This week we’re getting to know T.A. Hernandez, versatile author of several books, including the adorable picture book Courageous Cody: The Too-Little Cowboy, and the adult dystopian series Secrets of PEACE. The first two books, Secrets of PEACE and Renegades of PEACE, will suck you in and get your heart racing in no time. If you’re into tough women who don’t take crap from anyone, you’ll love Zira and the Secrets of PEACE books.
Nearly 30 years ago, the PEACE Project rose from the ruins of a global war to take power over a new America. Providing stability in exchange for absolute authority, the Project controls every aspect of citizens’ lives through each of its five units:
Raised in the Project since infancy, eighteen-year-old Zira has been trained as an assassin under the stern guidance of unit E-2’s Chairman Ryku. After she makes a careless mistake on an assignment, the chairman partners her with Jared, the best operative in her unit. Their partnership transforms into friendship as they work together and learn to rely on each other. But when misinformation causes a solo mission to backfire, Zira’s deepest loyalties and strongest relationships are tested in a place where even a hint of doubt can be perceived as treason.
The life she knows is falling apart, and nothing will ever look the same again.
T. A. Hernandez grew up with her nose habitually stuck in a book and her mind constantly wandering to make-believe worlds full of magic and adventure. She began writing stories after reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for the first time at age 10. Thankfully, her writing has improved significantly since then, though she will happily admit that she has much more to learn and is looking forward to a long and exciting journey in her Quest to Tell Better Stories. She is the proud mother of two girls and a college student working towards her degree in social work. She also enjoys drawing, reading, watching movies, riding her motorcycle, and making happy memories with her family and friends.
1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.
I’ve always loved a good story, whether it came from a book, movie, tv show, video game, or anywhere else. At some point I decided I wanted to create stories instead of just consuming them, and I’ve never looked back. Right now I’m working on Survivors of PEACE, which is the third book in my new adult dystopian trilogy. I also have a few projects on the backburner, including my second children’s picture book and a few speculative fiction short stories.
You As A Reader
2. When did you first fall in love with books?
I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t in love with books. There are several pictures in my childhood scrapbook of me as a toddler reading. It’s just something that’s always been a big part of my life.
3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?
It’s so hard to pick just one! I distinctly remember borrowing the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books from the library multiple times, though. The illustrations were fantastic. I also loved Bunnicula.
4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?
Lord of the Rings, hands down. That seems like kind of a cliche answer for speculative fiction writers, but I honestly don’t know if I would have decided to be a writer if I hadn’t read those books. They were magical, and they got me thinking about how incredible it would be to create my own stories.
5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?
I’m currently working my way through the Divergent series, so Insurgent was the last book I finished. Lord of the Rings will forever be my favorite story, but my current favorite seems to vary depending on the day. So for today, I think I’ll say Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
Neil Gaiman. He seems like an interesting person, and I have so much respect for him as a writer. He’s incredibly talented.
You As A Writer
7. When did you first know you were a writer?
I started writing as a kid, but I don’t think I really knew it was such an integral part of who I was until I was older, maybe about 16 or 17. I’d been writing for several years at that point and it was something I just had this consistent drive and passion for.
8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?
Oh yes, definitely. It was this super short fantasy “book” I wrote and illustrated on pages I stole out of my dad’s printer and stapled together. It was basically just a rip-off of Lord of the Rings, but I cut some characters and made most of the others girls. Because why not?
9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?
The most difficult part of my writing journey was a few years ago when I decided I needed to give up on the manuscript that eventually became Secrets of PEACE. At that point, I’d been working on it for about four years already and it had gone through several rewrites, multiple beta readers, and seemingly endless revisions. After all of that, it still just wasn’t coming together and I was beyond frustrated with it. I felt like I had wasted all this time and had nothing to show for it. So I put it away to work on something else, and I really didn’t know if I’d ever get back to it.
Almost a year later, it just kept nagging at me, so I pulled it back out and it was like I could suddenly see all the pieces that were missing. I rewrote it again and it finally felt right. I decided to self-publish, which was a huge deal for me because my writing was something I’d always kept pretty private until then. A lot of my friends and family members didn’t even know I wrote or that it was something I was serious about. But just having everyone’s support and hearing readers’ reactions to my stories and characters has been incredible–easily the best part of my writing journey.
10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?
Participate in some kind of critique swap or critique group with other writers. Getting outside feedback on your work is obviously important, but I think you grow a lot as you learn to critique other writers’ work as well. You learn to see what works in stories and what doesn’t, what kinds of things can make a scene fall flat or make characters feel stiff and unrealistic. All of that will help you when you go back to revise your own stories.
11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.
Survivors of PEACE is the third book of my new adult dystopian trilogy, which centers on a young, inexperienced assassin named Zira who was trained by the authoritative government of a future America. Without giving too much away, this book explores the repercussions of some of the major changes that took place in the second book and what that means for the characters individually and their society as a whole. I’m also in the planning stage for a few short stories featuring some of the secondary characters of the series. Oh, and I’m slowly drafting my second children’s picture book, which will be about dinosaurs.
Fun Stuff About You
12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?
I love drawing and I dabble in graphic design from time to time, which comes in super handy as an independent author as I feel pretty competent in making my own book covers and promotional materials. I’m in my last semester of university for my bachelor’s degree in social work, and I’m hoping to get into the master’s program for next year. I enjoy playing video games, and I have a little Honda Grom I like to ride around town when I need to get out of the house.
13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?
I would love to be an expert at graphic design. I know I said I dabble in it, and I really enjoy that, but I’m self-taught and I always feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing. It would be nice to have some actual skills to put to use instead of just doing everything by trial and error.
14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
It’s my dream to visit Japan one day. My family lived there for 3 years when I was a kid, and I remember little pieces of it, but not much. I do remember that the people were always very considerate and kind and that the food was excellent. I don’t understand Japanese, but I love how the language sounds, and I’m sure that comes from hearing it all the time when I was a kid. It would be so cool to go back and see where I used to live and some of the places I visited when my family lived there.
15. How can people connect with you?
16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thanks so much for the interview! I always love talking about writing with readers and fellow authors, so if you ever want to reach out, please don’t hesitate to contact me through my website or social media.
Thanks for letting us get to know you a bit more! I’m in awe of your creative diversity. To be able to write adult dystopian, and write and illustrate children’s picture books! It’s impressive!
If you’re interested in her picture book, you can find it on Amazon.
If you’d like to dive into the Secrets of PEACE series, you can find both books on Amazon as well.