Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A cuppa with Tammy Doherty

(K)Tammy Doherty, you and I share much in common. We both love gardening, animals and writing. We both had the fortune to marry wonderful men of Irish decent, and I suspect you have the Emerald Isle in your blood, as well. We both belong to ACFW Northeast, and we both are stunningly brilliant. Okay, that would be just you. But I welcome you to put your feet up and sip some tea with me.

(T) You are too kind, Kathy  I do love gardening, animals and writing. And my wonderful hubby is Irish. I, on the other hand, am mostly Scottish and French. But we’re both 100% American That said, could I sip coffee while we chat?

(K) Ha! Yes, I have this delicious Folger’s chocolate silk coffee—to die for! Pour a cup and settle in, then tell me. How long have you been writing and what milestones mark your writing journey?

(T) As a teen, I made up stories with my best friend. Some of them I wrote down. All of them wouldn’t even make it as bad fan fiction I didn’t get serious until 2001, when we bought our first computer. It took me almost a full year to write my first novel. I journeyed alone with that one, although I did share the manuscript with a few friends.
After publishing the first book, Celtic Cross, I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). I learned a lot through that organization, but still journeyed mostly alone while writing the next two books. I did enter a few contests and eventually paid attention to judges’ comments. Then I joined ACFW in the fall of 2007. It has definitely been the best thing to happen to my writing career. That’s where I found my wonderful critique partners.
My three historical novels have not won any contests – being self-published limits the contests I can enter. But they have received great reviews. My current work-in-progress, a contemporary romantic suspense, has placed (3rd and 5th) in a couple contests.

(K) Awesome, Tammy. So, are you one of those wonderfully organized folks I’ll have to secretly hate who have a daily word count goal, or do you write as inspired?

(T) I dream of being organized, one day I don’t have a daily word count goal, though I have tried to set monthly goals. Working full-time, managing our home business, and raising two kids, means goals have to be flexible. That said, when inspiration hits I find time to squeeze in writing – including bringing a notebook to library reading hour.

(K) I like you more and more as I see how brilliant you really are! How do you find the inspiration to create? Music, movies, books, nature, Bible . . . Name your muses.

(T) Music is my muse. I write best listening to instrumental, but I have one character who likes classic rock and creating scenes for him works best listening to “his music.” LOL
I have a CD of Irish hymns that I enjoy as well as the Braveheart and Gladiator soundtracks.
I’m also a visual writer. I created pages kind of like a scrapbook, with pictures of actors/actresses that best represent how I imagine my character looks. I find photos of the location or setting, pics of houses and even floor plans. They all help me visualize as I write.

(K) With a name like Kathleen Maher, I couldn’t help but notice that the titles in your three-book series have an Irish theme. Give us their titles here, and tell us a wee bit about all three.

(T) I may be Scottish by heritage, but I love everything Irish. The title inspiration for my first book came from a Celtic cross necklace given to me by my husband. The novel Celtic Cross is a story about trust: Cristeen Latham learned long ago to trust no one, not even God. Matt Donovan’s faith has gotten him through the death of his parents. Can he help Cristeen see the need to trust the Lord before it’s too late?
Claddaugh is a book about forgiveness. Headstrong Leigh Latham has always done what she wants without considering consequences. When her ill-fated marriage falls apart, she returns to Colorado – and the man who once loved her. Marshal Rory Johnston thought he was over Leigh, until she comes back. Each must learn to forgive and accept forgiveness. Leigh is hiding from something. Can Rory protect her and his heart at the same time?
In Celtic Knot, Secret Service agent Kyle Lachapelle is undercover working on the Big L-O ranch, looking for a counterfeiter. Abby Finnigan will never love again after the death of her husband. Then she meets Kyle – handsome, easy to talk with, a true gentleman. When she finds out his true identity, can she ever trust him again? Abby's journey through love, grief, suspicion and danger twists and turns like a chain of never ending Celtic knots. Throw in assault, murder, kidnapping and a shoot-out and Celtic Knot is a western that lives up to its name!

(K) As you write historical romance, do you relate more to the heroine or the hero, or both? Why?

(T) In Celtic Cross, Cristeen’s difficulty with trust came from me. She isn’t me, but at the time of writing the novel I also had trouble trusting. Except I knew the need to rely on the Lord. So for that book, I related more to the heroine. Leigh Latham was difficult for me to write because I could not relate to her. When I began Celtic Knot, I “knew” Kyle better than Abby, but as the book went on I began to relate to them equally well.
I confess, though, that growing up I always wanted to be a cowboy. Tomboy was an understatement describing me! I have a tendency to relate better to the hero in my stories. Learning to a create strong, likable heroine who isn’t at all like me was a tough journey but well worth the effort.

(K) Who are your favorite characters you’ve created and do you borrow from your life and experiences to create them? Have you learned from them?

