May 4, 2021

Tammy Bird Believes It Depends How You Define Happily Ever After

Tammy Bird Believes It Depends How You Define Happily Ever After

Ep:082 Some people buy a fancy sports car or fly to faraway lands when they hit middle age. Tammy Bird started writing fiction with strong female protagonists. A literature professor by trade, she deemed it fitting to write about the kaleidoscopic prisms of human nature in her thriller/suspense stories and novels. Be warned, her work is psychologically hard and gritty and real. It may not be palatable to everyone, but it is all that flows from pen to paper (even when she tries to write something softer with a guaranteed HEA).

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Tammy Bird's Website

Tammy on Amazon

Tammy's on Barnes & Noble

Tammy on Facebook

Tammy on Twitter

Tammy on Instagram

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

A Body on the Hill Audio Book

Have a Blessed Gay podcast


Transcript

Brad Shreve:

In this episode, Tammy Bird tells us about a novel inspired by the words of an old man on an island. And it's been a while since Justene has given a book, a delightful recommendation. Well, not anymore. Welcome to Queer Writers of Crime, where we feature LGBTQ authors, a mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction. Justene what is something that you keep telling me over and over again?

Justene:

I keep telling you to pimp your own books.

Brad Shreve:

Yes, you do. So today I'm going to pimp my books and it's actually an audio book, A Body on The Hill. My second Mitch O'Reilly Mystery is now out on audio book. People go to Audible or they can go to Amazon and get it there. So actually the first two books, A Body In a Bath House and A Body On the Hill are both available. If they haven't listened to either one, it's probably a good time to grab them both.

Justene:

Sounds wonderful. Sounds really great. And you really want to delve into those

Brad Shreve:

I will have links in the show notes to those.

Justene:

Great people oughta to listen and you know, if they prefer to read and they haven't actually read your books, they need to pick them up.

Brad Shreve:

I agree. Everybody should read it.

Justene:

Yes. Yes.

Brad Shreve:

And now I'm going to get a little bit spiritual on you

Justene:

Okay. All right. We can deal with it.

Brad Shreve:

Each week I been promoting or talking about a different podcast and a lot of these are what we call podcast swaps, where if I like another podcast, I say, Hey, I'd like to promote your show. And if they like mine, they'll say I'll promote your show, but it's only if we like each other show. So I turned down more shows than I will accept to do a. recommendation for.This week is something totally different. Tyler, the host of this podcast does not know that I'm going to mention his show, it's Have A Blessed Gay. And it's hosted by Tyler Martin spiritual comedy podcast. He's an actor, a singer, a comedian and activist. he discusses social norms,current events, mental health spirituality from an outcast perspective. I don't know about you. I don't consider myself. I certainly am not religious.

Justene:

Although you do attend church every Sunday, right?

Brad Shreve:

I do attend church, but the Unitarian church in, in, uh, we'll go in one day, talk about what a Unitarian church is, but for those that aren't familiar with that I will tell you that probably half of our congregation are atheist. I know that sounds weird for a church and I'll explain it one day. But Tyler's podcast. I met him on Instagram, right when the show started and we became Instagram buddies and he's the, one of the first people that gave our show review. When I first started listening to Have A Blessed Gay I was hooked and Regardless of not being religious. I am very, fascinated by religion for a lot of different reasons. And especially from a historical perspective like, you know, back in Jesus's time, there was a new prophet, like every other week, because it was a bad time. People needed something to hold on to. So why out of all the hundreds of profits did he become the big guy? Tyler talks about some of those things. I'm going to look at my list here and give you some of the subjects he's covered. Um, My God is Better Than Your God, which is about Christian privilege.

Justene:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Catholicism and homosexuality, plenty to say on that one. And then my favorite show has done is who created Christianity? Was it Jesus? Was a Paul? Was it Peter? Was it James?And again, most historians believe Jesus did exist. Not all but most do, but what is the historical perspective? How did the church get started? And he delves into that. And it's really interesting

Justene:

yes. Yes, yes.

Brad Shreve:

they wandered throughout the land and preached his gospel. So, for whatever reason he had the charisma and I guess people liked his message and they carried it on. So

Justene:

You know, you're, you're basically like dissing every Christian that believes that he was divine, but that's okay. We can keep going on this.

Brad Shreve:

Anyway, I'm getting off course. I just won't really want to promote this podcast.

Justene:

you know, who killed Jesus is not, is not really a good murder plot.

Brad Shreve:

well, So anyway, I'll wrap it up,

Justene:

Okay.

Brad Shreve:

Have A Blessed to Gay. I'll have the link in the show notes and I highly recommend it. Check it out. Tyler is funny and he presents it all in a good manner. And so that's all I have to say about that.

Justene:

Is it my turn already?

Brad Shreve:

Yes. What do you have for us?

Justene:

I have The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths and Elly Griffiths, a one of her books, not this one, but one of her books actually won an Edgar award. for not only best, first novel, but actually for, best book of the year. And that book was stranger diaries, but this is one of her books

Brad Shreve:

Hey, Whoa, Whoa. I got Whoa. I want to tell people

Justene:

Oh, well, of

Brad Shreve:

the Edgar award is the mystery equivalent to an Oscar. It's a big deal.

