Author Interview | Meet USA Today Bestseller @StephanyTullis and her books #wholesome #womensfiction
We are beyond excited because one of our favorite authors is here for a sit-down interview. Stephany Tullis is a USA Today bestseller who writes clean and wholesome stories with heart. Her characters so realistic, they fly off the page and into your heart. She calls herself a writer with a purpose and it's 100% accurate. We asked her to sit down with us and she agreed. So grab your favorite cool beverage and join us. Take it away, Stephany:
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
Author, poet, and activist, Maya Angelou. I believe my tendency to incorporate humor, satire, music, and vernacular when writing, is modeled after some of the techniques incorporated so beautifully into Ms. Angelou’s writing. She’s written seven autobiographies and many poems but one of my favorites is actually a gift I received from my God-daughter some years ago, ‘Still I Rise’.
“Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.”
This quote reminds me of my attitude when I’m feeling on top of the world. This one and the wisdom she shares in the following quote are my two of my favorites:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Author Nora Roberts aka, JD Robb. I’ve read and enjoyed so many of Nora Roberts’ books and don’t have a favorite but I particularly admire her ‘In Death’ Series. The futuristic setting and special bond between Eve Dallas and her tycoon husband, Roarke continues to draw me to this author and her series—enough to make me pull out my copy of the first book in the series, Naked In Death. I’m fascinated by the couple’s professional and romantic relationship despite their strong respective and very different personalities. Since my books always include strong female characters, I look to embody some of these qualities in my special couples.
Author Terry McMillan. Her relaxed, flowing writing style, use of vernacular and infrequent use of punctuation (in some of her books) are qualities I admire and emulate to some degree. She’s been criticized for her unique style but it hasn’t prevented her from selling enough books to make the New York Times bestselling author list multiple times. Four of her movies have been made into movies, including my favorite, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Of course, my name is not McMillan and I’m often questioned by my editors—and sometimes by readers for my renegade writing tendencies.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Easy peasy! No doubt in my mind on this one. I love all my characters but have a special place in my heart for one—the BLUE LADY who was actually created in my second book, ’48 Hours ‘Til Christmas (Miracle Circle Series). When finalizing 48 Hours, I removed the chunk of the manuscript that focused on the beginnings of a romantic relationship between new character, Angelica Mason (and her alter ego, the BLUE LADY) and her high school sweetie, Shawn Mallory. I so enjoyed creating Angelica ‘s effervescent personality that I realized early on she’d need something or someone to keep her on the right track!
Drum roll. Kerry Washington, i.e., Olivia Pope of the Scandal TV series, is a perfect fit. Olivia is the epitome of Angelica Mason: successful, sophisticated, both polished and stylish, demanding and commanding and not afraid or intimidated by much.
Johnathan Jarewski (JaRew), Angelica’s side kick and confidante is modeled after Scott Foley (Jake Ballard on Scandal) and Gariel Macht (Harvey Spector on Suits). Angelica and the BLUE LADY have much to learn about JaRew and the duality of his personality traits.
Marilyn Mason, Angela Bassett, award winning actress convincingly delivers for Angelica as her bougie, sophisticated mother.
Marshall Mason, Tim Duncan (retired NBA basketball player) can definitely fill the shoes of Angelica’s father—Duncan is his idol.
Shawn Mallory, Leslie Odom, Jr. (award winning actor) is why Angelica continues to dream about and can’t give up on her childhood sweetheart.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the name based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
The names of my characters are very important to me. I usually develop my books, characters and storyline in this order: Title, cover and character names.
Sometimes I will use names of favorite characters from a movie or TV show that I like or of someone I may have recently met. For example, I’ve already decided that I like the name Layla (from a new TV series that I binged on) and plan to create/introduce a new character in my anticipated next book in my Miracle Circle Series: ‘Breaking the Curse’. In this case, I selected a character name before deciding upon my title and cover. NOTE: I only decided on the title this past Sunday when listening to my pastor’s sermon. I’ll be reaching out to my cover designer next week to discuss concept and design ideas.
In my recent release, Blue Lady’s DÉJÀ VU on the Seas, I include two minor new characters but researched their names based on the personality traits I wanted them to have. Readers meet them as: Brooke and Annalisa, who prefers to be called, Lee.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
An anthology of Christmas-themed short stories scheduled for pre-order, July 2021.