(T) As I said above, Cristeen stemmed from my life. She was my first heroine and has a special place in my heart. It’s difficult to say any one is a favorite, though. Possibly, Kyle is my favorite hero. I have a soft spot for Simon, another character in Celtic Knot, because his personality is full of twists and contradictions and he was fun to create.
I learned a great deal from Cristeen. Researching the Bible to help with her spiritual journey helped me focus my faith. And I learned to trust a little more-because even if a risk didn’t pay off the Lord would be there to comfort me. I also figured out how to do historical research and found some great websites. The most enjoyable thing I learned was some Gaelic phrases. It sparked a desire to learn the language. And I will – someday!

(K) Would you discuss the spiritual themes of the series?

(T) I work carefully to craft novels that are not preachy, yet the spiritual themes are key to the overall story. Cristeen Latham must learn to trust the Lord, not herself, in order to survive the climatic events of Celtic Cross. Leigh Latham harbors resentment and anger that keeps her from accepting God’s forgiveness and finding peace.
With Abby, in Celtic Knot, I had to work on showing how someone could accept a loving God who also lets bad things happen. I was able to do this by using the fact that Abby is a mother. Being a parent, I think, gives you a different perspective on God.

(K) Give us a snapshot of Celtic Knot. What is it about, and how can we find it?

(T) After the death of her husband, Abby Finnigan has returned to Prophecy, Colorado, a town ruled by the Bigelow family. Her family. Her father refuses to acknowledge her existence. Her playboy older brother, Clayton, acknowledges her but only because he enjoys tormenting her. Eugene, her younger brother, hasn’t spoken to Abby since she returned. Her only friends are the owner of the saloon where she works as a maid and his “upstairs girl.” Sheriff Boone Warren professes his love for Abby. She distrusts him, afraid that his feelings aren’t pure. Plus, he’s little more than Clayton’s puppet.
Pastor Stanton and his family offer Abby friendship, which she finally accepts when Clayton evicts her. The pastor is also friends with Kyle Lachapelle, a newcomer to town. Kyle is working at the Bigelow family ranch. He’s kind, considerate and seems to be a real gentleman. But can Abby trust him? Can she risk heartbreak?
Secret Service agent Kyle Lachapelle is attracted to Abby from the moment they meet. Yet he’ll be moving on as soon as this undercover case is wrapped up. It wouldn’t be fair to toy with Abby’s affections. When he learns her connection to his chief suspects, can he afford to be interested in her?
Things get complicated after that! A dead body, an assault, a jail break, murder, and kidnapping. And while all of this is going on, Abby has to figure out exactly how she feels about God. Can she open her heart to His love? And will that be enough to conquer the fear separating Abby and Kyle?
All of my books are available at online booksellers like and Barnes & Noble.

(K) As you’ve researched your time period, what are two social customs or ways of life that you wish were still true today, and what are two things you’re glad are not true anymore?

(T) This is a hard one to answer  I think what I wish for the most is less urbanization of our country. Researching the area of Colorado where the books are set, I found photos of gorgeous open land, free of houses and highways. Even as close as 30 years ago my region of Massachusetts was rural farmland. Now we are suburban.
The other thing is more a social custom. In the era of my books, the late 1800’s, public display of sexuality was frowned upon. Only a woman of ill-repute went about scantily clad. And it was considered normal for men and women to wait for marriage before having sex. Yes, promiscuity occurred. But it wasn’t right out there in the public. People didn’t brag about it. I hope that doesn’t sound prudish!

(K)Not at all. I’m with you!

(T) Romance should be about love, not sex. I wish we could be more like that these days. A great kiss, with just a hint of suggestion, then leave the rest to imagination.
The thing I’m grateful isn’t the same anymore is medicine! All three of my novels couldn’t happen in the latter half of the 20th century simply because of modern medicine. Anesthesia wasn’t around back then. Imagine surgery without it!
I’m also happy to be living now when women are treated as equals to men. Most of the time. In Celtic Knot, Abby struggles because her father never wanted a girl child. He refused to acknowledge her as his, treated her with less regard than he did the servants. Now that she’s back, her brother Clayton uses threats and the power of the family bank to ensure no one will give her employment. He tries to force her into marriage with Sheriff Warren, where he thinks he’ll control her. I know even now many women have similar struggles, but in the 1880’s women had little to no legal recourse. Shelters for battered women were rare. I’m glad we’ve made strides in this area.

(K) I’m with you on those things. Thank God for modern plumbing, too!
So, tell me. Should we look for more in this series, or do you have other projects simmering? Do other times and settings in history tug at your fingers and heart to write them?

(T) This series is complete. Friends have suggested I spin off from secondary characters and maybe one day I will. Currently I’m working on contemporary romantic suspense. I do have an idea filed away for “someday” – to write about my hometown region during the early part of the 20th century. This area was once a vacation hotspot. Our town was a favorite of legendary George M. Cohan! Think of the stories…well, someday 

(K) Oh, yesss! You must write that, Tammy.
What do you hope your readers will take away from your books? What have you taken away from them?

