Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Tegan!
Thank you for the opportunity! I’m thrilled to be featured on your website.
What 5 things should readers know about you?
- Like my main character, Hatty, I experienced infertility. It was a long, heartbreaking road. Also like Hatty, I found a happy ending that’s absolutely satisfying and magnificent, though very different than what I always imagined for myself.
- Half the royalties from INCONCEIVABLE! will go to Baby Quest Foundation. This is a national charity that gives grants for fertility treatments. In all but 15 states, insurance companies are not required to cover infertility care. My husband and I took out a loan to do a single IVF cycle, and spent more than $12,000 from our savings for the medicine. We said if we ever had a chance to help other people with the high cost of treatments, we would. Boom.
- I’ve had several readers ask me if Toulene is a real country. It is not. I had so much fun creating a small fictional country in Europe. I’m thrilled that it’s so believable! In thinking about this country, I came up with a broad outline of its history, its cultural profile, and I can even show you on a map where the borders of Toulene are: I borrowed land from Holland and Belgium. I’m sure they didn’t mind.
- I’m a foodie and world traveler. That’s why the book is set in Europe but spans two other continents. Because I’m a foodie, cooking, baking, and eating are integrated into the book in some fun ways.
- I hope you adore my book. In fact, I want it to be one of your all-time favorites. But if that isn’t the case, I won’t be offended. I love that the world is full of readers of every stripe, and I appreciate the diversity of tastes in books. It would be dull if everyone agreed on which books were great and which books were awful. (Except we all have to agree that Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is one of the most important books of modern times. Seriously, people.)
I’m sure Holland and Belgium are totally cool with it! I’ll have to get back to you on The Alchemist, though. (I know, I know–I’m a slacker. It’s on the TBR, I swear!)
Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉
The story is told from Hatty’s point of view. She’s from the Missouri Ozarks, and is about to graduate with her undergraduate degree in journalism from the Royal University in Toulene. She’s sassy and plain spoken. A sense of self and independence are what make Hatty tick. That’s one reason the idea of getting into a serious relationship with a prince presents many challenges for her. If Hatty were stranded on a desert island, she’d want her laptop. Even if she didn’t have Internet access, she could write stories about her experiences on the island.
The man who sweeps Hatty off her feet is Prince John, heir to the throne of Toulene. He’s affable, witty, and very well mannered. But as we get to know John, we discover he likes to be silly, laugh, and have a good time. The thing that drives John is his commitment to his country, his sense of duty, and his loyalty to the people he loves. If John were stuck on a desert island, he’d want a tablet loaded with great movies he could watch again and again.
Tilda is Hatty’s bestie. She and her family moved to Toulene from Kenya, and she’s an solicitor and works for a member of the Toulene National Assembly. Tilda’s compassionate, brilliant, and very direct. I can see Tilda being a member of the National Assembly herself someday. Stuck on a desert island, Tilda would want a hammock. She’d take advantage of the rare opportunity to kick back and relax.
Prince Henri is Prince John’s younger brother, the spare heir. Henri is mischievous, kind, and kind of a goofball. He’s much less serious than John, and becomes like a brother to Hatty. He’s driven by a desire to stay out of his brother’s shadow and be his own person. Because he’s farther down the line of succession, his sense of duty to the country isn’t as strong as it is for John. If Henri were stranded on a desert island, the one thing he’d want is a satellite phone. He loves to talk and be connected to his family and friends.
Oooh, a hammock! Tilda’s choice is my favorite. She has a excellent sense of priorities!
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
For years, my husband and I tried to get pregnant. We were high school sweethearts, and from the very beginning, we knew we wanted to get married and have kids. (Yes, we were that teenage couple.) A few years after we got married—we were in our mid-20’s—we started trying to get pregnant. Month after month, we went from hope to heartbreak when my period arrived. Eventually, we decided to pursue adoption. We became parents to three wonderful children from three different countries.
Several people encouraged me to write my story. But having been trained as a journalist, it felt weird to try to write about myself. Journalists learn to keep themselves out of the stories they write. Around that time, Prince William married Kate Middleton. I remember thinking, “What would happen if THEY couldn’t conceive?” That’s the thought from which INCONCEIVABLE was born! I decided to dramatize our infertility journey through the lens of a royal couple. For the record, my husband and I are quite different from Hatty and Prince John, but our experiences trying to get pregnant definitely informed the story.
Wow—that’s great that you could use your own personal challenges to inspire a story!