Book 5 in the Angelica Mason Series, Blue Lady’s SEARCH, for LOVE scheduled for pre-order May 2022.
Breaking the Curse, Book 3 in the Miracle Circle Series scheduled for pre-order Winter 2022.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Woe is me! Yes, I'm a pantster. Although as with most of my writing (fiction and non-fiction), I begin with intense planning.
I meticulously research topics that I may need on general and specialized content. While it’s always nice to write about familiar settings, I don’t shy away from researching details associated with unique topics, e.g. the history of a location, descriptive terms associated with book content; e.g. a physical fight, historic events, medical terms and associated issues, weather conditions and circumstances, etc.
When introducing a new book to a series, I re-analyze my favorite characters to ensure that I clearly understand where I last left them and, then to identify where I want them to go, why… and herein is my dilemma. What do I want them to do next and how?
At this point, my characters stage a coup, overpower me and my outline and take off to parts unknown. From that point on, they navigate the ship; i.e. my plot and story line and, voila, I find myself facing unknown paths and winding curves in Pantster Land… again.
I’ve just about accepted that Panster life works for me. And today, when it appears that I have so many options for Angelica in my next book, Blue Lady’s SEARCH for LOVE, I don’t have a clue where and how her search will begin. And certainly not how the search will end. And this is what I love most about my pantster writing style. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my story.
Have you ever gotten into a fight?
First of all, I’m presuming this means a ‘physical’ fight and not an argument. And if so, yep, I have. But fortunately, not many. Wow! And wow is right because I don’t like conflict or confusion. I opt to walk away rather than engage. And this includes verbal sparring. Not to be confused with serious debate and discussion.
The ‘physical fight’ that comes to mind happened in my mid-teens with one of my besties. I can’t even remember the source of disagreement. I was totally caught off guard and apparently had dismissed the disagreement as resolved until I was forcibly struck with a field hockey stick during practice by my besties. Thank God for knee padding. I wasn’t hurt nor was there a fight. I walked off the field. And we somehow remained friends.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Unlike my writing style, I’m a planner, by nature—ironic, isn’t it? I’ve faced some very challenging situations in my life, however, with the Grace of God, I’ve always been able to find a way out. And most times, I’ve been better off than I was before I faced the situation.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
To wave my magic want and sprinkle star dust and love across the world. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
After basically living in semi-isolation for more than a year and recently taking my first plane trip in many years, I’ve decided that the four-hour flight to Las Vegas was not bad at all. What a difference a year makes! Coffee, a round of snacks and two FREE movies.
I’ve decided I just might be able to endure the 10 hour and 15-minute flight to Hawaii. I love the beach and the sun and have always dreamt of a trip to Hawaii. Unwilling to despair, I had shoved this bucket list item to the very, very bottom of my list. But I now figure if I can binge a TV series in one day—as I did last year, I can certainly entertain myself with a few good movies to make one of my life dreams a reality.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
This is really funny. I haven’t had this dream in a long, long time. Further, until answering this question, I’ve never ‘researched’ possible meanings and/or interpretations associated with this dream state. Hmmm…
For years, maybe since early adulthood, I’d periodically dream of the possibility of falling down a huge set of stairs—e.g., stadiums, movie theatres, bleachers, etc. In the dreams, however, I’ve never experienced a physical fall…
I guess I was not surprised to learn today that “dream themes including those involving falling is (are) an indication of insecurities, instabilities, and anxieties. …a feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control in some situation in your waking life. ... Falling dreams also often reflect a sense of failure or inferiority in some circumstance or situation.”
Well, so glad I haven’t had this dream experience in some time. Looks like all is well.
Thank you, Stephany, for sitting down for this interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I know our readers did, too. Readers, to read more about Stephany Tullis’ books, please keep scrolling…
Title: Blue Lady’s MISSION under FIRE
Author: Stephany Tullis
Genre: Psychological Fiction/Political Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Diamond TK Publishing
THE MISSION changed. Her COVER is blown.
With NOWHERE to run and NOWHERE to hide, what can she do to SURVIVE?
