Q&A with Tia Bach author of Depression Cookies

Today Tia Bach joins us to share her book-writing insights! Tia is one of the authors of Depression Cookies, a book about one family’s ups and downs as they navigate frequent moves and growing pains. The story, told through both the perspective of a mother and her teenage daughter, is one that resonates with any mother trying to keep it all together for her family. I was so happy to meet Tia through the WordCount blogathon and it’s wonderful to have her here at Motherlogue to share her experiences of writing this book with her mom, Angela Silverthorne.
I think it’s wonderful (and a huge accomplishment) that a mother-daughter pair wrote a book together. Share with us how you first thought of this idea.
When my first daughter was born in 2000, I wanted to be home with her but also knew I needed something for myself. A longtime corporate and newspaper/article writer, I wanted to unleash the creative writer within. Mom and I were chatting on the phone one day and came up with the idea to write a coming of age story from two perspectives and two authors. We felt we had a special angle on the classic growing up story that way.
How did your previous work as a corporate writer and newspaper journalist impact the writing of this book?
I wrote for my college newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel. A business major, I craved time to write. I took every English course I could, and then sought out the newspaper and yearbook to fulfill that desire. For two years, I wrote the corporate internal newsletter for a subsidiary of IBM.
Every company I joined discovered my love of writing, I might have been a bit vocal about it, and used it to their advantage. I ended up writing and editing marketing and educational materials and running company newsletters. Needing a creative outlet, I took a short-story writing course at night before kids. I was hooked.
Strangely enough, I think corporate writing prepared me for creative writing. I knew how to take thoughts and present them in a concise, well thought out manner. Not a lot of fluff. I think that’s why I lean toward writing Young Adult. In general, my terse writing is a better fit. I’ve never enjoyed reading two paragraphs describing the intracacies of a tree.
I think it also prepared me for writing press releases, blog posts, and quick author bios and summaries. Twitter, and it’s 140 characters, was made for a gal like me
What was your process for developing the book? Do you think it required more planning because you were working as a team?
We talked for hours on end, brainstorming. We discussed everything our family had gone through as well as all the families we had known through the years. Through this process, we decided on plot points and characters. Then, I would write a chapter and send it to Mom. She would do the same. Back and forth for ten years. Granted life kept getting in the way. I had three babies by 2005, my dad retired, both Mom and Dad had serious health issues and my husband and I moved several times. Working around two writers’ schedules and life events definitely created more challenges.
Given that Depression Cookies is about a family with daughters who moves a lot and that is something your family experienced, do you find that people read it as a memoir even though it’s fictional? Were there any family members who felt upset because they thought a character portrayed them too closely?
So much of our own experiences and people we’ve known were interwoven into this tale, so it’s completely understandable that people read it as a memoir. It’s not. All of my grandparents passed away before the book was completed, and Mom and I made sure my two sisters and father read the book prior to publication. Dad was a bit upset that “Bob” was not portrayed, in his opinion, as the loving father and husband he is. Bob is not a complete representation of my father, but a lot of him is in Bob. The lines get blurred. My dad is a wonderful father, and it pains me that he thinks readers judge him.
The book has a number of really funny jokes. How did you choose which to include and how did you handle setting them up in the written form?
Actually those jokes are all my dad, for the most part. He’s always been the humor in our house, and I believe humor is a saving grace for most families. His jokes were infectious and classic. That’s why the lines get so blurred. Those jokes were such a part of my growing up, fond memories. Dad told most of his jokes at the dinner table, so we wrote most of them coming from Bob in the same way.
What advice would you give to other authors who might be considering co-authoring a book?
You really need to know and feel comfortable with your co-author. Writing is a very personal process, intimate in so many ways. To share that can be terrifying. There has to be honesty and a true understanding of compromise without hurting the story. The beauty is seeing it come together because two styles and two hearts joined.
Thanks again, Tia, for joining us and for sharing your thoughts about writing!
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11 Responses to Q&A with Tia Bach author of Depression Cookies

  1. Tia Bach says:

    Thanks so much for highlighting my writing journey. I feel honored!

