Today we are excited to welcome author Tammy Lash to Lands Uncharted! We're part of a blog tour celebrating Tammy's debut novel, White Wolf and the Ash Princess, which released last November! I'll share more about Tammy and her book below, but first she took the time to answer some questions for us. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been married to my bestie for 27 years and I’m a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. We have a daughter (23) and two boys (18 and 15). We have two chubby, ginger kitties and our family has recently gained a million or so of their jumping friends (yep—it’s flea season again). I have one left to homeschool, so I write full time while my youngest pulls his hair out over math. I love to bake so I can lick the beaters and I like to run in the morning when I can drag myself out of bed. My dream is to live in Michigan’s U.P where I can kayak, hike and beach wander to my heart’s content. I’d love to live in a cabin that’s tucked in the pines and surrounded by ferns. I think that would be an amazingly romantic place to write!
I love to lick the beaters, too :) What prompted you to start writing? Are you one of those authors who knew you were meant to write since childhood, or did it come as a discovery later in life?
I honestly had never given writing much thought growing up. Drawing was my passion and I loved it until I took an art class in college. The class completely discouraged me and the experience snuffed out all the passion I had for drawing. I haven’t picked up a pencil to sketch since. I would read when I wasn’t drawing and I pretty much read every chance I got. I struggled with severe anxiety when I was little and reading, drawing—and later spending time in the woods hiking and exploring—were my ways to escape. When my daughter was two, my husband and I began teaching Children’s (Jr.) Church. I began to do what I had watched my mom do for years in her Children’s Church classes—I added my own stories to the lessons. I never “wrote” them down, though, so I have no memories of the hundreds of stories that I told. They were scribbled down on scrap paper or random pieces of loose notebook paper in outline form. My writing began with Christmas programs, which got my stories noticed and I was encouraged to submit them. I only knew of one place to try. The Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie morphed into Keys for Kids and it was there I submitted my first devotional. They bought my first attempt, The Surprise Ride. I submitted three more, but those didn’t make the cut. The rejections didn’t discourage me, though—it did just the opposite. It made me want to write more. I bought my oldest son a DVD English course, One Year Adventure Novel for school and I took the course with him. Together we both wrote novels. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is the one I wrote. It didn’t take me the year it was supposed to—it took me four.
How cool that rejections encouraged you to want to write even more! Which authors have had the most significant impact on your writing?
The author who had the biggest influence in my early years would be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I gobbled up all her books and read them over and over. The Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie would come in close second. I would listen to the show on the radio or play the records on my little record player for hours on end. My mom told and wrote countless stories for her Children’s Church classes and she was just as big of an influence to my story-telling as the radio show was. I learned the formula for telling devotional stories through my mom, Uncle Charlie and Al Ross, another story-telling genius from RBM ministries. He taught Vacation Bible School at our church in the summer and Released Time Bible Class in the public schools during the school year. As an adult, I’d say it’s been Lois Lowry and Suzanne Collins. I love their writing styles. Lowry’s Silent Boy and Collins’ Mocking Jay left me in tears and depressed for days. Thumbs UP! I LOVE it when an author sucks you in so deep you’re emotionally moved like that.
I agree completely! We’re all about exploring new worlds here at Lands Uncharted—if you could choose one place to visit, real or fictional, where would you go?
Right now, it’s anything and everything White Wolf (just ask my kids). I would definitely have to say the world of White Wolf. It’s a delicious combination of the frills and grace of seventeenth century English society (where I would get my fill of wearing full, swishing skirts) and the rugged, untouched wilderness of the New World. The adventure of discovering a new world and discovering a new culture? *Sigh*—to see world as a sea of green instead of houses, stores and factories? I can’t imagine!
My go-to drink is cofffffeeeee! After I reach my two-cup limit, I go to the fridge for a LaCroix. My go-to food would be chocolate chip banana bread nuked in the microwave for 30 seconds. And, yes, I just had a piece—but a half of one. My summer clothes don’t fit.
Mmm, warm chocolate chip banana bread is the best. What advice would you share with an aspiring author?
Make writing a habit. Set aside time every day to write a little something. A sentence, paragraph or page—that’s how a book is written. Pieces at a time. Don’t look around at what others are doing, either. Work at your own pace and don’t compare! You are you and you are unique!
That's so important to keep in mind. No visit to Lands Uncharted is complete without Top 3s! Give us a Top 3 list, in the category of your choice.