(T) Writing these three books brought me closer to the Lord and strengthened my faith. I hope that Christians who read them will take away the same experience. Beyond that, I feel strongly that all three are good books for someone who isn’t a believer or maybe is on the fence about believing in God. I hope the messages of trusting the Lord to take care of your every need (faith), accepting His forgiveness and forgiving others (hope), and the meaning of true love (His love) will stick with those readers and start them on the path to becoming Christians.

(K) Tammy, thank you for being with us here and sharing your love of writing and history. Always a pleasure to share a bit of tea (or coffee) and the gift of gab with a fellow Celt!

(T) Thanks again, Kathleen, for inviting me to share. The Irish in me simply loves words 

(K) If you wish to know more about Tammy or her writing, visit her website at
(K) Or follow her blog at


  1. Nice job, ladies, or should I say lasses?

    Tammy, are the three books completely stand-alone, or related in such a way that it's best to read them in order? I did go to your website to look around. I've been there before but I did note this time, the nice note you have about your publisher.
    Great questions Kathy

    Three cheers for ACFW Northeasters and celtic ancestry!

  2. Great interview ladies. I'll join you in that tea. Kathy I'm going to have to have you come up with my interview questions these were great. Tammy, it was nice to get to know you a little better. Your series sounds very interesting. I love that it brought you closer to the Lord. I'm sure that they will touch others lives as well.

  3. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity, Kathy. You did a fantastic job with the interview questions. I'm with DebbieLynne - you'll be my go-to person whenever I need to write an interview!

    Hi Debra! I think I speak for Kathy in saying it's okay to call us "lassies" - better than ma'am any day of the week. LOL And thanks for visiting my website - it's always nice to know people are looking at it :D

    The 3 books are stand alone yet related. It would make more sense to read the first before the second, but the 3rd really doesn't matter. Characters from the 1st two books show up in the 3rd, but in a way that's easy to follow.

    Debbie Lynne - I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and feel blessed you took the time to visit. Your words are encouraging - I'm sure you are touching lives for the Lord as well.

  4. What beautiful cover art, Tammy. Did you have a lot of say in the cover design?

  5. I was able to make suggestions and then they gave me 2 or 3 options to choose from. The first cover set the "tone" for the other two. I think Xulon does a fantastic job with their covers!

  6. Good interview. Great look inside of your books.

  7. Great interview! Tammy, you need to claim Scots-Irish, then you have both covered--like me! Most of my roots are Scottish, Welsh and English, but some of our verbal history claim to be Irish. Therefore, I'm thinking we might have migrated from Scotland in the early 1600's to northern Ireland when England opened it for colonization, and then in the 1700's migrated to America.

  8. Great interview, Tammy! :-) The books sound awesome, too! Congrats on the successes!! Blessings - Marianne

  9. Jenn - that's why I was immediately drawn to your blog and newsletter. I love the Scots-Irish research you do! My father's family is (mostly) Scottish & I think they emigrated to Ireland too. Eventually they ended up in Canada, which is where (I believe) many Scots-Irish went at the start of the American Revolution. Oooh, I love that kind of history!

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note.

  10. Great interview! Nice to hear about the variety of stories and how your faith intertwines through all of them. What a wonderful gift to be able to share with others.

  11. Great interview, Tammy! I loved learning about your path as a writer.

  12. Like the other folks who have commented, I enjoyed your interview.

    I too am thankful medicine has progressed to the point it has!

    Sounds like your current WIP is a bit different for you since it is a contemp. suspense. How's it going?

  13. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by to visit!

    Hi Sally(waves at CP)!

    DonnaB - yes, I've found writing really strengthens my own faith. I feel blessed to be able to do this.

    JoAnn - the new WIP is drastically different. But I stuck with the basic premise of writing about "real" Christians...people who aren't perfect and make mistakes, but then rely on the Lord to make things better. This contemp is set in a small town in central MA...hmmm, sounds familiar :-)

  14. Excellent interview, Tammy! I like that you bring your notebook with you to other activities - so you can fit in your writing (and be ready when the urge to put pen to paper hits). Congrats on your success as a writer!

  15. I just want to leave a note for all my friends and family who have visited but were unable to leave a comment. Blogger can be persnickity sometime :D

    Thank you for dropping by - many of you sent me an email and I really appreciate the kind words and wonderful support.

    Have a great weekend everyone :D

  16. What a great interview! It's amazing how much you two ladies have in common. Tammy, you mentioned that music is your muse, and I'm totally jealous. I have to write in complete silence, which is such a bummer because I have all this great music calling my name. :-)

  17. wow! Everyone, thanks for stopping by me humble cottage. :) It was wonderful to have so many smiling faces around. Tammy was a wonderful guest, and I hope she sells many copies of her series. May this be the beginning of a long and illustrious career.
    We'll do this again when her next series launches. I hope we'll see some more lovely Scots-Irish heroines and strapping Celt heroes.
    Till then, Beannacht Dé Ort
    (God's blessings on you)

  18. Tammy, Kathleen,

    LOL, I dream of being organized one day too in my writing habits and getting a decent word count.

    Love the article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!