Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with Tamara Jones.

Full Name:
Tamara Lynn Jones, at least according to the IRS.

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
tambo. Yes, with a lowercase 't'. ;)
catt dahman was another “No, really, lowercase.” interviewee.  Maybe you two should be imaginary friends?
Maybe we already are, and we hang out with k.d. lang at her ranch on weekends. You never know. ;)
I tried to Google pictures of her ranch but nothing came up.  I bet she has a really nice ranch though.
Yeah, I imagine so.  Open, stunning, and minimalist.

Des Moines, Iowa

Current hometown:
I'd rather not say - had enough stalkers, thanks anyway. Let's just admit to Northwest Iowa.
That’s vague enough to give them pause.  Iowa’s a pretty big state.
Outside of a few smallish cities, it’s very rural with miles and miles of nothing but corn or soybean fields, as far as the eye can see, with maybe a grain tower to mark the location of a teeny town like ours.  As far as I know, I'm the only tambo in all of Iowa.  At least my real-life name is very common.  There are plenty of Joneses and I blend in well.

Favorite city and why?
To be honest here, I don't really like cities.  I'm a rural and small town gal at heart, and the crowds, noise, pollution, chaos, and close-in (not to mention tall) buildings are alien to me.  I never really relax in a city.  That said, I did *mostly* enjoy Boston when I visited it a few years ago, because it was both very pedestrian accessible and the wharf and coastal tour rocked.  Being from Iowa, we don't have wharfs, or oceans. ;)
Sometimes I forget that most of the country isn’t coastal.  I’ve lived by the ocean all of my life, so I take it for granted that if you drive long enough the land ends in water.
Coastal living is fascinating and alien to me.  I might enjoy living on an island off the New England, or Pacific Northwest coast somewhere, unless it stinks of fish guts and such.  Do small coastal communities smell like bait?
Innsmouth is reputed to have a distinctly fishy miasma about it.  But for the most part the coast just smells like sea air.  Salt water and sand.  Unless you go to where the fishing boats dock.  Then it’s pretty fishy.
Saltwater and sand sounds lovely. Here, it smells like manure and growing, green things. Not always the best scents, but it's home.
I know that smell.  At least the manure and fertilizer part.  I’ve driven across Pennsylvania in the summer time and I had to tie a cologne-sprayed rag across my face if I wanted to drive with the windows down.
My husband's uncle was a hog farmer and whenever we smell manure, we say, "smells like money."

I'll be 51 in June.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Tall, sturdy, and openly friendly with pale, ruddy skin, bluish eyes, and red tinged blonde hair. I come from British rural working class stock and it shows with my complexion and 'peasant' build.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Tall. Everyone always remarks that I'm tall. Intimidating, maybe?
How’s the air up there?
It's all right. I can see a long way and reach high stuff.  Bonking my head kind of sucks, though.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I laugh a lot, am creatively boisterous, and tend to talk loudly, mostly due to nervousness around people.  I am soooooo introverted, but I can put on a hat and pretend I'm not.  Also, I apparently have bright, sparkly, expressive eyes. (Since I had utterly no idea, I took a poll.)

Sexual orientation?
Delightfully married.

Religion, if any?
Non-conformist deist.  Believe in God, very solidly anti-religion.  I don't do church except for occasional weddings and funerals, but I do love to visit them and poke around.
Old churches are usually beautiful examples of what can happen when zeal and architecture cross paths.
YES!  They're so gorgeous structurally, all the little details and workmanship, the light... I love old churches.  Modern ones don't have the same atmosphere of reverence and awe.
They sure don’t.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Not particularly superstitious, but I do have a falling phobia, even minor distances, like sliding off a chair I'm sitting on.  Freaks me the hell out.  People laugh, and it's rather embarrassing.  As an odd note, I actually *like* spiders.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I chew my fingernails - it's a nervous habit I've had since I was a kid - and I cuss, likely too much.  I 'smoke' a pork shoulder every once in a while (if you consider slathering it with rub and slow roasting it for about 14 hours smoking) and I drink a lot of unsweetened iced tea!
As long as you don’t try chewing other people’s fingernails you can probably get by.
My great grandmother used to say the same thing, along with “all's well as long as you don't answer yourself” when I'd talk to myself.

Current occupation / Dream job:
Wife, mom, grandma, writer, quilter, and cat wrangler.  I can't imagine anything better!

