Thursday, August 26, 2010

Author Interview - Tracy Krauss



 Tracy's winner is:

Sue B!! Congrats!!!

Welcome to yet another interview and a great on-site location...an archeological dig in Zimbabwe, Africa!! How kewl is this? Here, first let me set down my brushes and small hand shovel. Whew...the sweltering heat doesn't let up either. Now, if this sand would just quit blowing long enough to allow our guest to do the interview. Tracy, come over and sit beneath the awning in the shade. We have a few visitors who would like to get to know you.




Thank you all for stopping in! It's a much needed break today. Please grab a tall, ice cold drink and get comfortable. You are about to meet a woman who doesn't know the meaning of 'taking a break' but we'll give it a try! I'd like you to meet author Tracy Krauss!  *her co-diggers give her a big hand from the inside the digging site*


Tracy: *brushing off the sand from her safari shirt and pants then taking  seat* Thank you for joining us today ; I'm glad each of you took the time to be here. Deanna, thank you for coming all the way here for the interview.

Deanna:  So, tell us a bit about you that our readers might not know.



Tracy:  I am a mother of four grown children, and a High School teacher of Art, Drama and English. I am very passionate about the arts and the creative process in general. I keep myself overly busy with my career, writing, and directing an amateur theatre group called the “KodiActs”.  I’m also an artist (a printmaker, painter and illustrator) and I play the piano and lead worship at our church.  You could say I’m one of those people who don’t sit down much. Sometimes I think I need to slow down, but it’s difficult to know what to give up …
Deanna:  Wow, that is staying busy, but they say busy people are who get things done. You have a lot to be proud of with that schedule. What happened in your life that made you want to become a writer?

Tracy:  I have always been a writer.  I know that sounds silly, but I feel that if I had to choose just one role – one title for myself, ‘writer’ would be it.  For me, it’s all about story telling. I have these characters and scenes in my head that need to have an outlet, and as far back as I can remember, I have been finding ways to get them on paper.  When I was very young, I spent hours drawing. (And I used many pads of paper!) Most of these sketches were actually characters or scenes from the stories themselves. Later in high school, I had a teacher who encouraged me to pursue creative writing as a career.  At the time I was more interested in Art, so I went to the University and got my degree in Art Education.  (I also come from four generations of teachers, so education seemed logical …) It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I really sat down and started writing. That was 25 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. 

Deanna:  What life experiences do you draw on when writing? 

Tracy:  Our family has moved A LOT since my husband and I married almost 28 years ago.  He is a very adventurous sort – the kind of person who is not afraid to try anything (and I mean anything… whale riding anyone??!!) I am more content to stay at home and have adventures ‘in my head’, but he has dragged me to many interesting places over the years, many of which have been very remote and in the far north. So I know all about what it means to feel isolated. (I mean really isolated – five hours to the nearest town, or places with no way in except by train, and that took twenty hours…) I’ve lived in the polar bear capital of the world (Churchill, MB), the Yukon (next door to Alaska), and the North West Territories, to name just a few. Each place has given me new fodder for my imagination, however, so I am grateful for all the first hand experience I’ve been subjected to!

One of my husband’s ‘adventures’ was to go into ministry about 12 years ago.  I never saw myself as ‘Pastor’s wife’ material (I’m probably a little to unconventional and ‘artsy’ for that) so this new role was a real stretch for me in many ways. Somehow I managed to maintain my individuality and probably shocked a few people along the way. Don’t get me wrong – I am a Christian, but as my husband affectionately puts it, I’m more “Shades of Gray” than black and white when it comes to many issues.  Being a Pastor’s wife can be a very isolating experience, however, because it is difficult to make close personal friends when you are always meeting other people’s needs – being ‘strong’ and available for them – and getting too close to anyone in particular is often seen as playing ‘favorites’. It’s a bit of a fish bowl existence that is at the same time quite lonely. 

Deanna:  You have many sides to you, Tracy. The work you do must also must help with writing. Do you write under a pen name?

