I probably packaged and labeled your stuff.
I.T.: Wow, that's a bizarre job. Anything else?
A.T.: Buckle up. Here are all the jobs I've had since the legal age of employment: Rebate processor, tennis coach (for two separate companies), sandwich maker at Jimmy John's, cast member at Disney World, student librarian, Whole Foods cashier (for a day), front desk at a trendy hotel, Target team member, bookseller at Barnes & Noble, early morning box opener for Old Navy, temp agency work, professional grocery shopper, brief stint on the Warner Bros. lot, and I currently work as a manager at a tech start-up.
I.T.: Wow, all that and you had time to write two books?
A.T.: Three books, actually. There's one on the way.
I.T.: Let's talk about Carly Allen and how you decided to write these books.
A.T.: As hokey as it sounds, I don't think I really wrote these books. I never sat down one day and was like, today's the day you're gonna write a book, Tina. They came from the lack of LGBT narratives in the world that I felt I could relate to. For some reason, there are really good LGBT characters and stories in sci-fi, but I'm not a science fiction person. I like my stories to be a lot closer to reality. I grew up watching 90210, The O.C., and One Tree Hill. Teen dramas and romcoms are my bread and butter.
I.T.: So when you started writing, you wrote what you knew and loved.
A.T.: Exactly. Someone who grew up watching She's All That was not going to turn around and write the next space opera. It's just not what's in my bones. I wrote the young adult LGBT book I wanted to read at sixteen. Carly Allen is kind of different in the sense that this isn't the story of her coming out, but the story of her coming of age. The story starts with her already being confident in her sexuality, but having no idea what she wants to do in the world.
I.T.: Well, since you love romcoms, do you have favorites?
A.T.: That's such an unfair question. Um, you can never go wrong with Sleepless in Seattle and The Princess Bride. There are just so many good ones. John Tucker Must Die, She's All That, Clueless, Easy A, She's the Man, The Edge of Seventeen, and, you know what, I'm going to include Josie and the Pussycats on this list, too.
I.T.: Wow, Josie and the Pussycats, what an underrated movie.
A.T.: Yeah, you're telling me. It was so far ahead of its time. It's totally jerkin'.
I.T.: In your second novel, I Didn't Start the Fire, you have the professor make the class answer five questions on the very first day. 1. Name. 2. Where are you from? 3. Go-to karaoke song? 4. If you could take credit for any piece of art, what would it be? 5. Where do you want to be seven years from now? Let's hear your answers.
A.T.: Honestly, my answers are probably going to be so similar to Carly's. Here we go: 1. Tina. 2. Towson, MD. 3. Carly's answer, Jessie's Girl, is such a good answer, but I think, in a perfect world, my answer would be We've Got Tonight by Bob Seger. 4. My gut says Lady Bird, but I can just hear Greta Gerwig (whom I have never met) telling me to go make my own Lady Bird, so I'll say Frances Ha instead. 5. In seven years, I hope to be living in Canada, Toronto specifically, and I hope some people read my books and like them. Also, I'd like to see at least one of them make it to the big screen.
I.T.: Since your books center on a lesbian teenager, let's talk about how you identify.
A.T.: Sure! I identify as a lesbian and I use she/her pronouns.
I.T.: DId you want to share a little bit of your coming out experience?:
A.T.: Yeah, so my sister came out first and I never really put much thought into why i didn't want to date dudes. I just thought I was ~picky.~ Ah, don't you love hindsight? Anyway, there was this girl in one of my classes and all I wanted to do was make her laugh. Eventually, it dawned on me that there was a reason for that. I didn't officially come out until my freshman year of college.
I.T: You left out the part about Glee.
A.T.: That's so embarrassing.
I.T.: Say it, or I will.
A.T.: Fine. Okay, I went to the Glee concert where they sang Born This Way in those white shirts that had their secrets in big block letters on them. I, a fool who had not come out to anyone yet, DEEPLY considered the shirt that said, "Likes Girls." I was hopeless.
I.T.: You're right, hindsight is really wild.
A.T.: Things got better. They definitely get better.
I.T.: Well, that's all the questions I have for you today.
A.T.: Thank goodness. Talking about myself has worked up quite the appetite.
I.T.: I know, I can hear your stomach from here.
A.T.: It's your stomach, too.
I.T.: Anyway, Tina, as always, it's been a pleasure.
A.T.: You, too, Tina. We should do this more often.
I.T.: I mean, my schedule is so busy I don't know if I can squeeze you in.
A.T.: I'm out of here.