Justene:

Yeah. Sometimes we talk about that and, and, I generally assume people know what it is, but, I'm glad you stepped in and, uh, for the new people, we've got that. All right. So she is an Edgar award winning author, and the main character in this book is a, gay. Sikh detective inspector in England. she's a lesbian, so. She lives at home with her parents. She's 36 and lives with her parents. And, she does not consider this a failure. She likes living with her parents, better than living alone. They have a good relationship. They're friends. It was a very comforting start because, uh, you know, my daughter was at home and has the same attitude, and I'm glad to see that there's somebody else, at least in the fictional world that, uh, is the same. So, let me tell you who recommended this book? Rich Stevens. One of our great listeners, wrote to me and said, this is, this is a terrific book. I think you should read it. You'll love it. and he was right. I read it and I loved it.

Brad Shreve:

We want every one of our listeners to be like Rich Stevens. He has recommended guests to me to have on the show and he has recommended you to have books on the show. He's fantastic. Rich. Thank you.

Justene:

Yeah. Yeah. He's really wonderful. He's really terrific. and we hope his payments in the mail. Okay. So let me just say the main character, I think is this detective inspector. her name is Harbinder Kaur uh, and I'm pretty sure I'm mispronouncing her last name, but her first name is Harbinder there are three other characters who are, uh, narrative characters. So one of them is a former monk who runs a little coffee shop. And another is a gay man who is living in this sea, which I, I think it's the, English equivalent of assisted living. And he, he was gay when a time when it was still illegal and he is, uh, Generally surprised every time someone talks openly about being gay, because that was not his lived experience. And the fourth person is a carer who goes into this assisted living facility and she is bisexual. So it's a diverse group of people. The victim is Peggy Smith. Peggy Smith is a murder consultant. And let me tell you what a murder consultant does. She thinks of murders for authors. So she has a whole shelf full of books. In which, um, the authors credit her with helping with the plots and without her, the book would not be possible. And what she comes up with is new and intriguing ways to kill people. And let me just say this Brad if I ever get an opportunity to work as a murder consultant, I am giving up this podcast gig.

Brad Shreve:

don't do that then.

Justene:

No, it's it's it really sounds like a great job. So one of the murders that she, uh, thought up for the bestselling author is, the method was poisoned incense, and I don't think I've ever actually read poisoned incense anywhere. and it's really too bad that wasn't a method of murder in this book because it does sound intriguing. But that was indeed the, the most original that I had ever heard.

Brad Shreve:

It actually sounds like something that would be obvious that I never even thought of.

Justene:

Yeah. Yeah. And that's, and that's why she was used by a lot of these authors. So she ends up dead. And, she was 90 years old living in the same assisted living facility. Uh, the Karen Nitalka shows up and finds her dead and it just, it just doesn't seem right. You know, you would think that, you know, 90 year old woman, die sitting in her chair and for some reason it doesn't sit well. So, Nobody really wants to listen to her. The DI Harbinder doesn't, you know, it's like, okay, that's interesting. I'll take the report. And then when they go back in the other three, go back in to pick up a book as a memento, someone comes in fully masked, all in black with a gun points, the gun at them, and then picks up one of the books and just leaves. You know, stealing an old book, it was, uh, yeah, 1930s, barely read book, not very popular and doesn't sound very valuable, but it certainly adds to the theory that Peggy Smith was murdered. And so now, DI Harbinder Kaur gets involved. you get to know a lot about the authors for whom she consulted. They go to an authors convention in which the three authors all give speeches. The best-selling author talks about how he has a lot of books published, but then he's got a lot of books sitting that will never see the light of day. One of those books is called The Cricket Stump Murderers. And I am glad that we'll never see the light of day because it can only pale in comparison to The Cricketers Arms by Garrick Jones, in which a cricket stump was indeed the method of murder.

Brad Shreve:

Went up someone's ass.

Justene:

That's right. I wonder if Garrick Jones used a murder consultant and if not, maybe he hired me as a murder consultant. Okay. So the chapters all switch between the various, voices, the, the four main characters, the three of them are going off to investigate on their own. As most amateur detectives do. Harbinder does not like that. they're investigating on their own as most police people doing do in these books. Um, but she doesn't really have the resources to, supplant them, the author's convention is, is going on in Scotland and, and they're the only ones who can go and she can't get to them too, stop them. So as you can imagine, danger ensues. and They all handle it. Well. Um, even Edwin the, the 80 year old man insisted, if he, shows great bravery, uh, Benedict the former monk who left the priesthood to get married, he's still a Virgin and he's kind of living this kind of still cloistered life. He was cloistered as a monk and then he's, you know, he has just this. Coffee shop. He comes into his own. it's just a marvelous book. All of the characters, you know, each of the characters has the same sort of development that if, you know, a book focused on just them, that's what you would expect. So she has these four main characters who hold their own in the plot. and the plot is intricate and the whole thing is just delightful. It's getting a delightful recommendation from me.

Brad Shreve:

I think it's been a while since he did delightful, I was going through the list

Justene:

Yeah, I haven't seen the delightful in while. And, and, and this really is so one of those, there were times I laughed out loud. No times I said, Oh, that's just, that's just adorable. Uh, and you would not think adorable would come up in a murder mystery, but, some of those moments were adorable.

Brad Shreve:

And I love it. When you have characters, you just really love, when I did the foreword for Lev Raphael's book. I liked the characters so much that he could of taken away the murder. And I was so engrossed. I was so engrossed in their lives. That would have been an interesting novel. The fact that he added murder into it just was icing on the cake.

