T. A. Hernandez is a science fiction and fantasy author and long-time fan of speculative fiction. She grew up with her nose habitually stuck in a book and her mind constantly wandering to make-believe worlds full of magic and adventure. She began writing after reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings many years ago and is now happily engaged in an exciting and lifelong quest to tell captivating stories.
She is a clinical social worker and the proud mother of two girls. She also enjoys drawing, reading, graphic design, playing video games, and making happy memories with her family and friends.
CONNECT WITH T. A.
Welcome to SPFM, T. A.! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Creative. Scattered. Empathetic.
Summarize your book, Calico Thunder Rides Again, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
Dakiti by EJ Fisch – EJ Fisch is my critique partner and I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time, so I might be a little biased with this one. That being said, she writes incredibly engaging characters and fast-paced plots that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you enjoy science fiction, I’d definitely recommend checking out her work.
The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown – This is a YA fantasy retelling of Peter Pan that centers on Wendy Darling as an often underestimated member of the Royal Navy. The book is witty, charming, and whimsical in a way that stays true to the spirit of the original but also brings an imaginative new spin to the story and characters.
Aletheia by Megan Tennant – The dystopian world of Aletheia is a grim one, and the author never shies away from the dark realities that living in such a world might create. Despite that, there’s a lot of strength, hopefulness, and resilience in the well-developed characters, which is one of my favorite things to see in any dystopian novel.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
My favorite part is being able to have a greater level of flexibility and control over my work, not only in the kinds of stories I write but also in the behind-the-scenes details like publication timing, the books’ pricing, and ways I’m able to connect with readers. Calico Thunder Rides Again is definitely not your typical fantasy novel in its setting, length, characters, and themes, and I’m not sure it ever would have been considered by traditional publishers if I’d decided to pursue that option. Self-publishing meant I still got to put the book out there for readers who would enjoy it.
My least favorite part is marketing, which is probably not a surprise. I feel like that’s the standard answer for most authors. It really is such a challenge though, and although I’ve learned a lot over the last several years, I still don’t feel like I really know what I’m doing.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I don’t really need anything in my writing space these days besides my computer and the outline or whatever draft I’m working from. I’m a parent and my schedule has been pretty hectic for years now, so in between taking care of babies and being a college student and working, I learned to just write however and whenever I could. It’s great to have my headphones with some background ambience, and I’ve recently started pairing certain stories with certain candles that I’ll burn while I’m writing. But those things are extra and just nice to have on the occasions where I can settle in and write for longer stretches.
Tell us about the hardest scene you’ve written. What made it so difficult?
There’s a scene in my upcoming novel that involves revealing a major character’s backstory through flashes of memory, but there are other characters involved in the scene and other things going on around them, so it’s a lot to balance. I need to bring all of that together in a way that’s engaging and relevant while also ensuring it makes sense within the confines of the magic system. It was a really tricky scene to write, and I can’t even tell you how many times I wrote, rewrote, revised, and edited it. It paid off, though. All of my beta readers so far have really enjoyed it, and I hope future readers will, too.
If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick and what would it be about?
One of my favorite side characters in Calico Thunder Rides Again is Clarence, the ogre mobster who is assigned to keep an eye on Jake and provide obnoxious reminders of his fast-approaching deadline. He’s one of the most fun bad guys I’ve ever had a chance to write, and while he’s definitely downright awful sometimes, he does try to be a decent gentleman…in his own way. I’m not sure it will ever actually happen, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to explore his character a little more in a story from his POV.
Give a shoutout to a fellow author.
I want to shout out Michelle Winkler, an indie author I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the last couple of years. She’s been very supportive of my work and has some really incredible stories of her own to tell. She published her debut novel, Dust on the Altar, last October. It’s about a reluctant witch trying to regain her abandoned powers in order to protect her coven and bring her aunt’s killer to justice. It’s a great read with some interesting characters, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Michelle also has a YouTube channel where she shares useful tips and information for new and aspiring indie authors.
Describe a tavern that would be found in your literary world.
Calico Thunder Rides Again takes place in an alternate Prohibition-era United States, but instead of alcohol being banned, it’s certain forms of magic that are illegal. Any tavern in that setting would probably be similar to the speakeasies that do actually appear in the book—places where people go to mingle, dance, listen to music, and purchase illegal charms and jinxes. There would be jazz music and lots of dancing, with a lookout at the door asking for a password to enter. The bar would serve drinks, but there would also be various potion ingredients and a spell caster to mix up and imbue those potions with different useful properties. The fact that such charms and jinxes are illegal in would only add to the overall appeal of the establishment.
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
I have multiple story ideas brewing at any given time and I’ll always be writing something, so you can expect to see a lot of books from me in the future. My current work in progress is a YA fantasy novel called Tethered Spirits that will be releasing sometime in late 2021 or early 2022. Afterward, I’ll be focusing on its sequel. I also have an idea for a book set in the same world as Calico Thunder Rides Again, as well as several other fantasy and sci-fi story ideas.
About Calico Thunder Rides Again
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the Most Fantastic Show on Earth…
Three years ago, the Ban changed everything, outlawing certain forms of magic and bringing about the rise of powerful crime syndicates. Now, speakeasies in every city sell illegal charms and jinxes, and bootleggers traffic restricted potion ingredients across the country. But even in this changing world, the magic of the circus still acts as a wondrous escape and provides entertainment for all.