Tatlock, Ann 1959-

views updated

TATLOCK, Ann 1959-


Born December 8, 1959 in Parkersburg, WV; daughter of Edward L. (a retired chemical engineer) and Jane Tatlock (a registered nurse and homemaker) Shurts; married Robert Blank, October 9, 1992; children: Laura Jane Tatlock. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Oral Roberts University, B.A., 1981; Wheaton College Graduate School, M.A., 1987. Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Antiques, art museums, book collecting, voluntary English-as-a-second-language tutor for students from Afghanistan, Russia, and Bosnia.


Agent—Steve Laube, The Literary Group International, 270 Lafayette St., Suite 1505, New York, NY 10012. E-mail—[email protected].


Novelist. Decision magazine, Minneapolis, MN, assistant editor, 1987-93.


Silver Angel Award, Excellence in Media, 1999, for A Room of My Own; Midwest Independent Publishers Association, 2002 Midwest Book Awards, first place, adult fiction category, and Christy Award, contemporary fiction category, 2003, both for All the Way Home.


A Room of My Own, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.

A Place Called Morning, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.

All the Way Home, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

I'll Watch the Moon, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.


A Room of My Own was adapted for audiocassette, read by Kate Forbes, Recorded Books, LLC, 1998, and by Northstar Audio Books, 2000; A Place Called Morning was adapted for audiocassette, read by Barbara Caruso, Recorded Books, LLC, 1998; All the Way Home was adapted for audiocassette, read by Christina Moore, Recorded Books, LLC, 2003.


Under the Aging Sun, a novel.


Ann Tatlock's first novel, A Room of My Own, chronicles the life of thirteen-year-old Virginia Eide in Depression-era Minnesota. A typical teenager, Virginia struggles with her own coming-ofage issues, yearns for her independence, giggles with her friends, and idolizes movie stars. But Virginia's comfortable family life begins to crumble when her laid-off uncle and his family are forced to move in and "a room of her own" becomes an impossibility. Her father, a doctor, begins treating the desperately poor residents of Soo City, a ramshackle shanty town outside the city limits. Virginia starts helping him bring aid to Soo City, where in contrast to her own life, she sees up-close the extreme poverty and despair of those most affected by the Depression. When her uncle is swept up in the violence surrounding his attempts to start a labor union, Virginia understands the sacrifices that many must make to survive, and realizes the profound effect of service to others. "A Room of My Own shines both for its content and the loving, sensitive way it is conveyed," wrote a reviewer inMoody. A Booklist reviewer opined that it is "Perhaps the best Christian novel of the year." Critics Kristine Harley and Carolyn Petrie, writing in Skyway News, remarked that, "full of affectionate, bittersweet memories, this layered tale of one family's struggle and triumph is socially relevant without ever lapsing into preachiness," concluding that "A Room of My Own is a lovely first effort, infused with grace."

In A Place Called Morning, Tatlock's second novel, Mae Demaray finds her once-strong faith challenged when her young grandson is killed while she was taking care of him. She believes the accident was her fault, though no one else does. The lingering guilt and grief gradually erode her life until her only friend is Roy, a kindly but mentally disabled man who has been a part of Mae's life since their childhood. Though Mae and Roy are never romantically involved, they eventually do live together, ostensibly so that Mae can care for Roy. But Roy, in his own way, cares for Mae, and helps bring her out of her isolation and back into the world. "This quiet, offbeat love story, about forgiving oneself and preparing for death, is another fine effort from Tatlock," wrote John Mort in Booklist. With the book, Tatlock presents "an intelligent mix of domestic insight and Christian philosophy," wrote a Library Journal reviewer.

Tatlock addresses issues of racial and social injustice in All the Way Home, her third novel. As a young girl in the 1930s, Augusta "Augie" Schuler Callahan suffered the effects of an alcoholic and abusive family. She develops a close relationship with the Japanese-American Yamagata family, and an especially deep friendship with the Yamagata's daughter Sunny. But with the advent of World War II, the Yamagata family is sent to an internment camp, as were hundreds of other Asian Americans at the time. Augie loses contact with the family, but years later, as a prominent civil rights journalist, she is convinced by Sunny to cover the story of Sunny's attempts to secure voting rights for blacks in racially divided Mississippi. The two women must come to terms with what racism did to them years ago, and how it has changed their lives as adults. Tatlock "adeptly traces the girls' journey of faith with a light and sometimes humorous touch," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "She does an excellent job juxtaposing the horrors of Americans in Japanese hands and Japanese-Americans in the hands of their countrymen." All the Way Home is "a fine example of the progress" being made in Christian fiction, the reviewer observed. To Tracy Farmsworth, reviewing the book on the Romance Reader's Connection Web site, "there is no question as to why Ms. Tatlock is an award-winning novelist: the depth of emotion that is magically intertwined into her novel amply demonstrates her talent."

