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Navigating Love and Life: An Interview with Tana B

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In urban fiction, few authors capture the raw, real, and relatable quite like Tana B. Her latest book, *This Game Called Love*, explores the complexities of relationships, resilience, and the human spirit, all set against the vivid backdrop of Boston. In this interview, Tana B delves into the personal and profound experiences that shaped her storytelling.

**Q: How did growing up in Boston influence the setting and characters in *This Game Called Love*?**

**Tana B:** Growing up in Boston greatly impacted how I created the setting and characters in *This Game Called Love*. I saw and learned things that maybe I shouldn’t have at such a young age, but those experiences and stories I heard growing up shaped the way I wrote the story and developed the characters.

**Q: Can you delve deeper into the personal experiences that inspired the story of Teyanna, Terror, and Rico?**

**Tana B:** Teyanna, Terror, and Rico were inspired by real personal experiences in my life. Tey and Rico’s story reflects a bit of my past with an ex who didn’t always treat me right – hence Rico’s character coming to life. Navigating the dynamics between Tey and Terror was challenging, given his protective, powerful, yet peaceful nature. Readers connected with the idea of a guy from the hood who respected a woman going through a tough time.

**Q: How do you balance the portrayal of harsh realities with moments of hope and resilience in your narratives? **

**Tana B:** Balancing the portrayal of harsh realities with moments of hope and resilience in my stories is key for me. Showing characters’ struggles and challenges is important to reflect real life, but I also want to highlight the strength and courage they find to overcome those obstacles. By weaving in moments of hope and resilience, I aim to inspire readers and remind them that even in the darkest times, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all about capturing the complexities of life while shining a light on the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity.

**Q: What was the most challenging scene to write in *This Game Called Love*, and why?**

**Tana B:** The toughest scene to write in *This Game Called Love* was the restaurant scene with Terror and Tey. I had to dig deep and be emotionally vulnerable, even when I didn’t feel like it, all for the story’s sake. Through Tey, I tapped into emotions I didn’t even know I had, which was challenging and incredibly rewarding. It was tough, but it added depth and authenticity to the characters and their journey.

**Q: How do you ensure authenticity when writing about sensitive topics such as mental health and domestic violence?**

**Tana B:** When it comes to writing about sensitive topics like mental health and domestic violence, I aim to keep it real and raw while sprinkling in nuggets of authenticity. Drawing from personal experiences, conducting research, and tapping into my background in human services all make sure I capture these issues truthfully. And when I hit a roadblock or need more insight, I’m not afraid to reach out to experts for their guidance. It’s all about blending personal knowledge with solid research to ensure that the stories I tell are as genuine and accurate as possible.

**Q: Can you describe the process of developing the love triangle between Teyanna, Terror, and Rico?**

**Tana B:** Creating the love triangle between Teyanna, Terror, and Rico was a fascinating process. Teyanna was firm in her decision to move on, showing her strength and independence. On the other hand, Rico was determined to win her back despite his instability, which intensified as he saw Teyanna finding happiness with someone else. Meanwhile, Terror, the Bad Boy with a good heart, stood by Teyanna, showing care and respect for her. His disdain for Rico is evident, especially through Rico’s arrogance and actions throughout the story. This dynamic mix of characters’ personalities, desires, and conflicts added layers of tension and emotion to the love triangle, shaping the relationships and driving the narrative forward.

**Q: How do you approach writing characters with complex, conflicting emotions?**

**Tana B:** When it comes to writing characters with all sorts of messy feelings, I like to dig deep into their heads and hearts to figure out what makes them tick. I give them juicy backstories, and conflicting desires, and let them loose in the story to see how they react. It’s all about keeping it real, showing their ups and downs, and letting them grow through the chaos. Characters with layers and emotions flying everywhere? That’s the good stuff that keeps the story interesting.

