The Frailty of Things
by Tamsen Schultz
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Tamsen Schultz is the author of several romantic suspense novels and American Kin (a short story published in Line Zero Magazine). In addition to being a writer, she has a background in the field of international conflict resolution, has co-founded a non-profit, and currently works in corporate America. Like most lawyers, she spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking (and writing) about what it might be like to do something else. She lives in Northern California in a house full of males including her husband, two sons, four cats, a dog, and a gender-neutral, but well-stocked, wine rack.
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Today I’m interviewing Tamsen Schultz, author of “The Frailty of Things,” the most recent book in the Windsor Series.
Hi Tamsen, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us about yourself and your background.
What were you like at school?
I was born type-A…a little (or a lot depending on who you ask) like my dad. I liked doing well at school and getting good grades was important to me. I also rode horses competitively from 8th grade through college and between balancing that and school, I was pretty busy. That’s not to say I didn’t have my fair share of fun too…although I will say showing up at the barn for a 6am ride on a Sunday is even less fun when you haven’t been to sleep the night before.
Were you good at English?
I was actually. I LOVED English class—both the writing and the reading. As far as I’m concerned, getting high school and college credit for reading, writing, and talking about books is The. Best. Idea. Ever. And while I was a philosophy major in college, I minored in comparative literature which exposed me to writers from around the world…I wish I could go back and take some of those classes over just to get the reading lists.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’m in my early forties and I hope to keep entertaining readers and writing for a good long while—I’d love to be that eighty year-old woman who still travels to RWA and whoops it up with the young-uns. Beyond that, I don’t have any specific ambitions
Which writers inspire you?
Different writers inspire me for different reasons. There are some that inspiration for their grit and determination, some that write wonderful stories, and some that have an almost magical way with words. Whenever I’m asked this, I always mention to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Ruiz Zafon—both of them have such a mystical grasp of language that even reading their writings in translation is astonishing. The sensuality they create (I’m referring to sensuality of all five senses) is so evocative that I often just want to live in their stories.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is special?
While I don’t want to say that at first glance Kit Forrester is your everyday good friend, that is the role she plays in two prior Windsor Series books before getting her own story in “The Frailty of Things.” She’s smart, funny, committed to her career, and fiercely loyal to her friends. But in “The Frailty of Things,” we learn she has a past that is pretty gut wrenching and we see, through how she’s grown from that experience and what she values in her life now, just how strong she is.
What are you working on presently?
I’m working on two things actually. The fifth book of The Windsor Series is in editing and so I’m currently writing the sixth book, Kit’s brother’s story, called “A Darkness Black.” I’m also trying my hand at a more traditional mystery but that one is just starting to percolate in my mind.
Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I think Ed Quinn would make an excellent Garret Cantona – my kids and I used to watch him when he was on the show Eureka and I’m not sure if it was his looks or the character, but I will admit to a little crush on him that might have influenced Garret’s appearance.
As for Kit, I’m not sure. She’s classically pretty (think Grace Kelly) but with dark hair and almost golden eyes. She’s also really tall and I haven’t really seen any actresses that fit that kind of look. That said, from a personality perspective, I would love to see her played by an actress with the same kind of strength and likeability as someone like Sandra Bullock.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I don’t. I work full time, have two kids, and life just gets too busy for me to try to structure time. I’m focused when I am writing, but I write when I can.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere—seriously. I wrote a blog recently about where ideas come from and the basic gist of it is that pretty much any situation can spark an idea from a drive down a country road to a walk down 5th Ave in New York. If you’re open to it, ideas are everywhere.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve done both—a very detailed outline and then just flying by the seat of my pants. Both have produced good books but I’m still experimenting. For the book I’m writing now, I’m working from a daily event outline, it’s not as detailed as my other outlines, but gives some structure that pantsing it doesn’t. We’ll see!
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Editing. Editing is hard. That said, it is also the most gratifying.
Do you read much and who are your favorite authors?
