Interview with Tenya Sharp Ingalls

Tenya Sharp Ingalls

Interview Date: 3/28/2012


Tenya Sharp Ingalls has been writing as long as she could hold a pencil. She began writing poetry and short stories as a child, continuing to ply her hand at story-telling in her teens by participating in young writer's conferences throughout high school. "No matter what else I planned to do at any point in my life, I always wanted to write," she says. After years as a homeschooling mom of three and owner/operator of a subcontracting business, a partnership with her husband, Bobby, Tenya has finally begun to self-publish her novels. She believes that so many protagonists and plots have built up in her head that she may never get them all on paper.

Tenya tends to pay homage to the mountains which nurtured her growing up years in the small logging community of St. Maries in northern Idaho. Gleaning from her interest in missions, the hosting of a foreign exchange student, various travel experiences, and snippets of information in her world, Tenya strives to create memorable and relatable characters. She honestly believes in love-at-first-sight, true romance and marital bliss. Tenya and her husband of 25 years reside in south Louisiana with their three children.


When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

Honestly, I cannot remember when I learned to write or to read. I was very young when I started, even before Kindergarten. I do remember being a little frustrated because I wanted to write down ideas and not just letters, so I did my own form of fast scribbling “cursive” to pretend I was writing out my imaginations on paper. I had all those stories in my head, but getting them onto paper when you are only five or six years old can be a challenge. My mother actually has a few of my funny stories written down that I told to her verbally at around that age, so does that count as writing?

As far as what prompted me to write, I would have to say it has always been my over active imagination. I used imagination and stories as an escape from some of the less positive things about my childhood and up into my teen years. As I matured, it became less an escape and more of a healthy manner of self-expression. Now, I see writing, whether fiction, poetry or otherwise, as a way of letting people know what I’m thinking about myself, my community and the world at large.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

Well, Kevin, that is a loaded question. I don’t want to pick anything as ordinary as being able to fly or having super-strength. It would be pretty cool to be able to read minds and know when people are lying, but I’m not sure I’d really want to know what all of you are thinking. Since I can already shoot laser-fire out of my eyeballs, I guess I have to choose something else. Ultimately, I would want a power that is helpful to others more than to me, like the ability to heal any injury or disease.

Kev's response: I notice that your novel is a romance, and here you'd like to have a power whereby you touch, or grope others, hmm....

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

Since my profile picture in several places has been known to appear as Wonder Woman at times, I guess I will have to admit a secret desire to be an Amazon princess. I know she’s old school, but I just dig the costume, although I’m way too short to wear it. Can I change my mind on the super power I want and just choose to be tall – like tall enough to reach the gas pedal in my husband’s truck without a pillow behind my back?

My favorite thing about superheroes is that I think every person has the ability to become one. We all possess great power to change our world because I believe that all people have been created in the image of God, by God. So, there is, by nature, the supernatural that exists in each one of us. Maybe we can’t fly or run a hundred miles per hour, but that isn’t what I mean. Every person has a unique gift, a super power, which he/she can access to affect positive change.

Kev's response: You know, first you want to touch others, and now you want to have a magic rope to tie them up? Are you sure you just write romance?

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

The problem with an over active imagination is whittling away excess inspiration. I have to consciously focus on specific inspiration or my brain gets all scrambled, causing me to chase rabbits and squirrels and vampires and aliens and… I think you get the idea. Many times this focus is visual for me. Since I’m also an artist, I’m visually oriented, almost to an extreme, so it is entirely possible for someone I meet in the grocery store to inspire a character or for a t-shirt slogan to spin-off a situation for a scene.

Although I am very imaginative, I tend to pull the bulk of my stories from real world stuff. I am a globally-focused person who is highly concerned about the needs of others from my own street and to the other side of the world. My writing carries undertones about modern slavery, human trafficking and the general exploitation of the weakest and most helpless on our planet. I want my readers to know these things exist and discover what each one of us can do to change it.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I’m definitely a planner in every aspect of my life, especially writing. I marinate a story mentally for a very long time. I think my family might refer to this part of the process as “zoning out”. I take long “naps” in my dark room in the middle of the day during the marinating process. When it comes to novels, I spend a significant amount of time making detailed outlines, chapter by chapter. I make a lot of dialogue notes in the margins as I go. So, by the time I sit down to write, it feels like a relatively painless process because I’ve put all the sweat into outlining.

