Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #38:
Tanita Davis (a.k.a. TadMack) of Finding Wonderland

h1 July 30th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

We are happy to bring to you an interview with Tanita Davis, a.k.a. TadMack, from Finding Wonderland, “the WritingYA Weblog.” TadMack and aquafortis (otherwise known as Sarah, whom we will interview next-ish) run the YA-lit treehouse over there, and it’s one of our favorite blogs. As the blog’s front page says, ” . . . welcome to our humble treehouse: a sanctuary and not-so-secret hideout for fans and writers of YA lit. News, advice, links, and fun stuff, straight from the keyboards of our always-intrepid, sometimes-torpid reporting staff. Come on in!” If you weren’t already a frequent reader of their blog — which stemmed from a West-Coast-based writing group who met online on a weekly basis to support each others’ writing and share their love of YA lit, now with posts from TadMack and aquafortis only — then you probably noticed their kickin’ interviews during the recent Summer Blog Blast Tour. They kicked things off with their impressive and exclusive interview with Gene Yang.

Tanita (we’ll just call her TadMack, the name she tends to go by online) is pictured here. She is on the verge of moving to Scotland, and the photo she had in mind was inadvertently displaced in her moving preparations: “Well,” she told us, “the cool photo of my non-jock self kayaking got packed, so . . . photophobia has opted for a baby picture. Still counts though, right?” To that we say, AW PUNKIN’ HEAD. PUDDIN’. YES IT DOES COUNT. AND CAN WE PINCH YOUR CHEEKS YOU CUTE WITTLE WITTLE THING?! DID WE MENTION U R A PUNKIN’?

Okay, excuse us. Got that out of our system. I mean, really. Just look at that picture.

TadMack is a writer of YA lit, and over at Finding Wonderland she writes very honestly and openly about her identity as a writer, such as she recently did here (she and Robin Brande were being psychic brain twins that day). Here’s what she had to say when we asked her about her writing and her current project/upcoming title:

I have been writing full-time for the last few years -– right out of college I taught juvenile offenders and that was actually a lot of fun (seriously. It was the other adults that gave me the ulcer), but writing has always been my central dream. I was fortunate enough to find a really exacting agent –- exacting in a good way, truly –- and last October I sold A La Carte to a great editor with Alfred Knopf/Random House . . . It will debut next Spring/Summer (no dates yet, but the manuscript is in the design phase -– galleys appearing soon!). The same house is currently reviewing another novel of mine, and I’m very hopeful (!). I have been writing stories since I was five and my ears-bleeding mother told me to stop talking to her for awhile and write things down I wanted to tell her . . . I have published short stories (in CICADA Magazine), poems (for McGraw-Hill — for testing purposes, so those aren’t mine to claim anymore) and essays in various magazines here and there, since high school. It’s an amazing feeling that my little writing shoots are finally starting to peek above the soil.

TadMack also contributes to Finding Wonderland’s “M.E.M. Files,” or Most Egregious Misuse (here’s one example). These are, she told us, notations that are “only an English major’s running petty argument with the world of poor grammar (And ha ha! NPR just ran a story on the Grammar Vandal, a young woman who changes signs in public spaces. I am a bit rigid, but hopefully not there quite yet) . . .” (Hey, we at 7-Imp are all for that; we do, after all, link in our blogroll to this and this).

She and Sarah also participate a great deal in the kidlitosphere, visiting blogs, leaving comments, joining in conversations. And, as their blog template points out, they post on YA news and random tidbits ‘o information and links and writing advice and much more — such as here, in which TadMack suggests a new member for MotherReader’s BACA organization; this post, in which she once again writes with candor about the sometimes agonizing process of trying to get published; or posts like this, in which she muses on the larger, more philosophical issues of writing for teens.

Finding Wonderland also has a sister blog, Reading YA: Readers’ Rants, in which TadMack and Sarah review YA books. Here’s where you can see exactly how TadMack earned top honors for Most Time Spent Reading/Blogging in MotherReader’s 48-Hour Book Challenge this year. Goodness gracious, look at all those books!

TadMack also blogs about her culinary and crafty interests at Wish I Were Baking…. Three blogs??? This is one busy busy lady, here, people.

As for Finding Wonderland’s title, TadMack told us, “that was a pain. We had ‘Finding Neverland’ all set to go -– obvious connotations to Peter Pan’s tree house, etc. etc. And then Michael Jackson had to go and be all… freaky. And we just thought, ‘Um. Neverland. YA blog. Maybe not.’ So ‘Wonderland’ it then became.”

