We had the amazing opportunity to talk to Tara Makhmali about her new book MISSWIRED. MISSWIRED is a mystery novel about Lanna growing up convinced that her father is a murderer. Jack was convicted of killing Sam’s parents. Sam happened to be one of Lanna’s friends as a child.
Hello Tara, we’re so happy to get to talk to you about your new book MISSWIRED! Could you introduce yourself to the Fuzzable audience?
Nice to meet you, too, Fuzzable audience! I am Tara Makhmali, author of the mystery novel, MISSWIRED, which was featured by Kirkus Reviews as a “smart debut with a unique style and structure that is held together by vivid characterization.” MISSWIRED is a novel about Lanna Zar and Sam Azurite, two individuals who become friends on a scorching hot day in a lake town in New Jersey, but shortly after, Sam’s parents are found dead. Twenty years pass, and the two former friends are living completely detached lives in New York City. Lanna winds up in a confusing romantic relationship with a “successful” banker, which ends badly, forcing her to move back home. That’s when she receives a request from her estranged father’s mysterious friend. The request includes a non-disclosure agreement and an escort to her father’s prison. MISSWIRED follows the interwoven trials and tribulations of Lanna and Sam, and the characters they meet along the way. It explores the depths of our givers and the mystical elements that influence us. Who really killed Sam’s parents, and what becomes of Lanna and Sam twenty years later?
We want to ask you a few questions to help our audience get to know you before we dive into questions about your book! Who inspired you to become a writer?
R.L. Stein, Joyce Carol Oates, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Apart from writing a fantastic book, what are other things you like doing in your spare time?
I play the piano, guitar, and I sing. I love to travel and spend time with my husband and daughter. I also write for my blog CommonSmarts.com.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Booze or lack of sleep. Each one individually is bad but together, kurplunk!
What was the first book that made you cry?
The book that comes to mind is the Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
What’s your favorite underappreciated novel?
You found me out. I don’t often come across underappreciated novels. Maybe that’s because I always appreciate them. But the ones I haven’t heard as much hype about more recently are oldies: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Joyce Carol Oates’s Black Water.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do. Life insights rarely are gleaned from sitting behind a computer, no matter how often you use Google or do research at your library. Anyone can put words on a page, but that wouldn’t be meaningful. People sometimes mistake writer’s block for procrastination but to me it means that you have not absorbed the knowledge you need to write that which you need to write so you have to get out into the world and explore. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “When your body relaxes, your mind expands.” When writer’s block happens, I don’t fight it. Rather, I accept it, relax, and enjoy other creative outlets such as playing music or traveling with my family. And before you know it, I’m right back at it.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
My father lived overseas. We had been exchanging letters and (then emails) for 26 years, but I hadn’t seen him since I was six, as the result of an unexpected event. A few days after the birth of my daughter, I spoke to him on the phone for the first time in nearly two decades. He died spontaneously of a heart attack a few days later.
Was there anything that was initially in the book that was later cut out? If so, why?
HAHA. Do you know how many times I’ve rewritten this book to get it where it is today? I couldn’t even begin to answer that question!
What was the hardest topic for you to write about?
Have you ever heard the Buddhist phrase, “Is it kind? Is it true? Does it improve upon the silence?”
It’s my go-to. Needless to say, writing about murder through the lens of a child was excruciating. Trying to find the right balance of showing what needs to be shown, not glorifying violence, but giving the reader what he or she needs to experience the violence meaningfully – that was the hardest.
What is the most difficult part of the writing process?
The most difficult part of the novel writing process is also the best part—it’s allowing the story to form organically. A great story will start with a powerful question and that question will guide the story, but the answers; they are not worked out and you can only work them out by submitting wholly to the writing process, including writer’s block. Essentially you are swimming in a feeling of “I don’t know” until the story carries you to some small truth, followed by another, and another, until you create a mosaic of events and experiences that combined create one mega truth. So it’s painful at times because you go back and read your writing (over and over again) and when you are hyper logical (as I am known to be) and highly creative (as I am also known to be), you can sense something substantively is missing or that simply you’re afraid to say what you think is true for fear of judgment or that what you were programmed to believe as true was completely off base. You try and fail. And you keep trying again until your gut/brain/heart line up. Then people think you’re nuts; they think of stories as big outlines, and “how come yours isn’t finished yet?” But if a novel is just one large outline, one big PowerPoint, then why bother at all? Layer in how different editors and readers and people who have no knowledge of the process push and pull you in every direction and you have to determine the overlap in their feedback to understand what matters and how to prioritize it. One minor change can have a big cascading ripple.
I find it wildly fun. I mean, my head is in the clouds; I love doing it that much. But it’s also a complex web of emotions, thoughts, events, and relationships all tied logically together, and how you tie it all together – I think that’s what makes you truly talented.
We’re in love with the end of chapter 1. It really begins to let you know that you will be reading a mystery novel. How did you decide that you wanted to write a mystery novel?
A great story always starts with a powerful question. See above. And that’s what makes mystery my cup of tea.
What made you decide to have Jack as the killer or was he always going to be the killer?
Hmmm … was he the killer? I mean, really?
While reading the beginning of the story, each chapter switches between a different character’s point of view. Was this a conscious decision made from the beginning or did it slowly form over time?
A little of both. It was a conscious decision that slowly formed over time. I wrote it this way because I wanted to give the reader a way to write themselves into the story — a way to emotionally connect with at least one, if not all, of the characters – and because I wanted the reader to experience each chapter as a story within the broader story. Think of that Bob Marley collage, the one broken into little pieces that forms a bigger Bob. In this case, it all somehow ties back to Jack.
We absolutely love this book! Any other book plans or ideas?
Thank you very much. I’m thinking about the sequel. And I have a few other ideas in the old noggin.
If you would like to keep up with Tara and everything to do with MISSWIRED, you can like the MISSWIRED page on Facebook! We will also be hosting a giveaway and you have the chance to win a copy of MISSWIRED. Follow Fuzzable on Twitter and watch out for us to tweet how to win!