Interview with Tanya Agler


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Tanya Agler

How does it feel to be a debut author? I’m so thankful to Harlequin Heartwarming. I love the imprint, and I couldn’t be happier my debut novel is published in this line. It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point. Since my first writing critique, I’ve loved networking with other authors, attending workshops, and going to conferences. Throughout the long journey, writing and creating stories has been a dream come true. Knowing others might find hope and joy from Georgie and Mike’s story is an amazing feeling.

 What did you do when you got “the call”? Fortunately, my husband and older daughter were home the morning my agent called me with the wonderful news that Harlequin Heartwarming made an offer. I remember my agent telling me to enjoy the moment as “the call” only comes once and to take the rest of the day off. The latter was great advice. My husband went to work and I picked up my other three children from school. I called them into the living room and told them we were going out to dinner because Harlequin made an offer, which I had verbally accepted. That night we celebrated at an Italian restaurant.

 Where did you get your idea for your book? When my family goes on vacation, we usually drive to our destination and we stop for a family picnic at a state park or another scenic spot. One vacation, there was a car show going on at the state park we had chosen ahead of time and classic cars kept going past the picnic pavilion. I thought about one of my favorite classic television shows, which featured a tomboy who loved working with engines and machines. From there, I kept asking questions. Why would a car need to be restored? Why would a relationship need restoring? Why would someone return after a long absence from a small town? By the time the vacation was over, I knew this would be my next book.

How long does it take you to write a Heartwarming novel? About four months. I’m a plotter so from my first rough idea to a finished synopsis takes about two weeks, but then I write the first draft in about two to two-and-a-half months. Then I work on another book for two weeks before I begin editing that book, and that takes me about a month.

Tell us a bit about your debut novel? Police officer and single dad Mike Harrison no longer believes in second chances until his former best friend, Georgie Bennett, arrives back in town. She’s a mechanic, who has also worked as a car restorationist. When the auto garage where Georgie works is burglarized, Mike is the lead investigator and all the clues point to Georgie as the main suspect. In spite of the evidence, Mike knows Georgie is his best chance to restore his grandfather’s classic Thunderbird. Like the Thunderbird, Mike finds he has some rusty parts, namely a rusty heart. They have to work together to restore the car, and that makes them wonder whether relationships also deserve second chances.

The novel takes place in Hollydale, a fictional small town in North Carolina. Tourists come to see the fall foliage and fall in love with the gazebo, the Holly Days Diner, and Miss Louise’s Ice Cream Parlor.

What is your typical day like? Oh, wow. A typical day? I have four children and a husband whose schedule changes from week to week. It depends on if it’s summer or if school is in session. My critique partner and I laugh about the fact I get more done during the school year and she’s a teacher so she’s productive on breaks. So, on a day when my kids have school, I drop my older son off at school and go write. I usually write for three hours, and that could mean plotting, writing a first draft, or editing. Then I alternate between exercising as I love to get ideas on the treadmill and spending time on critiques or social media. I do that for a couple of hours before I pick up Cupcake and Chunk from school, which is when I begin cleaning the house or folding laundry. Then the rest of the day is usually a blur of whirlwind activity. I love reading at night and throughout the day.

When did you start writing? As far back as I can remember, stories have always twirled about in my head. However, writing those stories down came later.

In my basement, I still have the first book I wrote in first grade. The teacher cut all the pages into the size of a real book and bound all of our books together with a cover made of cardboard and fabric that each student was able to choose. In high school, I loved writing stories and won an award as a junior when my teacher entered my short story in a contest.

When my two oldest were in elementary school and preschool, I started writing novels. Then I found out I was pregnant and then I found out I was pregnant with twins. When they were babies, I kept thinking about the characters in the romance I had been writing before they were born. Then they started preschool and I started going to Panera after I dropped them off to write. In 2013, I joined RWA and my local in-person chapter, GRW. Then in 2014, my critique partner and I exchanged our first chapters of our then current works in progress and I’ve been writing full time ever since then.

What is the hardest part about being an author? My answer depends on the day. If it’s when I’m plotting, it’s the day before the book comes together and clicks. While I’m writing that first draft, it’s the first couple of days when everything’s in my head and I can’t seem to make it work in actual words. And, of course, there are days when you receive a rejection. Overall, I think the rejections are the hardest part for me. That’s one reason I’m thankful for a journey to get to this point. I’ve been blessed to meet some amazing authors, including my wonderful critique partner, a great accountability partner, and my supportive Writing Sisters. My critique partner helped me when I received a judge’s feedback from a contest where the judge wrote that she “hate, hate, hated” my heroine. Having writers I can email or call at a moment’s notice has helped me through rough contest feedback and rejections.

Who is your favorite author? My favorite author of all time is L.M. Montgomery. I’m such a big Anne of Green Gables fanatic. Otherwise, I have favorite authors for different genres and subgenres. When it comes to cozy mysteries, I’m a huge Carolyn Hart fan. Then when it comes to romance, it depends on my mood. When I want to laugh, I reach for a Mary Connealy book or Sally Kilpatrick. When I want my heartstrings tugged, I reach for Rula Sinara’s books or Jodi Thomas or Raeanne Thayne novels. When I want to sit on the edge of my seat and read late at night, I’m a huge fan of Love Inspired Suspense novels as well as Lynette Eason. For historical romances, I love Kristi Ann Hunter and Julia Quinn. I’m a romance author and there are so many great authors out there. I could go on for hours….

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke? Coke. I live in Georgia, and I’ve visited the World of Coke in downtown Atlanta. I don’t drink soft drinks very often. If I’m drinking ginger ale, I’m either at a conference or have a sore throat.

Candy, cookies, or cake? Yes, please. Saving the hard questions for last! I’m the person in my family with a sweet tooth, especially anything chocolate. While it depends on my mood, I’m a huge fan of cupcakes with chocolate frosting. And while they’re hard to find in Georgia, I love black and white cookies, the type that have vanilla icing on one half and chocolate on the other half. Hmm, I see a recurring motif of chocolate frosting running through that answer!

Coffee or Tea? Tea all the way. My favorite everyday drink is unsweetened ice tea (caffeine in the morning, decaf at night).

Favorite vacation? I hope it’s one I haven’t been on yet! Next year my family is planning to go to Canada (yes, Prince Edward Island!) and my husband and I are already planning to go to Europe after Cupcake and Chunk graduate.

I have different vacations that have been especially memorable. With my parents, I’m thankful we were able to visit family and go to a great theme park called Kennywood. My husband and I went on a cruise before our children were born, and that vacation holds a lot of sweet memories. And now some of my favorite vacations have been when all four of my children are together, and I loved spending the day at the City Museum in St. Louis.

Favorite TV show? My Three Sons. I love the episodes that involve romance, like when Robbie courted Katie or Steve fell in love with Barbara or Polly and Chip met. I’m also a huge fan of Petticoat Junction, Ellery Queen, and Psych.

Favorite Movie? Anything with Cary Grant or Irene Dunne or Jimmy Stewart. I love Sullivan’s Travels.

Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? Five years ago, a Basset hound named Vera adopted us as her family.

I love classic movies, reading, walking, and hiking to waterfalls.

Thank you, Sami, so much for hosting me today!

Check out Tanya’s website at

Thanks for joining us, Tanya!

Please come back next month for an interview and giveaway with Christy Barritt.