Tracy:  No I don’t. I had considered it a few times back in the early days, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for anyone to read what I had written and know it was me.  I think it is an issue many writers struggle with at first.  Writing is a very personal act. It is like baring your soul and you always run the risk of ridicule.  I have since decided that it’s worth the risk.  I feel I have something valuable to say and I might as well just let people know straight up who is saying it. You can’t please everyone, so you need to be true to yourself. 

Deanna:  Is there a certain type of character you find easier to write than another?

Tracy:  I have not found that to be the case so far.  I love all of my characters. They are like personal friends to me and I get to know them very, very well over the course of writing an entire novel.  I suppose the trick is to write dialogue etc. that sounds authentic for each individual.  I am told that I do that quite well, so I really haven’t experienced any blockages in that area yet.  Naturally, villains are always fun! I suppose if I run into a character that I am having trouble with I might just drop him/her or change them up enough to fix whatever the problem is.  That’s the great thing about writing fiction. You are the master of your own universe!

Deanna:  Do you read in the same genre that you write?

Tracy:  I love Science Fiction, Fantasy and supernatural thrillers. I was a Trekkie way back when all my girlie friends had the latest hot boy posters on their walls – I had Mr. Spock. J My writing thus far has been more along the Romantic Suspense line. I do like a twist, that’s for sure, and I try to incorporate that element in my writing. However, I have not attempted to write Sci-fi per se, or fantasy or supernatural thrillers either.  This is a very good question, and one that I will be pondering for awhile.  Maybe I love reading those genres so much that I’m not sure I could do them justice.  In any case, I write what is ‘in my head’, as I said before.

I do enjoy a variety of other literature as well. I really enjoy the classics on occasion and when I’m in the mood - Jane Austin, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood … and of course Shakespeare.  As a playwright as well, I couldn’t forget about him!

Deanna:  Who are your favorite authors and whose writing has inspired you?

Tracy:  My favorite author, without even the blink of an eye, is Frank Peretti.  I love his writing and I have all of his adult books. Another one of my favorites is a book called Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. It is a very twisted ‘apocalyptic’ novel which I truly love. Also, I have found Francine Rivers to be very inspiring because of the way she deals with ‘taboo’ subjects within a Christian context.  I am not much for what I call ‘sappy’ romances, and although my writing contains romance, I try not to make it ‘sappy’.

Deanna:  Tell us more about your latest book And The Beat Goes On.

Tracy:  This is the story of an archeologist who discovers Pterodactyl and giant human remains buried together at the site of an ancient temple in Zimbabwe, Africa.  The find causes a lot of controversy and leads to sabotage, betrayal and even murder as he and his team try to discover the truth behind the find. The book raises a lot of questions about scientific practices and delves into the whole creation vs. evolution debate. I have tried not to make it preachy or too scholarly, though, because that, for me, is a turn off. I wanted it to raise questions, but not necessarily give all the answers.  I don’t believe anyone can really know all the answers to some of these questions, and so I have left the story open to interpretation to some degree.  It is written from a Christian worldview, but as I said, things don’t wrap up all nice and neat like some Christians might want. Instead, the focus for me was on the story – the mystery and suspense that surround the find and the consequences afterwards. Of course, there is a healthy dose of romance as well, but not, perhaps in the way that is expected.

Deanna:  I’ve always found archeology to be interesting with a bit of haunting thrown in for what once was. What gave you the idea for writing this book?

Tracy:  I have always been fascinated by the apparent discrepancy between the Biblical account of Creation and the evolutionary theory being taught in most schools and supported by the scientific community.  At one point I home-schooled our children (for nine years) and we were able to delve into the topic. 

I had also written a novel called Play It Again about an ex rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant whose lives are turned upside down after a ‘rendezvous’ (one night stand) and the redemptive journey that they faced afterward.  In that book, the main character has an eleven year old son named Mark who is a bit of a strange kid and who likes arrowheads and hanging out with adults etc. When I first got the idea for And The Beat Goes On I decided to make Mark the main character, only all grown up and now a successful archeologist. It worked well since the original novel was set in the 80’s, so the time-line fit.

