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TJ O'Shea: A Sapphic Fiction February Interview

I have to say, I was smiling even before I started writing this introduction. The first thing you see on Taryn’s website is ‘Homophobes click the back button, it's about to get real gay in here.’ and I found that hilarious! Anyway, moving onto the actual point…

TJ O’Shea is the author of two amazing LGBTQ+ books. Beyond The Blue is a humorous yet dramatic book containing one of my favourite tropes, ice queen, and To Be With You is a small-town, rich-girl-poor-girl romance set in the early 00s and infused with nostalgia. I mean, how can you resist either of those?

And to make things even more exciting, it’s Taryn’s birthday today!! Happy birthday Taryn – hope you have the best day ever!!

Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?

By trade I make the video content (trailers, etc) for a video game company, which is a really cool job that I enjoy a bunch. I grew up in New Jersey, and that's where I live now with my wife (a transplant from Tennessee), our 7 month old daughter, and our cat.

What made you want to sit down and write your first book?

I've always been a little bit in love with words. I love to play with them, I love the way they sound, I love the way they look, I love how they can syncopate juuuust right if you put them together in a certain way. Writing a book seemed like the best way to both release the stories pinging around in my brain, and to try and make some music with my words.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

Every story I've ever written began with a single scene I couldn't get out of my head. That scene, and sometimes several scenes without any context, become the seeds from which the story is born. The characters I build in those scenes develop the plot for me. Some characters are inspired in part by real people, but most are the products of the world they're in. Please don't ask me about plots. I'm a pantser and my plot building is mostly vibes and a LOT of editing.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?

Leah, from my most recent book, To Be With You. We're both from similar places geographically, as the town of Garden Hills is based on an amalgamation of many suburbuan towns in New Jersey. I also drew from my own experience as a middle-class kid in a mixed-class town to inform bits of her character. And we may or may not share a similar sass and sarcasm...

Has your own writing ever made you cry?

No! The scene in Beyond the Blue where the characters have a falling out came close, but I'm usually too stressed about the phrasing to dig into it emotionally.

Does anyone you know in real life read your books?

Yeah! My wife, some friends and family, and, unfortunately, my parents. I did not ask them to do this, and now they have to live with the consequences.

Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?

Hmmm. I think for Beyond the Blue, Mei would be portrayed by either Ming-Na Wen or Michelle Yeoh, and Morgan would be portrayed by either Mackenzie Davis or Blake Lively.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

In the Before Times (when we did not have a tiny human), I would either bake desserts, listen to music or play an instrument, watch films/television, or play video games. Now, writing is what I do to relax in the little moments in between working and raising a rambunctious baby girl.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?

Let the first draft be shit, and just write it. I am an over-editor, so, while I maybe don't follow that advice as well as I should, it's still good advice! Oh! And, if you're going to read your reviews, do yourself a favor and read the reviews of your favorite book, too. Once you realize someone hates what you consider to be a perfect book, it's easier to remember that not every book is written for every person.

How about in general life?

Kindness costs nothing. Don't touch the goo.

What is a motto you live by?

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

How can people connect with you?

On Twitter @Tary_n, on Instagram at tjosheauthor, or through my website,

Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?

Egg, cheese, and hash brown with salt-pepper-ketchup, on an everything bagel.

If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!

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