We had the good fortune of connecting with Tassie Kalas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tassie, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I love a good story—especially a funny one! There’s no greater joy than running into a friend and reliving a happy memory, embellishing and exaggerating until you both have tears running down your cheeks. A well-told tale, like a photograph, preserves a moment in time, unites the past and the present, and brings people together like a warm hug. As a writer, I’m inspired by everyday humorous events. When embarrassing things happen to normal people, they cringe, blush, and hope no one finds out. When humiliating things happen to humor writers, they turn the whole sordid affair into a story, then twist it, type it, and tell it to the world. My family and friends never fail to provide me with material, whether they mean to, or not. The coming-of-(middle) age stories I write are inspired by real life, and the messy moments that exist on the other side of the welcome mat. Written in the spirit of Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, they cover four generations of a traditional Greek family and one member’s modern day struggles as she grows up, grows older, and finally finds her voice—at the same time she’s losing her mind. I’m motivated by my readers, many who are Greek, like me. They recognize their mothers and fathers in my stories and laugh at the cultural references. But most are women who can relate to trying to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, and friend in an imperfect world. They may no longer be twenty-one years old, but they still have their whole lives ahead of them. Like my main character, they can zip line through the Alaskan rainforest if their kids dare them to. They’re brave enough to teach that spin class, even if they do have to wear spandex—and courageous enough to battle the rats that party in their pantries after dark. They survive divorce and blind dates and their daughter’s first dance. Beautiful, lovable, strong women, they’re able to face their slightly flawed, finely wrinkled reflections in the mirror and laugh without fear of the future. They know humor has the power to turn pain into hope. It’s the great equalizer, the sticky situation that bonds the human spirit and encourages us to look at each other with a light-filled, effervescent eye. What a wonderful world it would be if we realized we’re all in this together, if we laughed at ourselves, instead of each other. My goal as a writer is to leave my readers with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts. Because the true essence of humor is love. And laughter allows us to share that love with others.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
“The funniest thing happened to me the other day. Let me tell you all about it.” Tassie Types was created because I love telling stories and making people laugh. Humor is a universal language everyone can understand. And because I don’t take life too seriously, humor seems to find me wherever I go. I’m the sort of person whose bridesmaid’s dress splits open down the back minutes before I’m supposed to walk down the aisle at my sister’s wedding. I hoard, I holler, I sing off key. Growing up, I was so tall boys would stand on chairs to slow dance with me. I’m not ashamed to show the world the mice in my pantry, my freakishly long middle toe, the excess baggage I carry around every day in my designer purse. My readers are fun and feisty women who can relate when embarrassing things happen to me, because that’s real life. And life’s too short to worry about what you look like in yoga pants. I like to think of Tassie Types as a cheerleader—the skinny, tall one in the back row behind all the buxom blondes. The late bloomer who can barely touch her toes, much less land in a split. “Don’t give up!” she cheers to the crowd. “We’re all in this together. “You can do it!” Tassie Types’ characters live happily ever laughter. It’s my hope my readers will, too. You can find my work in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Age is Just a Number, and Laugh Out Loud—40 Women Humorists Celebrate the Then and Now…Before We Forget. I’ve also been published in The Ocotillo Review, and ‘Tis the Season, A Holiday Anthology 2020, and have had stories earn honorary recognition in Outside the Window: Tales of the World, and Spider Road Press. My story, “Taking the Lead,” was the winner of the Writer’s Digest, flash fiction contest #103. Visit me at TassieTypes.com. I look forward to sharing some laughs with you!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love my city and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else! It’s like taking a mini staycation when friends come to town and I get to show them around. No trip to Houston would be complete without experiencing the diverse variety of restaurants. My favorites serve margaritas—strong ones! My girlfriends and I celebrate our birthdays with lunch in the No Minors Lounge at El Patio. After a couple of blue margaritas we forget how old we are. Other favorites are El Tiempo and Molina’s where no one cares if we sit on the patio for hours, laughing and crying, and solving all the world’s problems over chips and queso. I have one friend who has to have Goode Co BBQ as soon as her plane lands, and a huge chicken fried steak before she flies home again. After all that good food, a three mile walk around the newly renovated Memorial Park is always fun, or a bike ride through George Bush Park. A quick trip to Galveston for a walk on the beach or seawall is the perfect get-away from the city. But if it’s hot and humid outside, my favorite form of exercise is shopping at Highland Village or one of the outlet malls in search of deals. If it’s the first or last Friday of the month, I’d take a friend to Pac Man Fever at Joystix Classic Games, where the owner turns his video game showroom into an arcade for the night. If it’s October, I wouldn’t miss the Greek Festival, my favorite weekend to enjoy food, wine, dancing and celebrating my culture. I’d never pass up an opportunity to go to the Nutcracker Market for holiday shopping in November, drive through River Oaks to see the amazing Christmas lights in December, or go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo when it comes to town. Houston is home and it’s where my heart lives.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Home is where my story begins. Tassie Types is based on my big, fat Greek life and the people who make it a rich, fulfilling one. My family and friends are the heart of my stories, and they make life worth writing about. They grew up and grew older with me, sharing every chapter from middle-school to motherhood to middle-age. I’m thankful they’re good-humored enough to allow me to share our memories, mishaps and misadventures with my readers. But Tassie Types would still be a dream stuck in the bottom of my desk drawer if it weren’t for the individuals and writing groups who supported me along the way. I’m a member of the Houston Writers Guild which hosts critique groups for beginning and seasoned writers. The weekly writing group I attend through the guild puts up with my corny puns, keeps me accountable, and helps me transform rough drafts into polished pieces. The guild also hosts writing workshops and contests which give authors the opportunity to learn more about the craft, network with industry professionals, and publish and promote their work. As a humor writer, one of the most exciting experiences for me was attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Surrounded by funny writers, keynote speakers and stand-up comediennes, I finally felt like I’d found people on the same page as me. They made me believe I wasn’t just full of wit. I was more than a mom with a Mac. I was a writer! And thanks to contests and call-outs for submissions from places such as Kallisto Gaia Press, Writer’s Digest, Spider Road Press, and especially Chicken Soup for the Soul, I was finally able to share my work with the world. But the real shoutout goes to my readers who motivate and inspire me. The real people who struggle with marriage and motherhood, dog hair and divorce. The strong, resilient household heroes who laugh without fear of the future. My stories are for you.
Kati Hewitt Photography