Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Q&A with Cara Tanamachi




Cara Tanamachi is the author of the new novel The Second You're Single. She also has written many novels under the name Cara Lockwood. She lives near Chicago.


Q: What inspired you to write The Second You’re Single, and how did you create your characters Sora and Jack?


A: This story is personal and definitely inspired by true life events. I spent eight years as a single mom, and I have some pretty horrific dating stories. Men who claimed to be single who were secretly married? Check! Men who used fake pictures AND fake names? Check! Men who also made me trail mix as a “gift” for our first date? Sadly, check.


So, like Sora, I reached a point in my dating life where I was done. Done with dating, done with searching for love, and absolutely done with Valentine’s Day. Of course, that’s exactly when I met my amazing husband, PJ, who like Jack, is a big Teddy bear, who never gave up on love or Valentine’s Day.


Jack is inspired by my husband, but he’s also his own character. I just love men with big hearts, and that’s Jack. It takes a lot of courage to believe in love in our pretty cynical world.


I also relate to Sora quite a bit. She’s been derailed by events in her life that she’s struggling to get over. Now, she's stuck, and knows it’s not working, but isn’t sure what to do next. 


I’ve been there, and I think, in some ways, that can be a universal struggle when dealing with life’s setbacks. Sora also happens to be a bit judgy, a flaw we both share. Sora might judge others, but she always judges herself the most harshly, and I do love that she gets to a place of self-acceptance by the end.


Q: What do you think the novel says about society's obsession with Valentine’s Day?


A: We are all a little too obsessed with Valentine’s Day, I think. I feel the pressure to pair up starts in grade-school Valentine’s parties! Society already puts a lot of pressure on everyone to find their “one” and having a holiday to celebrate just underscores that.


Imagine if we had a holiday celebrating professional promotions, or owning a home, or any of the other ways society pressures us to achieve? How would we all feel about that? Probably not great. That’s where I think many of us feel frustrated by the focus on Valentine’s Day.


However, my husband loves Valentine’s Day, and I do see that a day celebrating love isn’t a bad thing all on its own. I think it’s really the commercialization of the holiday, though, that puts the pressure on, and makes people feel if they aren’t paired up, then something must be wrong. Being single is perfectly fine and healthy, and there’s no one “right” way to live our lives. 


Q: You alternate between Sora’s and Jack’s perspectives--did you write the novel in the order in which it appears, or did you focus more on one character before turning to the other?


A: I spent a lot of time on Sora’s story before Jack’s story. Sora’s cynicism around love helped me with crafting Jack’s character, who’s much more optimistic and open. Ironically, the more cynical you are, I think the harder it is to give love a chance. I also think that you can’t truly fall in love or know another person unless you allow yourself to be vulnerable.


Q: You’ve written many novels under your former married name, Cara Lockwood, but you write on your website that “I’m writing under my maiden name Tanamachi now, because for me, it was time to get back to my authentic self...” Can you say more about that?


A: Yes! Cara Tanamachi is my maiden name. On my dad’s side, I’m fourth generation Japanese-American, and on my mom’s side I’ve got English, Irish and Scottish relatives.


I grew up in Texas, where both my parents were born, and I’ve always been closer to the Tanamachi side of the family, and my Tanamachi cousins. We also have a large family contingent living in California, who gather for mochi making every New Year.


Sora’s grandma, Mitsuye, is very much based on my own Grandma Mitzi, who was always so wise, so supportive, and always knew the perfect thing to say to lighten a dark moment.


Also, as a side note, Lockwood, was my former married name, and that marriage ended 15 years ago! It happened to be my legal name when I published my first book from Simon & Schuster. When my new publisher, St. Martin’s Press, gave me the option to rebrand, I jumped at it.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on the spin-off to The Second You’re Single, which gives us the love story of Sora’s sister, Nami. She’s had her own heartbreak, and this book will give her her own happily ever after!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ve also got a podcast, called Skip to the Good Part! I interview other romance authors, where my husband, PJ, and I talk about writing processes, inspiration, and of course – Happily Ever Afters!




--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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