I try to read a lot but it doesn’t always work out that way and I seem to consume books in fits and spurts. Currently, my favorite mystery writers are Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Flemming, although I just discovered Peter May and I’ll definitely be picking up more of his books.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
For fiction, I like ebooks—I like when I go on vacation I “pack” fifteen books into my one little Kindle and keep it in my purse. But for books I’m using for research or non-fiction books, I prefer traditional format so I can underline, highlight, makes notes, etc.
What book are you reading at present?
I just finished “The Blackhouse” by Peter May and am now reading the non-fiction book “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell as part of a book group I started at work.
Tell us about the covers and how they came about. Who designed your book covers?
My designer for all but my first two books is Sian Foulkes, a graphic designer based out of Vermont. She’s a good friend of mine and works on my projects as a labor of love rather than her usual kind of gig. Because we know each other so well, we have a lot of back and forth on what might be a good central image, what kind of feel we want to convey, etc. For “The Frailty of Things,” I wanted something that conveyed isolation and frailty. Together we found the winter tree and she added the single cross and enhanced the colors and I love the barren, solitary feel of it.
Do you have a video trailer or do you intend to create one?
I don’t and I have mixed emotions about trailers. If readers want to comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts—do you like trailers? Do they influence your interest in a book?
Do you think that giving books away free works?
It definitely helps with exposure and, potentially reviews, but I’m not sure it helps a great deal with sales. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence both ways.
How do you relax?
I read 🙂 I also watch several BBC mysteries when I have the chance and recently a friend gave me the use of her horse to ride (he’s just coming back from an injury and she has another horse she’s riding) so I’m also spending some time at the barn getting both of us back in shape!
What is your favorite movie?
Princess Bride. I love it, I really do. My kids even like it.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Readers can follow me on Facebook and Twitter or at my website (which is getting revamped this month). I also love to hear from readers via email.
Any final words?
Thank you for hosting me today and I hope anyone who picks up “The Frailty of Things” or any of the Windsor series enjoys their trip to Windsor!
Thank you for your time and for taking part in this interview.
Independence. Kit Forrester is a woman who wears her independence like armor. Despite keeping secrets and hiding her past, she’s built a life she loves and is accountable to no one. Until, that is, one of the world’s most wanted war criminals sets his sights on her and she must weigh the risk to one against the chance of justice and closure for many—a decision Kit couldn’t make on her own even if she wanted to.
Certainty. As a man who makes his living in the shadows of governments and wars, certainty isn’t a part of Garret Cantona’s vocabulary, and he’s just fine with that. But when Kit walks into his life, he realizes he’s never before been so sure about anything or anyone. Suddenly, he finds he’s looking at the world, his world, in a different light. And now that he is, he’s determined to protect it, and her, in whatever ways he can.
Frailty. No one knows better than Kit and Garret that an appreciation for what is, or what was, or what might be, can be born from the uncertainty and fragility of life. But when a hunt for a killer leaves Garret no choice but to throw Kit back into her broken and damaged past, even his unshakable faith in what they have together might not be enough to keep it from shattering into a million pieces.
Tamsen Schultz will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.
“Tell me,” Kit said. “And you have five minutes to decide because after that, I’m going to bed. And after that, you’ll be leaving.”
Doubt flickered across Caleb’s face. He didn’t believe her. Fine.
She rose from her seat and headed toward the sink.
“You don’t want to know, Kit,” Caleb said.
She turned back and didn’t bother to bite back the harsh laugh that escaped her. “I don’t want to know? How could you possibly know what I want or don’t want, Caleb? Do you have any idea what my life was like after you left? Do you have any idea what I know and what I’ve seen? Oh, I know you think you have the corner on life’s horrors, Caleb, but you need to get over that. Now, either tell me why you want to know or get out and leave me alone.”
She saw doubt flicker across his face and mentally she started counting down from ten. If he didn’t speak by the time she reached zero, she was done.
“It’s about Dad,” he said. Finally.
If he had expected to shock her, he fell far short. She let out another not-so-nice laugh. “Dad?” she said.
He gave a hesitant nod.
“Just what is it you think you can’t tell me about our father, Caleb?”
She paused and spared a glance at Garret who was standing, arms crossed, watching them.
“Do you honestly think anything you have to tell me about our father is going to shock me?”