Again, we will also be chatting it up with Sarah soon, too, but we would like to thank TadMack, one-half of Finding Wonderland, for stopping by this week, especially in the midst of a big move to another country. Without further ado, here she is!

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

TadMack: I am… (deep breath) a writer. That’s still hard to say.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

TadMack: Wow, it’s been two years and four months.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

TadMack: Actually, AF {aquafortis} started it. I totally blame her. We started blogging to communicate better with our writing group, whose members, at the time, were in ‘Noo Joisey,’ Arizona, Benicia, San Francisco, Modesto, Portland, Merced, and Oakland. I continue to blog because I have found a community with more genuine enthusiasm, joy and good humor – not to mention some of the best book referrals and friends, ever.

Doctor Who bag, courtesy of Bookshelves of Doom7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

TadMack: A hard one! I’m a frequent reader of a whole host of blogs, so I date all of y’all fairly steadily! But prom? Marriage? Well, currently, I’m a little obsessed with Bookshelves of Doom. I try not to overly link to the site and gush too much, but there is just so much randomly cool, craftastic book-related stuff that I spend lots of time there jumping off into millions of other time-wasting blog perusals of random Doctor Who paraphernalia when I’m meant to be working… An addiction, but a good one.

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

TadMack: Well, I spend an awful lot of time, um… playing. But let’s call it “trying to create art.” Whether musically or craftily or ‘culinarily’ I spend a lot of time hanging with my S.O., doing… fun stuff. (I apparently also spend a lot of time making up words.) Someday I should get paid for this. Or not.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

TadMack: Eh, this used to embarrass me, but… I do not have the average American obsession with the vehicle. I don’t know – suburbanites rely on their cars, and I’m not a city girl anymore, but I still didn’t learn to drive until I was 27. I consider myself a lousy driver, and prefer to daydream and take public transportation or be chauffeured; somehow, the focus required to drive long distances makes me a *whole ‘nuther person… I have a lead foot, and am frighteningly just on the cusp of being out of control. I like myself better as a passenger. {*And trust me, you like me better this way, too.}

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

TadMack: I sometimes can’t think/work while playing music with lyrics unless it’s choral and almost incomprehensible, so during this month of revisions it’s been Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, The Brandenburg Concerto, Saint Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, Vivaldi’s Gloria and the like.

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Terry PratchettTadMack: I love this question, because I can’t really answer it. If I had anyone over for coffee or wine, I’d spill something, cut my hand on a glass, have to be rushed to the ER… I’m a big old dork when I meet people {Be warned, people coming to SCBWI. Just …Be…WARNED.}. Authors I’d have over for coffee if I was someone more suave: Ursula LeGuin. Terry Pratchett. And of course, Our Lady Jane, Jane Yolen. I could, of course, go on.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

TadMack: “Random.”

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

TadMack: “Tweener” or “Teenager.” It’s annoying, yet, oddly, “teen” is all right. Go figure.

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

TadMack: Genuineness.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

TadMack: Guile, in any fashion – I’m death on liars.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

TadMack: “Git.” It’s not really a “curse,” but it usually comes out “bloody stupid git” (and I’m trying to prune “bloody” out of my vocabulary, since we’re moving to Scotland, where it might actually offend someone!). I also love “Crivens!” which is very Scots-worthy.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

TadMack: Real wind chimes.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

TadMack: Unnecessarily loud motors.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

TadMack: A lyric soprano.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

TadMack: Geriatric medicine.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

TadMack: “See? Here you are, and the whole tribe, too. I said ‘Don’t stress about everything, I love you.’ Now can you relax?”

20 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #38:
Tanita Davis (a.k.a. TadMack) of Finding Wonderland

  1. Oh, so cute, so cute! I love the picture. And TadMack, when I meet you at SCBWI, let’s agree to just throw a glass of wine at each other (and narrowly miss) and get that awkward spilling thing over with. Then we can chat about Ursula (LeGuin) and how we wish she was there.

    Also: you have a baking blog??? I’m in trouble…

  2. What a cute pic!

    Scotland, TadMack? Wow. We’ll need lots of reports, of course!

  3. Very cool interview! I love the pic – so cute! Also, wasn’t TadMack the one who read every YA book nominated for the Cybils? I’ve always been pretty impressed by that!

