Tabitha Forney joins Author Spotlight this week to discuss her novel, Paper Airplanes
Author Name: Tabitha Forney
Book Title: Paper Airplanes
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: She Writes Press
Welcome, Tabitha! How would you describe PAPER AIRPLANES?
When Erin O’Connor’s new husband dies on 9/11, she struggles to get her life back on track but makes a series of bad decisions and begins to live her life in a self-destructive fog of booze and pills. It’s not until she hits rock bottom that she realizes it’s up to her to decide whether her destiny was sealed with Daniel’s, or if there’s life after happily ever after. A look into trauma, this story will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost.
What sparked the idea for this book?
PAPER AIRPLANES began its journey in September of 2015, when I toured the September 11 Museum for the first time. My husband Billy and I lived in New York City from 2000 to 2003, but in 2015 we had since moved back to Texas to raise a family. He was at work on the 85th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when the first plane hit. Like most people on the 91st floor and below, he was able to escape the building and get out safely, and even helped people along the way. After that day, we tried to move on. We had kids and jobs and busy lives and we tried not to dwell on the “what if” scenarios that inevitably snaked their way into our thoughts.
But when we visited the museum, it all came back. I was emotionally overwhelmed by the intensity of the displays at the museum, especially the artifacts found and excavated from the site, the speakers overhead playing clips of news footage from that day, and, tucked away in an alcove with warning signs to those who dared enter, images of the victims who fell to their deaths. The line between my husband and those images, between life and death, was disturbingly close. I studied their faces, scrutinized their stories, wondered how their wives and husbands and parents and children moved on. After the tour, I went straight to the airport, and at the gate I opened my laptop and began to write the prologue.
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
My favorite part of being a writer is sitting down at my computer and getting lost in the characters and worlds I have created. Being in the zone and blurring the lines between myself and my fiction. It’s an incredibly rewarding and blissful experience.
The most challenging part is marketing, social media, and selling in general. I’m an introvert who doesn’t like to focus on the business end of things, so being in that space is tense and difficult. Precisely the opposite of the creative space of writing and losing myself in the story.
Any words of wisdom you give to a new writer?
The most important part of becoming a writer is writing. It sounds basic, but it’s surprising how many aspiring writers never sit down to write. Make it a daily habit to sit down with the work, even if you don’t pen a single word that day. Keep writing until you’re happy with your work. Don’t take your own word for it—surround yourself with people who will be honest with you. You might have to pay them. It might hurt. I had an editor give me her real opinion on LOST BEHIND WORDS, the predecessor to PAPER AIRPLANES which I wrote on my agent’s advice, and I think I cried for two days. But once the tears stopped, I had a revelation about how to fix the problem, and it resulted in the creation of not one but two even better books: PAPER AIRPLANES and my other manuscript, THE SEVEN BEST WAYS TO DIE. If I had thrown in the towel, I would have missed a huge opportunity for growth and learning about the craft.
Put your butt in the chair every day, write, and never give up. Keep going and eventually you will succeed, in a way you never imagined possible.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love practicing law in those (rare) instances when I get in the zone on a project. It’s rewarding to tap into my experience and knowledge to provide valuable assistance to my clients, many of whom are nonprofits trying to do good in the world. I also practice ashtanga yoga daily, take regular walks, and love to spend time with my three kids and my husband. I have a great group of friends who get together for Fun Friday – happy afternoons of being together. And I love travel, something I hope to do more of post-COVID.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I have one other book finished, called THE SEVEN BEST WAYS TO DIE. It alternates between the story of Rosie Callahan (who makes a brief appearance in PAPER AIRPLANES as the FDNY operator who took Daniel’s 9-1-1 call), and that of her mother Mary, who dies under mysterious circumstances when Rosie is ten. Mary is a Welsh housewife who has dreams of being a famous singer but instead ends up stuck in Staten Island with two kids and an abusive husband. I’m also working on KEEPER OF THE BONES, which follows the 16th century skeletal remains of a young queen to current day as they are handed down to Annie, the last in her line of female descendants. And finally, I’m working on a fictionalized account of a six-figure PTO embezzlement scandal that happened at the posh public elementary school where my kids attended. That one is a lot of fun.
Where can readers find you?
And here are some past events:
- GMA September Book Pick
- Storey Time Podcast
- Zibby Owens: Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books – IG Live
- Author Stories with Hank Garner
- Jean Book Nerd Interview
- Christina Consolino Interview
- WCBS News Radio 880 Author Talks
Thank you, Tabitha! Paper Airplanes is OUT NOW.
It’s the end of summer, 2001. Erin O’Connor has everything she’s ever dreamed of: good friends, a high-powered career at a boutique Manhattan firm, and a husband she adores. They have plans for their life together: careers, children, and maybe even a house in the country. But life has other plans. Daniel is a trader who works on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center.
Erin is drinking margaritas on a beach in Mallorca, helping her best friend get over a breakup, when she hears a plane has crashed into Daniel’s building. On a television at the smoky hotel bar, she watches his building collapse. She makes her way home with the help of a stranger named Alec, and once there, she haunts Ground Zero, nearby hospitals, and trauma centers, plastering walls and fences with missing-person flyers. But there’s no trace of Daniel.
After accepting Daniel’s death, Erin struggles to get her life back on track but makes a series of bad decisions and begins to live her life in a self-destructive fog of booze and pills. It’s not until she hits rock bottom that she realizes it’s up to her to decide: Was her destiny sealed with Daniel’s? Or is there life after happily ever after?