T.A. White: Rich and layered Science Fiction and Fantasy Romance that leaves readers breathless!

Don’t be surprised if the name, T.A. White, is not on everyone’s tongue. To those who don’t read sci-fi or fantasy, T.A.’s quiet, unassuming presence belies the incredible drive and talent hidden just underneath. Anyone who loves a great futuristic or slightly fantastical story, however, is definitely familiar with her deftly written, expertly nuanced, and unapologetically addictive stories! Each come with just enough romance to keep the heart sighing - all while gripping readers and bringing them back for more. In person, T.A. is just as straightforward and honest as her characters, with a hint of humor and a taste for the off-beat.  She has led an extremely interesting life, which leaves her as nuanced as her books, and just as interesting as her characters! Read on and you’ll agree.

InD: Before we get started, when an author says yes to an interview, I always try to read as many books as possible... I had already read every single book you have written! I don't think I have ever had that happen before.
I didn’t realize there was so many of them until my sister bragged about me to someone and told them I’d written 20 books. I said that couldn’t be right. We ended up counting them up, and sure enough, it really was close to 20.
InD: Me owning that number says how much I love your books! Let’s get to know you a bit better. You were raised in a military family, right?
: I was. Both my mom and dad were in the Marines when they met and married in Okinawa, Japan. We traveled around a lot in my childhood. I was born in Tacoma, WA, before my dad got stationed in Okinawa again. From there we went to North Carolina before returning to Okinawa for a final time. When my dad was about to get out of the military, he and my mom moved us back to Ohio. I was probably 12 and in the 6th grade when that happened.
InD: What was that like growing up in Japan?
We lived on a military base so we still had that American influence, but my parents wanted us to get as much cultural experience as we could, so they would take us off base and we would tour museums and explore the country. It was a unique experience that I don’t think a lot of people get to take advantage of.  
It's a shame because living in another country and experiencing a different culture gives you a different perspective on everything we have here. I love it here in America, but I also loved it in Okinawa. It was one of my favorite places to live.
InD: What was one of the biggest differences you remember that you liked or didn't like?
: Well, for one thing, it was warm. Okinawa is a tropical island so we spent a lot of our time at the beach or by a pool. I didn't really understand what snow was until we moved back here. We got to experience the food there as well. It opened me up to other cuisines whereas maybe I would not have been so adventurous on the culinary side if I had tried it at an older age.
We visited a lot of the festivals, like the cherry blossom festival, every year. We got to watch the Eisa drummers perform several times, which was always amazing.
InD: As a child with parents in the military, did you enjoy the experience of moving a lot? What was your outlook on that?
No. I remember when we moved back to Okinawa I was very upset with my parents, and my mom looked at me and said, “One of these days, you will thank me for this experience.” Sure enough, when we got back, I realized how blessed we were. It was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. The learning opportunities were amazing.
InD: When you came back at 12 years old, was it a big culture shock?
It was. When we moved back, my grandparents actually picked us up and drove us back to their house, which was like two hours away. My dad looked at us and said, “Right now, we’re driving faster and traveling farther than we ever did in Okinawa.” That blew my mind. It took a long time to fully comprehend how spread out things were here.
School was different too. In Okinawa, I went to school on a military base. I was in 6th grade which there was considered part of elementary school, but here it was middle school. I had to go from class to class during the periods. I remember being so scared because I had never done that before. I was suddenly thrown into switching classes. It was like being in high school, which I wasn’t prepared for.  
We had what was called “informal" learning in Columbus, which none of us had ever heard about before. It wasn’t the way they taught in my last school so that was a little bit tough, but the teachers were great. They were very accepting and the kids were very welcoming so there was a plus side to it too. I got to be the new kid who’d lived in a different country and whose parent was also a Marine.
InD: You would have to be good at making new friends because you were moving all the time.
I am terrible at making friends! Making friends when you live on a military base is much easier.  Usually, those living on base all have kids. The neighbors to my left and right both had kids my age, so you just became friends with whomever was on your block.
But when you come back to the States, the kids are not all located in one place. The street we moved to didn’t have a single kid my age. I was used to roaming the neighborhood with my buddies and going to the playground and doing all those things. But here, the only friends were the ones you made in school. I was a super awkward kid who preferred the company of books. I didn't know what to do to make friends. Luckily a couple of kids in my class adopted me and showed me the ropes, but for a couple of months, it was pretty lonely.
InD: Have you always loved to read?
I’d like to say yes, but the truth is I actually had trouble learning to read. I was born in September which meant I started school early. My brain just didn’t develop as fast as my peers’. My dad would sit with me every night with flashcards and he’d ask me what each word was. Every time I’d answer, “I don’t know”, Then he would go back to the beginning and I still wouldn’t know.
Part of the problem was that I just wasn’t interested. I’ve always been kind of hard-headed, and if I didn’t want to learn, my brain put up a block and refused to take in information. I was also a very active child who wanted to be outside all the time. I didn't want to concentrate. That all changed when I was in the 3rd grade for the second time in Okinawa. My parents had held me back when they realized I was having trouble. The school had this reading day where you came to school for half a day and all you did was read, then you went home and the teachers had a work day for themselves.
I took a Nancy Drew book with me because my dad had bought it thinking I would like it. He’d really enjoyed The Hardy Boys and thought it might get me interested. I read the first chapter of that book, and by the time they released us, I went home and asked my parents to help me read it. After that, I kind of never stopped.
InD: You said you were in the 3rd grade at that time?
Yes, but that wasn’t the beginning of my writing career oddly enough. I started trying to write stories in the 1st grade. I couldn't write well so I’d ask the older kids to write the stories down for me while I dictated them. Everybody would always lose interest long before I did, and I would get upset. I remember one time, in the 1st or 2nd grade, there was a ghost story I wanted to tell. This older girl—she was probably only a year or two older, but at that time she seemed way older than me—knew how to write and said she’d be my partner.
We spent the rest of the day at camp writing my story down. The next day she wanted to go play with the other kids and didn’t want to be my writing partner anymore. That day, it just happened to be my turn to pass out the cookies, and I passed  them to everybody but her. She complained to the teachers, and they told me no matter how upset I was, I had to give her a cookie – so I did… by throwing it at her head. I admit I was a bit of a brat, but at the time I felt like my world was falling because my writing partner had deserted me and I’d never get to tell my great story. Sadly, I was not allowed to pass out cookies after that.
InD: That is such a wonderful story! You had such passion for storytelling at a young age.
I come from a storytelling family. My dad’s family and my mom's father always liked to tell tall tales at the dinner table. One of my dad’s mottos was actually “Never let the truth interfere with a good story.” Maybe that’s why I gravitated to fiction.
They’re the kind of people who would tell these random and long stories. Then they’d get to the punchline and everyone would always chuckle. I always wanted to do that. Even as a very small child, I’d wait until the other kids had deserted the table and I’d just sit and listen to their stories. My grandmother used to say I had an old soul because of it.

Read the entire interview in the June 2023 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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