The girls at WGR are thrilled to welcome author, Tika Newman. Tika, thank you for being with us today.
WGR: We will soon be reviewing your book, The Eyes Of Innocence, here at WGR and I understand it’s the first in a series, please tell us a little about the book and the series.
Tika: Thank you so much! I am delighted to be here. I would like to mention that the series name, as well as the name of the first book is The Eyes of Innocence.
The Eyes of Innocence series is the story of a psychic girl with the power to heal, as she grows up helping people and animals.
Kalina was orphaned at the age of three and adopted by her aunt and uncle. Imagine how they feel when they witness Kalina heal an injured baby bird at the tender age of five. This is only the beginning. Kalina’s abilities blossom from there and she attracts a lot of publicity. Her aunt and uncle worry for her safety and the family makes the first of many moves.
The story opens when they settle in a small town in upstate New York. Kalina begins to dream of a white horse with black mane and tail. The exact horse shows up on her sixteenth birthday as a gift to her. Nobody has any idea where the horse came from, including Kalina, but she knows that the horse is indeed a gift. The story takes many twists and turns until her secret heritage is revealed. Kalina is thrilled. Her aunt and uncle panic, thinking they will lose her.
I believe this series is an original story and not a copy-cat version of any other book, movie or TV show. It is believable, as well as heartwarming. Readers have cried with happiness and sat on the edge of their chair at other times. My favorite comments are when readers feel like they are there, in the story as it is happening.
WGR: You had a long and successful career in real estate, when did you first begin writing and where did the inspiration come from for The Eyes Of Innocence?
Tika: It was the summer of 2004 when the urge to write first became a driving force within me. Although writing newspaper ads and fact sheets for the homes I sold always came very easily to me, I never dreamed I would write novels.
The inspiration part is actually very silly. My husband and I rented a movie for the kids to watch. It is a very popular series and I was looking forward to watching it. To say I didn’t like it, is putting it lightly. All the way through the movie I kept saying that I could write a better story than this. It’s too fake. My husband said, “Do it.” I did it.
I had NO idea how much I would dedicate myself. I had NO idea that I could actually write stories that people would love. When the first book was released, I was actually taken aback by the comments from the readers. They loved it! I was thrilled!
WGR: What do you hate most about the writing process and what do you love most about it?
Tika: The only thing I dislike is the editing, because I’m never satisfied. I edit, re-edit, tweak, make a few adjustments, edit again, etc. I am a fanatic and make myself crazy!
The things I love about writing? I could talk endlessly about that. The entire creation process has captivated me. I love working with the graphic artists to get my covers exactly as I want them. I always have a vision as to how they should look. The writing itself is wonderful. I have a vivid imagination and a resourceful mind, but to create these characters and bring them to life is still amazing to me.
Some may consider me to be non-conforming, as I do not use outlines. I have a general idea in my head of the main gist of the story and I write as I go along. For instance – I am working on the final edits of the third book now. The fourth book is half written. I couldn’t tell you how many books will be in the series, but I could tell you how it will end.
WGR: Which book in your series do you feel would be most suited for being made into a movie and whom would you choose for the leading roles?
Tika: A movie would absolutely have to begin with the first book; The Eyes of Innocence. Since Kalina grows up during the series, the background is too important to miss. Kalina will be an adult as the series progresses, so there will have to be a number of different actors playing the lead roles.
WGR: From your bio, I see you’re from upper state New York. What’s the best thing about living in such a beautiful part of the country?
Tika: I love the change of the seasons. Actually, even though New York is our primary residence, we spend from late spring until November on a small lake in Pennsylvania. It is very secluded, as we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of state game lands. It is a writer’s paradise and I am in my element, surrounded by nature.
WGR: What’s your favorite thing to do on rainy days (besides writing)?