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
With a 3 year old in the house, I'm *always* at work. I do enjoy going to movies, though.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Batten down the garage (it's freestanding and made of brick), sharpen up the lawn implements, and ride it out.

Weapon of choice:
My hubby insists it's a weed-eater. lol I'd probably go with a metal softball bat. CLANGGGGG!!!

Do you have any special skills?
I am a competition level quilt piecer - that's the part where all the little pieces are sewn together in a pattern - and I especially like making little quilts. I can cook Thanksgiving dinner for 22 people all by myself and have everything ready at the same time (hot stuff hot, cold stuff cold). Oh! I can calculate sales tax in my head faster than most places do with a cash register or calculator.
There are quilt competitions?
Why yes there are! Some (like the one in Paducah Kentucky, the Houston show, or the world show) have thousands of dollars in prizes. Most shows are much smaller, and winners get ribbons and maybe fabric, thread, or notions. They're mostly for fun and showing off your mad quilting skills.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Yep! Started as a Veterinary Medicine/Chemistry double major, then Med Lab Tech, then Graphic Design. I have a BA in graphic design, but a pretty intense science background. I'd be a professional student if it'd keep the lights on and the fridge full.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
Finally finished them off last year, all that debt for a degree I no longer use. I don't know how the current crop of students will manage.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Four cats (by age) Abbie, Puufy, MeowMeow and Peanut, plus a neurotic Lab mix named Gozer.
I live with four cats too!  One of them is named Gozer.  I think that he identifies as something else though because he doesn’t really know how to cat.
Should his name have been Vinz Clortho? I seem to recall him not knowing how to be a keymaster.
I changed his name to Church, like the cat from Pet Sematary.  He seems to like that one better.
Church was a cool cat, especially with the missing fur. ;)

What is your favorite animal?
I'd have to go with cats of any kind.  Even stray cats like me.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Asshats. It's not that tough to be polite, why be a dick?

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
BROCCOLI!! I know it's nuts, but I love broccoli! I won't eat liver, anchovies, or lima beans though. Yuck!

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
"All things are connected." ~ Chief Seattle

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Meeting my husband, then our daughter and granddaughter.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
I'd rather not go into that in a public forum, but I will say it gave me three stints in therapy.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I think almost everyone's had their heart broken. I've lost some pets through the years that still really hurt.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Not that I know of, but I guess it's possible.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I try to consistently help people, be generous, kind, etc.  My husband and I have volunteered, donated money we couldn't afford, have offered up a spare couch or bed for friends, family, and acquaintances, have been foster parents, taken in rescue animals... We both tend to show up and help.  I can't think of one thing that would rise up to be 'best'.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I wrote some bad words on the chalkboard behind the projector screen.  I'm still not sure why, but I did it.  A troublemaking classmate got blamed for it and me, being me, told the teacher I'd done it, not him.  She didn't seem to believe me, but there was nothing more I could do.  Since then, I try very hard not to do 'bad things'.  If I do screw up, I admit it and try to make things right.
What did you write in the chalkboard?
Words I currently use far too much.  Fuck, shit, damn.  I might have had cunt in there too, I can't remember for sure.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
I almost killed a friend of my dad's once. Threatened to, anyway. So him. He died a few years ago from natural causes, though, so I'm off the hook for that one.

What do you do?
I slaughter people on paper for money.  People always blink at me when I say that.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I've been a writer since I was a small child, but my stories started to take a turn around middle school, evolving into the dark, quirky, violent, tales I write now.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Read a lot, write a lot, and understand verbs.  They're key.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I'll just list the published titles. My moldering stack of early crap isn't worth discussing, finished or not.
The Dubric Byerly Mysteries -
Ghosts in the Snow - Bantam, 2004
Threads of Malice - Bantam, 2005
Valley of the Soul - Bantam, 2006
FIRE - indi-pubbed short story, 2006
Other Works -
Endorphins - indi-pubbed short story, 2007
SID - indi-pubbed short story, 2007
Morgan's Run (out on submission) - 2011
SPORE - Samhain, 2015

What projects are you working on now?
I have a spec thriller titled SLIPPAGE, a 4th Dubric novel titled Stain of Corruption, A GhoulBane graphic novel, and a SPORE screenplay in the works.

