December’s Featured Title is Tails From Down Under by Tara Lala!
In this magical early-chapter book, Paradise Royale discovers an entrance to a world full of mermaids and mermen. But how does she unlock the entrance as a human? Will she be able to solve the many mysteries in this magical underwater city called Aquaria? Or will the monster living in the depths of Aquaria capture her first?
We interviewed Tara about balancing between being a busy teenager and an author, what advice she’d give to young authors, and more!
You wrote your first book at 14 years old and are about to publish your second children’s book at 18. What made you want to become an author?
I have loved writing stories ever since I was a little girl. I remember making extensive lists of my favorite words and including those words into stories I wrote in elementary school. Because my sister and I share the same room, I would create new stories on the spot every evening to help her fall asleep since she was afraid of the dark.
I didn’t actually realize my passion for creative writing until fifth grade. We had a journal called the Raven, and in those journals we could develop any kinds of stories we wanted. My friend and I wrote a story about three characters: two twin princesses and an evil sorcerer. Though I don’t remember the plot, these three characters stuck with me until high school.
When deciding to transfer my ideas onto the page after realizing how much my sister enjoyed listening to my stories, I chose to use these three characters as the main characters of my first novel, Twincesses. Since then, I have been cultivating different pieces of writing inside and outside of school.
Tails From Down Under is about a girl who discovers an underwater city filled with mermaids, mermen, and even monsters. How did you come up with this fictional and magical world?
Tails from Down Under is inspired by some of my favorite travel destinations. The majority of the book takes place in Italy, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. No matter where I am in the world, you will always find me on the balcony of my hotel room writing a new storyline. Ambiences from around the world have inspired my writing, and Tails from Down Under is specifically inspired by the Amalfi Coast and the Blue Grotto in Italy. Through my writing, I hope to share my experiences of different sceneries and cultures with those who aren’t able to experience them.
The actual underwater city itself was inspired by the Disney and Barbie movies I would repeatedly watch when I was young. I hope to excite young readers with my mystical settings, just as I had loved to engage in mermaid movies.
What’s it like balancing between being a busy teenager and an author? When do you find the time to write, and what’s your writing process like?
Balancing schoolwork as well as being an author has been a challenge, but I have loved every step of the publishing process; writing is an outlet for me. I focus on writing and plot-editing my books over the summer, and spend the school year working on layout and grammatical edits.
When writing, I completely zone into the world I am constructing. I play fantasy music in the background to teleport me to the fairytale wonderlands I create. Writing has always been a way to escape from the intensity of school and into a dream world that I can craft in whichever way I want.
What advice would you give to young writers who are hoping to become authors?
I want aspiring young writers to know that there is no correct way to write a book. Whatever inspires you or makes you excited is what you should convey onto the page, whether it is simple or complex. Writing has no rules and restrictions; you are free to choose whatever theme you wish and bring it to life.
I know sharing your writing with the world can be frightening, but you will always find a reader that will connect with your storyline and characters. Overall, you should not have any worries while writing and let yourself go; creating literature really has a magic of its own!
What does the future hold for Tara Lala? Any more books on the horizon?
I am excited to continue writing books for children and eventually for adults, too! This past summer, I wrote my third book. During this confining time period of COVID, I found an escape by writing about more of the different places I have traveled to and the locations I wish to visit. The main characters will take a journey to these destinations and uncover the mysteries within each country they visit. Ultimately, I share my love for magic and diversity through my young adult novels, and hope my readers can connect with my characters and creations!
Follow Tara’s on Instagram @taralalaofficial to learn more!