Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Tiffany Pitts
Tiffany Pitts is the twelfth author added to my series, Authors: Stories Behind the Books. Tiffany whole heartedly greeted me into her home where I took a portrait of her sitting at her desk, which also overlooks her neighborhood and garden. Tiffany Pitts is the Author of Double Blind and Wizzy Wig, the first two installments of the Thanatos Rising Series where in her story, the cat is the real hero.
What exactly is "Thanatos Rising" mean? Can you explain what the origin is and why you chose to name your series after this?
Thanatos is the Greek personification of death. Toesy's full name is Thanatos. Delilah Pelham named him Thanatos when she first adopted him but it was quickly shortened to Toesy owing to his polydactylism. When he undergoes his..uh...transformation in Double Blind, he becomes this dichotomous figure that you want to cuddle but he's also really deadly. So depending on what side you're on, it's possible he could be a personification (felinification?) of death. He is, by far, the most popular character so I decided to name the series after him. After all, he transforms from cat to demi-god so it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, he likes fancy titles.
Double Blind is your first book in the Thanatos Rising Series. Can you talk about the origin of your characters and how you developed them? Why did you choose the point of view of a cat?
Toesy is my favorite character to write. He is the only character I have based on an actual living being. All the other people in my books came after him. Many sprang to life because of him. Toesy is based on this big, bruiser of a cat we used to have named Katzuhiro (Katzu for short). He was this huge black and white monster—like a furry land-orca or something. Wherever he sat, the room sort of arranged itself around him so that he was always the first thing you saw. He had this joyous distain for everyone and everything, unless he loved you—and then he loved you endlessly. He was the most loyal cat I have ever met. And after he died, he never quite left.
In college you didn't study writing, you studied Botany at the University of Washington. Did you write in college at the time or when did your develop an interest?
Yes and no. Yes, I wrote things. I wrote papers and tests and reports and labs but none of that counted as writing because it was scientific. And scientific writing has to be passive. “Things happened. They were measured. These are the results.” And of course, I knew (because I knew everything back then) that it couldn’t be real writing because real writing wasn’t supposed to be passive like that. I also kept a journal – several journals, actually—but those weren’t real writing either because those were all just snippets of ideas and things that made me laugh. It took me 35 years to realize how ignorant I was. I can’t remember exactly when I realized I wanted to write, maybe (32? 33?) but I remember my exact thought. I had just finished reading a wildly popular book series and I was thinking about how ridiculous it was. I thought, “Pft, I could write a better book than that….HEY, WAIT A MINUTE…”
You grew up in Seattle, so naturally it is where your story takes place. Are there certain parts of Seattle that you find inspirational or that give you a plot move?
I love the details of this city that make it unique. There are strange little alcoves and occurrences all over the city that are pretty amazing. For example, everyone knows about the famous Seattle Gum Wall but did you know about there’s a Mysterious soda machine on Capitol Hill? Or that less than 2 miles down the road, you can visit the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee? How about the view from the women’s rest room at the Columbia Tower Club? It’s locally known for having one of the best views of the city. It’s so famous that the staff put up a little sign outside the women’s room door warning that No, men are not allowed to go in the women’s room, for realsies, don’t even think about it. (I may be paraphrasing). That little sign is a story in itself. I’m sure every city has these little pieces of history that make it real but Seattle’s history is my favorite.
What about taking the audience for a ride with twists and turns in the story do you enjoy most?
I love showing a reader something amazing or heartbreaking through the lens of a character that does not understand all the nuances of what’s going on within the scene. The character experiences one thing but the reader understands that same thing on so many different levels. I love writing animals for this reason. Cats don’t really understand the complexities of human relationships but they do understand that when someone yells and slams a door bad things are happening. They also understand that if someone smells like tuna fish, you should probably follow them. This can lead to humorous situations.
Who do you write for? Is this a book series for the whole family can enjoy?
That’s easy, I write for my friend Candy.
Of course I write for other people too but coming as I was from years of scientific thinking and writing, I had to teach myself the art of writing (and finishing) a novel. My friend Candy has always been a writer so I’d ask her questions – does this work? Is this stupid? Stuff like that. I’d write all these things and send them off to her at work. She would proof them in the afternoons when she was bored. She always enjoyed the funny bits so I did my best to make her laugh. If I could do that, I was doing something correctly.
As for Family Friendly, it never once occurred to me that a kid would want to read anything I wrote. I don’t know why I thought this. It just wasn’t on my radar. So the first time I heard of a kid reading one of my books I was terrified. Were they appropriate? Have I been setting bad examples? I wasn’t even sure what it meant to be Family Friendly. Was that like, no sex scenes? Because the Fault in Our Stars has sex. Does it mean no swearing? Because Holden Caulfield swore, a lot. So I read each book again and I can honestly say they are no worse than much of the YA out there. Still, every time a student tells me “Oh I’m reading your book!” I have a little panic attack.
What are you working on next? Does the story continue?
Currently, I am writing the third book in the Thanatos Rising series, Parallax. The second book left some characters irrevocably changed and I really wanted to see how everyone lived and dealt with that. So yes, the story does continue, but only so far as the character development. The plot is still developing. I thought it would go one way but so far the story is coalescing into something I didn’t know I was going to write.
Thank you so much Tiffany Pitts for being a part of this project! To read more about Tiffany or find her books, you can find her at http://www.snickerpants.com
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