Justene:

Right. Yeah, he does. Very good. Speaking of him, we're bringing out his fourth book in the Nick Hoffman series, Little Miss Evil. Um, that's coming out in the next month or two. We also have the second Caitlin Reese book coming out in the next month or two and on the shelves now, are the Nikki Baker the Long Goodbyes and on the shelves also as my Grant Michael's Dead As a Doornail and, uh, Long Goodbyes and Dead as a Doornail, or are the newest ones out there in those series. And we're releasing two more in our other series.

Brad Shreve:

I gotta say I'm missing out because I've been picking up my reading and I have yet to read a Nikki Baker novel.

Justene:

Oh, you will love it. You will love it.

Brad Shreve:

That's all I hear is how red and Cheryl Head, didn't she say that Nikki was an inspiration? That says a lot right there.

Justene:

And Cheryl Head has written the forward to Long Goodbyes, which we're about to publish. So she, shared her, experience, in the forward. People should pick it up.

Brad Shreve:

Well, before I let you go, I have two things I need to say that I should have said earlier. if we have guests that want to be on the show were already booked up till August. So if you have a show coming out in the fall, let me know.

Justene:

You have a book coming out in the fall.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. If you have a book you want to promote or just, you want to be on the show, let me know because we're filled to August. The other thing I want to say is the vast majority of our listeners listen to Apple podcasts. Apple is making a bunch of changes right now, and it's an absolute mess. So if you listen on Apple, Please subscribe. If you subscribe to the show on Apple, you will get the show probably within 30 minutes of its release. If you don't subscribe, it can take as long as a day and a half for this show to appear in Apple Podcasts.

Justene:

Oh my, that is wild. Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe, or use something else,

Brad Shreve:

should be subscribing anyway. And that's all I had. All right. Well, I'll see you next week. Some people buy a fancy sports car or fly to a far away land when they hit middle age. Author, Tammy Bird started writing fiction with strong female protagonist. A literature professor by trade. She deemed it fitting to write about the kaleidoscopic prisms of human nature in her thriller suspense stories and novels. Be warned. Her work is psychologically hard and gritty and real. It may not be palatable to everyone. But it is all that flows from the pen to paper, even when she tries to write something softer with a guaranteed happily ever after. Welcome to Queer Writers of Crime Tammy.

Tammy Bird:

me.

Brad Shreve:

I first want to tell you job well done. You're a finalist in the Golden Crown Literary Award, the Goldie. So I just saw that the other day. And that's for The Book of Promises. Your second novel

Tammy Bird:

correct. That's where the second novel. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Way to go on a second novel.

Tammy Bird:

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Brad Shreve:

You mentioned happily ever after. Can your readers expect a happily ever after?

Tammy Bird:

Uh, well, I guess it depends on how you define happily ever after, because, if they're looking for a romance where two people get together and they find their sparks and they, they move in together and everything is beautiful or whatever. No. They're not going to find that in my books, that's not the purpose. I write suspense thriller. And so they're my happily ever afters are simply making it through to the other end of whatever is happening to the characters and coming out in one piece. Are there characters who love each other and their relationship develops within my novels? Yeah, absolutely. And, I write strong female protagonist and in both Sandman and The Book of Promises, the strong female protagonist also has a love interest, and it is a love that is developing and growing, but it's not the central focus.

Brad Shreve:

How do I know I'm reading a Tammy Bird novel.

Tammy Bird:

well, I've been told anyway that my, that I, that I have very strong diverse characters within my work and I am, I was an academic and, and still am in my other life. And my studies have all revolved around other with a capital O or marginalized characters. And so I don't think I can help, but to bring that, uh, learning and knowledge and. Um, passion into my writing. And that's something that people, I didn't know, people would pick up on that. I just thought I was just writing what people would write because people are all so different. But I guess because I've studied marginalization and I've studied othering and I've studied a lot of French, uh, feminist work, it's, it shows itself differently in my work. Evidently. So, uh, and I'm, I'm excited about that. I'm I always want people, I'm sad that they're able to pick out that it's my work, because it's there. I wish that it was there and more work, but, um, I'm also excited that people are able to see that that is super important to me to get the, to get the diversity in there and to make sure that it's done in a way that is supportive and true to the characters that are representing.

Brad Shreve:

well, I would think if they know the reading, a Tammy Bird novel, that's a good thing. They've made a connection. Why thrillers and suspense?

Tammy Bird:

I don't really know the answer to that question. Actually. I know that when I started, I, I guess because. I've never read romance. I've never enjoyed romance. I didn't read it when I was younger. When I was growing up, it just has never interested me. My, the people that I read were like were, you know, the Stephen Kings of when I was younger, those were the ones that were like Stephen King and, and Koontz and people like that. So I. I guess you kind of what you write as a compilation of what you've brought with you from the beginning of your journey on this earth. So for me, that's what I enjoyed reading. And that just was, seemed a natural progression to me when I decided that I wanted to try my hand at this fiction thing. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Well, it's exciting to have a suspense thriller novelist on the show in the past. It's been mostly traditional mystery. And I think part of that was my fault. The name of the show used to be called Gay Mystery Podcast. And it's more than that. And I wanted that to reflect in the name. So I changed it to Queer Writers of Crime. To make sure that it was more diverse and also to make sure I get people within those other crimes genres. So hopefully by that name change, that will change that because I certainly would like to see more. Women have written mysteries over the years. I know it's been traditionally a male dominated genre, as with most things, but in recent years, we've seen a lot large growth in women who write thriller novels. Why do you think in the broader picture that is?

