Monday, September 24, 2012

VBT Away From the Spotlight

With us today is Tamara Carlisle on her virtual book tour. I asked her  how she researched law school and what other research was necessary. Here is her response.
In writing Away from the Spotlight, I wrote what I knew so extensive research was unnecessary.  I am a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law and lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years.  That said, it has been a while since I graduated and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area several years ago.  Consequently, I had to perform some research to determine what, if anything, had changed since I went to law school and lived in L.A.
Based upon that research, I made minor changes.  For example, my law school graduation ceremony took place at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, but the law school now holds its graduation ceremonies in the McCarthy Quad.  In addition, in my day, I would have gone to Commons for lunch.  However, the old Commons was demolished and replaced with the Ronald Tutor Campus Center in recent years.
I ignored some of the differences I found because changing them would not work for the story as I envisioned it.  For example, when I took my Bar Review course, recorded lectures were replayed during the day classes and live lectures took place at night.  Now, the live lectures take place during the day and the recorded lectures are replayed in the classes held at night.  I preferred my schedule of studying during the day, going to a live lecture at night and then going out afterward so I kept it that way in the story.  Had I kept my old schedule, but substituted the recorded lectures for the live lectures, I would have had to remove some of the commentary that was based upon my experience, such as heckling the USC professor who delivered one of the Bar Review lectures.  I didn’t want to do that since peppering in some of my experience gave the fairytale some of its realism.  
The other thing I had to deal with that might have required research was the issue of using appropriate British idioms.  However, I have spent a lot of time in the U.K. and my husband is from Scotland.  I hope that Will and his friends and family sound like proper Brits.  If not, my fallback position is that, at least with respect to Will, Stephen, Colin, Kate and Gemma, they had been living in L.A. and working with a lot of Americans so any slips can be attributed to their having adapted American terms and speech patterns. 
In addition, even though most of the places I mention are fictional, they were often based upon real places.  I therefore reviewed the relevant websites to ensure my memories and reality matched.  For example, the manor house hotel where Will and Shannon got engaged was based upon Cliveden, where one of my best friends got married.  The Royalist was based upon the Ye Olde King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica, where I met my husband when he was on holiday and where my Bachelorette Party was held.  With respect to Shannon’s travels through Europe, I checked tourism websites to confirm my memories as well as Eurail train schedules and routes to ensure that Shannon’s trip worked logistically.
While the plot and characters are purely fictional, it is my hope that the supporting details from my experience and confirmed through research make it easier for the required suspension of disbelief.
Thank you for the “spotlight” on my novel, Away from the Spotlight, today. 


In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?

“I met someone.  His name is Will.  He’s English, I think.”

“That would be different for you.”

She wasn’t wrong.  I had very casually dated a number of men I had met in the various pubs in Santa Monica.  They were from all over Europe, but not one of them had been English for some reason.  There were Scottish, Irish and Welsh men among them, but never English.  I had commented on occasion on the fact that I never seemed to meet English men at the English pubs I frequented.

“I’m going to see him again tomorrow night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Drop-dead gorgeous, smart, funny and with excellent taste in music.  Just my type.  Well, better than my type, actually.  It’s hard to believe someone that perfect has any interest in me.”

Please” Rachael said.  “You get hit on every time we go out.”

“That’s overstating things quite a bit.”

“You seem oblivious to it half the time.”

I guess I did ignore some of it.  When you spend time as part of a female minority in bars full of drunk men, it was hard not to think that some of them would have hit on me for no other reason than that I was female, regardless of how I acted, what I said, or what I looked like.  I therefore learned that getting hit on wasn’t necessarily a compliment and, the later it happened in the evening, the less of a compliment it was.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant.  Away from the Spotlight is her first published work of fiction.  She currently is working on two additional novels:  one is about love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction.  Tamara currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter.  For further information, go to 

Library Thing:

Tamara’s Goodreads Author Page also includes a blog detailing trivia relating to Away from the Spotlight.
 Tamara will be awarding two $25 Amazon GCs to randomly drawn commenters during the tour.


  1. Thanks for sharing your research and story behind the book. I live in New Zealand, and I find that both English and American language creeps into our conversations. The world is becoming much smaller! All the best with your new release.

  2. Good morning to everyone and thank you for joining us today! A special thanks to Sandra - I am very happy to be a part of your blog today. Shelley, thanks for checking in at the end of your day - it's early (4:45 a.m.) in mine. The world is becoming much smaller, but I have jet lag just thinking about the time difference between you and me! I'll check in throughout the course of the day and would love to talk about the difference proper research (or lack thereof) can have on the reader's experience or anything else on your mind for that matter. I am truly excited to be here (and surprisingly chipper for 4:45 in the morning on a Monday)!

  3. Hi Shelley,
    Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your day.
    Greetings, Goddesses.
    Tamara, welcome. 4.45 a.m.! Ouch!

  4. Thank you, Sandra! A little caffeine has helped this morning (ok, more than a little).

  5. Interesting alma mater seems to be under constant construction, and I can't keep track of what's what anymore!


  6. I know the feeling. I just came back from a trip to the USC-Cal football game this past weekend. Every year, there is something new. I'm always amazed that USC finds room to build.

  7. It is alway fascinating to read about someone from another country. I love the fact that you did so much research for your story.

  8. Thanks, MomJane! I hope the book is as enjoyable to read as it was to research and write.

  9. Thank you for the backdrop to your book. I have traveled to the UK several times and found your book to be very believable. You did a fantastic job for your first book and I am really looking forward to your next book. Great job!

  10. Bookreader, I'm glad you liked the book! Thank you - I tried hard to make a believable fairytale of sorts. Sandra, thank you for everything today - this has been fun! I look forward to continuing to follow your blog.

  11. Bookreader, Thanks for stopping by and supporting Tamara.

    Tamara, it's been a pleasure. Hopefully, we'll continue to chat in comments. Please keep me posted on how Spotlight does. Sounds like its off to a great start.

  12. Will do. Thanks again for everything!

  13. Congratulations to Mary P. and Shannon R. for winning the Amazon $25 gift cards! I appreciate everyone who joined me on my tour. Please stay in touch on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads!