Gitte Tamar - Isolation, Terrifying Entities and Vodou
Brigitte, "Gitte," Tamar was born in a small rural Oregon town. She attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, until she won the title of Miss Oregon USA in 2015. Once she finished competing in the Miss USA televised program, she received her business degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Then, her MA in Studies of Law from the University of Southern California, followed by graduate certificates in business law, entertainment law, and industries. As an author, she feels it is essential to share narratives that refrain from sugarcoating the topics society tends to shy away from. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Danje.
Please give us a short introduction to what Danje is about.
Danje is a chilling tale that explores isolation, terrifying entities, and Vodou. Adonis, a young man living on the streets of Louisiana, wakes up to a hurricane tearing through the Bayou. Desperate for shelter, he seeks refuge in an abandoned houseboat. Once inside, he quickly discovers he’s not alone, and evil lurks between the walls.
What inspired you to write about a small town that has been hit by a hurricane?
When visiting colleges for my undergrad, my first stop was Loyola Marymount in New Orleans. It had been five years since Hurricane Katrina had occurred. As I drove through the city, I vividly recall seeing residents sitting on porches of homes that remained boarded up following the extensive storm damage. People often overlook the long-term effects on victims once tragedies are no longer “current” or in the spotlight. I selected the setting and storm to raise awareness; people must remember.
Why did you pick 1965 as the backdrop for your story?
I chose 1965 because that was the year that Hurricane Betsy hit Louisiana. It was the costliest storm in US history until that time, becoming the first hurricane to reach the billion-dollar mark in damages.
How much research did this book require from you?
The book required extensive research on multiple topics. Haitian Vodou, 1960s history (dress, slang, events), and Louisiana’s ambiance in that decade were among the specific areas covered. Countless hours and late nights were spent assuring that every detail, big or small, stayed true to the narrative.
Tell us more about Albert Gilly. What makes him tick?
Albert is a good man striving to improve his children’s lives and provide stability for his family. At the beginning of the narrative, he finds himself torn between risking everything to assist a stranger or prioritizing his own well-being to ensure his family’s financial security. His commitment to family is clear several times throughout the book, making it one of his most notable qualities.
The toxic behavior of Albert’s narcissistic father had a powerful impact on him, both positively and negatively. While his resentment toward the man affected his happiness, it also influenced him to value his family and strive to be a better man than his father.
Adonis finds himself in a terrifying situation. Why did you pick a homeless man as a protagonist?
It’s important to me that all my work encompasses social statements. Homelessness, child neglect, abuse, racism, poverty, and social injustice are all explored in this novel. The choice of Adonis as the protagonist highlights the profound effects of social stratification and the resulting inequalities.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Growing up, I received classical and operatic voice training. Singing continues to be a passion of mine, and I’ve recently started playing the guitar as well. My guitar playing isn’t exactly a secret skill, but it might become one with a few more years of practice. When I am not playing music in my free time, I often relax after writing by crocheting blankets. Given that everyone I know has already received at least one, it might be time to start crafting sweaters.
Interesting cover. Why did you pick this one?
When I design my book covers, I try to incorporate images that capture the novel’s essence. In this case, the artwork reflects elements of Vodou and isolation.
Readers say this is a real page-turner. How did you manage to keep the suspense throughout?
I have a motto: if I don’t feel emotions while writing, the words will evoke nothing in the reader while reading. So, regardless of how much I have written, if a scene doesn’t stir emotion or trigger terror in me, I will scrap it and start over.
Did you plan out all the twists and turns in the story before you started writing, or did some of it just “happen” along the way?
Some were planned, and others were not. I always start with a structured base but leave plenty of room for organic creative flow. When I write, it feels like I’m painting a picture. I visualize everything unfolding like a movie, fully immersing myself in the narrative’s terror without forcing it to fit.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
My greatest challenge while writing this book was staying sane. All jokes aside, as I neared the end of completing the narrative, I began having nightmares. One stemmed from the closet scene. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ve been told that scene hauntingly lingers with those who read it.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
When it comes to writing, I definitely have some quirks. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a creature of habit. Typically, my mornings begin promptly at 6 am, when I enjoy a cup of coffee from my John Deere mug while stationed at my writer’s desk, investing five to six hours in writing. After that, I like to take an early afternoon break to play guitar or go for a brisk walk, to switch things up a bit. Following my break, I continue writing in a different room for a change of scenery.
What are you working on right now?
I have a new book coming out in February 2024, ‘Brake Check,’ which I am very excited about. It’s a Horror Occult Thriller that follows the life of a professional race car driver. I’ve been wrapping up the remaining tasks for its release and creating more content for the upcoming year.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I love engaging with my readers and eagerly look forward to hearing from them. My handles are @brigittetamar on Instagram and Twitter, and @gittetamar on YouTube and TikTok. Also, they can find me on Goodreads and Bookbub or by visiting www.gittetamar.com.