I’ve always loved history, and something about ancient history fires my imagination. I love the research aspect—from textbooks to online searches, and even the traveling I’ve done to Greece, Egypt, Rome, Israel, Turkey, and Jordan to dive deeper into the areas and cultures.
You’ve been traditionally published but that doesn’t mean that the publisher does all the book marketing. What are you expected to do on your own?
Publishers definitely want authors to be connecting with readers as much as possible. A few years ago that meant social media efforts specifically, but these days your “platform” encompasses your email list, social followers, and anything you can do to connect with readers.
The rough draft is definitely the hardest part for me. I love researching, plotting, planning, and even enjoy most of the editing process. But getting those words down for the first time always requires a huge effort to get myself started every day. Once I’m in my writing “zone” I would say the hardest part for me is adding in all the setting and sensory details. Ironically, this aspect of my writing seems to be what my readers most enjoy in my writing, but I think it’s because I work extra-hard at it, since it doesn’t come naturally.
What does your editor remind you to do most often?
I tend to use too many filler words (e.g., “just” and “that”) where they’re not needed. Tightening up the writing is always needed.
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
In those early days, before I was published, the encouragement of just a few published writers was so important to me. Hearing “you have talent, keep at it,” was enough to keep me writing until I was ready for the market.
What has surprised or frustrated you the most in writing/publishing?
I wish I’d known that it never truly gets easier. In fact, the more I learn about how to write well, the harder it can be to push through. My standards for good writing have increased faster than my ability! :-)
What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Keep writing. This applies to writers starting out: don’t write one manuscript and then stop while you’re trying to get an agent or publisher. And it applies to career writers: even a little bit of steady writing will outpace trying to cram lots of writing into a short time.
Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Make sure you keep it fun! Even with all the words above about how hard it can be, it should also bring joy. If it’s hard with no joy, don’t do it!
Back in 2008 you wrote a book called Retrovirus, which sounds like a book for today. How did that book come about?
Yes, Retrovirus is my “one of these things just doesn’t belong here” book. Back before I was published, I attended a couple Christian conference, pitching a time travel novel. The advice I got was “this is going to be a hard sell in the Christian market. Go find a contemporary issue that’s ‘hot’ and try writing about that.” So I went to the library, sat down with The New York Times, and read articles until something struck my interest, which happened to be an article about the possibilities of stem cell research and gene therapy.
What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next book will be A Time to Weep, Book 2 in the series The Time Travel Journals of Sahara Aldridge. Sahara Aldridge has already discovered she can time travel, but now she’s on a mission to prevent her parents’ death in the ancient past, and in this book ends up in Ancient Rome on the day of Nero’s
That's all for today's interview. I hope you will check out Tracy's books about ancient Egypt. I read the first book and found it very intriguing.