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I began writing poetry, plays, and short stories in elementary school. I really don’t remember a time when I didn’t do creative writing. The people I meet, the places I visit, and my own experiences inspire me to write. I’ve always had a big imagination. I think writing is just another way I express my artistic side and exercise my imagination. Because let’s be real. I can’t draw at all, so I never had a shot at being a visual artist.
LOL—it’s good to know your limitations 🙂
What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?
I love taking the ideas in my head and creating a story out of them. I believe in the power of storytelling to enlighten and entertain people. I think that’s one reason being a journalist was so appealing. Now, instead of making stories using facts I gather, I make up the facts of the story in my head. The challenging part is creating a logical, cohesive story that stays on track to move readers through the plot. You have to do lots of small tasks well to craft a manuscript that works. I liken it to spinning plates. You can’t only do a great job with plot, and then have lackluster dialogue. Characters have to be well developed. (For me, my characters exist outside the “borders” of my story. I create character profiles to help them seem more three dimensional to me and, I hope, readers.)
I love character profiles! They definitely help you to know your characters better.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year? I
’ve completed a young adult contemporary novel. I don’t have a publishing deal for it, and I’m just now beginning to query agents. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s quite different from INCONCEIVABLE! Then, I’m also working on my next romance. It will be a time travel story about an American woman who teaches French. While taking part in a reenactment at Versailles, she experiences a time slip and finds herself at the court of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. She soon finds she isn’t the only one from present day who has unwittingly gone back in time. Luke, an American doctor, is also there. The pair fall in love, but they face a difficult decision: stay in the past together or risk being separated by trying to go back to present day. The working title of this book is CHANDELIERS. I’m basically writing a story I want to read.
That’s awesome! I almost wish I’d gone back in time when I was visiting Versailles—though given what’s bound to happen soon, I’m also darn glad I didn’t. Sounds like a great read!
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
The simplicity of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist makes it one of my favorite books. I’ve read many of his books, most are great, but there’s no topping The Alchemist. I think Stephen King is a masterful storyteller. I love how he views writing in a really practical way, as a craft. Any good book I’ve ever read has inspired me because I think, ‘Wow! I’d love to write a book that makes other people feel the way I feel right now…like I don’t want this book to end and I’m sad to say goodbye to these amazing characters who feel like friends.’
I agree 100% on Stephen King I re-read his On Writing once every other year or so for inspiration 🙂
What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?
I’m just a few pages into Drown by Esther Dalseno. So far, it’s pure magic. It’s a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid. The writing is lyrical and beautiful. I can’t wait to see where Ms. Dalseno takes me as I journey along underwater with her characters!
I am such a sucker for fairy tale retellings! Adding it to the TBR…
If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?
A royal couple can’t produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE! Experience the hope, heartbreak, & healing as Hatty & John find their own happy ending.
Perfect! Thanks so much, Tegan 🙂
Tegan’s thankful that she’s had the opportunity to travel overseas, and uses those adventures to inform her writing. She also draws inspiration from her own struggles, joys, and other life experiences. Tegan and her husband, Patrick, experienced infertility for five years before becoming parents through adoption. Because she understands the financial stress of the infertility journey, Tegan is donating half the royalties from her book to Baby Quest Foundation. This charity awards grants to people all over the U.S. for fertility treatments. Tegan is thrilled to use her story to help other people find their happily ever after.
Releasing Nov 16th, 2015
Curiosity Quills Press
A popular young royal couple can’t produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE!
When Ozarks native Hatty goes “whole hog” during karaoke, she catches the eye of Prince John. He isn’t what she expects the heir to a small European nation to be: he’s affable, witty, and isn’t put off by her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Their flirtation should be short lived, but a force stronger than fate—Hatty’s newspaper editor—assigns her to cover the royals. After spending time together, she and John soon begin dating, and Hatty finds herself making headlines instead of writing them.
But challenges loom that are even more complicated than figuring out how to mesh Hatty’s journalism career with life at Belvoir Palace. Hatty and John soon find themselves embroiled in an unusual sex scandal: they can’t produce an heir.
Tabloids dub Hatty a “Barren-ess,” and the royals become irate. Hatty politely tells them to shove it. But beneath her confident exterior, she struggles to cope with a heartbreak that invades her most intimate moments with John. Pressured to choose between invasive medical procedures and abandoning John’s claim to the throne, the couple feels trapped until a trip to Ethiopia shows them happy endings sometimes arrive long after saying “I do.”