So, technically, And The Beat Goes On is the sequel to Play It Again, although ironically the first book is not yet in print and they are both totally ‘stand alone’.

Deanna:  Where did you get the idea for writing about the Nephilim?

Tracy:  As you may know, the Nephilim are a pre-flood race of giants mentioned briefly in the Bible. Not a lot is said, but depending on how you interpret it, they potentially have supernatural origins. This has been another topic of interest (my Fantasy/Sci-fi/Supernatural Thriller fetish?) so I found a way to incorporate them into the story.  As well, during my research, I came across some ancient legends in Zimbabwe about Pterodactyl sightings even as recently as 100 years ago.  All of this combined to get my imagination going and thus the connections within the story.

Deanna:  I’ll be adding these to my ‘To Be Read’ also. Are you working on any other projects?

Tracy:  To date I have finished four novels.  Play It Again is currently under review with a major romance publisher, and another book My Mother the Man Eater is in the production phase and should hopefully be released in time for Christmas.  This one is another Romantic suspense, but also has some strong elements of comedy as well. It is about a forty something ‘cougar’ whose romantic escapades get her into trouble with her grown up daughters.  What happens is, all of her ‘boyfriends’ keep falling for one of her daughters instead.  Also in the mix is her ex jail bird husband who is back for revenge. There is a fair bit of ‘edgy’ content, but I think it’s a great read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final chapter.

Naturally, I am also working on several other manuscripts (I always like to have more than one project on the go at once – it keeps me fresh!) and I am currently seeking publication for the many full length plays that I have written and directed over my many years as a Drama teacher and director.

Let’s see… did I miss anything?  Oh yes, I’m also working on an illustrated children’s book based on a lullaby my mother used to sing.

Deanna:  You definitely can be called a woman who doesn’t slow down! Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

Tracy:  I’d have to say that my late mother has always been my greatest inspiration. She was a rather ‘eccentric’ person who was also an artist, teacher, story-teller, musician, dramatist and general all around ‘wing nut’. (And I mean that in a nice way!) She was never afraid to be different and she was very expressive in everything she did.  She was the kind of mom who actually played with her kids and made up all kinds of imaginary adventures and worlds for us (and her grandchildren) to enjoy.  Her creativity and fearlessness in the face of ridicule has always made me want to emulate her. She was also a woman of strong faith, and I credit her with having ‘prayed’ me into becoming a Christian.

Deanna:  Tell us a bit about a day in your shoes. How long do you spend writing each day?

Tracy:  Unfortunately, I go in spurts. Naturally, when I am working, that has to come first.  Then, around production dates for my drama performances, those take precedent.  I generally take the summers and all holidays as my writing time. (My ‘sanity’ time, I call it.)  I have also noticed recently how marketing and promoting oneself has taken over much of my valuable creative writing time, but that is par for the course, or so I am told… Some day I hope to write full time, but so far it can’t pay the bills.

Deanna:  Is there anything else you would like to add?

Tracy:  I’m kind of new at the whole promotions thing so I really appreciate the opportunity to appear on your site. Thanks, Deanna, for having me and all the best in your endeavors!

Deanna:  Thank you, Tracy. It’s been a pleasure introducing you to our readers. How can they get in contact with you?

Tracy:  I currently keep two blogs.  My main blog is www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.blogspot.com


They will find links for my book if they wish to purchase it as well as other interesting stuff. Naturally, they can also be purchased online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters/Indigo.

Deanna:  Tracy, thank you so much for spending time with us today! Do you have any last minute comments for our readers?

Tracy:  Deanna, once again, thank you for having me here. I’ve totally enjoyed this. Readers, I would love it if you would leave a comment for me and you’ll be in the drawing to win an e-book copy of my novel; that’s all you have to do. Feel free to chat with me. We’ll both be around for comments. Thank you to each one of you for stopping in today and sharing this with us.