In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming
Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret
that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship.
Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it
impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will
and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?
“I promise nothing will separate us again. Just like it said in our vows, ‘Til death do us part.’”
“Well, about fifty percent of all marriages are ‘til divorce do us part.’”
“We’ll be in the other fifty percent.”
“How do you know?” I was still worried.
“Because I love you and I am not stupid enough to make the same mistake twice. Unless you
have any plans to break us up?”
“No. I wasn’t worried about me. I was worried about you.”
“We’re good then?”
“Yes, I guess so.” I could hear a little sigh of relief on the other end of the phone. “Other than
Saturday, have you ever noticed how we have a lot of these kinds of conversations over the
phone or out in public?”
“I wonder why that is.”
“Because when we’re alone together, we can’t keep our hands off each other,” Will said in a
“I guess that’s true. Do you think we’ll ever be able to have them when we’re alone together?”
“If you mean, ‘do I think that we’ll be able to keep our hands off each other at some point,’ I
certainly hope not. But I do think we might be able to figure out how to multitask.”
Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant. Away from the Spotlight is her
first published work of fiction. She currently is working on two additional novels: one is about
love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction. Tamara currently
resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter. For further
information, go to her Website.
Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?
I wouldn’t say that there is an overarching message in Away from the Spotlight. It really
is just a fairytale romance of sorts. That said, there is one aspect that I think provides
a good example for others: Shannon Sutherland is not a heroine who needs saving. A
lot of romance novels involve the shy, awkward woman who blossoms under the love
of the perfect man. Others involve a woman with a painful past who overcomes that
pain thanks to the love of a wonderful, sometimes equally damaged, man. While these
stories are often excellent and I know women who have had that experience, I believe
that women should be encouraged to save themselves and create their own happiness in
addition to that provided by a relationship. In Away from the Spotlight, Shannon comes
from a loving family, has a good group of friends, is well-educated, and is starting out in
a professional career. Shannon is not perfect and does have her insecurities, but she is
not an overly shy, awkward heroine and is not damaged by any painful past experience.
Thus, Will MacKenzie serves only to add to the good life Shannon has created for
herself. Will is not Shannon’s savior. In fact, Shannon, in helping Will lead a normal
life, acts as his savior to some degree.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I write by channeling a story as if transcribing a movie playing in my head. Sometimes
the movie stops before the end and I’m left with, “And now what?” I then move to
another story that I can channel at that time, and go back to the other once the movie
starts up again in my head. Consequently, I have multiple novels in various stages of
development at the same time.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
Away from the Spotlight is my first completed full-length novel. I have five other novels
in various stages of development: a paranormal romance that takes place on a college
campus, two contemporary romances involving musicians, a historical romance set in
16th century Scotland, and a contemporary romance involving the relationship between
two people in disintegrating marriages with alcoholic spouses who meet when one of
them is on vacation in Scotland (it’s not as depressing as it sounds).
I wish I could say I had a favorite, but I love each of them for different reasons.
Away from the Spotlight is my first completed full-length novel and uses some of my
experience graduating from law school, studying for the Bar, traveling after the Bar
Exam and starting my career as a litigator. My paranormal romance is somewhat of an
homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my favorite television shows of all time.
I am a music fanatic so the two romances wherein the hero is a musician are close to
my heart as a result. The historical romance is based upon my fascination with my
ancestors who came from the Scottish Borders. The romance between the two spouses
of alcoholics was based upon my reading a number of blog posts and discussion boards
wherein readers stated that they didn’t like aspects of novels that involved cheating.
Perverse person that I am, I decided to write a story to show that life is not so black
and white and wherein the characters may or may not be perceived as having cheated –
and, if they could be perceived as cheaters, it was somewhat understandable given the
circumstances of their lives.
If you had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who
would you pick and why?
If I could cast Shannon, I would select an actress along the lines of Emilia Clarke or a
younger Kate Winslet. Both come off as strong, intelligent women. Both are somewhat
unusual looking and could rock the red hair.
When did you begin writing?
I have written short stories for fun since I was a kid. Away from the Spotlight is my first
attempt at a full-length novel. I wrote it in 2008-09 and fiddled with it for years before
publishing it in June of this year.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
I started Away from the Spotlight in late-November or early-December of 2008 and
completed it around May of 2009. I then spent the next three years monkeying with it
now and then before finally publishing it in June of 2012.
Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
I was inspired to create imaginary worlds and write stories based upon those imaginary
worlds by reading and watching Star Wars as a kid. I continued writing from that time
forward for pleasure.
I was inspired to publish earlier this year after reading novels by some popular self-
published (at that time) romance authors: Tracey Garvis-Graves, Colleen Hoover, Jamie
McGuire, and S.C. Stephens, among others. I admired what they did and decided to do it
myself since I had a completed novel in Away from the Spotlight.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Writing a book is like taking a little vacation in someone else’s life. Thus, channeling the
story is my favorite part of the writing process.
Describe your latest book in 4 words.
Romance involving famous actor.
Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your
As I mentioned above, I have five novels in various stages of development. It is my hope
to publish one of them by the end of the year or early in 2013.
Away from the Spotlight was written as a stand-alone novel. However, I might consider
continuing the story of Will MacKenzie’s son, William, and/or John Maher’s son, Jack.
Tamara will be awarding two $25 Amazon GCs to randomly drawn commenters during the tour.
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