Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Author interview Tammy Horvath

This month's author interview is with Indie writer Tammy Horvath who has experienced something no parent should have to endure, but part of her healing process was writing a memoir called 'Gone in an Instant: Losing my son. Loving his killer.' The title of her book tells you what happened but first, let's meet Tammy:
'I love to read and help people in need. I’m married to the other half of my brain—Mike. We finish each other’s sentences, and we rarely fight. We love to travel, visit national parks and beaches, and love relaxing in the sun, especially when there’s snow at home and we get a break from the cold. My favorite pastime is hanging out with my son’s friends playing pool, cornhole, or video games. I’m blessed.'
She published her memoir in 2022 (after a rough draft in 2020) but I was interested to know why she decided to release her very personal, painful story?
'When a young man murdered my son in 2017, God told me I had to forgive him. I know most people struggle with forgiveness, but forgiving a murderer seems impossible—especially someone who murdered your child. God showed me how to do this; He told me I needed to share His message with the world so that they could also benefit from what I’ve learned.

But my story goes much deeper; it’s about how I learned to have faith in God, even though I felt abandoned—why did God take the most important person in the world from me? But when I stepped out in faith, He comforted me beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined.'
Gosh, how powerful - taking something so tragic and sharing it to help others. How did she cope initially?
'The first three years were the worst. After informing our friends and family about Luke’s passing, I cleaned his room. I wanted it to be spotless because the pain would overwhelm me if I didn’t keep busy. The cleaning let me take out my frustration at knowing I’d never see Luke again. 
In hindsight, that was the worst thing I could have done. I threw everything away except for his clothes and wall decorations. I wish I could go back in time because I long to see his papers and look for things that may have meaning. But they are gone, just like Luke.
I rarely had a moment when I didn’t think about Luke. Something always reminded me of him—it was unbearable. The worst was facing all the ‘firsts’: his first birthday, Christmas, and the anniversary of his death. But I wasn’t alone. Five of his best friends were there with me as we celebrated Luke’s life on those days. Except for Mother’s Day, when I was alone with Luke’s photos, I framed and hung them until my walls were full.
The saying that time heals all wounds is partially true. The pain of losing Luke never went away, but I accepted he was gone as time passed.'
Which part of the writing process did she find the hardest?
'Writing about Luke’s murder because I relived it every time I rewrote it. But, ultimately, God blessed me—my writing was cathartic.
It's also difficult reminding myself that I’m writing for my specific niche—the people I wrote my book for. It’s hard when someone has no interest in my book. 
Gone in an Instant is for someone who’s lost a loved one, struggles with forgiveness, lacks faith in God, or feels alone in this world. They may feel depression and grief and not know where to turn. These are the people my memoir will help.'
What was the best thing about writing the memoir?
'My favorite part is sharing my exciting stories or lessons learned with the world. I love it when my husband reminds me of something I’ve long ago forgotten about, and I say, “I must share that. People deserve to hear about my stupid actions if it makes them laugh and takes away their stress for the moment.” Don’t get me wrong, I also share about the stupid things Mike has done. But his shenanigans are fewer than mine.'
I love this! So now we know some of the background, I asked Tammy for a synopsis of her book:
'He was the most important part of Tammy Horvath’s life … and then he was gone.

Most people would be angry with God for allowing someone to murder their child. Tammy listened to God and tried to do what He told her, but He still allowed her son, Luke, to die. Gone in an Instant takes you on a journey through Tammy’s life as she deals with her loss. Writing her memoir was agonizing, as Tammy relived every breath her son took. As she struggled through the horror, another Voice spoke. “Forgiveness is a choice and you must forgive him, Tammy.”

Now a weight has lifted.

