Interview with T.L. Bodine and Tagestraum!

Today I’m interviewing author T.L. Bodine. First let’s take a look at her latest book: Tagestraum.

Working as a child welfare agent, Adrian has seen a lot of disturbing things. Nathaniel Weaver isn’t the first kid in the city who’s ever gone missing, but his disappearance haunts Adrian in a way he cannot entirely explain. Maybe it’s because the child looks so eerily similar to himself. Maybe it’s the drawing that Nathaniel gave to him the last time they met: a cloaked nightmarish figure that Adrian recognizes from his own dreams.

When Adrian returns once more to the scene of the disappearance, he finds a doorway leading to another world: Tagestraum, a bizarre and often treacherous faerie realm powered by human dreams. The world itself threatens the safety and sanity of any human that crosses into it, and several of its denizens are eager to harvest errant humans for a little raw energy.

Adrian knows that he’s the only person who can find Nathaniel – but to do it, he must battle both dangerous inhabitants and his own worst nightmares, and each night that passes brings Adrian closer to losing himself completely.

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1.     So much of your writing has a fairy-tale element. What fairy tales captivated you as a child, and now?

When I was maybe six or seven, my grandmother gave me a book of fairytales that were broken out into days — 365 sections, each one meant to be read at bedtime throughout the year.  These were the original Grimm’s stories, and I was completely fascinated by the violence and death in them compared to the Disney movies I’d seen.  The one that really stuck with me was Cinderella, when the step sisters are cutting off parts of their foot to fit in the slipper.  I just remember reading it and thinking, “Wow, they definitely left that part out of the movie.  This is so much cooler!” (I was kind of a weird kid lol)

In college, I read The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, and it was kind of a transformative experience.  I knew right then that I wanted to revisit some of those stories from my childhood and try seeing them in a new way.

2.     What do you find the biggest differences are between writing fiction and web content?

They’re almost like apples and oranges.  When you’re writing for the web, you’re giving somebody exactly what they want.  Your number one job is figuring exactly what they’re looking for and delivering it to them.  You spend a lot of time researching and creatively reorganizing information into an effective or accessible format, but everything you need already exists — you’re just packaging it differently.   With fiction, you’re creating things as you go, and you have to go slowly enough to figure out what you’re trying to say.  I can write 10k a day easy for my “day job”, but if I get a thousand words out on a novel it’s a very good day.

3.     If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Is it cheating to use a poem?  Because I’d totally say “The Stolen Child” by W.B. Yeats.  Some people have done musical arrangements of it, so it totally counts right?

4.     If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

Well first off I’d be pretty concerned because he’s not a drinker.  He watched both of his parents drink entirely too much and ruin a large chunk of his childhood because of it.  He toyed with drinking socially in college and realized he couldn’t control himself around it, so he’s never been back since.

But I’d buy him a Shirley Temple or something — dude’s earned it– and try to get him to open up.   Sure, I have the unfair advantage of knowing him better than he knows me, but I’m sure there’s things he hasn’t told me yet and I’d love to know them.

5.     If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I’d be perfectly content with a Hogwarts acceptance letter 🙂

6.     Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both.  Writing for me is kind of like driving on the highway at night.  You know pretty much where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, but at any given time all you can see is what’s right in front of you, and sometimes things jump out at you from nowhere.  Only difference is that writing, the unexpected bits are usually good.

7.     How has writing changed your life?

I’ve been making up stories since I can remember, and writing them down since I was about 8, so it’s been a huge part of making me who I am now.  There’s kind of an old cliche about writing as therapy, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it.  Obviously the number one thing you want to do when you write a book is to try and tell a good story.  But underneath that, you’re also working out problems — trying to figure out how the world works, and why, and whether that’s a good thing.  So I think writing can give you a lot of self-awareness in that respect, and it’s something I turn to for comfort in those situations where answers aren’t always easy to find.

8.     What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read widely.  Write all the time.  But don’t forget to go outside and live, too.  Every experience you have will enrich your writing, and you owe it to yourself to gather as many of those experiences as you possibly can.  Sitting alone in front of a typewriter is a romantic image, maybe, but it’s not what’s going to make you a better writer.
About the Author
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T.L. Bodine is a fantasy author, web content writer and fly-by-night video game writer.  Most recently, she’s collaborated with Ginger Goat on the anthology “Trust Me,” about dolls who sometimes tell lies, and her work can be seen in the newly released Holdfast gamebook from Black Chicken Studios.  She has three books in print: Tagestraum, Nezumi’s Children, and The Beast in the Bedchamber.
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