Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tarot with Tina Whittle

I'm so honored today to have Tina Whittle as a guest. Tina is a brilliant mystery writer, as well as a professional tarot reader! Please welcome her and leave comments--I'm sure you'll find her as fascinating as I do...

Mystery Writer Tina Whittle and Reading Tarot
Mystery writing is not my only paying gig. I’m also a mother (although the paycheck doesn’t come in dollars), a freelance journalist, and a professional tarot reader. That last one may seem out-of-place, but it’s really the linchpin that holds the other two together, for while reading tarot for strangers enriches the pocket, reading for myself enriches my creative potential. After all, tarot accesses the subconscious wisdom available to each of us, the wellspring of human creativity, and I can’t think of a more necessary — and more versatile — tool in my writer’s toolkit.

Take the daily reading, for example. Among tarot readers, one way to keep in practice with the cards is to pull one card every morning and ponder it for a bit. I find that as I progress through my day, I notice all the little ways that each card’s special energy affects me. If I’m having a rough time writing — say, wrestling a bloated WIP into submission or pondering a particularly tricky plot point — tarot offers the clean lens of a new perspective.

Take the Seven of Cups, for example (pictured here as illustrated in the classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck). The Seven of Cups depicts a situation any writer can relate to — that dreamy voluptuous reverie when the imagination is allowed free rein. Most of the time this card features a rather dumbstruck individual surrounded by clouds of fantastic images. Some of them look enticing: others appear mysterious, even frightening. None of them are real, however — they’re just the swirling, seductive raw material of the human mind.

As any writer will tell you, such expansive free-flowing exploration is a necessary part in the writing process. It primes the pump and stirs the creative juices. It’s also incredibly fun. For my novel The Dangerous Edge of Things, this meant soaking in the ambiance of Atlanta — sipping mojitos in Little Five Points, meandering the galleries of the High Museum, sinking into the supple leather of a Ferrari coupe. All decadent, but utterly necessary.

Of course, the Seven of Cups sometimes warns that you’re indulging in too much of a good thing. When this card shows up reversed — that is, upside down — I have to consider that it might be time to put down the highball glass and pull up the word processor. Inspiration can only take you so far — the rest requires good old-fashioned perspiration.

Sometimes if my morning card is particularly relevant, I’ll keep it displayed on my desk, as a reminder. One card that always inspires me is The Star (pictured here from Thalia Took’s tarot illustrations, which you can find at ). A card of hope, optimism and rejuvenation, The Star reminds me to keep my eyes on the horizon. It reassures me that while corrupted files and writer’s block and recalcitrant protagonists are certainly frustrating, this writing life also promises joy. Head up and eyes forward, says this card. And breathe. Breathing would be nice.

For me, tarot isn’t fortunetelling — it is, however, an excellent way to keep me on a productive and fulfilling creative path. The tarot’s symbols and images give my subconscious something to play with, and in return, it rewards me with knowledge that I didn’t know I possessed.

Try tarot for yourself. You don’t have to be a professional to reap the benefits; you just have to be open to your own intuition.

And a Brief Word About Tina...
Tina Whittle is a mystery writer living and working in Southeast Georgia. The Dangerous Edge of Things, her first novel, debuts February 2011 from Poisoned Pen Press. Set in contemporary Atlanta, The Dangerous Edge of Things is the first book in a series featuring gun-shop owner Tai Randolph and corporate security agent Trey Seaver. When not writing or reading, Tina enjoys golf, sushi, and spending time with her family (one husband, one daughter, one neurotic Maltese and three chickens). You can find her at


Susanna Ives said...

There are even Tarot cards in Tina's book. As an early reader of her book, I have to say that it is fast-paced, edgy brilliance. I'm in love with Trey. Oh the things I could do to him in that Ferrari of his! Too bad only Tai understands him and his brain injury.

Having Tina read your tarot cards is fine treat. She is a little too intuitive. She taught me to read, however I keep getting cards with lightening striking towers and three swords stabbing a heart :)

Sherry Gloag said...

Very interesting blog. I love that you got to sit in a ferrarri for 'research! Did you manage to entice a trail run in the vehicle too?
Best wishes for your debut novel.

Tina said...

Hi Susanna,

You know the cards love you -- last time you got nothing' but sunshine and creative mojo . . . and the Tower. But regardless, you're an excellent reader. Your take on my cards is always spot-on.

Too bad we can't trade heroes for an evening -- you could have Trey in his Ferrari and I could have Kesseley in his little love tent by the river.

Thanks for showing up (and PS to everyone reading; you will love Kesseley too. Go find him in Rakes and Radishes from Carina Press. And then we shall start a fan club).

Tina said...

Hi Sherry,

Thank you for your good wishes. Alas, the Ferrari and I had to confine our relationship to the indoors. But I did get to go out back and crank one up -- that engine is a powerful beast!

Best to you as well. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Anonymous said...

I don't know very much about tarot cards but your post today inspires me to learn more. I like how you look at the cards for inspiration. And the cards are so beautiful!

Tina said...


I think that's another reason I enjoy tarot so much -- it's beautiful, multi-sensory, and a lot of fun. I have several different decks depending on my mood. And the lovely thing is, you don't have to memorize the traditional meanings for tarot to work for you -- just trust your subconscious responses to each image.

Thanks for stopping by!