As part of the featured author Q&A sessions, I am very pleased to announce that the featured author for the current session is Tracy Buchanan.
Tracy lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Tracy travelled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor, and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the south coast visiting family – a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.
Hi Tracy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I write ‘beach noir’ novels for HarperCollins in the UK and various other publishers around the world. I worked for many years as a travel magazine editor before working in social media for the wonderful Open University before leaving to write full-time. I live in Buckinghamshire, UK, with my husband, my little girl and my Jack Russell.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? I’ve achieved one major ambition already: to write full-time. Now I want to ensure it’s long-term by writing even more novels and getting them into as many readers’ hands as possible!
So, what have you written? I’ve written several novels, some of which haven’t seen the light of day! That includes a young adult novel about a shape shifter which got me a German deal, randomly! Then I wrote The Atlas of Us in a whirlwind about a woman who travels to Thailand to find her mother after the 2004 tsunami, which got me my deal with HarperCollins. This was followed by My Sister’s Secret, about a woman who travels around the world’s submerged forest to uncover her family’s secrets. This hit the overall Kindle no 1 spot in the UK and Kobo no 1 spot in Australia. And most recently out is No Turning Back.
What is your most recent novel? No Turning Back tells the story of a woman who kills a schoolboy when trying to protect her child from his attack, and the terrible fall out from that. It’s much darker than my other novels!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Anna seems like a normal woman: a hard-working mother who works as a radio presenter, trying to juggle everyday life. Then something extraordinary happens to her which makes her react in an extraordinary way. As you read the novel, you see how her life begins to spiral out of control and what she does to deal with that. Is she the person you first think she is?
What genre are your books? HarperCollins label them as ‘beach noir’, domestic thrillers set in a seaside location.
What draws you to this genre? I’ve always been fascinated by the sea, especially those seemingly beautiful seaside tourist towns which might hide a rotten core! I love exploring the darker side of life, family secrets and lies.
When did you decide to become a writer? From birth! I just seemed to know from the moment I could hold a pen.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write all day long now it’s my job. I tend to get admin and publicity out of the way in the morning then writing the rest of the day until it’s time to pick my little girl up from her pre-school or grandparents!
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Not always. I tend to just write as fast as I can. But if a deadline is uber tight, I might set myself weekly targets for a particular number of chapters and scenes.
Where do your ideas come from? Anywhere and everywhere. I tend to get a lot of ideas while walking. Like for No Turning Back, I was walking my daughter and a perfectly innocent looking man approached us. Suddenly, I imagined him lunging towards us with a knife. I started to wonder: ‘what if he had attacked us? What would I have done?’ But then another question bubbled up. Would I kill for my child in such a situation? Most people say they would, unquestionably. But that takes something, killing someone. Wounding them, yes. But killing them? Maybe you need a certain type of darkness inside to take someone’s life, even when protecting your own child. It’s this that forms the heart of No Turning Back.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? I used to see where an idea took me, but now I write a synopsis and plan the main plot points of my book as I find this saves time in the revision process.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? If I’m working on it full-time, I can write a first draft in less than two months. But then all the revisions can take time. So, a final draft might take three to four months.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I think I’ve learnt so much, mainly about keeping the focus tight in a novel. I used to go off on tangents, explore too many themes, bombard the reader with too many layers. But now I’ve learnt to be really focused.
Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I don’t read as much as I’d like. With a toddler and all the writing, I’m exhausted by the time night falls! But I do read in bed each night and try to get through as many novels as I can. I’ve always loved Anita Shreve, an American writer who writes sweeping emotion-filled novels. I also have a soft spot for thrillers, so Claire Mackintosh, Gillian Flynn. And I adore love stories told in a clever way, like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife and David Nicholls One Day.
What is your favourite book and why? Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife. A sweeping clever novel with a dash of science and plenty of heart.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Probably Audrey Niffenegger for all the reasons above.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Patience! Make your novel the best it can be before submitting to agents, publishers or self-publishing. Your readers deserve the best! Write every day and as much as you can. But also take time out to be inspired: take a walk, watch a film, read poetry to learn about the rhythm of words.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Facebook: click here
Twitter: click here
Amazon Author Page: click here
Goodreads: click here
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.