Tammy Bird:

Well, I think that men dominated every field for so very long. And I don't, I, I think that a lot of people coming up to today, some of the, some of the younger generation don't really understand how male dominated white male dominated. All of the realms were when we were growing up. And, and because of that, um, I, I think again, it's, it's that whatever it comes into you is kind of what goes out of you. And when you don't have any role models around you to show you that these are fields that you can go into it's, it's almost like the, when you talk about STEM education, the science technology kind of education. It has always been super male dominated because when we were coming up or when I was coming up, the girls took home-ec and the boys took, um, auto mechanics and there, there were no other options. You were a boy or you were a girl and you took home-ec or you took. auto mechanic, you know, there, there was nothing in between, and it took a long time for the, for us to begin to question that and to feel comfortable saying, you know, this is bullshit basically, and that, um, we need to be able to do what we want to do too. And I hated home-ec and I didn't want to take home And now people that are in school don't have, they can take home-ec if they want to, no matter how they identify or they don't have to take home-ec if they don't want to, no matter how they identify. And I think that's making a difference. I think it's helping to change the way that, that we look at what we can and what we can't do. And so different areas are starting to, to diversify, which is beautiful.

Brad Shreve:

When. I talked to you. I sent you an email because your most recent book is The Book of Promises. And I asked you if it was okay, if I could read Sandman instead. And you said, of course, and I want to thank you very much for allowing me that freedom. And I don't know if I told you why Sandman takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I love the Outer Banks. Absolutely love it. I love Okracoke Island. so as soon as I saw that your novel takes place in the Outer Banks, I had to go for it. so I generally don't like, as I told you, before we started, I don't get into the writing process so much, but because you chose the Outer Banks and. The crime that's there, or I guess I can open up, they, they discover bodies as, and it was a serial killer. Sure. That's right in the beginning. So I'm not giving away a spoiler but where did you get that idea?

Tammy Bird:

Well, and, and this is something when I go to readings and things, the readers find this, find this very interesting. So I think it's a great question. Um, I actually got the idea while in the outer banks, my wife and I got married in October. And we went on our, when the, as soon as it was legal, we got married. We went to, um, even though we'd been together for years and years before that, we went to, uh, an inn Pamlico Inn on the sound on, in Buxton, which is not too far from the ferry that you take over to Okcracoke. And when we, while we were there, of course, it's October. So it's, it's cool. So there aren't a lot of people, anywhere, a lot of things are closed. There's not much happening, which we loved. I don't know if you've ever been in the off season, but ha it's my favorite time to go. But so there's this, the whole ice cream shop there and it was open and we thought, Oh, that'd be good. We'll go get an ice cream. So we go into this little shop and there's one gentleman behind the counter, older gentlemen, and he's talking in the, in he's, he's a, he's a lifer he's. So he's always lived on the Island and, and that's where he grew up. So he had that very heavy, um, Oh, almost Okracoke-ish kind of accent. Um, and we started talking to him and I was just fascinated by the stories he was telling us. And I said to him how it is just really quiet cause the whole time we were there, no one else came in. I said, wow. It is just really quiet around here this time a year. We're going to have to come back this time more often, because this was really cool. And he said, yeah, it's so quiet around here on the off season season that you could bury a body and no one would ever know. And I was like, and that just stuck with me. It wasn't, it was no more and no less than that. And I, and so we went and we did our thing and we enjoyed ourselves and I didn't even know that it was percolating in my brain and when we got home, um, I just, it just, I just kept thinking about it and I just sat down and just started writing it in that. And then we went back two more times to do some additional research to te to actually take the ferry over to Okracoke, because I have a piece in the, in the novel that depends on the ferry. And so I thought, well, I need to know when it travels, how it travels all the pieces. And so we went back a couple of different times for that, but that's where it came from was just that one sentence in an ice cream shop, in Buxton.

Brad Shreve:

well regarding Okracoke. I was excited when that started happening, because I love that Island so well for those that aren't familiar with the outer banks, I'm gonna let explain what, what are the outer banks of North Carolina?

Tammy Bird:

The Outer Banks are this just phenomenal little strip of sand? It is the, it there's one road in. And the same road out. There's only one way in and out. And it's across this huge bridge coming across part of the ocean where you have to come across and the, you know, the road that you travel in on once you get into the outer, but once you're traveling down, the outer banks is. Just a two way road that goes all the way from one end of the islands. And it's a series of islands and it's all the way from one end of the islands to the other end of the islands. And then you can take ferry and go different. You can take different fairs, there's three or four different ferries down there that you can take to different islands. But the strip of sand is only like a mile wide total. And so it's this, just this very small strip of sand. And, um, the beaches are fantastic because they're not, especially when you get all the way down to Buxton in that end, like the Okracoke end of the outer banks. It starts way up. And a lot of people go to Kill Devil Hills. A lot of people have heard of that Kill Devil Hills, that area, that there's, there's humongous dunes there. I don't know if you've ever been there or not,

Brad Shreve:

Yes, I have.

Tammy Bird:

huge dudes. We tried to climb them when we were there. We were like, well, we're too old for this, but if you go down further into the Buxton area, And there's the Rodanthe House, which is, uh, part of, uh, uh, a novel. I don't remember who wrote, who wrote it, but anyway, that house is there and you can see that. And that's, Rodanthe this one of the, one of the islands that you, that you can go on, but it's just the strip of sand and there's really not a lot to do except just kind of hang out and, um, reconnect, you know,

Brad Shreve:

Exactly. And you brought up Kill Devil Hills, the Kitty Hawk era, which are probably the prime tourist area, because people want to see where the Wright brothers took off, which is an amazingly short distance that they actually flew. It's not it's laughable when you see it. They're really hurting themselves. If they don't have sound and check the rest of the outer banks. I have so many fond memories of being there and I live in Los Angeles now. So it's been ages. I have so many fond memories of being there. And the beaches there that I've got to tell you the opening of the novel, where they are. finding these bodies is deliciously creepy and I loved it.

