Substitute teacher finishes work on new novel

Kaelyn Rodrigues | Staff Writer

The next time you read a book in class, it might be one written by your substitute teacher.

An early cover sketch of Tyler’s upcoming novel “Windy Hollow”.

Author and long term substitute teacher Tara Robinson, who publishes novels under the name Tara Tyler, is releasing a new novel. “Windy Hollow” is the third book in her series Beast World, which follows the story of a young goblin named Gabe and his fantasy creature friends. Robinson has published almost a dozen books so far including the Beast World series, her science fiction series Pop Travel, her self-published short story series Unconventional Princesses.

Robinson said she first got into writing and the idea of writing novels around 2009, with her first novel being published in 2013. She said being the first novel she wrote, Pop Travel was the most difficult because she had no prior experience in writing novels.

“My first took the longest because it had such a big learning curve, but once I had the process down I put out about a book a year for the last six years,” Robinson said. “Things are changing with my publisher so that’s not going to happen this quickly anymore.”

Robinson has worked with Curiosity Quills Press since the beginning of her career. Although her experiences with the publishing company have been positive so far, she said the decreasing trend in reading novels could potentially cause issues in the rate and process of publishing.

“Working with a small press can be risky; I’ve been with this publisher for six years and they’ve been great,” Robinson said. “They edit, produce a nice cover by great artists, and handle all the publishing, formatting, and technical stuff, but small press publishers don’t make a ton of money. The whole industry has been in flux for years with e-books and people reading less in general. Things change and we have to adjust.”

Though writing the book itself may seem like it would be the hardest part of the process, Robinson said she found more difficulty in finding a publisher for her first novel. This took her about a year, from revising and writing query letters to being contracted by her publisher’s acquisitions editor.

“Writing the book is the fun part; the toughest thing to do is to book an agent or a publisher, and get them so interested in your story that they want to publish it,” Robinson said. “First you have to have other people read it and give you feedback. Once you feel like it’s good, you have to write a query letter and get your entire story into a couple of paragraphs without boring them. They don’t want to read the whole thing, they just want the gist. I had to write about 25 query letters (before) I found my publisher.”

Although Robinson is a published author, she is certified to teach math. When sophomore Lauren Ulsh was in eighth grade, she brought Pop Travel to her math class, unaware that she was reading a book written by her long term substitute teacher.

“I actually found out about her novels before she was my sub, I think I found it in the library,” Ulsh said. “I was like, ‘ok, this looks cool’, so I checked it out and a couple weeks later she was my sub. She saw me reading the book and said, ‘Hey, that’s my book!’”

Robinson is also looking into other means of storytelling. One of these projects in particular that she faces difficulty with is turning her debut novel, Pop Travel, into a movie.

“I’m constantly writing one thing or another; I have all kinds of ideas going on all the time,” Robinson said. “I look at all kinds of media; I’ve written some screenplays, like for the first book I wrote, Pop Travel. It’s very difficult to turn a book into a screenplay; you have to cut so much. I’ve submitted it to contests and stuff. It’s really hard to make movies from books if they’re not automatic bestsellers.”

Robinson said one of the most memorable moments of her career was getting to see her first book in print and on a shelf available for purchase for the first time. This was after around two years of editing, writing query letters, and getting contracted with her publisher.

“There were many incredible firsts with the first book,” Robinson said. “After so many rejections, just having someone request to read my manuscript was very exciting. Then they offered me a contract, and I fell in love with my first cover.  When I held that first book in my hands, it made my heart swell! And seeing it on a book store shelf, I almost shouted right there in Barnes & Noble!”

Photo by Kaelyn Rodrigues.