Tika: Cook, write, cook some more, write, leave the dishes for later because I need to write. In between, I play backgammon on http://www.gammonsite.com
WGR: Since you love to cook. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Tika: I am writing the never-ending cookbook. I’ve been working on it for years. I love making up new recipes including breads, main dishes, cakes, etc. Since I love to experiment and be creative, I simply cannot follow another recipe without altering it. Even making something as simple as rice, I catch myself adding herbs and garlic, as well as cooking it in broth instead of water. I make bread from scratch. There is something so satisfying about taking yeast, flour and water and kneading it with my own two hands. Of course slathering the warm bread with butter is pretty great too..
I can’t say that I ever cook anything with the idea of it being for calorie conscious people. I go for taste, taste, taste! Main dishes are the ones I love creating the most. Some examples are four cheese meat stuffed shells, lump crab cakes, easy stuffed pork chops, company meat loaf with glaze, scallops and mushrooms, seafood alfredo and lots more.
WGR: Have you ever done anything totally bizarre/crazy/zany?
Tika: Me? No, never. Ok, there was one time I was a little bizarre, crazy and zany, but only this once. My husband had been away on a business trip. My son and I went to the airport to pick him up and we brought the beagle with us. We didn’t have a leash for her, so I had her on a long chain. I can’t remember why the devil made me do it, but we brought the dog into the airport with us. Not one person said a word! Well, my husband did, but my son and I giggled like crazy.
WGR: What’s one thing about you that your readers would be surprised to learn?
Tika: There is a little bit of me in Kalina and Amy Sue McAllister. I want to be a healer when I grow up. Toby was real. His picture is on the back cover of the first book.
I am on my third donation for Locks of Love, an organization that collects hair to make hairpieces for children who have lost their hair to illness and can’t afford a human hair wig. I figure these children and their families have enough to worry about. This is the least I can do. At my age, it’s a bit juvenile to walk around with long hair, but I do it for a reason – to help children.
Giving back is important to me. When my Real Estate Office was open and I had lots of money, I used to donate a number of Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas breakfast baskets to two local churches. The breakfast baskets were so much fun! I’d buy Danish, eggs, jelly, peanut butter, butter, bread, sausage, bacon, pancake mix, syrup, English muffins, juice and milk. I always stuck a bit of candy in for the kids and sometimes a little house decoration. The churches knew who I was, but the baskets were donated anonymously.
Other than that, I am just an ordinary woman. My family comes first in my life. I adore my husband and have friends that mean the world to me. I believe in love and always try to do the right thing, no matter what. Honesty is important and probably part of the reason why I was a respected Realtor. If I saw a reason why a family shouldn’t purchase a certain house, I would attempt to talk them out of it. My philosophy was that I’d rather show them ten or twenty more houses instead of letting them purchase one that I felt was not the right house or had a defect that would hurt the future value. I treated my customers fairly and honestly. As the years went on, 90% of my business was referral business from past customers. That was something I was very proud of.
WGR: Is there anything else you’d like to share and where’s the best place to go to learn more about you and your books?
Tika: I have a new blog where readers are welcome to meet me, ask questions and interact with other fans. It’s located at http://tikanewman.blogspot.com/
Of course everyone is welcome to keep their eye on www.thistlewoodpublishing.com for the latest releases. I’m planning on releasing Window to Her Soul, the third book in the series as soon as I edit it one more time. I promise – only once more! Seriously, look for Window to Her Soul sometime in late June.
I would also love it if readers would watch for For the Love of Anne, an historical novel that will be released in 2009. Set in the late 1800’s, the novel tells of the hardships facing a young brother and sister when their father abandons the family. After the tragic loss of their mother, Anne refuses to be separated from Billy, no matter what the judge says.
They pack their belongings and escape to Chicago under the cover of darkness. Their intent was to find their father, hoping that he would take them in. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned. Chaotic adventures become commonplace to Anne and Billy as they try to survive on their own. Anne’s creativity and good business sense set them off on many adventures as they make their way alone.
Anne witnessed first hand, what love did to her mother and vows to never let a man do that to her.
If the heart wants love, the head cannot stop it. Anne can run, but can she hide?
WGR: Thanks, Tika, for being here with us at WGR and the best of luck with your series of books.
Tika: It was my pleasure. I thank you for the opportunity to share my story.