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Rising Stars: Meet Tamara Merrill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamara Merrill.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’m an author, a painter, an educator, and a jack of all trades, master of none. However, I am best known for my writing so let’s talk about that.

I knew that I wanted to be a writer as soon as I figured out that people wrote books. I still remember that discovery – I had a book from the library, Grandmother’s Cookie Jar, and on the back cover was a picture of a lady. When I asked the librarian who she was, I learned the miracle of writing stories for people to read. It seemed like great fun then, and it is still great fun.

My first story was published when I was nine in American Girl magazine. It was a story about a cat named Ichabod. Obviously, greatly influenced by my reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Seeing my name in the byline encouraged me, and from that day forward, I wrote stories and read lots of books and magazines. Which is exactly how I still spend my time.

When my children were young, in the ’60s and ’70s, I wrote many stories for the women’s magazines of the time. I loved writing those stories and always hoped to be published in The Saturday Evening Post (a never fulfilled goal).

Real-life interfered with my fantasy life, and I entered the workforce, discovered the Women’s Rights Movement, protested the Vietnam war, achieved an MBA, and became an IT consultant.

I continued to write short fiction, and my work has been published in several anthologies. Finally, in 2013, I turned my writing toward a full-length, historical fiction, novel that had been floating around my back-brain for twenty years. In 2014, Family Lies was published and became the first book in the Augustus Family Trilogy. These books are a family saga series covering the war years in the USA; Family Lies 1937-1944, Family Matters 1945-1959, and Family Myths 1960-1980.

Shadows In Our Bones, published in 2019, is based on a racial incident that occurred in Maine in 1912 and explores the impact of that incident on the residents and their descendants. The book has been very well received and has generated discussions on many levels. While I’m proud of all my work, I am very proud of this book

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I don’t think anyone follows a smooth road through their life. It’s the bumps that make it all exciting and intriguing. But, of course, when the bumps happen, they don’t feel great. Isn’t it a Chinese blessing that says, May you live in interesting times? 

I do think I’ve lived in, and continue to live in, interesting times. I rather enjoy challenges – not that I like a fight – but I do like to give my opinion and get involved. 

As far as actual challenges, two things come to mind. First, I did have to overcome the stigmata of being a single working mother. Second, it was challenging to be a woman in a corporate position when I entered the workforce in the 1970s. That experience may well be the subject of another novel.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Researching these books and other topics that catch my attention is almost as fun as writing stories and seeing them published. 

If I’m working on a book, I try to be disciplined and write every day from 8 AM to 1 PM. Notice I say ‘try’. I am easily distracted by walks on the beach, reading, coffee, and good wine. 

I have recently completed a psychological thriller, Just One More, that will be published in March 2022. I’ve always written short fiction that contains bad behavior and murder, but this was my first full-length novel of this type, and I loved writing it. As a result, the search history on my computer is now full of bizarre murder methods. 

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Of course, I left almost all the details out! I could talk about myself all day. However, know that is inappropriate.

I love attending book club meetings – in person or virtually – and have spoken about my books and writing in general at clubs worldwide. 

Teaching painting in the adult education system is another passion for me, and I love to travel.

Since this magazine is focused on different areas of San Diego, I should mention I have lived in Coronado, off and on, my entire life – 75 years.

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