About TJ

I’ve always been fascinated by great stories, especially ones based on classic fairy tales, myths, and legends from all over the world. So it didn’t come as a surprise when I began telling my own stories, tackling my first novel at the age of fifteen.

A graphic designer and marketing professional by day, I live with my family in rural New England. When I’m not writing I can usually be found reading, practicing maedeup (ancient Korean art of knotting), or watching TV – usually Korean dramas, Jonny Quest, Sailor Moon, or DIY-home shows.

TJ Carr
Photo by First Light Studios

Some Things I Love

  • Anything to do with fairy tales, folklore, mythology or legends 
  • K-dramas (Korean drama shows/movies)
  • K-Pop (Korean pop music)
  • Sailor Moon
  • Jonny Quest (Classic and Real Adventures)
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Comic books (I still have all my comics from high school – titles like X-Men, Generation X, Crimson, Danger Girl, Battle Chasers, Spirit of the Tao, Witchblade to name a few)
  • Anime, especially anything by Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke being my favorite)

My Writing Journey


The Making of a Storyteller

The Children's Hour
The 16 volume The Children’s Hour, published in 1953 by Spencer Press, edited by Marjorie Barrows

Growing up in rural New England, my life revolved around the use of my imagination. Every night during my childhood, my brother and I eagerly tucked ourselves into bed so our parents could read us a story (okay, maybe not eagerly, but I did love this time with my parents). We had (and I still have them) this great collection of leather-bound children’s books – The Children’s Hour. In each volume there were different types of stories – fairy tales, legends, myths, sports heroes, historical figures – you name it, there was a volume for it. This is where my love of reading, of storytelling, was born.

During the day, I indulged in a life of creativity, getting lost in the make-believe worlds I created for my Barbies, Hot Wheels, and action figures (yes, I owned actions figures, girls can do that too!); reading from an overflowing pile of novels and comic books; and watching anime and the now classic cartoons of the 80’s and 90’s. (I’m a geek and proud of it!)

Uncanny X-Men 348/Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures
My favorite issue of Uncanny X-Men (featuring my favorite couple – Gambit and Rogue) and the 90’s reboot of Jonny Quest, now known as Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures

I began writing my first novel in high school, a high fantasy inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. I also started writing stories featuring the X-Men and Jonny Quest – reading and writing JQ stories got me through many long nights when I monitored the underutilized computer lab in my college’s science building.

But it’s the summers of my pre-teen and teen years that I love most, not because I wasn’t going to school (I’m one of those people who loved school). Summers were when my family would spend one week at our favorite lake. Our days were spent swimming, tubing and having an all-around awesome time, but most of my days were spent reading (I think my reading record still stands at 13 books over the course of one week). More importantly I was also writing. Major portions of those first stories were all written at camp on a borrowed laptop. To this day writing lakeside is still my place of writing bliss.

The Goldilocks of Authors

By the time I left college writing had become an integral part of my life and I made the decision to seriously pursue this passion. I joined the Romance Writers of America and several of their chapters, began attending workshops and conferences, and met amazing writer friends, sisters I never knew my life was missing. And I wrote. I wrote several more novels, testing out other genres, honing my craft with each book. But none of those novels felt right. Like Goldilocks looking for the perfect chair, I was searching for my literary home. So I slid those unsold novels under my bed, where they patiently wait for their day in the sun.

The problem I found myself facing with those first novels was that I was trying to write in genres my heart wasn’t really in. Did I enjoy those stories? Yes. And while those story ideas might’ve been good ones, I wasn’t passionate about them. The solution to this problem seemed simple enough. I had to find my passion.

Sometimes when you’re lost, the best place to start is back at the beginning. So that’s what I did. I looked at my list of ideas and, to my surprise (though it shouldn’t have been), discovered a pattern. Most of my ideas were about finding one’s self, a common concern for many of us, but I also saw something else – a lot of ideas were jumpstarted by a fairy tale, myth, or legend. I realized this was where my passion truly lay. So I decided to go back to the origins of my love for storytelling, to those stories found in The Children’s Hour books, the stories I grew up reading or have since discovered.

Why Fairy Tales, Myths, and Legends?

I love how these stories give you a glimpse of the culture at the time of their writing, their traditions and religions, how society changed over time and changed the stories along with them. The story of Cinderella as we know it today is not the story that first appeared when Giambattista Basile wrote it down for the first time in 1634. It’s nothing like the Disney animated movie will all know now, but you can clearly see the roots of that original tale in the story being told today.

King Tut
King Tut’s golden mask: Golden Mask of Tutankhamun in the Egyptian Museum. Copyright Carsten Frenzl

As for myths and legends, well – when I was a kid there was a time when I wanted to be an Egyptologist. I blame that fascination on my introduction to King Tut, someone whose life (and death) still intrigues me. Through Tut I came to know the world of the Egyptian gods, which then led me to the Greek gods and like Alice down the rabbit hole, I soon discovered the deities and mythical creatures of other cultures – like the Romans, Nordics, Celts, Chinese, Japanese, and more. They are so vastly different; yet at times have startling similarities.

Mixed among the myths were the great legends of the world, some which persist today, like the ongoing quest for the Holy Grail, Atlantis, and Shangri-La. Not to mention the tales of King Arthur and his knights, or even the origins of Santa Claus.

Through my stories, and my blog, I want to share and explore these great stories with you. I want to share my passion – the stories you know and love, and the ones you may not have heard of – yet.

Affiliations

I’m a member of a couple of amazing writing groups. If you’re looking for like-minded writers, check them out!
 
Romance Writers of America   New Hampshire Romance Writers of America   Young Adult Romance Writers of America   Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators