Monday, July 28, 2014

A Question and Answer Session With Tracy Banghart

Tracy, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk to us.

E&I:  What is your (writing) background?

TRACY:  I’ve been writing since I was really young; I feel like I’ve always known I wanted to write for a living. Growing up, I went to a lot of super nerdy (but awesome) writing camps, and took creative writing classes all through school. After college, I worked as a proofreader, technical writer, and marketing assistant for a small academic publisher. I got a master’s degree in Publishing. I kind of tried to get to the writing sideways – find a job in publishing and write on the side, but that ended up not working as well as I hoped. Now I’m a stay-at-home mom and full-time writer.
E&I:  Who are your favorite authors, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?

TRACY:  I grew up reading a lot of Robin McKinley, Cynthia Voigt, L.M. Montgomery, and Madeline L’Engle. I was really drawn to the fantasy and scifi elements of McKinley, Voigt, and L’Engle, and the characters of L.M. Montgomery, particularly Emily in her Emily of New Moon series. I’d love to think a little of their incredible skill has seeped into my own writing, but I don’t know!
E&I:  When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

TRACY:  Pretty much from the time I could read. When I was five, I wrote my first story: The Dog, Cat, and Bird.
E&I:  Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

TRACY:  For me, particularly with first drafts, it’s all about momentum. Writing every day is more important than the amount of time (which is usually not a lot because I’m chasing a toddler all day.) But honestly, I think I’m still figuring out a writing routine that works for me. Before my son was born, I had all the time in the world…and I would spend a lot of it on the internet, working up to my writing time. Now, I have so much less time that if I take too much “getting ready” time, I don’t actually get any writing done. I’ve been doing sprints with writer friends a lot lately, and that helps me turn off the inner editor (and the internet) and just go.
E&I:  What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

TRACY:  Honestly, I think this changes day to day. Sometimes it’s really easy to dive in and put words to paper, because I’ve been thinking about my characters for hours and they’re right there in my mind waiting to do their thing. Other times, actually putting words down is the most difficult thing ever, like wandering through a dark tunnel without a clue where I’m going or how to get there. Some days, I LOVE revising. Other days, it feels like I’ll never get this or that scene exactly right. I think there’s a quote out there about how the best part of writing is having written…and I definitely feel that on a regular basis. I love re-reading what I’ve written, even if it’s terrible, because seeing the evidence of all my hard work is always an awesome feeling.
E&I:  When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

TRACY:  Playing with my son, watching TV with my husband, sleeping!
E&I:  How do you think you have evolved creatively since your first novel?

TRACY:  Ohh. Great question. I think one of the biggest things that has evolved from my first book to now my fifth (which I’m writing now) is the scope of what I’m writing. I started my first book with a very basic idea. It was just for fun…I wasn’t hitting on any larger themes or “saying” anything about the world. By the time I got to my third book, I was taking more chances, thinking bigger in terms of the scope and themes of the story. I took more risks. I’ve also been exploring world building more; my first two books had contemporary settings, while the next three are scifi/fantasy settings. I think I challenge myself a lot more now, creatively.
E&I:  Please tell us about your latest novel.
TRACY:  SHATTERED VEIL came out in February, and it’s the “book of my heart”. It’s a scifi adventure that was inspired, in part, by my husband’s last deployment (he’s in the Army). I wrote the first draft back in 2010, and since then it has gone through many revisions, close calls in terms of traditional publishing….and is about to go through another…hmm….transformation? (To be revealed on July 29th!)
It’s a story about a girl who wants nothing more than to marry the boy she loves…until he’s sent to war. She ends up disguising herself as a man to join the male-only military to be with him, only to discover there are more important things to fight for. It’s all about discovering your own strength and self-worth, and I feel really passionate about my main character’s journey of self-discovery, as well as the multiple strong female characters in the book.
E&I:  What inspired you to write the book?
TRACY:  My husband’s deployment…at the time it kind of felt like everyone forgot that wars were still going on and our soldiers were still in danger. The isolation I felt and longing for him informed a lot of what my main character, Aris, feels at the beginning of the book. Another inspiration was my desire to write a “strong” female character who didn’t necessarily start out that way. So many books and movies have the badass female lead who starts as a badass and ends as a badass, without a ton of growth in between. I thought it would be interesting to explore a character who actually thinks she’s really weak and needs to be taken care of…and watch her evolve into a woman who is both physically and mentally strong, without losing her humanity or vulnerability.
E&I:  What makes your book special?

TRACY:  Aris, the main character, and her transformation. That’s what makes it most special to me, anyway.
E&I:  How long did it take it to write the book?

TRACY:  The first draft took 3 months. Subsequent revisions spanned three years.
E&I:  Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?

TRACY:  Right now I’m working on the sequel to Shattered Veil. It’s a lot of fun – there’s a bit more romance than in the first book, and a lot of exciting action scenes. 
E&I:  Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?

TRACY:  I’m not sure. I think this is all really up in the air right now, especially with Amazon’s new subscription service. I’d like to think we’ll still have physical books and bookstores – personally, I buy print and ebooks probably about equally. But who knows. The one thing I feel sure of is that people will still be reading, one way or another.
E&I:  What are your thoughts on social media as an author and as a way to promote your books?

TRACY:  I think social media only works for promotion if you’re not actually using it to promote. If you use it to connect with readers, other writers…if you offer insights or snapshots into your life and let yourself be an actual person in your online interactions – versus someone just posting about their books all the time – people will connect with you on an emotional level and want to check out your books.
E&I:  How has blogs contributed to your success?

TRACY:  I have put all of my books up on NetGalley, and have received such wonderful positive feedback from bloggers. I am seriously in awe of how much time and effort book bloggers put into reading, reviewing, and talking about books. I can barely keep on top of my blog – I know it’s hard work!
E&I:  What do your fans mean to you?

TRACY:  Everything. The idea that strangers are reading and loving my books is THE best, most rewarding feeling for me as a writer.
E&I:  How can readers connect with you?

TRACY:  You can find me here:

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I’ve got BIG news coming on July 29th – be the first to know!

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