TA Ford has a growing online community of authors who share multicultural soap-fandom stories with hundreds of readers. Recently the author Ellendare from divasnluv.com sat down and interviewed TA Ford on her writings and future stories to come.
— June 2008
Q: The reception for Zoé has been overwhelmingly positive. What was the inspiration for the story?
A: Funny how Zoé got started. It was a 6,000 word drabble for a fanfiction couple. I wrote it on Thanksgiving Day while watching an old black-and-white version of Pride and Prejudice. I never meant for it to be my debut novel, but from the moment it hit the Internet it took on a life of its own. Then I fell in love with Le Comte La Roque and the rest is history.
Q: Which comes to you first, the plot or the characters?
A: I know for most authors they say the characters. But for me, I have my muses, so the plot is usually what pops in my head first. A song, or a commercial, anything can give me a story idea—then the characters just get in line.
Q: You write primarily interracial romances. What about that genre appeals to you?
A: I was inspired by a fictional daytime soap couple. He was an Irishman with a heart of gold and she was a tough-as-nails attorney who had a hard time trusting love. The color of their skin was secondary, until I started to envision new stories I could tell with them as my icons.
I love the dynamic of interracial romances because for some it’s taboo and for others it’s just something new, and even for some others it’s not that unique at all. Since I never envisioned myself as a Romance writer (which is a long story), it’s been like my beacon to explore love in different ways. Zoé being black in French society and capturing an aristocrat’s heart is fascinating and inspiring to me. I hope all my tales can live up to it.
Q: What’s the process for you? (Do you write every day? What do you do when you get an idea in the middle of a meeting? Where do you write?)
A: I write every day. From the first online story I ever wrote, in 2005, right up to today, there has not been a day when I didn’t type at least a paragraph toward the tale. Getting an idea in the middle of a meeting is like having to use the bathroom on a road trip when the next exit is four miles away. I suffer through it and when it gets to be too much, I jot down some notes next to my meeting notes. I can write anywhere with anything as a backdrop. Borders and Panera Bread are now my popular spots. I can write in bed with my niece on my lap or in a busy airport. As long as I got my laptop, it’s on!
Q: Speaking of work, how do you balance your professional self with your writing self?
A: It’s getting pretty hard. The great thing is I’ve been working with the same company for ten years. My coworkers are more than my peers and they support me. So it just kinds of fits in with my writing life. I’m blessed on that front.
Q: Why didn’t you envision yourself becoming a romance writer?
A: Because I’m a diehard scifi-horror fan. I have every book Dean Koontz ever published and can recite passages from Carrie… I even used to collect Tales from the Crypt comics. I started out in high school writing short stories that were all horror or strange. I don’t like romantic comedies and haven’t read many romance novels if any. Weird, huh?
Q: We mentioned the great reception you’re getting for Zoé… have you ever written anything that wasn’t well-received? How did you deal with the negative reviews?
A: Yes. What I consider to be my greatest fictional work has had me accused of being racist, of promoting misogyny and other things I won’t repeat. It hurts, because no one wants to be told their kid is ugly. And though many like what I’ve written and shared on my blog, I’m more confused and driven by those that don’t. I can’t please everyone, but I put my best foot forward in every tale. It’s my hope to publish this collection to the masses so they can see the story within the story, but I’m well prepared if they don’t.
Q: This is your first published work. Describe how the process was for you.
A: It was heartbreaking, yet the most rewarding experience of my life. I cried many a night before deciding to self-publish. I trusted people that didn’t have my best interest at heart. I also didn’t do the research to understand how to compose a manuscript to the industry standards. But I have to say, I found support in the most unlikely of sources and forged a new friendship that makes me comfortable with pursuing my dreams and sharing my tales.
Q: What are your greatest challenges as a writer?
A: Being true to the character. Not injecting my baggage or personal beliefs into my work of fiction, especially where it doesn’t fit. Listening to my heroines and heroes and investing in their story, then staying the course.
Q: Have you ever had to do any personal research for your stories? Put yourself in the heroine’s shoes, so to speak?
A: While I was writing Zoé, my writing buddy pulled me in line by suggesting just that. I thought, how am I supposed to do that? She’s nothing like me. But then I used that wonderful thing called imagination and she came to life. For my next novel, personal research will be required because I’m having a hard time identifying with my character and for the story to hold there has to be some common ground. At least I think.
Q: What is your favorite part about writing?
A: The End! I love getting to the end of a tale and looking back to see what I’ve created.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve been writing a totally different tale from Zoé. It’s a modern-day romance called Masquerade. It’s centered on the many layers of friendship and love: what we share and what we hide, who we become because of choices, secrets, lies. It’s a challenge for me at this point because my heroine is so totally different from any other I’ve written but I can’t wait to see the end result. I think this one is going to be a great tale.