Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author, speaker, online marketing specialist, and a freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a toddler daughter, a baby boy on the way, and a vivacious Australian shepherd named Roxie. She loves to travel, sing, cook, and study history.
Her writing career began in high school with the publication of her first children’s book, but she didn’t pursue adult fiction until she wrote her first novel in 1999. She joined ACFW in 2002 and attended their annual conferences each year, receiving a request for a proposal in September 2004. Two years later, in December 2006, the request resulted in her first sale. And in January 2008, her debut novel released.
She has since sold eleven books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for the Heartsong Presents book club. Read more about her at her web site.
Writing is not your only job, with being a mom and your website design business, how do you find balance for everything?
It’s not easy. I’ll say that much. But nap time is sacred at my house. You do NOT interrupt it. Those 2-1/2 hours of peace and quiet make all the difference in the world. Of course, I have to have a plan for that time before it happens, or I end up wasting it. So, I make a list and prioritize what needs to be handled. Then, I handle it. Email gets put aside until later so I can be at my most productive. I’m even answering these questions during nap time. *grins* For the most part, writing happens after the kids go to bed or first thing in the morning if I’m up early enough. That leaves the day for smaller, more manageable projects. There are also times when I pack up the laptop and leave the kids with my husband for an evening or a Saturday. Basically, I force myself to make the most of what little free time I have and roll with it as best as I can.
How long does it take to research the historical time you’re writing about before you start actually writing the story?
Admittedly, I don’t do a ton of research before I sit down to write. I’m more of an intuitive writer, doing the research as I go and as the need arises. That makes the actual writing process take longer, but when I come across a scene that needs some added research, I make a note in ( ), highlight it, and move on. Then, I come back during revisions to fill in the gaps.
Can you tell us about your favorite research trip/adventure while preparing for a book?
That’s difficult, as I love all my trips. I’m certain my favorite has yet to take place, but of the ones I’ve taken so far, the visit back home to Delaware for my first series ranks highest. I was able to spend time inside the house I used for my primary setting, speak to the current owners and meet a prior owner who was connected to the original family. I also spent time at the local history museum and discovered some fascinating facts from one of the curators there. What I learned only enhanced my series and gave it a sense of legitimacy for the time period.
Have you ever found something while researching that made you change your original plot line? What was it?
Not completely, although I did have a character change his course of action based upon a little tidbit I discovered. He was a soldier spying for the Colonists by working in the British camps. When I discovered an actual tavern where General Washington had spent time in and around a local battle, my hero sent the heroine to go meet him. *g*
Since you’re a history writer, I have to ask, if you could go back in time and visit any time period, what would it be and why?
I would probably love the post-Civil War and Victorian era, but I’m spoiled, and I’d want my existence to be upper society with a grand home and fancy gowns. Then again, if I had to live in a small town and make use of a washboard, pot-bellied stove, or outhouses, I could do that too.
How do you choose names for your characters?
There are several different ways. I have several baby names books that provide the historical meaning, origin, and Biblical meaning of the names. I also use the census reports for any given year to identify the most popular names, then I go back and research their meanings so I can parallel that with a theme or personal issue my characters face in each book.
Thing you miss most about the East Coast?
The proximity to everything. I could get to Boston in 6 hours, Richmond in 4, D.C. in 90 minutes, New York in 2 hours, and Baltimore and Philadelphia in less than 1 hour. The beach was a little over 1 hour away, and the mountains were about 1-1/2 hours. Traveling places was easy and didn’t take all day. But outside of that, I miss the fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. Mmm! Living in a landlocked state far from anything but river trout and other freshwater catches is nothing like crab, lobster, clams, and scallops.
What are your can’t-live-without foods? Is there a certain food you like to snack on while writing?
Almost anything with cheese on it, but I also find my freezer always has ice cream in it, and my cupboard always has popcorn. In terms of meals, I sometimes enjoy burnt butter on farfalle (or bowtie) pasta, or garlic parmesan sauce over egg noodles. For snacking, it’s usually jelly beans, Reese’s pieces, or Cheez-it crackers.
Besides the obvious things (food, toothbrush, family, bible, etc.) what three things would you have to have with you if you were stuck on an island?
My Kindle with my 200+ books, unlimited supply of paper and pencils/pens so I can write, and photo albums of my family if my family wasn’t there with me.
What’s your dog Roxie’s most impressive trick?
Honestly, she doesn’t do many outside of the normal ones (i.e. sit, stay, wait, speak, shake, roll over), but the dog I owned before her and before I got married did an amazing thing. We would sometimes put a plate or bowl down for him to lick the essence off after supper was over. When he was done, Duke would put his paw on one end of the bowl or plate to pop up the other side, then he’d grab that other side in his mouth and carry the dishes to the kitchen for us to wash or put in the dishwasher. We only had to tell him to “get the plate” for him to do this. Oh, and he also would carry 12-oz. coke cans to anyone who wanted one. I’m thinking we should work more with Roxie on these types of tricks. (grins)
What is your ‘sick-day’ movie? (a movie that you could watch a million times and always makes you feel better)
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I would say it’s either Somewhere in Time or Sound of Music, although I also love Legally Blonde and Ever After.
Thanks for the interview today Tiff! Loved having you on the blog. Wishing you success with your new release, Bound By Grace.
Book Description from Tiff’s web site: A letter from a gentleman in Claymont who is seeking books Charlotte Pringle carries in her book shop piques her interest. The desire to provide his niece, Grace, with more classic titles keeps Richard Baxton returning to see Charlotte again and again. Charlotte is attracted to his sweet spot for his niece, as well as the niece’s recent leg injury that has her wheelchair bound, awaiting an expensive operation. But Charlotte’s father disrupts their idyllic relationship by announcing he’s been working on a marriage arrangement to secure her future. Before Richard can make a viable offer for her hand, a family business emergency forces him to return home. Feeling abandoned, Charlotte believes she has no choice but to accept her father’s plans. Richard despairs over the loss of the woman he’s come to love. It’s his niece who persuades him to fight.