Tammy Bird:

Thank you. Thank

Brad Shreve:

uh, you did a great job, a great job. You, you gave me the willies.

Tammy Bird:

Good. Good.

Brad Shreve:

and we mentioned Okracoke a few times and to listeners know it is the southern most Island of the outer banks. There's some smaller ones, but it's the one that's populated. And. The nice little thing about Okracoke Island is it's seven miles long. And most of that is national park land. So he'd just have this little village built around the lagoon and it really can't grow that much unless they go straight up. And that's the beauty of it. And I almost bought a sandwich shop.

Tammy Bird:

Really? Oh my gosh. I would love to do that.

Brad Shreve:

I know nothing about the f ood industry whatsoever. And I just felt so much in love with it, with the village and start talking to this woman who just so happened to be selling her sandwich shop. And she showed me that obviously she makes really good money in the summer, but she also showed me. She does pretty well in the winter because of the, people that fish

Tammy Bird:

right.

Brad Shreve:

and what stopped me was when I asked her, why are you moving? Her daughter was a teen. And she said, well, you know, my daughter's in the school and it's, it's first through 12th grade in one building. And I feel like she needs to see more is it's not enough for her. And she really talked me out of purchasing that because when she said that, I thought I'm a gay man in my twenties. What the hell am I going to do on this Island? So I would think it'd be a lovely place to live now that I have the husband, maybe I'd think about it, but it wasn't at that time.

Tammy Bird:

Yeah. We've actually thought about, um, moving to that area, but the problem for us is more about, hurricane season, right? Because there is one way in and out. And if you're on Okracoke, there's no way in and out if there's a storm because the Ferry's shut down. And so you're there. They tell if they tell you to evacuate or you're screwed, you're you evacuated or you're screwed because the ferrys are shut down and you're done, unless you are a fisherman and you have a boat, um, you're not going anywhere. You're going to be on that Island. And it is super small. Like you said, the, the area where the. Where people can actually live is, is very small. And when a storm comes in, even on the islands, even across from Okracoke, you know, where the Island is longer. Once the storm hits it, it destroys whole areas of their road. And you, you get in or out at that point. And. So we thought about that and we just decided ha you know, it just, we would have to have a place inland where we knew we could, could go anytime that we needed to be there. And it just, it got really complicated. So we just decided we would just a visit.

Brad Shreve:

well, and like you said, they're strips of sand really when it comes down to it. So when a storm hits, the Island can look totally different and has over the many, many years, it used to be, it used to be a good place for pirates to hang out because it was a great place to hide with the shifting sands. I actually started to write a novel that takes place in the outer banks. it's going to lead up to a question I'm going to ask for you. it's about half finished. It's a thriller it's in my hard drive somewhere. But something that I thought about was I was told a long time ago if you're writing about New York City or write about Los Angeles, it's okay to include the police department because it's so huge that it could be anybody. The outer banks are Dare County, and every one of those towns, they don't have their own department. So their security is the Dare County police department, which has only about 150 people. Total was there a discomfort level that you had that maybe you were hitting too close to home for some people, or did that even cross your mind?

Tammy Bird:

Yeah, and it did, and it actually did a little bit. Um, and I actually spoke to someone in the Dare County, Emergency. Department and talk to them about what would happen in an instance like this, w you know, what would take place? Who would they reach out to, who would be coming in? How would they be able to take care of something of that magnitude? And, um, and, and I recommend that to, you know, anyone who's who's researching anything to make sure that you talk actually talk to people. Don't just read about it, but talk to people about it because, um, I learned a lot about there's. Manteo, I'm not sure I'm pronouncing that correctly. Manteo I think is how they say it, which

Brad Shreve:

I think it's Manteo yeah.

Tammy Bird:

I think it's Manteo they actually pull a lot from there as well. Um, a lot of times that's where, that's where they're coming from for the, like the volunteer, uh, people that volunteer and things like that are coming from that area. But it's um, the, the big thing is they're so tight knit that. I actually had to say that I would not talk about who talked to me in the, in Dare County, because if people got. mad about what I wrote or didn't agree with what I wrote or thought it was horrible or whatever. And I was to say, well, I talked to so-and-so, they would all know that person. And, and so that's kind of his kind of a weird thing to me that now I had never had anyone that I reached out to and said, you know, Hey, can I talk to you about this thing? That's going to happen in my story, whether that's a short story or an academic piece or a novel, um, I need to do my research on this. Can I, can I sit down or can I email you some questions or whatever for them to actually say to me, you can't, you know, you can't tell anybody that I'm the one that, that talked to you. So that was, that was a little bit, that was, was very.

Brad Shreve:

I was much more lazy than that. I was creating a town a fictional town town and was kind of trying to come up with a reason why that would be the only town in the outer banks that had its own police department to, so I didn't have to deal with the Sheriff's department, but I think you're route was much better because it's much more the way it is.

Tammy Bird:

Yeah. And we can, as writers, we can, we're writing a fictional novel. So not everything is going to be 100% correct. It's right. But you have to stay as true to the truth as you possibly can, because if you don't, whether it's fiction or not, people are going to call you out.

