Shells Chats with author Tammy Branom

What made you want to become an author?

I think I was born to be a writer. I’ve always wanted to write. I was always making up stories to tell people (not lies to tell, but actual tales) since I can remember. The first story I “wrote” was in 2nd grade about a family of rabbits having dinner. Very Peter Cottontail. I made it into a little book of green construction paper, complete with my own drawings. I was very proud of it. Throughout school, I received awards for my writing. However, being from a poor family, I couldn’t pursue writing until much later in life.

What is your biggest fear when it comes to writing?

My first biggest fear was that I never would be writer at all. After that, I feared I would never be published. Now, I’m afraid I’ll never get everything wrote that is in my head and begs to be written. Too many stories; so little time. I work a regular 8 hour-a-day job, so time is limited for me to spend on writing.

Have you ever put any of your own life experience or experiences in your writing?

Almost every story I write has a piece of me in it. Without my own life experiences, I couldn’t express my characters’ feelings, emotions, fears, and wonders. Some of the situations and scenes would be very alien to me. However, one story in particular, “Merry Christmas,” published online at Molotov Cocktail, is based on events described to my family by police of my sister’s death. It was my “retelling.” You can read it through the link to Molotov Cocktail on my website. Another story, “Specimen,” published in the Static Movement e-zine, is loosely built on paranormal occurrences from my childhood.

What do you find the most challenging about writing short stories?

The most challenging for me in anything I write are endings. If I can’t be circular and go back to the beginning for the end, then I tend to simply fade away, which isn’t an ending at all. Sometimes I need to look for quite some time for that special, final moment.

Your story 'Phobia' was published in an anthology dealing with situations that can happen in one-hour. Can you tell us a bit about that story?

“Phobia” is actually another of those stories I put myself into. The story is about a woman’s repeated nightmare that comes true. In her dream, she sees nothing, but hears and feels many things. While she waits for an hour at an airport for her family to come home, her nightmare transpires. I wrote this while waiting for my husband at an airport.

Where can we find some of your other stories?

Every story I’ve had accepted to an anthology or published online or magazine is listed on my website. Under “Writing” there is a list of links to the websites where my online stories are posted. I also post links to purchase anthologies that I am printed in.

You write a column for Unexplained Mysteries. What drew you to that and can you explain a bit about the column you write?

I’ve read Unexplained Mysteries for years. I’m drawn to the paranormal and unexplained both as fodder for stories but as interesting reading. The world is a strange place. Also, at one point in my life, I thought of pursuing journalism and research. So, since I read a lot of scientific and metaphysical articles (I know, opposite ends of the stick), many ideas churn in my mind. I started a blog to put those thoughts out to the world, but that didn’t work so well. When I had the opportunity to write a column of my ideas about the world, from a skeptic/scientific yet metaphysical view, I applied. My column tends to mostly deal with reality/dimension strangeness--how reality may not be exactly as we think it is.

Writing tells stories; do you feel the photos you take do as well?

Some photos do indeed tell a story. However, I am a nature photographer, and the story there is one of this planet’s beauty. With that, I don’t believe any one picture can tell the tale. I’m looking at going into photography essays and series. I’ve taken thousands of pictures over the years, and now is the time to put them and my talent to use.

On a curiosity note, you have something you call your 'Thimble World.' Can you explain what that is?

I am a very avid thimble collector. One might even say obsessive/compulsive. I started collecting thimbles in the 1980’s as small, inexpensive souvenirs from the places I visited. Then I found thimbles that were gorgeous designs, and that was it. My collection grew. Now everyone I know buys them for me. I’ve even made quite a few. But, Thimble World is a story all its own.

When I was little, my grandmother had a village she set up under the Christmas tree. I loved setting it up with her and would spend hours playing with it. When she passed on, I didn’t get any of it. For years, I wanted to recreate that village, but the pieces and sets were too expensive (and still are). While on Ebay one day, I found thimble houses in England . I ordered what I could afford and thus began my Christmas thimble village. Over just a few years, it has grown to include anything and everything you can imagine--all with thimbles. The beauty of it all is that I have a huge village made of thimble buildings (and more) that I only display for the holidays. It takes 3 + days to get it all set up.

Are there any other projects in the works you can share with us and will you be working on any longer works, such as novels or novellas in the future?

I don’t have any specific projects in the works other than continuing to write for Unexplained Mysteries and find homes for my short story darlings. I do plan to chase my photography dream by submitting photos to print and online magazines. I also intend to put forward photo series and essays wherever possible. I’ll keep everyone informed on my blog and website. As far as longer works go, I considered writing paranormal and SF romances, but after checking many romance houses’ guidelines, I think if I write them, I will most likely self-publish. For now though, I’m staying with my shorts and photography.

Where can people find out more about you?

I post updates to my writing (and anything else going on in my life) first on my blog, Later, I revise my website with links and pictures for everyone to get the specifics on my writing at

On both my blog and my website are links to my other website for photography at

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