**Q: What techniques do you use to maintain suspense and unpredictability in your stories?**

**Tana B:** To keep my stories juicy and keep readers hooked, I sprinkle in cliffhangers at the end of chapters, drop sneaky foreshadowing hints, throw in some red herrings to keep them guessing, create characters with more layers than an onion, hit ’em with plot twists out of left field, and make sure the pacing is like a rollercoaster ride. It’s all about keeping things spicy, unpredictable, and unputdownable.

**Q: Can you share more about the research you did to accurately depict gang warfare and street life?**

**Tana B:** When it came to capturing the gritty world of gang warfare and street life in my writing, I dove into a ton of crime and thriller books to get a feel for the genre. Also, I reached out to folks I knew who had firsthand experience living that intense, fast-paced lifestyle. Their insights and stories served as a valuable guide, helping me bring authenticity and depth to the narrative. By immersing myself in these resources and personal interactions, I was able to paint a vivid and realistic picture of the challenges and dynamics of that world in my story.

**Q: How do your characters’ backgrounds and personal histories shape their actions and decisions throughout the book?**

**Tana B:** My characters’ backgrounds and personal histories are like the driving force behind everything they do in the book. Their past experiences, struggles, and triumphs all come together to shape their actions and decisions. Whether it’s a rough childhood, a broken heart, or a big win, each character’s history influences how they react to challenges, make choices, and interact with others. It’s like their whole life story is playing out right there on the pages, guiding them along their journey in the book.

**Q: What inspired you to include themes of closeted relationships in *This Game Called Love*?**

**Tana B:** When I was writing the story, closeted relationships were a hot topic on social media and I saw it playing out in the lives of people around me. It’s way more common than folks realize, so I knew I had to weave it into the narrative to bring that extra layer of drama and authenticity to the story. It’s like tapping into a real-life buzz and injecting it into the plot to add depth and intrigue to the characters’ journeys.

**Q: How do you navigate the portrayal of “frenemies” and their impact on the main characters’ lives?**

**Tana B:** When it comes to showing “frenemies” and how they mess with the main characters’ lives, I dive into the drama of friendship mixed with rivalry. It’s all about capturing that juicy tension, jealousy, and power struggles that spice things up. These frenemies shake things up, making the main characters face their flaws, stand tall, and grow along the way. It’s like a rollercoaster of friendship and conflict that keeps the story interesting and the characters evolving.

**Q: Can you discuss the significance of the title *This Game Called Love* in relation to the story’s themes?**

**Tana B:** In *This Game Called Love*, the title reflects the risky and unpredictable nature of Tey’s love life. Caught between her abusive ex Rico and the charming bad boy Terror, Tey navigates a dangerous game of power, desire, and survival. As threats loom and allegiances shift, the title encapsulates the high stakes and uncertain outcomes in the tumultuous world of love and relationships.

**Q: How do you hope your portrayal of urban life will resonate with readers from different backgrounds?**

**Tana B:** I hope my portrayal of city life speaks to folks from all walks of life. By showing the ups and downs, the realness, and the diversity of urban living, I want readers to connect with the stories on a personal level. Through relatable characters and authentic experiences, I aim to spark conversations, promote understanding, and celebrate the richness of urban culture.

**Q: What new themes or topics are you exploring in your upcoming novels? Will there be a sequel to *This Game Called Love*?**

**Tana B:** In the sequel to *This Game Called Love*, things get even crazier! I dive into themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the fallout from all the drama in the first book. You’ll see the characters facing new challenges, making tough choices, and growing unexpectedly. Get ready for more twists, more intensity, and more of that urban love rollercoaster you can’t get enough of. It’s a wild ride that will keep you hooked from start to finish.

**Q: How has your writing style evolved from your first book to *This Game Called Love*?**

**Tana B:** From my first book to *This Game Called Love*, my writing style has evolved significantly, particularly in character and story development. I’ve honed my ability to create more complex, relatable characters with deeper motivations and flaws, making them more engaging and authentic to readers. Understanding my audience better, I’ve learned what they expect, what resonates

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