  2. intralingo says:

    Lovely interview, Liz!
    Tia, as a literary translator, I could so relate to the excellent advice you give about co-authoring. Trust and compromise are absolutely essential.
    I’d love to try co-translating a work sometime. I recently heard a well-respected translator say that if you’re not working as a team, with other people to push you to grow, you’re not working to your full potential. I think he’s right.
    Congrats to you and your mom, again, on a great book.

  3. Liz says:

    I love that concept — people helping push/nurture us to our full potential. A co-translation project would be interesting!

  4. Tia Bach says:

    Lisa, Thanks for stopping by and I so agree. My mom pushed me in good ways, and I think we brought out the best in each other. There were missteps along the way, but all in all it was a rewarding experience.

  5. What a wonderful gift to write a novel as a mother-daughter team. Tia, would you ever write a book with one of your children? Also, I’m curious what your mother’s writing experience was prior to this project.

  6. This is a wonderful interview, Liz. Thank you for introducing us to Tia’s writing. And, Tia. Wow. Ten years? I’m inspired! I’m impressed that both of you stuck with the project even though so much was happening in your personal lives. That makes me feel like writing is possible, that the project will be finished when it’s time. I’d love to hear how you got back into the story after you (presumably) took long breaks following births and illnesses. Did you find it difficult to get back into the writing or the characters’ heads? Did you end up rewriting anything you’d written years prior because you’d grown as a writer?

  7. Tia Bach says:

    Mary Jo, I would be honored to write with one of my daughters. I’m sure they would see life in a different way, but a way that would touch me and help me grow. I checked out your blog, and I love the “for young writers” tab. I signed up to receive emails.

    My mom is a published poet (Promises Seeded Inside) and has been writing for years. My passion for writing and reading is a direct reflection of always seeing a book or pencil in her hands.

    Jennifer, Lengthy breaks were difficult. We really knew our story, so much of it built on our own experiences, so that helped. But it was hard to get back in the flow. We really encouraged each other. I wouldn’t want to write a book that way again.

    We are working on the sequel now. We started 2 months ago and are a 1/3 of the way through. Much better progress! We definitely had rewriting and a good 2 years of editing in that 10 year process.

    Thank you both for commenting and your questions.

  8. Jan Udlock says:

    Liz, great interview. I have to share that I have Tia’s book and at times, I had to put it down because she portrayed some of the young woman’s angst so well. I can’t wait until your second book comes out! When, Tia, when?

  9. Michelle Blair says:

    Thanks Liz and Tia for this insightful interview. Tia, you mentioned you wouldn’t write a book that way again. I’m interested in how the process for this sequel has been different. Is it an intentional shift in approach or is the improved efficiency the result of being in a different life place now, with your children a little older and your parents settled into retirement?

  10. Thank you , Tia, I’m honored. I’m raising two young authors, myself! (Both boys, so it’s mostly zombies and war and ninjas, but as long as they’re writing!)

  11. Tia Bach says:

    Jan, you are so sweet. Our original publisher, long story, wanted us to title it Angst. I couldn’t imagine buying a book titled Angst, so we nixed it. But I wanted to get to the heart of it anyway.

    Michelle, Mainly I wouldn’t want to take 10 years to write a book again. I often worried we lost something by dragging it out. I think it came together well in the end, but I hated shelving it for so long at times. But you are so right… it’s easier this time around. I don’t have babies and my parents are retired. Should be a breeze this time, right? Let’s hope so. I also think we learned a lot about our styles and how to work together.

    Mary Jo, Good for you. My middle daughter only likes Manga and comics, so I get you! If nothing else, I want to pass along the love of reading. In the end, I truly believe that makes you a better writer.

    Thanks so much ladies!

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