I'll Watch the Moon is a story seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Nova Tierney. The year is 1948, and St. Paul, Minnesota is in the midst of another outbreak of polio. Public swimming pools are closed and movie theaters are off-limits as parents try to keep their children close to the nest. The nest of Nova is a boarding house run by her Aunt Dortha and filled with an odd assortment of tenants. After Nova tries unsuccessfully to follow her revered older brother Dewey to a local lake for a swim with his friends, she becomes a horrified witness to the consequences: Dewey develops polio. Nova's mother, Catherine, sees this as one more proof as God's disfavor with her. But Catherine is about to learn something of God's mysterious ways from an unlikely source: boarding house resident Josef Karski, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp. I'll Watch the Moon is a "beautiful story laced with hope, redemption and forgiveness," wrote a reviewer from Publishers Weekly. A reviewer for Renown online concluded by saying, "This is a moving and wonderfully encouraging novel …one of the most realistic and significant ones I've read; and one that leaves a great inspiration and message of trust in God for the outcome of all things."

Tatlock told CA: "From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea I would end up a novelist. Magazine journalism was my main interest while in college and in the years directly afterward. I loved to read novels but had no interest at all in writing them. Until I was twenty-five, I would have said I had no talent for writing fiction. I was fairly adept at getting down on paper stories that had actually happened, but far be it from me to use my imagination to make something up!

"But my mid-twenties were a time of personal loss—including the loss of my mother to cancer. In the midst of it, I realized I needed a new way to express my grief. I turned to fiction, found it a powerful way to express feelings and ideas, and my whole style and writing and the goals for my work shifted at that time. My main focus has been novel-writing ever since.

"Thirteen years separated the moment I first decided to write a novel and the moment I saw my first novel in print. I wrote six or seven books (I've lost count) before I felt ready even to begin thinking about publishing. I had a long apprenticeship—years of simply learning how to write fiction. I never took a creative writing class; I learned by trial and error (writing and writing and writing some more) and by reading top-quality literature. Though I'm indebted to many writers, both past and present, I particularly appreciate the works and writing styles of Frederick Buechner and Ann Morrow Lindbergh.

"I love my work," Tatlock declared. "From the moment an idea comes into my mind, through the months of research and planning and plotting and seeing the book in my mind, through the many long months of writing and rewriting and rewriting yet again, I love every moment. My characters are the people I spend my days with, and they become very real to me. They even have minds of their own, and tell me what they are going to do! That, by the way, is undoubtedly the most surprising discovery I've made as a writer of fiction: I don't have as much control over the story as one might think. First of all, I find it's no use to consciously try to come up with a story idea. Whatever I come up with invariably doesn't work. The ideas that work are the ones that come to me, dropping into my mind at sometimes the oddest moments. From there, as I begin to do some initial research, the story unfolds as I listen to it. I actually spend much of my time simply listening, allowing the characters to tell me who they are and what they're doing.

"My books tend to deal with how the large events of history impact and influence the lives of individuals. Wars, epidemics, civil rights, economic depressions—I strive to give these abstract happenings a human face, the face of my characters. I want to show not only what happens, but what choices people are faced with in the midst of world events. Much of life is beyond our control; yet much of our individual life is under our control as well, depending on our choices. I like to examine how this delicate balance plays itself out in the lives of my characters. Ultimately, I'm a writer who believes in the triumph of good over evil, and will never write a story without hope in it.

"The wonderful thing about fiction is that it is the perfect vehicle for truth," Tatlock continued. "Every novelist, of course, writes from his or her own world view. What a writer believes, how a writer makes sense of the world—of life and death and life after death—will inevitably come through. The cumulative mass of the world's literature is an on-going theological/philosophical conversation, and it is exciting to have a voice in that."



Booklist, October 1, 1998, John Mort, review of A Room of My Own, p. 290; December 1, 1998, John Mort, review of A Room of My Own, p. 659; January 1, 1999, John Mort, review of A Place Called Morning, p. 830; October 1, 1999, John Mort, review of A Place Called Morning, p. 324.

Library Journal, November 1, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of A Room of My Own, p. 66; November 1, 1998, Melissa Hudak, review of A Place Called Morning, p. 66; September 1, 2002, Shawna Saavedra Thorup, review of All the Way Home, p. 158; June 1, 2003, Tamara Butler, review of I'll Watch the Moon, p. 102.

Moody, March-April, 1998, review of A Room of My Own, p. 71.

Publishers Weekly, April 29, 2002, review of All the Way Home, pp. 38-39; May 5, 2003, review of I'll Watch the Moon, p. 197.

Skyway News, March 26-April 1, 1998, Kristine Harley and Carolyn Petrie, review of A Room of My Own.


Renown online,http://www.renownmagazine.com (November 11, 2003), review of I'll Watch the Moon.

Romance Reader's Connection,http://www.theromancereadersconnection.com/ (September 10, 2002) Tracy Farnsworth, review of All the Way Home.