Melissa Tagg – Author Interview

May 15, 2015 by

Welcome back to Rachel’s Back Talk! Another Friday interview!

Today’s interview is with Melissa Tagg. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to review her book From the Start.

So without further ado, on to Rachel’s Back Talk – Special Edition!


RR: Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for being here today. To start out todays interview, when did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

MT: Honestly, I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I was actually just talking to someone the other day whose son is getting ready for college and trying to come up with a major. And I thought, “Man, that was just never a question for me. It was always writing.” But yeah, as a kid I was a major bookworm and at a pretty young age latched onto the idea that I wanted to be an author.

RR: That’s so exciting. It is so amazing to see how that idea unfolded. How would you describe your writing process? Are you more of a planner or freewriter?

MT: I’m right down the middle! I’m big on plotting to a degree—figuring out your characters, learning what makes them tick, identifying their dreams and fears and their big goal in the story. And I always plot out the main pieces of the story. But from there, I’ve found that if I plot too intricately, I miss out on some of the magic of writing. So I’m a mix of plotting and seat-of-the-pantsing.

RR: Haha! It sure is fun to be a mixture of both! When would you say that your best time in the day is to write?

MT: Morning, for sure. That’s when my mind is most fresh, all the “stuff” of the day hasn’t clouded my brain. However, because I have a day job, that means if I want to get any morning writing done, I have to get up ridiculously early. The flip side is that if I let enough time pass between work and being home, my brain can sorta re-set and so sometimes late evening works really well for me.

RR: That is totally true. It always seems that it can be very easy to get distracted with the day to day activities. But a writing schedule is oh so important! So how do you know when you have a great story idea?

MT: When a good writing friend tells me it’s good. Haha! I tend to be pretty insecure in my story ideas, but if I tell a friend and she goes “Yes, yes, yes!” then I feel better. My biggest confidence-boosts come from Susan May Warren. She’s just a master storycrafter, so if she tells me an idea is a good one, I go with it.

RR: That is so cool! Out of all your books, which has been your favorite to write?

MT: That’d probably be my 2016 release—Like Never Before. All the books have had their fun moments, but last year, for a variety of reasons, my writing joy seemed to go into hiding. I really struggled with even knowing whether I wanted to keep writing. But in January I started writing Like Never Before…and it’s like all that former joy just reclaimed my heart. It felt like a massive gift…and was a mega answer to prayer. So that’s definitely been my favorite to write…so far.

RR: Now I am so excited to read it!! Moving on to your most recent book, how did you come up with the story idea for From the Start and also the Walker family series?

MT: Well, the series itself grew out of my desire to set a series in my home state. And I loved the idea of writing about this family in which all the kids—except the youngest—have these big, sort of high-profile careers out in the world. But they hit bumps and they find themselves back in Iowa, in their hometown. The series slowly grew around that central idea…

From the Start itself grew in a very organic way…which is totally my euphemism for “messy and disjointed way.” LOL! I loved the idea of writing about a romance scriptwriter who doesn’t really believe in romance. And honestly, I have no clue why I made the hero a football player, except that I thought the contrast would be cool: one person who bemoans her career choices and feels like she’s not making a difference versus a guy who has had such a successful career that it’s become his way of hiding out from his past.

RR: Yeah, I really loved your whole story-line. And the characters were so relateable! Are the characters Kate and Colton based off of anyone you know?

MT: Kate is based off…me. And I promise, it was entirely accidental, unintentional…and uncomfortable. The deeper I got into the story, the more I started to realize I was basically writing myself onto the page. And it freaked me out.

Colton…I have no idea where he came from! He’s pure imagination.

RR: That’s neat—I have to say that I enjoy it when characters are based off of someone, but the ones that come from imagination can be pretty awesome as well! Do you find that you enjoy one type of writing (novellas versus novels) over the other?

MT: I really do like it all, but I have to say, writing my first novella (Three Little Words) last year was incredibly fun. It was just freeing somehow, to write something shorter…to get to really put all my focus on developing a friendship-turned-romance without worrying about subplots or layers or tons of side characters.

RR: So how much time was spent researching verses writing in this book in particular?

MT: Ooh, I probably did a bit more research for this one than my last one simply because there’s a football thread and, um, I’m not a football girl. Thankfully, I have a friend who answered the bulk of my football questions and another friend who read a couple of my football scenes to make sure they sounded authentic. I also watched several football movies, got super sucked into Friday Night Lights and watched a bunch of football clips on YouTube.

RR: I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed having football in there, because I am so not a football girl either. But I wouldn’t have wanted it missing! As we close here, is there one tip that you could share that has really benefited you in your writing?

MT: So many tips come to mind—join a writing community, learn from experts, read a ton, find a critique partner. But really, one of the best tips I can think of is this: Embrace rewrites. Somebody once said “writing is rewriting” and they’re SO right on that. I know sometimes the first draft of a story might feel the most fun or adventurous, but I really find the true magic of writing is in slowing down, taking time to rewrite to your heart’s content. Taking that first messy draft and being patient enough to turn it into something pretty.

If you have any questions for Melissa or remarks about the interview, please leave a comment. I love hearing from you and I know Melissa will too!


And in case you missed it, here is the review that I wrote about Melissa’s book: From the Start and her novella: Three Little Words


1016140_603386993013231_619895545_nMelissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at

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