  4. Hurrah for TadMack! Hurrah for another 7-Imp Interview!

    TadMack, I can totally empathize with your lack of enthusiasm for the vehicle. I got my license the day before I left for college (my mom told everyone I only got it because I promised not to drive above 2nd gear), and actually drove 10 times within the next 10 years. I finally had to break down and learn to drive properly when I moved out West. My mom had always hoped I’d find a boyfriend who would teach me to drive in his jalopy. Instead, I ended up teaching my husband to drive (crivens!), and he got his license 3 weeks before our baby was due.

    I appreciated Sarah Vowell’s essay on her one driving lesson with Ira Glass in Take the Cannolli.

  5. I champion non-drivers, esp. if it means you’re biking or getting around on foot in pedestrian-friendly cities.

    TadMack, Sheila Ruth is right, isn’t she? I do have a vague memory that you’re the Cybils YA committee member who read every single YA title. We’ll have to ask Kelly or Anne, too. Thanks, Sheila Ruth, for pointing that out.

  6. Full disclosure: the baking blog is in tandem with Himself – who is the far, far, FAR better baker, knitter, random-cool-things producer… but I do enjoy moaning about remodeling and slow knitting projects and the occasional batch of cookies.

    Jules, Eisha: Y’all make me look good. Thank you.

    Sara: agreed. I’ll trip and toss tea in your direction, and we’ll be fine after that.

  7. She maintains two other blogs that YOU know of. Bwahahahahaha. Oh, sorry – did I laugh out loud?

  8. I love TadMacks choice in music on her i=pod. Great interview.

  9. I loved this interview! Woo-hoo.

  10. Wait, DaviMack – are there EVEN MORE BLOGS??? Is that even possible?

    And I didn’t even know that ANYONE had read all the YA Cybils entries. Weren’t there, like, 80+ books on that list?

    TadMack, are you even human, or some kind of super-cute cyborg/mutant/hero?

  11. Go Tanita! I applaud all of your accomplishments and urge you to continue all of your pursuits. I’m so glad that you got a book deal and I can’t wait to read it next year. (How is 2007 more than half-over already?!)

    I always did want a treehouse. I’ve never been in one.

  12. You guys (being E & J), do you really realize what a wonderful public service you’re doing with these interviews?

    Because now I need TadMack to be my new best friend, too! What a fabulous woman! Loved all your answers, TM, and I’m sorry you’re leaving for Scotland (although that sounds so incredibly cool) because I want you to come over and I’ll throw wine at you, too (great idea, Sara) . . . but I guess we’ll all have to wait for your stateside book tour.

    And E or J, whichever of you did the whole puddin’ head thing, you made me laugh out loud so hard I almost choked on a cherry pit. Let it be on your head.

  13. That would be Jules. When I’m ooey-gooey over a baby pic, I tend to say Sugar Britches rather than Puddin’. But we both say Punkin’ Head.

  14. “Sugar Britches” — now that’s funny.

  15. HAHA! You know what? I got the Cybils list, and figured we were …supposed to read all of them on the list. I know we had a rule about reading some percent, or each book is read by at least two people, but I forgot… So, yes, I’d say I’m not only a mutant, I’m a ‘mutant punkin-head’ — because that would explain so much…!

    I participate in a Fiction Friday thing based on Flickr pictures — so that’s the OTHER blog. And then one more for my family, to keep them up to date on the countdown and the Scotland thing. Note: only ONE of these is a single-person blog, and since I’ve never managed to write stories in tandem (interesting idea!), that one is it. Otherwise, Himself is just as blog-chatty as i am.

    I *do* plan to tell each and every one of you when I am in a state/city near you touring. You can come into bookstores and scream “Sugar Britches!!!” and watch me fall over laughing…

  16. It’s a date. Although bookstores may decide to stop hosting you if it gets around that every time you appear somewhere, crazed people come running in, screaming Southern phrases of endearment and pitching glasses of wine at you.

  17. …if nothing else, the book visits would be memorable

  18. I will sing a song called Sugar Britches if you come to my store.

  19. Oh, I am now very, very frightened…

  20. […] treat (for us) today. We have the extreme pleasure of tri-reviewing with the vivacious TadMack (a.k.a. author Tanita S. Davis) of… well, of lots of blogs, but we’re maybe most fond […]

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