This time, two teenagers are killed in a small town in Upstate New York. Instead of celebrating the 4th of July, another community vigil is held to celebrate the dead. As the murder rate spikes along with unseasonably warm temps, a new case is added to the growing list of homicides. Community leaders call another meeting. But no one has any answers.
In Blue Lady’s MISSION under FIRE, Angelica Mason, AKA THE BLUE LADY, along with her faithful crony and sidekick Jonathan C. Jarewski (JaRew), face new challenges and stare down old demons. Dr. Beckham Johnson, Angelica’s mentor, invites her to lead a controversial demonstration project intended to study violence in small towns but conveniently forgets to tell her that the feds cut the funding for her position. Instead, she and semi-street wise cohort, JaRew discover they are two of a cadre of six hand-picked street organizers expected to go undercover.
It starts with a round of tequila shots and a hip swiveling line dance. Did Angelica hear the shots before she felt the shove? Was it an accident? Or was she the target?
In the third book in USA Today bestselling author Stephany Tullis’ Angelica Mason Series, political operatives Angelica Mason and Jonathan Jarewski find themselves in a MISSION under FIRE.
"Can you take me to Daddy's spot, please?"
A laundromat. I can't remember the last time I saw one. I hear JaRew's rejoinder. "You come from a different world, Boss Lady." I don't even try to refute it anymore. He's right.
“SOS, we serve the best.” The unique front window of the tiny eat-in, takeout restaurant catches my attention, but my heart quickens at the huge, larger-than-life black, red, and green RIP mural on the building next to it. It's beautiful. A part of me wants to pull over and take a picture. The power of the billboard-sized weaponry superimposed over a small peaceful community surrounded by tombstones makes me question my attraction to the image. As I reflect on this, I realize my desire to savor the image is my involuntary reaction to the beauty of the artwork. It serves its intended purpose. The message is crystal clear.
"Yo, will you move it, lady? You're holdin' up traffic!"
At first, I think the driver is speaking to me. Another impatient driver on the opposite side of the road blasts his car horn and turns up his sound system.
My heart tugs when I see the cutest little boy struggling to keep up with his mother as she lugs her laundry bag on one shoulder with his sister on her hip. I sigh and think, Bless his little heart. He's doing his share. His bright blue NY Yankees cap is much too big for him and falls off his head as he struggles with a miniature wheeled laundry cart.
The little boy's eyes widen as he scoots in front of his mother. Socks, underwear, and a T-shirt fall from the laundry bag that topples over in his cart. His mother quickens her pace as the driver guns his motor. The driver pulls around me. His dated but buffed black Mercedes rolls over the little boy's hat. Tears stream down the child’s face as he points to his now crumpled cap.
I pull over at the next available spot, park the Escape, grab my keys, and hop out. The Yankees cap is bantered back and forth as the passing vehicles play ping pong with it. I jog down the sidewalk, following the cap, waiting for the traffic light to turn red. I lose sight of it when a black pickup trunk flattens it. I groan but continue my trek. Finally, as the truck pulls off, I see that the cap is lodged against the curb on the opposite side of the road. I backtrack, and once the light changes, I cross the street and pick up the hat, hoping it can withstand a much-needed tumble in the washer. Regardless, it's still wearable, but beat-up for sure. I trot back to the laundry. My little friend sees me from the laundromat window and smiles when he realizes I have his prized possession.
His mother opens the door for me. Baby Girl has slept through all the drama. Her head is settled comfortably against her mother’s chest.
"Hey, little man. Does this belong to you?" He smiles and nods his head, wiping his tears with one hand and snatching his hat with the other.
"Honey, don't be rude. Tell the lady ‘thank you.’"
"Thank you, miss."
For the first time, I see that little man's mother can't be more than twenty. "You're welcome. May I put your hat on your head, or do you want your mommy to wash it first? "
Little man nods and points to his head.
"You sure? I'm sorry it got so dirty." I look to his mother for her okay. She nods.
"Say thank you, Jaylen."
"Thank you." He reaches for his mother's hand.
"You have a good day, Jaylen."
Jaylen rewards me with a huge grin.
His mother thanks me again. And again. Before I can tell her I really didn't do anything, little Jaylen whispers, "Mommy, can we go to Daddy's spot? Maybe the lady can take us."