You clicked on the MORE ABOUT TARA, and here you are - A brief overview of my life!
Growing up on a council estate, I was infatuated with dinosaurs, Grease Lightening and Dirty Dancing plus Sonic the Hedgehog. My best friend had nine cats and three dogs, and we made daisy chains and climbed trees every summer.
Moving to Secondary School, I excelled in making magazines and pissing off my art and religious teachers while spending every hour outside school addicted to exercise. Earning the U16 Ulster Champion title, I received a 99p ceramic bear ornament for the underexposed sport at the time.
Much to my disappointment of not being crowned Head Girl, (my mum and sister had been in their time), I elected myself onto the School Council where I championed the introduction of football shorts during PE for girls, as opposed to the cellulite and pubic hair exposing hot pants of tradition. I also earned my current best friends at the school that will evidently not read any of this, but their kids will as I gained the status of ‘cool Aunt’ to many.
During college, I volunteered at a Women’s News magazine and wrote articles of my choosing. Female body builders and football coaches got an enthusiastic 17yr old know-it-all. I’m sure it was a highlight in their celebrity status.
Securing an internship at Ireland’s largest publishers, Greer Publications, I got stuck behind a telephone annoying people to spend money on advertising, but it helped my entry to a HND for the following two years. We had a Writing and Directing tutor that would give us a page from an unknown book and told to add the next page. No one ever got it right and he never told us why, but I was glad to have received a Distinction for the course.
At the time I worked at a coffee shop where Italians, French, Spanish, nuns, students, Ulster Rugby players and creatives frequented. Blazingly, over one of my breaks I sat with a friendly regular and in chatting, found he had been looking for a video editor. Well, I had just learned Final Cut Pro so offered to do it for him. That was my first video editing gig for a short film. My friend went on to get nominated for an Oscar and he now works with cool folk like Moe Dunford and Liam Neeson in his own production company, Out of Orbit.
I applied to work freelance using said video editing skills. A young person’s news agency, Children’s Express, now Headliners, hired me. I loved it! And worked with really great kids from Belfast, one of which was Lyra McKee, who became an amazing journalist and writer, but was unfortunately murdered while covering a riot in her twenties. One of her and her friends’ favourite tasks I gave them, while teenagers, was to approach strangers in Belfast and ask for their portrait. Then I would leave them and say not to return unless they had three images.
Receiving an unconditional offer at Leeds University, Bradford College, for the final year of a Photography degree, I upped and left my beloved dog, Sam, behind to continue to find a career. With a 2:1 achieved, I began working for family photography studio, Venture Portraits. My telesales experience came into action as I slowly sneaked my way behind the camera for high spending families.
After a begrudging battle for a full time position, I took off to Birmingham where Headliners gave me the reigns of setting up and running the news agency remotely. Networking with youth workers, fundraisers, police and council members, I trained hard to reach young people, 11-19yrs, in filming, interviewing and expressing issues they felt angry about. It was an honour to receive the West Midlands Good Citizen Award when the crime levels went down in the area and the youth, referred by police, stopped being arrested and went to school voluntarily.
Then the Olympics came to London and money for third sector organisations followed. This was the same time as the recession. Life took me to Barbados to join Princess Cruises as a photographer at the wonderful low rank of Level 1. From a huge office and gorgeous house share in Harbourne, enjoying Salsa classes in the evenings, I now shared a bunk bed below sea level, taking orders for 10hrs a day for 6months. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I said, ‘never again!’
Then they called and offered me Hawaii. Who says no to Hawaii? I ran up the promotion ladder to Level 5, earning the keys to a private studio and gaining control of my day to day diary. I got Panama Canal and Alaska, the Carribbean again and Alaska again. I’ve been to Hawaii 40 times and have enjoyed the guaranteed whale watching tour in Ketchikan five times. I travelled between contracts too hitting most of American’s National Parks, picking up hitch hikers in New Zealand and catching deals to ride on Amtrak trains.
Falling in love with New Zealand, I quit ships, moved there and ate copious amounts of chocolate working at Butlers Coffee Shop in Wellington. Addicted to exercise once more, on my return, I got engaged to a guy who I had met on my first ship contract. Then the cancer sandblasted me. During which, I began Fergul & Blue.
I finished treatment in September and by mid-November, I was in Fiji. Who says no to Fiji? We toured Australia, New Zealand and Japan before returning and planning a wedding. Enjoying my 90 day tourist stay at his folks place in Houma, Louisana, I wrote more of Fergul & Blue and reminisced about Ireland. This continued after the honeymoon where I stayed and bought myself a little house and got a dog.
I joined Belfast’s top family photography studio, Peter Thomas Photography, as their Business Development Manager.
Before, during and after work, I live with Fergul & Blue. Writing, rewriting, and imagining what life would be if this was a success, has kept me happy and excited about life. I cannot wait to share this book with you! And there are so many short side stories and aspects I wanted to highlight with my author blog. Thanks for reading!
Who says no to the subscribe button?