Welcome to author Tara Lush who combines a love of real life journalism with writing steamy romance and cozy mystery.

Describe your favorite writing spot or space.

Pre-pandemic, I loved writing at my favorite indie coffee shop in my city. It’s called Bandit Coffee, and it features the most delicious lattes ever — my favorite is a maple bourbon coffee (no alcohol). Bandit has excellent tunes, lots of space, and many electric outlets. It’s not open for customers now (it’s take-out only) but I can’t wait to get back to writing inside again. There’s something about the hustle and bustle and ambient noise that makes me extremely productive.

Describe your current writing spot or space.

My sofa, with my dog on one side and a glass of water on the other.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

My full-time job is journalism, so my days are filled with writing news on deadline. For fiction, I write after dinner, so between 7-9 p.m. at night. I’m not a morning person and find my mind is sharper later in the day.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about five months to write a cozy mystery. I’m a little faster with my romance books, probably because I’ve written more and have the beats down. Mysteries are a bit of a puzzle to me, so I like to spend a solid month plotting and planning every chapter down to the clues and red herrings.

Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?

I write romances under my real name (Tamara Lush) and the cozy mysteries under a slightly different name: Tara Lush. I wanted to differentiate between the two because my romances are pretty steamy and my cozies are definitely not sexy at all.

What comes first for you, the plot or characters?

In creating Grounds for Murder, the first book in my cozy series, the characters were top priority. Now that I’m about to plot my third book in the series, the plot comes first because I know how the characters will act and react to events.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I tend to look at a lot of baby naming sites!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

This is a question I thought a lot about while writing romance, since I often wrote dual POV stories. I would watch certain movies and TV shows for inspiration. With cozies, it’s less of an issue because my books are always in the POV of the heroine.

Can you hear your characters talking?

Absolutely! I am one of those writers who “sees” scenes play out in my mind like a movie.

Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?

I’m a full-time journalist with The Associated Press so I write every day in my day job. I’ve thought about becoming a full-time fiction author, but I get a lot of my inspiration from the news and the stories I cover, so for now I’m content with the balance.

How much time do you spend on research before starting a book? While writing?

I spend about a month plotting my mysteries, and that includes research. I set my books in the present day, and in the place I live so I draw a lot from everyday life, which cuts down on the amount of research.

What kind of research do you do for a book?

It’s mostly googling details that will end up in the book, things like ‘what is the format of an autopsy report,’ or, ‘best techniques for latte art.’ Although I did do a coffee tour in my city to research coffee details for my book (It’s set in a coffee shop).

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Probably Gritty, the crazy orange mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. He exudes a wide-eyed chaos that’s needed for writing fiction.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I become hyper-focused and will write every day until my story is finished.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

It was last year, on a program called Plottr. It’s a program that allows you to plot a timeline in an easy-to-use and simple format. It’s truly brilliant.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love doing yoga and also play a lot of Animal Crossing.

Do you ever Google yourself?

Yes, but mostly for my day job!

What is your favorite childhood book(s)?

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Take the plunge and write a book! My biggest and only regret is that I didn’t start writing fiction earlier.

Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics.

She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations under her real name, Tamara Lush. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.

Where to Find Tara Lush & Her Books:

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Instagram

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