Guest post & book giveaway: SPOILS, by Tammar Stein

I first met Tammar a couple years ago at a DC YA Lit writer’s get together put on by Diana Peterfreund & later I picked up one of Tammar’s books, Spoils, and was immediately sucked in the by the plot. It was so good! So when I found out it was about to be released in paperback, I was like YAY PLEASE COME DO A GUEST POST ON MY BLOG ABOUT IT, and she kindly obliged me. Be sure to stick around to the end as there is a book giveaway!

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1- What inspired you to write Spoils?

On my daily commute, I used to pass the mega millions billboard. Mega Millions starts at 30 million and as people don’t win, it grows from there. I’m not a big gambler, I don’t buy lottery tickets. But somehow, as that number grew, 120 million, 180 million, 220 million, I started to think, Hmmm, maybe I should buy a ticket next time I’m at the gas station. And the silly thing is that as soon as I thought about buying a ticket, the very next thought I had was how I’d spend the money if I won.


There I am, driving with a dreamy look in my eye. I would pay off all loans. I would send my nieces and nephews to college. I would buy out the NPR fundraiser so they don’t keep interrupting their usual programs to ask people for money. I would rent out an entire cruise ship, the ones with 3000 rooms, and I would invite everyone I know, you too, you could totally come, and all my favorite authors, and we would all take a 10 day cruise. How fun would that be? Wouldn’t you love that?


I’m grinning as I’m driving along. But the thing is, I keep thinking about what my life would be like when my bank statement says $10,000,000. So after our really fun vacation, we go back home and then what? I mean, my husband and I quit our jobs, obviously, but all of our friends and family, they’re still working. Is it going to be awkward? Will there start to be some hard feelings? Will people constantly be hitting us up for money? Will we be bored? Are we going to have big fights with our family? The smile slowly faded and dreamy look disappeared..


I did a bit research and it turns out, 80% of millionaire lottery winners are bankrupt within 10 years. And not only are they worse off financially, they are worse in every measurable category. Their physical health has deteriorated, their children are estranged, they usually suffer from depression. Winning the lottery, they say, was the worst thing that happened to them.This is how the idea for SPOILS got started.


SPOILS is about a family in Florida. They are a warm family, not great with money, but holding it together. One day, they win 80 million dollars. Seven years later, there’s nothing left. Their cars have been repossessed, the fancy house is falling apart and in foreclosure. They had given each of their children a million dollars when they won. The youngest was 11 when they won so her million went into a trust fund. It matures when she turns 18, which is a week away when the book opens. Leni is different from the rest of her family. She’s studious, passionate about the environment, and she’s watched how her family has squandered their money and she has big plans for her million. But as her birthday draws closer and she realizes the difficult situation her parents are in, and everyone is watching her. What is she going to do with the money?

  1. What advice do you have to aspiring authors? 

First of all, congratulations! I’m so glad you’re interested in writing. We cannot have too many good books in this world and the only way to get them is to have people like you write them. So, thank you! In my experience the two most important qualities you need to make it as a writer are stubbornness and honesty.

Stubbornness because every part of the writing process can be frustrating as hell. From that blank page, shifty characters and sticky plot lines to the whole publishing aspect which involves lots of rejections and criticism. You just have to accept that this is part of the package, grit your teeth, and keep on going.

Honesty because you can’t lie to yourself about what you’ve got. As hard as you’ve worked on your manuscript, as much as you’re in love with your characters, you have to be honest with yourself about the quality of the writing and the excellence of the story. If it’s not as awesome as you can possibly make it then it means you aren’t finished writing yet. And that’s okay. That’s why you’re stubborn and you won’t give up until it rocks.

Click here for the book giveaway for your copy of Spoils!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How do you pronounce your name?

Ooo, I’m glad you asked that! It is pronounced Ta-mar. It’s not pronounced ‘Tamer’ (Tamer than what, I wonder when I’m called that.) It’s not pronounced ‘Tamara’ because if it was, my parents would have put an ‘a’ at the end of my name. It’s just Tammar.

On the jacket in your books, it says your dog is bi-lingual. What languages does your dog speak?

She understands English and German. My husband and I adopted her while we were stationed in Germany with the army. She was eleven months old and already trained in German commands. Over time she picked up the English, but when we really want her to listen, we shout in German. It’s very impressive.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was five I wanted to be a mermaid. By age nine I was slightly more realistic and wanted to be an astronaut–the first woman on Mars. I went through a brief marine biologist phase–ironic given my pathological sea-sickness–before realizing in high school that what I really wanted to do was read for a living. I am addicted to books. I cannot read enough. But I didn’t really see a way to make money reading books, so I decided the next best thing would be to write them.


How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends. Light Years took five years to write. It’s not that I’m such a slow typist. It just took me a while to figure out what makes a good story. What keeps the pace tight, the plot riveting, the characters people that a reader could care about. I revised it about 50 times. Literally, I read and re-wrote each page about 50 separate times. High Dive took almost three years. I wrote an entire draft but it wasn’t very good so I threw it away and started over. Still, High Dive took two years less to write than Light Years which was great. Kindred clocked along at two years, so I’m hoping my speed continues to increase. And if I continue halving my writing time, my seventh book should take about a month and a half to finish. I’ll keep you posted.