Brad Shreve:

With Sandman. I generally don't like changes in point of view. I can't tell you why. And I, well, I don't like it when I hear somebody say why don't like westerns. my feeling is I liked westerns. If it's a well-written Western, I generally don't like change at this point of view. That's the way you chose to write. And I love it. I have to tell you that. the negative I saw on that was I so loved being in the point of view of the killer and enjoyed that so intensely, that was frustrated when it went back to the protagonist who is Katia or Katia. So that leads me right into this. Explain who Katia. Billings tell us who she is.

Tammy Bird:

She is, uh, she's a, uh, young up and up-and-coming. A woman who has grown up on the Island with her father and her brother who has autism, her mother has been killed in a car accident. And she is, uh, she has been kind of the caregiver of the home. She's taken the place of her mother at a very young age. So that's who, that has built a lot of who she is and, and given her that kind of caretaker. Background and because of that, she has gone into a career. She has made a career choice that is also helping people. She becomes an EMT on the, uh, from, for Dare County and, uh, that kind of care taking persona is edged with edginess because she has had so much put on her that she's very stand-off. She's lost her mother at a very young age. Her father works all the time. She doesn't get, she doesn't see him much. Her brother cannot is not, is non-verbal. So there's not a great deal of communication in that respect for her. And because she is the caretaker and spend so much time doing that. She's very standoffish and not, she doesn't easily open up. So she tries to give this kind of bad-ass persona when it's really just a, a fear of loss for opening up and that's who that's, who she is going into, what she does. And she is. Um, she is out as a lesbian and she has just recently had a very bad breakup with her first and only love she's in her twenties. So she's, she's just broken up with her first true love and. Uh, she they've known each other since childhood. And, and so her mother, it has kind of taken on a mothering role to Katia and, um, the series of events that take place then are even more devastating to her because, um, of her number one, caregiver, personality, and number two, or connection to, um, the people that are affected by what's happening on the Island.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I want to get to The Book of Promises, but before I do that, I want to ask you a question. You talked about that Katia is out. And when I lived in North Carolina, which was decades ago, you had Greensboro Raleigh and Charlotte, which were, for the South, we'll say was, they were progressive cities. When you drove out 10 miles outside of town, it was like a time machine going back 30 to 50 years. And I know you you're close to Raleigh, but you're in a small town.

Tammy Bird:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Do you have a comfort level there or?

Tammy Bird:

Yeah, we have a comfort level of where we are. We are actually in a new, um, our home. We had our home built like five years ago. It's a new development. And so in it's called Wendell Falls. It's not actually in Wendell it's it's outside of Wendell, its kind of between Wendell and Raleigh and it's much more progressive. Area. Uh, so we're not, not progressive where in Northville and North Carolina, but it's much more progressive than, uh, Wendell. So when we're home, we, we have a comfort level with our community within our community. And we have plenty here we have a coffee shop and we have, you know, so we have these things where it's mostly just our community. And so we feel comfortable within that. Um, outside of that though, not always, I, I teach at a very progressive community college and I feel very comfortable there being who I am within those walls and with the people that I know, uh, I, there are other places where we go where we are not. At all comfortable. Um, but the outer banks, uh, believe it or not are absolutely one of the places. Well, I mean, you, you probably will believe it because there it's a, It's a place where all different types of people come all the time and their money depends on them being kind and gracious to everyone because that's how they make their living, especially in the summer. And so it is actually much easier to be out and be who you are in that area. And I think just as we move forward in the world, uh, there, there are people coming up now. Um, They just refuse to not be themselves. And I think it's forcing some of the others too, to start to be a little more open. Um, but we're not there yet by any stretch. So

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. When I said those three cities were progressive, that's putting in perspective that they are North Carolina. Are you a North Carolina native?

Tammy Bird:

I am not. I'm a Colorado native.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. Cause that was going to be my, my next question. Your second book, The Book of Promises, we went 1800 miles to Denver and I was asking you why Denver, but now I think I have the answer.

Tammy Bird:

Yeah. Yeah, the house in The Book of Promises. So there's a, uh, there's a house that plays a huge part in The Book of Promises. Uh, it almost becomes its own character within The Book of Promises. And, um, so I lived on the corner in a corner, in a, in a brick branch on the corner of middle-class kind of neighborhood in Denver when I was growing up and the house. Next to me was a family that I did. They didn't have kids. We didn't really know them that well, but then the next house over was where my best friend lived. And in The Book of Promises, my house, the house I grew up in actually becomes the second house. The one where we didn't know the people, because my house was on the corner and I needed the house in the book to be between two houses. But it was as if you took my childhood living room and moved it. In the house next door. And that became that's the house that kind of takes on its own, uh, life and The Book of Promises. And it's because, uh, I wanted to highlight the kind of eclectic nature of my father, who I did. My, uh, my father raised me, uh, very much like Katia. My, my father was my. W was the person who, who protected me as a child. Um, and. He was, he had no sense of design, none like zero, our couch was Brown and white plaid. We had a blue and kind of Aqua chair that was in there. And there was, I mean,

Brad Shreve:

Sounds lovely.

Tammy Bird:

It horrible, horrible. I was even as a child, I knew I would go into my friend's houses and their furniture all match. Then the curtains match the front. I'm like, Ooh, what is going on in here? You could come to my house to see. And so that was such a big part of who I was growing up that I always knew that that living room had to be in a story somewhere sometime. And The Book of Promises is where. That that's that's where that story started was in that living room was, uh, that was, that was the catalyst for, for the beginnings of that story.

