Interview with T.R. Hamby

Author of ten novels, including the popular Night at the Gala, and The Banished series

When I was searching for unique, interesting writers to connect with for my “Author Interviews” series, I really lucked out finding T.R. Hamby! She finished her first book at fifteen, and has been busy cranking out suspenseful, romantic page-turners ever since! She works as a full-time nurse, which is itself admirable. However, while many of us struggle to develop a solid plot for a story, Hamby is busily at work on her eleventh book!

Anyone interested in becoming a serious writer can learn from those who have paved the way by publishing their own successful stories. With Hamby, I really enjoyed learning her reasons for self-publishing because she explained an aspect of it I hadn’t previously considered: The level of control one has over his (or her) work when they choose to publish an Indie book.

Inspired by Indy Pride Month, Hamby is working on her second gay romance novel. Her first, the well-received Bright Land, tells the story of two college students, Nick and Drake, who fall in love after becoming roommates but need to hide their relationship from Drake’s controlling stepfather. The story has twists and turns, and depicts a blossoming relationship in a respectful, emotionally authentic way.  

I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know T.R. Hamby as much as I did. She proves that some people were truly born to write! I think we can expect a lot more from her in the years to come, but in the short-term, we’ll be waiting for that eleventh story to break onto the scene!

L.A. Can you introduce yourself to my subscribers? I’m sure they’d like to know where you’re from, how long you’ve been writing, and what you enjoy doing in your free time!

T.R. My name is T. R. Hamby, and I’m from Jacksonville, FL. I have been writing since I was a little girl. I’ve always been a novelist and would always be working on books when I was younger. These days, other than writing, I like to walk my dog, play with my cat, read, and visit St. Augustine, FL.

L.A. Did you have a career before writing? If so, what was it, and at what point did you transition over to writing full-time?

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T.R. I still work full-time as a registered nurse and have been working as a nurse for five years. Writing is my part-time passion, and I am looking forward to the day when I can transition to full-time!

L.A. How many books have you published so far? Also, how old were you when you wrote the first book?

T.R. I was thirteen when I started writing my first “real” novel, and fifteen when I finished it. It was over a thousand pages! These days my books are a lot shorter. I have ten published books so far and am working on number eleven now.

L.A. Have you ever written a manuscript that didn’t translate into a finished novel?

T.R. I have a couple of manuscripts that are “sitting on the shelf.” They still need a lot of work, but I felt I needed to step away. Sometimes putting some distance between you and that piece and giving it time helps you improve it when it’s time to go back to it.

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L.A. Can you talk a little about your writing process? (Do you write at the same time each day? Where do you do your writing? How long does it take you to complete a book?).

T.R. I write almost every day at my desk or on my couch. My couch is comfy, but my desk is at the window, so I can “people watch” when I’m trying to think of ideas. My writing is influenced by my characters. When a character starts to develop in my mind, a story forms around them. I get a general idea of what’s going to happen, and then I begin to write. I come up with the next scene as I write until it forms a complete story. Then I go back and edit and edit until it’s finally finished.

L.A. Do you write with music, or do you need it quiet while you work?

T.R. It must be quiet while I work. I do have the back door open during the summer, so I do hear cars driving by and birds tweeting. But otherwise, I prefer things quiet or else I can’t focus.

L.A. Do you outline your stories before you begin writing them?

T.R. Sometimes I outline my stories. At first, I just write until I get a little stuck, then I pace around my living room until I have a general outline of what I want to happen next.

L.A. Do you have a test reader(s) such as a spouse or friend that reads your work along the way? Or do you write the whole thing and then show it around?

T.R. My mother is my go-to reader. She has read all my manuscripts, including first drafts and final drafts! She is my superhero and always gives me the best feedback.

“I was so nervous to release my first book to the world!”

~T.R. Hamby

L.A. Can you discuss your experience with first-time publishing? What was it like, how did you begin? Add in any helpful tips for new writers, please!

T.R. I did a lot of research in order to find which publisher would work best. I decided against traditional publishing because I want complete control over my work, and I don’t want anyone telling me to write a certain way. I went with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP. It’s easy to use, and once you’re published, you’ll find your book easily on Amazon. This works for me because I love Amazon (I purchase all my books from there). When I published my first book, I didn’t have any trouble figuring out the process. The only hurdle was actually hitting the “Publish” button—I was so nervous to release my first book to the world!

“Negative reviews can be rough…ignore whatever doesn’t make sense and focus on what you can improve on.”

~T.R Hamby

L.A. How do you handle negative reviews and general criticism of your writing?

T.R. Negative reviews can be rough, and I sometimes have difficulty handling them. The best thing you can do is ignore whatever doesn’t make sense and focus on what you can improve on. If the review has advice, consider it. If it doesn’t, then it probably isn’t worth it.

L.A. What is it like connecting with your readers and hearing how your stories have impacted their lives in a positive way?

T.R. It’s very strange for me. It oftentimes doesn’t feel real, like my books aren’t truly reaching people that way. I’m wondering if one day it’ll hit me. If it does, I’ll probably be a happy, crying mess! But until then, although I am honored that people enjoy my work, I am still in disbelief.

L.A. What advice would you give to someone who has writing ability, but is stuck in fear and can’t go the distance with a full-length manuscript?

T.R. I would say consider it like this: Would you regret it if you never did it? If you think you would, you have to go for it. I fear regret much more than I fear failure. And if you have the ability, then you certainly can do it. It may not come out perfect the first time, or the second or the third, but that’s what practice is for. And you’ll be grateful in the end.

L.A. What are you currently working on?

T.R. I’m currently working on a gay romance novel. It’s Indy Pride Month, and I’m inspired! I currently have one other gay romance, about two college students who have to keep their relationship a secret. It’s gotten great reviews, and is available on Amazon Kindle and paperback. It’s called Bright Land.

L.A. What books/tools did you use to learn the science of story development?

T.R. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series inspired me the most. Her writing style and how she designs her plots are brilliant. Her writing is simple yet descriptive, and she relies heavily on foreshadowing. I’ve drawn a lot of my own writing and storytelling from her technique.

L.A. What is your favorite book, and why? Also, can you tell us who some of your literary influences are?

T.R. I really enjoy Beverly Cleary’s books, particularly the Ramona Quimby series. Her work is often centered around the pains and joys of growing up, and that’s always stuck with me. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has always been a favorite of mine. There is a book called A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly that I often reread, about a young woman who longs to be a writer. These writers, along with many others, have greatly influenced not just the way I write, but what I write about, and the way I think. My writing wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for them.

A huge thanks to T.R. Hamby for this insightful interview! She reminded me to go back to the basics when it comes to drawing inspiration from other authors and stories from childhood. Also, she reiterated the importance of not getting caught up on negative reviews, but rather, to glean insight on how we can improve our work by using the criticism as instruction. Very helpful, T.R.!

Check out T.R. Hamby’s work on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram!