Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Part 1: As Long as There is Chocolate by Tana Lovett

I first met Tana Lovett at a local meeting of the Idaho Writers' League. I was charmed by her humor, her love of chocolate, her storytelling, and her hard work for writers at all levels. 

Her first novel, As Long as There Is Chocolate, tells the story of a young woman who starts her own business (a gourmet chocolate shop). Despite herself, Kate falls in love with the ‘deli man’ across the street. Along the way, we readers sympathize with Kate’s hard work to start her business, and hope, with the help of a few family ghosts, that all will end ‘happily ever after.’  Today, Tana tells us how she became a writer. Welcome, Tana.

What inspires you to write? People and their personal stories. One of the oft-repeated responses I remember receiving from my parents was, "nunya." (Short for "none of your business.") I learned to not ask too many personal questions, but I always kept my ears wide open. I remember interesting bits and pieces about people, and I'm sure I embellish them liberally in my brain. (Those parents, by the way, had some pretty fascinating details in their own lives.) I think I was born to tell stories. Another word I often heard from my parents was, "hush." Rather than speaking my stories continually, I learned to write them down.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? I do remember being told in early grade school that I had a gift for it. I didn't believe becoming a writer was something I could achieve. Only special people became writers.

One thing that stands out is an experience in my high school freshman English class. We were assigned To Kill A Mockingbird, and I fell in love with Atticus Finch as a father. We were assigned to write our own two-page test, and the teacher would compile a test from the best questions turned in. My test went something like this (mind you, the test was supposed to be two pages).

Page 1: Write a page about Atticus Finch and his relationship with Scout. What do you think about his parenting style? How is it different from that of your own parents?

Page 2: Write a page from the viewpoint of Mayella Ewell [the white accuser in a rape trial against Tom Robinson, an African American male in the Depression-era South]. What was her life like? Why might she falsely accuse Tom Robinson?

My reasons for my version of the test? I knew everyone else would be working on multiple choice questions or something, and I, as always, had to be different. I was done with the assignment in about 5 minutes. I thought I'd pulled off the most brilliant underachiever sleight of hand EVER. I knew that in the unlikely event my test was chosen, I'd slay it!

As it turned out, my test was chosen, and my anonymity preserved. The teacher only required that students respond to one of the writing assignments. The moans and groans from the other students were deafening when they realized they'd have to write a whole page. I chose the Mayella question for my response because I knew everyone else was more likely to choose the other.

Before the graded tests were returned, the teacher read my response (again anonymous) to the class. Several students commented that it sounded like it came from a professional writer.

Unfortunately, it took many, many . . . many years before I began to believe that praise was sincere and that constructive criticism did not mean my writing was bad. When I enrolled in a community college in my mid-thirties, a bulb lit in my head! Not everyone found writing enjoyable -- or easy. There is something special about that. I began to believe I could be a writer.

Thank you, Tana! Come back tomorrow, September 13, for Part 2: Tana Lovett Talks About Writing. 

A Little About Tana Lovett. Tana spent a nomadic childhood, routinely relocating with her mother and two brothers. When she was eleven, they spent the school year in a rural Colorado town, homesteaded, in part, by Italian immigrants. This was potent fuel for her vivid, pre-teen imagination, and the memory grew over time into her first novel. Tana lives in the inland Pacific Northwest with her husband, Captain Awesome Man, surrounded by their great big family.

Learn more about Tana at
Audible link:
Amazon Author Page

If you are in the Spokane area, Tana will be a featured reader September 19 at Stephen Pitter’s Poetry Rising on September 19 at Northtown's Barnes & Noble.

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