Favorite book couples: I’d have to say my top is Izzy and Jonathan from White Wolf and the Ash Princess (Sorry! You know I had to totally do that!), second would be Mike and Kathy from Mrs. Mike (a couple from a favorite book of mine as a teen that my mom handed down to me. Fun fact: It inspired Part Two of White Wolf and it’s where my curiosity for the Native American culture began). Last, but just as awesome as my top two picks are Edward and Jane from Jane Eyre (I love their playful banter! Fun fact 2: Jane Eyre inspired Part One of White Wolf.)
Now, let’s talk about your new release, White Wolf and the Ash Princess! What inspired you to write it?
White Wolf is a “self-appointed dare” turned promise. The book began as a part of my son’s English course, One Year Adventure Novel. It took us two years to finish the course, but our books still weren’t finished—so I did what Jonathan does to inspire Izzy—I “dared” myself to finish it. It was in edits and re-writes that I discovered what the book was. I had promised the Lord that if I survived my childhood, I’d tell my story to as many people as I could. If He would lead them to me, I would speak. White Wolf was my voice. I was sexually abused from 5-16. I don’t remember how old I was when I said the prayer—but I remember praying it. Underneath the flesh and blood of White Wolf is my story. My testimony of survival is the skeletal structure of White Wolf. I knew I had to be brave—push past my fear of “being seen” and publish it. The Lord blesses those who are obedient and faithful. A few months ago, several copies of White Wolf were donated to my Christian therapist. There is no greater feeling than to use one’s pain to guide another to healing!
What a beautiful way to turn personal tragedy into a source of inspiration and healing for others. Is there a particular message you hope readers will take away from this book?
1) I want my readers to see that there is NO sin that is too great that Christ’s blood didn’t cover. He can cleanse and free us from all our sins (1 John 1:9). He died for ALL of them—not just the “easy” ones. That means, the person who hurt me is forgiven if he asked Christ to take his burden of sin. How can I not forgive him in return? I learned to forgive my Edward—just as Izzy did. It isn’t fairy-tale thinking that one can forgive a monster. Anyone can— with His help. 2) I want my readers to see that anxiety doesn’t have to cripple you. The anxiety that I had as a little girl followed me into my adult life and it grew into the painful trio of OCD, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Looking back, I marvel at how I stood in front of my Children’s Church classes and told stories with butterflies in my stomach and a pounding heart. How did I do it? With His help. With His strength, the impossible can become the possible. Anxiety doesn’t have to be something that limits. It can bring you to a closer relationship with the One who wants to make you more. Izzy sees herself as a weeping willow—and there’s nothing wrong with weeping willows. We can’t all be oak or walnut trees—but we do need to be the best kind of tree that He made us to be. That means striving to not let anxiety dictate what we can or cannot do. Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Lean on Him during the tumultuous times (as well as the peaceful) and I promise you, you will be victorious.
Talk about a powerful message! Please share a favorite line or passage from White Wolf and the Ash Princess with us.
This is one of my favorite lines from Izzy because it sums up my life until 17 years ago. I had kept my abuse secret for 25 years. I didn’t know I was raising a dragon.
“Keeping a secret is like raising a dragon. They start out innocent enough but they grow. Wicked teeth grow through naked gums, claws grow from tiny fingers and whipping wings grow from infant sails.”
Secrets are a dangerous thing to keep. Even when you think you’re protecting the ones you love. Find someone you trust to confide in. A spouse, friend, pastor, family member…or me…I’d love to talk with you. Dragons are heavy to carry. Get yours into the light so you and the Lord can slay it together. With His help, you will find a strength and joy you never thought possible.
Are you as eager to read this book as I am?? Here's the back-cover blurb:
Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore..."Who am I?"
Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Fifteen year old Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before Jonathan took her in?
Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne's thirteen-year old stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock wall to a world that promises possible answers. A scorched castle in the woods and its mysterious cellar reveal secrets that push Izzy beyond her discomfort to embark in a journey to the New World with her young friend.
Here, she finds love and a home in the most unexpected of places.
You can purchase White Wolf and the Ash Princess here. And here's a little more about Tammy:
Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy's home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting" for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children's ministry for over twenty years.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Tammy!! We wish you all the best with your writing career!
To celebrate her blog tour, Tammy has generously offered to give away a signed paperback of White Wolf and the Ash Princess, birch bark bookmark, and necklace (three winners). US only. Enter below!