A Peek at the Creative Space of Tara Dairman

dairman pic credit Tiffany CrowderJoining us today for Creative Spaces is my friend and one of my favorite funny writers, Tara Dairman. The third and final book in her All Four Stars series publishes this month, and to celebrate her publisher is giving away a complete set of the series! Congratulations to Sarah Irwin, the winner of the prize!



Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novel All Four Stars (Putnam/Penguin) which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and won a 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. The Stars of Summer followed in 2015, and Stars So Sweet (7/19/16) completes the series. Tara grew up in New York and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her family.

To learn more about Tara and her books check out her website, or follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Now let’s take a peek inside her Creative Space . . .



Describe your workspace.

Currently, it’s my dining room table, which is where I like to spread out when I can. But I also do a fair amount of work on a lap desk in a squooshy chair by the window in my bedroom. (I have recently expanded this workspace with an overturned laundry hamper-desk. Classy!) Since I write on my laptop, I’m pretty mobile. My one requirement is sunlight, so wherever I work, I try to be near a window.

bedroom desk

Describe a typical workday.

Typical? Ha! 🙂

If I’m drafting something new, I like to put in 2-3 hours of work on it in a day. I really can’t do much more than that, though, or I burn out. Conversely, I seem to have a near-infinite capacity to revise. Since I have a new little one at home now, my work hours now depend on the availability of child care. I’ve become more efficient by necessity; if I’m going to be apart from my baby (and especially if I’m paying someone to take care of her), I’d better get some work done.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

Sunlight (it helps stave off despair)

A cup of tea (I have mugs from my agency, my publisher, and friends’ book launches, so it’s always fun to pick one out for the day)


My Gladys Gatsby doll (She sits on the mantel in view of my dining room table workspace. A reminder that the things I dream up can truly come to exist in the world!)


Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

Not really. I mean, a tidy space does help abate some of my writerly anxiety, so I attempt to clean the laundry and remnants of last night’s dinner off the table before I start working…but that doesn’t always happen. (Here’s a pic from today.) And a hot beverage helps, too—caffeinated tea if I need the boost, decaf or herbal if I don’t. I have a great recipe for homemade masala chai, but it involves chopping ginger and crushing spices and such, so I only make it if I’m reallytrying to procrastinate. 🙂

What do you listen to while you work?

Nothing. I’ve never been able to listen to music while writing, it only distracts me.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Like I mentioned earlier, chai is my favorite, but any hot tea will do.


What keeps you focused while you’re working?

Deadlines always help, whether a publisher’s deadline or one from my critique partners. Getting into the world of the story is always the hardest part, but hopefully, once I’m in, the momentum of the story itself will also keep me engaged. I also use Freedom software to block my access to the internet as needed.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

I drafted my first book, All Four Stars, longhand, but I’ve written my three subsequent novels on the computer. I can type faster than I can hand write, so ever since I moved to a faster-drafting model of writing (details at https://taradairman.com/2013/09/19/first-drafting-now-96-faster/) I’ve found it easier to work on the computer.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I used to let the muse lead me, but now I’m a total convert to outlining. My stories tend to be plot-heavy, so having an outli
ne helps me think through the twists and turns in advance and keeps me from getting too lost during the drafting process. I’m a big fan of Save the Cat.


If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

Wow, great question! I’m going to say Jane Austen. I feel like she’d be pretty focused during our designated work time, then we could break and drink tea and make snarky observations together about the world.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

Write the story only you can write.

And, related:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison



Win all three books in the All Four Stars series!
US entries only


If you missed the previous stops along the Stars So Sweet blog tour, check out the links below for a variety of reviews, recipes, and much, much more!

SWEET blog button2


JULY 7 Dahlia @ The Daily Dahlia
JULY 8 Lucy @ The Reading Date
JULY 11 Michael @ Middle Grade Mafioso
JULY 12 – Katie @ Bookish Illuminations
JULY 13 – Brenda @ Log Cabin Library
JULY 14 – Aeicha @ Word Spelunking
JULY 15 – Karen @ For What It’s Worth
JULY 18 – Sylvia @ A Baked Creation
JULY 21 – Lisa @ Fic Talk
JULY 22 Jen @ Pop! Goes the Reader
JULY 25 Stephanie @ Kitchen Frolic
JULY 26 Jenn @ Creative Spaces

11 Responses to “A Peek at the Creative Space of Tara Dairman”

  1. Scott Fillner

    I love Tara’s workspace! I can relate to the laundry basket for a side table, as I have used that many times in my living room as well. 🙂 In my mind I always have pictured authors and illustrators in these fancy offices or cabins high away in the mountains in a remote area writing away. But seeing this is great transparency for students and teachers. Knowing that creative spaces can be anywhere can really connect with all.

    I have not read any of Tara’s books, but have heard wonderful things. I look forward to reading her books soon.

  2. Kristen Picone

    I’ve been a huge fan of Tara’s since reading All Four Stars. Gladys is one of my favorite MG characters. Thank you for giving us a peak at Tara’s workspace and process. I’d love to have a second set of this series in my classroom, that way I can get it into the hands of more readers. I appreciate this opportunity!

  3. Sarah Erwin

    I love this! I’d love to be entered to win — we are always recommending these books at the library and I’m reading Book Scavenger now!

  4. Millie

    That is a cool workspace. I really like Book Scavenger.

  5. Leni Checkas

    I particularly love the innovative, mercurial space. And I definitely can’t say enough about your adorable character, Gladys! <3!

  6. Tara

    Thanks Jenn and Tara for this authentic look at the way we work. Workspaces are often not glamorous, but they are just the right spaces for the job to get done. Really fun interview and I love the laundry basket desk. 🙂

  7. Katie Giorgio

    Thanks so much for sharing! Can’t wait to read all three!

  8. Amber K.

    I can relate with an infinite amount of time to revise and edit without burn out! I can come back to something over and over and keep fixing, rearranging… Inalwausbtelly student writing is really never done because you can just revise forever and ever. They might hate it when I say that…lol