Brad Shreve:

Well, not only was the location different for The Book of Promises. It's also young adult novel. Is that accurate?

Tammy Bird:

It wasn't really intended to be YA the characters are younger, but it is it's. It was written more as an adult novel, uh, with younger characters, but it, it has, it has kind of been, it's been, it's been called YA, which is fine. I don't, you know, it doesn't matter to me, but the characters are, uh, you know, just graduating high school and moving into college. So they're, you know, the 18 year range for the characters, but that just was, um, it wasn't intended. To be YA but I, I think a lot of people have placed it there just by age of the age of the characters.

Brad Shreve:

well, to go to an extreme example, a Stephen King's It., It is not a young adult novel, but it's all younger

Tammy Bird:

It was all younger. Yeah. And there's a lot of young people in there. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

So how has The Book of Promises different than Sandman?

Tammy Bird:

But it isn't a, there, there is not a, in The Book of Promises, there's not a serial killer. It's not a serial killer novel Sandman is, and Sandman is about getting in the head of the, uh, serial killer that's part of the draw. That's part of that was part of what spoke to me when I was writing Sandman is I needed to be in his head. I needed people to see that who he was as a, as a person and how he got to where he was.

Brad Shreve:

and you did a damn good job of that.

Tammy Bird:

thank you. Thank you very much. And

Brad Shreve:

Sorry to interrupt. Go ahead.

Tammy Bird:

And then, but in The Book of Promises, it is much more focused. It's also psychological. I'm a psychological thriller writer. I that's, that's what I enjoy. And so for me, it's all about what's in our head because in all of the academic research that I've done in all of my studies, um, through my, you know, through my PhD, I have focused on how. There, there isn't know there there's a lot of people see, uh, binary, right? Uh, like a line between good and bad black and white, um, male and female, whatever. And my entire belief system is built on this continuum. No one is all one or the other it's this continuum. And we kind of slide around on that continuum throughout our life. And because of that, w we're none of us are all good and none of us are all bad. And, and that psychological being is fascinating to me. And so in all of my novels and in my short stories and everything that I write. Uh, that that is focused that please, that plays a part. So in Sandman, my focus was on, um, kind of, uh, the juxtaposition of, of that good and evil kind of thing within all of the characters that are playing that's playing out. And in The Book of Promises, it's very centered on this, um, idea of best friends and one friend taking advantage of the other one and not being, um, Not being who we think that she is. We learned very quickly that she's, that, that she's not who she pretends to be, but because her best friend loves her, um, and has been in love with her unknowingly. And again, my character in Sandman are out, You know Katia's are they're out in The Book of Promises. They're not out, you know, that it. There's they're still trying to find themselves. They're part of a, uh, they end up being, um, one of them, Spencer ends up, ends up, um, coming out, but she doesn't, she's not there yet. All she knows is she loves her best friend and she wouldn't want, she doesn't want to be with anybody, but her and she'll do anything for her. And that's. That's not good. And so that, that's kind of the that's the central piece in The Book of Promises is that she would do anything for her best friend and does

Brad Shreve:

Well, I liked the, good and evil or good and bad. You're saying that the lines are not clear. Cut. Life is not Star Wars or an old Western. It's not always, that easy, but you brought up Spencer Price. Uh, tell us about Spencer as well as the story.

Tammy Bird:

Oh, Spencer is a young, um, she's a twin. She has a twin brother and her and her twin brother live with their mom or they are in a divorced household. Their father is alive. He's not, he's not dead like in the book of prom, uh, Sandman, but yeah. Um, he's not, he's not a huge part of their life. Um, but when he was a part of their life, he would take them to the library all the time. He loved reading, their mom loves reading. And so she grew up in the library and then in fictional worlds and in learning and in, and just being surrounded by that idea of words. And so she's always loved those kinds of spaces, but when her father left, she was angry. As we often get when we're younger, when someone leaves us in, however, they leave us, she's angry. And so she's, she has that anger inside her as well. And she hasn't been, um, she hasn't been tending to herself as well as she should have and into her life comes, uh, uh, another. Young person and they become best friends. And it's the relationship of these best friends. This best friend is coming from another state and moving in next door to her. And so in this instance, or one house over from her, yeah. And they as children, they, they always say that they're going to buy the house in between the two of them and they're going to live there forever. And it, and they create this book of promises where they write their promises to each other in this book. And as they get older, her promises remain very truthful and very, um, Appropriate for her age and for what they're doing while her best friend's promises began to get darker and darker. And it's that, that's kind of where that's, that's what that's, what's threaded through. The story is this book of promises and what they promise to one another. And what happens if you break a promise?

Brad Shreve:

Well, that sounds great too. You have a dark gritty side to you. Don't you?

Tammy Bird:

I. I evidently I do. Yeah. My wife said she never knew. Now she's afraid to sleep with me. Is it a rental sleeping with you for over 20 years and suddenly I'm afraid. So I said, well, just don't make me mad and we'll be good.

