Florida Author Tara Lynn Masih & Her Historical Fiction Novel My Real Name Is Hanna

Florida author Tara Lynn Masih

Author's name: Tara Lynn Masih 

Preferred pronouns: She/her 

Genres you write in: Historical fiction, literary fiction 

Special category: BIPOC 

Location: St. Augustine 

Are you self-published or traditionally published? Traditionally 

Awards: Florida Book Awards in General Fiction and YA; The Julia Ward Howe Award for Young Readers; an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award; multiple Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards; Skipping Stones Honor Awards 

Florida author Tara Lynn Masih with her book My Name Is Hanna

Do you have a "day job"? I used to work as a freelance book editor, but that work dried up when it became outsourced. Luckily my husband supports me now as my writing makes enough to pay our utility bills and that's about it! 

What makes you unique? I'm a bicultural writer. My father was East Indian and my mother is of European descent (her family was in this country since the 1600s). It was quite a mix of cultures growing up. I live in multiple worlds. 

How long did it take you to write and publish your first book? I came from the textbook industry so my first book was developed from that experience: The Rose Metal Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. I wrote the historical intro in about 3 months and the rest of the book was compiled and published within the year by Rose Metal Press. 

What would you like readers to know about you or your books? I try to do something different with each book. I'm a bit of a marketing nightmare for that reason, but I hope that approach helps reach different audiences. 

Your best tip for other authors: A teacher once told me: Develop the skin of an armadillo. You want it to be thick enough to defend against bad criticism, but soft enough to let the good criticism through. 

What do you wish someone had told you about book publishing years ago? Since I worked in the publishing field, I knew not to expect to make a lot of money, so there were no surprises. 

What inspires you as a writer? I'm an intuitive writer so there is nothing specific that inspires me. I can't even explain what will trigger me creatively and force me to get something down on paper (or on the computer). But generally, it's something unique, an angle I haven't personally seen before, or an unusual story that captivates me and makes me want to spend time with it and take it to a new level. 

Where is your favorite place to write? I need quiet and solitude, so my home office. And I need a window. I need to look out at nature. 

Where is your favorite place to read? In bed at night, in that drowsy hour before turning out the light and dreaming. 

What are your favorite genres to read? I grew up reading mystery novels, but I'd say my favorite genre is now historical fiction. 
How does Florida inspire you in your writing? The landscape is so different from up north. I love getting to know the new flora and fauna and the unique history of the people who make it Florida. 

Do you have a favorite Florida author? Zora Neale Hurston

Do you have a favorite Florida book? Before Women Had Wings, by Connie May Fowler.
What is your favorite social media platform to use as an author? I love Goodreads. Because it's all about the books and interacting with readers and no one else. I love seeing what readers say about my books and interacting with the ones who gave them great reviews. That's what it's all about for me, reaching readers emotionally. And I love discussing books I read with readers as well. 

Is there a specific Florida book event that you attend regularly? I've been lucky to attend Word of South twice. It's a wonderful mix of writing and music. 

My Name Is Hanna by Florida author Tara Lynn Masih

Tell us about your latest book: My Real Name Is Hanna is a story of courage and family bonds set during WWII in Ukraine, based on real events. Hanna is just turning fourteen when Hitler invades, forcing her family and friends into hiding. First they brave the dark woods, then they are forced to flee into deep underground caves, rumored to house evil spirits. Soon, they are facing another enemy, starvation. It's a book that so far has appealed to all ages.

Genre: Historical Fiction

What was the inspiration for this book/what made you write this book? I had seen the documentary No Place on Earth, about a Ukrainian family who hid in caves during WWII to evade the Nazis. I went to bed that night obsessed with the story and by morning had a first line and knew I wanted to write a fictional account based on the Stermer family. Little did I know Ukraine would feature in world history again in a war with Russia. Ukraine has a very complicated history and has changed hands so many times. People have been picking up the book recently to learn more about that history. The Holocaust was not an easy topic to write about, but I'm thrilled that my heroine, Hanna, has done so well and reached many hands and hearts. 

Author website: www.taramasih.com 

Books by Tara Lynn Masih - Florida Author

Other books by author: How We Disappear (2022); Where the Dog Star Never Glows (2010); The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (2019) 

List some of the places your books can be purchased: Amazon, B&N, Bookshop