With insight, humor, and deep authenticity, Tammy will take you on a journey that will utterly change your life forever. She prays her book will inspire anyone struggling with loss, forgiveness, lack of faith, grief, or depression. The book tells the story of her battle against evil thoughts and how she persevered in faith. It’s about living another day to honor Luke’s memory and to serve God by helping others to do the same. You’ll also find the self-help you need and the grief steps after loss.
I'm in awe that she has managed to put anything humorous in her book, that's quite some feat, but I definitely get the anger at the injustice. So, in what way was she battling evil thoughts?
'My evil thoughts weren’t toward others—I wanted to take my own life because I couldn’t deal with my grief. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) helped. It’s a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from emotional distress resulting from disturbing life experiences. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal, but repeated studies show that people can experience the benefits that once took years to make a difference. EMDR is not for everyone since it requires a heightened state of suggestibility, and you must be open to it, or it won’t work. EMDR took me from daily suicidal thoughts to the rare occasional ones.
Another thing I did was every time I felt upset, I listed all the things I was grateful for and shared them with God. Also, listening to Christian music helped, especially when I used my terrible God-given voice to sing through my tears.
My son became a Christian when he was seven, but as a teenager, Luke said he didn’t believe in God—this made me question if my son was in heaven after he died. I couldn’t imagine the thought of him in hell. What finally gave me peace was when one of Luke’s friends told me that Luke shared the gospel with him. Knowing Luke cared enough to ensure his friend would go to heaven when he died told me beyond any doubt that Luke’s in heaven. I’ve kept in touch with this friend, and just last month, he became a Christian while we were visiting. God is good. And I’m at peace.'

I find Tammy's journey inspirational and I'm really not sure how I'd react in the same situation. But she has come through and wants to help others so I have a tweetable here for you, so you can help promote Tammy as an author to your followers (tweet here): 

'Author Tammy Horvath wants everyone to know of God’s immeasurable love and that forgiveness is the essence of God’s love. She’s committed to loving the unlovable and forgiving as she’s been forgiven.' 

What does Tammy's daily writing routine look like?
'Every morning I listen to my devotions and pray for about 40 minutes while drinking Tulsi tea. Then, I catch up on social media for 20 minutes before writing. 
Once I begin writing, I get immersed in my story and sometimes refuse to take a break. Hours fly by, and I usually miss lunch. Sometimes my husband comes home at dinner to find me still in my pajamas. Thank goodness no one knocked on the door those days.'

Writing gets to me in exactly the same way (and I'm also a PJs fan!). What  does she think was the best money she's ever spent as a writer?
'Paying professionals—a developmental editor, line editor, proofreader, cover designer, and back cover writer—these aren’t cheap. But if you want to do it right, you must find trustworthy help and develop a team.'
So what's next?
'In my travel series, I have one book finished—it’s with my editor now and I hope to release it later this year. And I have another one started.'
Exciting times! Tammy then mentioned that her travel memoir fits alongside Gone in an Instant, so I asked her to explain how?
'I share stories not told in Gone in an Instant so my reader can see more of my healing journey. Perhaps the applicable part of my work-in-progress back cover says it best:

"Do you travel with loved ones and cherish time spent together deep in your heart?
My world changed forever when my son left home on a hot August day in 2017. I can’t travel back in time, but I can take comfort in our trips together. In my album of memories, I’ll share the remarkable wonders of creation, taking you on a journey of love, laughter, and life lessons.
God spoke to me through breathtaking sunsets and beautiful beaches, revealing His presence and helping me to smile again after life’s storms.
As I reflect on my memories, I constantly dream of the future. One day, I’ll reach that final glorious destination where I will reunite with my son."
That sounds a wonderful way to honour her son's memory too. How long does she take to write her books?
'The first book took four months. But the rewrites took an additional four months. Recording the audiobook took two months. My travel memoir only took four weeks, but it’s easier to write about traveling than it is about your son’s murder, forgiving his killer, and finding faith in God.'
Too true! So are there any books or authors who have inspired her? 
'I’ve got more inspiration from the Bible than from any other book. This is because God uses the Bible to speak to me and to others when they listen for His voice. Second to that, are all the Christian songwriters who inspire me every day when I listen to K-love radio.'
Does Tammy read reviews of her book and how does she deal with them?
'Gone in an Instant has all four-five star reviews, with an average of 4.7 stars, and I love reading every review. My book doesn’t have any critical reviews—I’ve been blessed. A review is someone’s honest opinion of your book, so I pray when the time comes, if I get a negative review, I will remember how God showed me grace and forgave me so that I will not hold it against someone for expressing their opinion.'
To end, Tammy gave me a tweet to help promote her book (tweet here):

'After Tammy Horvath’s son was murdered, she faced the horror of forgiving his killer. Her story, Gone in an Instant, will give hope to anyone who needs to forgive someone who’s impossible to forgive.'

And an extract of one of her favourite parts (tweet here):

'Every morning when I rise, I notice all the places Luke is missing from. He’s not in my spotless living room, making me laugh. He’s not in his messy bedroom, where he left his deodorant.
He is gone.'

For more information about this inspirational writer, please take a look at Tammy's links below:

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