Brad Shreve:

There you go. The book, The Book of Promises and Sandman are though they both standalones

Tammy Bird:

Okay, well, Sandman was, uh, I was originally asked to do a trilogy with Sandman. And so I am currently working on the second book called Protege because in Sandman we have one character, Brent, who is very, he's a very big piece of the Sandman puzzle, but he gets away. Uh, before Sandman ends and he's just, you know, he, he gets away and he didn't kill anyone or anything, but, you know, so he gets away and, and Protege picks up, picks Brent up where he is now. And Brent has a need. He makes his money. Off of the pain of others without inflicting the pain on others himself, because he's involved in the dark web. And so Brent needs somehow to still be able to make money. He needs someone or something, or some, you know, he needs to still be able to do that. And so we pick up. The Protege picks Brent up to figure out what he's going to do about that and how he's going to, um, how he's going to continue to keep his followers on the dark web.

Brad Shreve:

Now does the point of view change in The Book of Promises.

Tammy Bird:

It does.

Brad Shreve:

I would think so the way, the way you described it, that doesn't surprise me. We ever reaching the end of the show. So surprisingly, it always goes so fast. It is time for awkward questions authors get, and these questions are from dozens of authors that I asked and they are either just difficult questions that we get every day, or some of them are just downright bizarre.

Tammy Bird:

Okay.

Brad Shreve:

hold still. And I'm going to spin the wheel here. Okay, your question is which of the books you've written is your favorite?

Tammy Bird:

Oh, Sandman, without a doubt. That's not even a hard one. That was that wasn't even a good spin. Um, I think that, I think that when you. For me anyway, I didn't go into writing until I was in my fifties fiction. I've been writing in academia for years, but I had, I always had this desire to write fiction, but I was always so involved with my research in, um, So it wasn't until I was in my fifties and I decided I was going to go back to teaching. I went from being an associate VP to two teaching kind of a night, kind of semi-retired went back to teaching whatever. And I decided it was time for me to do that. And I think because I had held that dream for so long and then I, and then I was able to produce Sandman that, um, it, it really isn't going to matter how many books I write that one's always going to be always going to be my baby.

Brad Shreve:

The first born, you and I are very similar. You published your first book at 55, am I correct?

Tammy Bird:

That's correct.

Brad Shreve:

Same age for me.

Tammy Bird:

Fantastic.

Brad Shreve:

I used to moderate a Facebook group that was specifically for new writers to help them. And it was so frequent every day. Somebody will say something like I'm 30 years old. Do you think I'm too old to write

Tammy Bird:

now that would have been a question. That's a question for your who deal.

Brad Shreve:

that one?

Tammy Bird:

That is, and no, you're never too old to write. Come on. I have a, I had a. Woman in one of my, uh, Women's literature courses. She was 82 years old going back to school because she wanted to learn about, and I taught French feminist literature. Um, and she wanted to learn more about. Feminism that she didn't understand because she had come through the first wave second wave, third wave. But she knew there was this other kind of feminism that she had never learned. She was in her eighties. Come on. If somebody in their eighties can come back to school and learn and grow and, um, apply that knowledge. No, you're never too old pick up that stinking pen, man, write that story.

Brad Shreve:

I couldn't agree with you more. You, uh, are member of two different societies, active member you're in The Sisters in Crime and you're also in the Golden Crown Literary Society. How do you feel they have helped you?

Tammy Bird:

Well, The Golden Crown Literary Society. I actually, when I decided that I was going to write this novel, when I decided I was going to write Sandman, I wrote about, I don't know, I wrote about 2000 pages and, and as it happens frequently to people who want to write you, get, you think you have, I have this wonderful story. I'm a sit down, I'm going to write it. You get about 2000 words in and you don't know where to go. And you don't know what to do, and you don't know anything about arcs or climaxes or resolutions. You just don't know anything about what you need to know to be able to write, because if a writer does their job well as a reader, you don't have to understand any of that. You just know you're reading a good story, but as the writer, you have to understand that there's a, there's, there's a formula. There's a. There are things that you have to put in there. And I didn't know that. And The Golden Crown Literary Society had a class, they still have a class it's a, it's a year long writing seminar, and they pair you with a published author toward the end, and they will read what you write during the year in the Academy. And while you're in the Academy for like six months, Uh, writing and having people, guest speakers, and coming in and doing all these things. And then, uh, at that time you get your mentor and then they start reading what you've written and giving, giving you feedback. Well, that's how I wrote Sandman was in, that was through that seminar. So they. They actually gave me my, my, my writer wings. And then, um, as far as Sisters in Crime, they have honed my, so The Golden Crown Literary Society, they focus a lot on, you know, mystery and, uh, romance and science fiction. So there's not a lot of authors published authors that write what I write. In that realm. Right. And so joining The Sisters in Crime has helped me to actually hone then my, um, more crime based or they, they have every month they have guest speakers that come in. We just had one on poison. Different types of poisons. So someone who that's their job, they like study poison and they come in and talk to you. And so I go to these things with them and, and we have meetings. We used to pre pandemic. We would meet once a month in a group. And we would have guests speakers from all over the place from a crime lab, from a whatever. And so that has just been a tremendous help and being able to figure out the more, um, details the, the, the little detailed pieces. So The Golden Crown Literary Society helped me with the big piece. And then The Sisters in Crime helps me more with the smaller details in my particular, um, area for writing.

Brad Shreve:

Well, they sound great in their own way.

Tammy Bird:

They are, they are fantastic.

Brad Shreve:

For the listeners, a reminder the guest today is Tammy Bird and her two novels. The Book of Promises is the most recent novel that was released. That was in 2020. What month

Tammy Bird:

2020 was in May this past

Brad Shreve:

May.Okay. So about a year ago, and then the other novel is Sandman. Tammy. It's been great to have you.

Tammy Bird:

Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to be here.