I'm super excited to welcome Tasha Cotter on my blog today. She's been gracious enough to answer a few interview questions and is here to share with us a little about her novel, RED CARPET DAY JOB. (WHICH, btw, sounds amazing and is totally waiting to be read on my Kindle.)
Now, let's hear a little about Tasha and her new book before we get to the nitty gritty goods, shall we?
Tasha Cotter's first full-length collection of poetry, Some Churches, was released in 2013 with Gold Wake Press. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in journals such as Contrary Magazine, NANO fiction, and Booth. Her debut novel, Red Carpet Day Job, was published in 2015 with Bookfish Books. A graduate of the University of Kentucky and the Bluegrass Writers Studio, she lives in Lexington, KY, where she works in higher education.
Tasha is represented by Alice Speilburg of Speilburg Literary.
Most of the working-class secretaries in New York City don’t spend their mornings wrestling skirts from beneath roosting chickens or cleaning egg yolk off their heels. But Sophie Waldrop does, thanks to her boyfriend, Scott, and the organic egg business he runs out of her 5th floor walk-up. Though they’ve been dating since high school, Scott no longer pulls his weight in the relationship—financially or emotionally. Sophie’s ready to send him, and his chickens, packing.
The day she breaks up with Scott, Sophie’s boss introduces her to the firm’s new client, Nick Jackson—the hottest up-and-coming actor in Hollywood. Sophie can’t believe her luck when her boss volunteers her to be Nick’s date for a red carpet award ceremony that same night. Freshly single, Sophie tries to keep things in perspective as her “work event” leads to a budding romance. She didn’t expect to like Nick, and she certainly didn’t expect him to like her.
When her dream job lands in her lap, Sophie rejoices that her hard work has finally paid off. But she soon learns that it may have been Nick's influence that opened the doors and created the opportunities that she would rather have earned for herself.
Nick’s hectic schedule, the persistent leading ladies with whom he works, and Sophie’s own promotion and career ambitions further complicate their fairy-tale romance. Can Nick and Sophie make their love last, or will their relationship be more like the paparazzi’s camera flashes—fast, bright, and fading?
Buy Red Carpet Day Job now on
1. Hi Tasha! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and the books that you write?
Thanks for having me! I live in Lexington, Kentucky with my husband, three cats and our dog, Jules. When I’m not working with students at the University of Kentucky, I’m probably writing, reading, or off on a hike. I write poetry, fiction, and the occasional book review and essay. My first chapbook of poetry, That Bird Your Heart was published in 2013 and my first full-length collection of poetry, Some Churches, was released in 2013 as well. My most recent book, Red Carpet Day Job, is a New Adult romance that was just released in February with BookFish Books. Right now I’m working on final edits for Us, in Pieces. It’s a book that I co-wrote with my friend Chris Green. My lovely agent, Alice Speilburg is giving it one final read-through before it goes on submission. The book is a big messy love story told from two perspectives via straight narrative, text messages, flashbacks, and emails.
2. Tell the readers a little bit about your writing process, for instance, how long does it take for you to finish a first draft? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
It’s hard for me to say how long it takes me to write a book – every book had its own unique journey. For example, I worked on editing and revising my first full-length collection of poetry for at least three years. Right now I’m revising the first draft of a young adult novel that I started writing in early January. I made a basic outline (I’m talking really basic–one page) and then I just jumped right in and didn’t look back. That’s kind of unusual for me. I tend to invest a lot of time in plotting and outlining, but these days I’m outlining less than I used to. For instance, my original book outline for Red Carpet Day Job was roughly fifteen pages – and that was a terrific roadmap for me. But with Us, in Pieces, and my in-progress manuscript, I’m plotting less; just letting the actions of my characters lead me through the story – it feels risky, wild, and exhilarating all at the same.
3. Do you have any interesting quirks or habits to help you through the writing process?
There are really no secrets or quirks to my writing process. I tend to focus on reading and writing. I rely on highlighting, making notes, keeping journals, listening to what’s around me, paying a lot of attention, and being interested and open to the world around me. I don’t have a set writing schedule. But this year, with the young adult novel, I’ve been working on, the only thing I’ve been asking of myself is one page a day, Monday through Friday. I treat it like a job. And being responsible for one page is doable. I’m convinced that the routine got me through the first draft – I’d never tried anything quite so regimented, but the fact that I didn’t have much of an outline, and worked on the book steadily for several months, kept my head in the game, and led me places in the book that really surprised me. I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.
4. Where do you get the ideas and inspirations for your books?
The ideas for my books come from all over the place: things I’ve read, seen or heard about, mostly. With Red Carpet Day Job, I first had the idea of Sophie. I literally one day just had the idea of a character who works with celebrities, who’s kind of underpaid, who does it all, who’s a little naïve….and then the story started unfolding. For example, I knew she would live in New York. I knew she would feel way in over her head. For me, once I know my characters, the story starts taking shape. Once I got to know Sophie, then I understood who her smart and demanding boss would be (Ranwick), who her lovable but disastrous ex would be (Scott) and who the unlikely love interest could possibly be (Nick).
5. Do you ever find yourself experiencing writers block? How do you cope with it?
I don’t really believe in writers block. Well, I do and I don’t. Some days it’s a struggle to open up the book manuscript, sure, but when is it not? There are always a thousand other things to be doing. There are always other things competing for my time. Opening my laptop is the last thing I want to do some nights. But you have to commit to the book you’re writing. Set small goals. Basically, you have to find a way each day to face the work. I’ve found that nothing else kills a project sooner than separating yourself from a work-in-progress for long stretches of time. The more you’re away from the manuscript, the harder it is to dig back in. Best to stay close to the work and see it through – at least until the first draft is written. Then give yourself a little break before diving into edits.
6. Is there a particular author and/or book out there that inspired you? In writing Red Carpet Day Job, I was really inspired by Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Weisburger, Julianna Baggott, and Helen Fielding. I came across these writers kind of by accident – I was completing an MFA in Poetry at the time, and for so long I was buried in heavier literature. I wanted something different to read and so I sort of stumbled upon these writers at the library. Long story short, I got hooked. Reading Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary had me in stitches I was laughing so hard. I finished it, feeling like I was losing a good friend. I was sort of amazed that a book could make me laugh so much. I think I was so accustomed to books being these lofty, dense, intellectual things, that I forgot they could also be lighthearted, fun, and, well, hilarious. I really connected with that. Reading Helen Fielding and the other writers I mentioned got me thinking about my own work and for the first time, I started thinking about writing fiction. After years spent in poetry workshops, I’d never considered writing anything but poetry.
7. What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?
Read widely. Get out in the world. Travel if you can. Write down your favorite quotes. Write down anything. Listen to others. Pay attention to the world around you. Take risks. Don’t worry about genres. Don’t worry about getting rejected –it’ll happen (likely over and over again).
8. If you could pick one of your characters in your book(s) to hang out with for one day, who would it be, and why?
If I could choose one character from Red Carpet Day Job to hang out with for one day it’d be Nick Jackson. Because Nick Jackson is pretty much the opposite of me: he’s stylish, confident, and knows New York City very, very well. I’ve always been totally fascinated by New York City, but a bit intimidated by the place. I’d want him to show me the very best of New York. I’ve only been there once and it was a whirlwind school trip back in high school. I’d want to see the city with him (and Union Square, of course).
9. Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Thank you THANK YOU for all the Red Carpet Day Job love! Seeing my book connect with readers is an amazing experience. I absolutely love connecting with you all on twitter and Goodreads – you can find me there, @TashCotter. Talk soon!