What are you watching?
I don't watch much TV, and we don't have cable, Hulu, or Netflix, so right now it's just Big Bang Theory and Blue Bloods. I watched Alien and Aliens last weekend on DVD. Go Ripley!
Those first two Alien movies are so good!  I make it a point to re-watch them at least a couple times a year just to remind myself what watching a great film feels like.
Us too. Plus The Princess Bride is a repeating treat. I really like Grand Torino a lot too. Eastwood's really hit his stride as a director.

What are you listening to?
I have an eclectic mix of pop, blues, and classic rock playing in the background of Zombies, Run!

What are you reading?
Derelict, by L.J. Cohen. It's been on my TBR pile for too long, but it was the book I randomly grabbed after finishing The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio

Favorite author / book?
The Stand by Stephen King, the original 1978 version. I try to read it every summer.

Favorite band / song?
It depends on the day. Right now, I'll go with P!nk's Fuckin' Perfect, but I have pretty varied music tastes. If I can sing to it, it's likely on my iPod, except for...

Least favorite band / song?
I don't do country music. Nope, uh uh, no way. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt a long time ago.
Hank Williams Sr. & Johnny Cash are all you really need to know about country anyhow.  Everything else is just more broken hearts and spilled drinks.
Yeah, and losing your dog and woman on a train with your truck. ;)
You know what happens when you play a country record backwards?
Life's great and you get all your stuff back?
You heard that one before.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Sleep. I can really use some sleep.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional
Alive, I'd like to meet more of my reading and writing friends I only know online, and of them, wow, only one?? Lisa Cohen. She's awesome. But there are a lot of great people on the list. I've met many, but there are many more still to meet!
Dead, Thomas Jefferson. I've always been a fan and it'd be nice to settle the church/state issue.
Fictional, Sister Husband from Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Besides being a wife, mom, writer, quilter, and cat wrangler? ;) The best was probably working for the Iowa Beer and Liquor department, mostly because the pay was excellent and I worked alone, but the state privatized liquor stores and obliterated my department, so I was laid off. Boo! Worst... I created artwork for a battery supplier and it was four years of crap pay, soul crushing corporate drama, and questionable deplorable business ethics. I have never been so happy to leave a place as I was when I walked out of there. Despite being unemployed and broke, I laughed all the way home.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
You didn't ask me about my fabric collection, or what wall I beat my head against before breaking through to writing sellable prose. ;) The elephant in the room is probably why does a nice gal like me write such violent books?
Why does a nice gal like you write such violent books?
Because of childhood trauma. It seemed to be a good way to vent off the anger and PTSD. It worked well for a long time. Now that my brain's fixed (third stint in therapy was the charm!) I keep doing it because, well, fans, and because I don't know what else to write.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
YES! I'd like to point you toward authors Aaron Bunce, AR Miller, and LJ Cohen.
I’m game if they are.
I shall point them in your general direction immediately!

Got any questions for me?
How did you come up with such a varied set of questions, and how many of these questions have you answered yourself? Also, how in the hell did you get that honey badger into a barrel?
I came up with the First-Pass Questionnaire through trial and error.  Originally it was based on a character survey I created for a post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic epic-length book project I’m working on.  When I decided to start doing interviews, I added some questions and started with that.  I’ve done almost 200 interviews for this blog, so I refined the questionnaire figuring out which questions worked and which didn’t.  My intention is to give interviewees a list of jumping off points to provide interesting answers to so we can have an interesting conversation.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.
How many of the questions have I answered?  All of them.

Getting the badger into the barrel was the easy part.  Now if only I can figure out how to get it back out again.
Yeah, once they're in they do tend to hunker down for the long haul. Damn badger squatters! Maybe next time you should use a better lid?

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thanks for having me! It was fun!
{{hugs}} and #GoSpore!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

About the Interviewee:
Award-winning author of the Dubric Byerly Mysteries (Bantam Spectra), and the new SF/Horror novel SPORE (Samhain Publishing), Tamara Jones started her academic career as a science geek, earned a degree in art, and, when she's not making quilts or herding cats, writes grisly thrillers as Tamara Jones and Tamara Siler Jones. Despite the violent nature of her work, Tam's easygoing and friendly. Not sick or twisted at all. Honest. Visit her online at
Tamara is represented by Laura Bradford at Bradford Literary Agency.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

1 comment:

  1. Awwww, Tammy, I want to meet you, too! I have a branch of the family in Des Moines, so one of these days I'm totally doing an Iowa trip.