Author Name: Tabitha (Tobey) Forney
Genre: Upmarket Fiction
Book: Paper Airplanes (9/7/21)
Brief bio: Tabitha (Tobey) Forney writes books to appease the voices in her head. She’s a mom, attorney, and yoga devotee who lives in Houston with her three kids and a husband who was on the 85th floor of the North Tower on 9/11 and lived to tell about it.
What got you started as a writer? As a child, I inhaled books. But when I was ten, my mother married the austere son of a Pentecostal preacher who disapproved of my reading. He dismissed books and higher education as useless endeavors and tried to teach the six of us (half his, half hers) that manual labor and the ruthless pursuit of money were the only worthwhile endeavors. I spent hours in the reading nook of my elderly neighbors, who provided me with lemonade and cookies while I would read to my heart’s content.
Even though I processed the world through books as a child, I never thought I could write one. I started to explore writing in my twenties, just before having children. I’m also a practicing attorney, though, and once I had kids I had little time for anything else.
I did finally start writing in 2007, and in 2009 I met my best friend who is also a writer. At the time, she was further down the road than I, and we instantly bonded over our love for writing. She was a huge inspiration to me, and showed me that with enough effort and determination, I could be a writer too.
What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Ironically, getting an agent in 2017 and then parting ways with her in 2018 was not only one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life, but it showed me that when something doesn’t feel right, it’s not, and to follow my gut rather than conventional wisdom. With my agent’s direction, I spent over a year gutting and re-writing my novel to introduce a new character. We were about to go out on submission when she left her agency and told me she couldn’t take me with her due. In the end, I unraveled everything I did, restored the book as it was meant to be (Paper Airplanes), and rewrote the story of the new character, Rosie, into a book that is better than before. So now instead of one book written with somebody else’s vision, I have two books that I am happy to launch into the world. Ultimately, parting with her was the best thing to happen to me.
Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I have! Paper Airplanes was actually birthed during NaNoWriMo 2015. I am planning to participate in 2021 with a new project I’m very excited about. While the book that you write in a month may not be even close to the final project, NaNoWriMo gives writers momentum and propels books into being.
What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Never. Give. Up. Keep writing until you’re happy with your work. And make sure you surround yourself with people who will be honest with you. It might hurt, but it teaches you how to fix the problem.
What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? Learning how to work and manage three kids’ school schedules and still have time to write was tough. I developed new respect for teachers. Not being able to see my elderly mother was also really hard. And confronting an existential threat every single day was no joke, as we all know!
What are you reading right now? I am listening to the audiobook of Blow Your House Down by Gina Frangello. It’s gripping. I’m impressed with and inspired by her bravery and honesty, and her writing is crisp and original.
Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Both! I think a good book will have me doing both in the course of an hour. I strive to bring humor into my books, which is more difficult to achieve than one would think.
Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? Yes, definitely.When I was child, it was another way I escaped from my abusive stepfather. He wore boots all the time and never looked up.
Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? Not in the ocean, but many times on the sandy beach, and once in the toilet. Oops!
Could you live in a tiny house? For about a week, yes. Maybe.
What are the small things that make you happy? Yoga, French fries, dark chocolate, good coffee, The Lumineers, comfortable shoes, happy people, and staring at the sky, whether cloudy or starry.
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