Kev's response: I'm with you there. I often write in the "seat of the pants" style, but find that if I do a good job outlining it first, then the writing comes much faster.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I wish I had more of a schedule, but I’m more likely to just grab an hour here or there when I have time. For me, it’s not really about having to be inspired or “in the moment”. I almost always have some sort of inspiration from which I can draw. I steal the moments I can in the midst of a hurried and busy life, but I’m determined to keep plugging away at it.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

This is a funny question for me to answer because what I write is essentially romance novels. I do throw in a good bit of adventure as well. I like romance because I’m a blessed woman who knows what it is to be loved deeply and to return that love with the same intensity. But, I also like war movies, football and things that make “vroom-vroom” noises. My favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian, who write what one might call “man” books, but I simply cannot resist a good military novel with battles and blood. When it comes to movies and television, my favorite genre, hands down, is science fiction; however, I do not read much of it. I like real old-fashioned sci-fi that does not lean toward fantasy and the paranormal, so maybe that is the reason. I have read a few indie authors lately who have produced some science fiction I’ve really enjoyed, so I look forward to seeing more.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I like going back after several weeks have passed, re-reading what I wrote, and thinking, “Wow! That’s really good!” I hope that does not sound egotistical. Words have power and movement and rhythm. I enjoy anything that is written poetically (probably because I’m also a free form poet) and sounds good read aloud. When I can impress myself with rhythm and movement, it’s fun.

Kev's response: Not egotistical at all, to me. Sometimes I re-read my work and wonder how I wrote some of it.

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

I do not enjoy when life is so busy I get plots and people balled up in my brain where I can’t expel it. It sits there and rots until the moment arrives to pour it out through my fingertips onto the keyboard. If too much time passes, it can get stale and useless.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

A better question might be if I can tell you something that is NOT odd. I’m related to Harriet Beecher Stowe, very distantly on one side of my family. My married name really is Ingalls, and yes, we are related to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books. Her Uncle Peter and Aunt Eliza are my husband’s great-great-grandparents. And no, we do not live in a little house on the bayou in Louisiana.

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

Please tell me how to write only one story at a time. I would like to know! My work tends to overlap. I take spells working on one thing and then another. Recently, I was working on outlining the second novel in The Weather Tales series and the third book started writing itself inside my head. Both books are at about the same stage in the outlining process right now.

Tenya's evil plot advice:

Plot: lace secret cocacola recipe w/ mind control drug. Animal: cats duh! Don't they control cocacola?

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I believe there will always be some sort of appeal for printed books with beautiful pictures, or books which are simply beautiful to look at. Having it physically in one’s hands connects the viewer and author, especially when a book’s claim to fame is its visual beauty. When it comes to fiction, however, I think we will see less and less in print form as e-readers become less expensive and continue to grow in popularity.

What are your current projects?

I just self-published my first novel Cumbrian Rain, and I’m working on the next book Congo Storm. It will be a little bit more intense than the first, dealing with some heavy issues common to central Africa, a little more adventure than romance. Several characters reappear as the story revolves around one of the supporting cast members from Book One. I hope Congo Storm will be released by September 2012. Inadvertently, I’ve started outlining the third book as well which will be titled Cataldo Drift and take place in northern Idaho where I grew up.

I also have a sci-fi thing I’ve been piddling at for about ten years. I revisit it every-so-often with the eternal hope it will one day bloom and produce fruit.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Just do it! Do not wait! I wish I had been gutsy enough to pull the trigger years ago. You will never know how great it can be until you try. I have not been doing this long enough to give any sage advice, so I just want to encourage anyone out there who wants to give it a try to get moving.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

The best place to find out the most about me and what I’m doing is through my blog You can also connect with me through Twitter @TS_Ingalls or visit my Facebook page iTenya Books. I love fan email too, which can be sent to My only currently published book Cumbrian Rain is available for Kindle through Amazon. Cumbrian Rain on Amazon

Kev's response: I'd like to thank Mrs. Ingalls for joining me on the interview, and wish her the best of fortune!

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