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Saturday, July 17, 2010
Author Interview: Tracy Fabre
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Tracy Fabre.
Tracy said she's been interested in writing since junior high.
"I know I had some vague adolescent belief that I would be A Writer, and that it would be possible to Make A Living by writing," she told me. "Naturally, these were delusions. I took up the pen (or PC) seriously about ten years ago, when I decided it was time to stop starting novels and start finishing them. I completed my first 'hey that might not suck' novel in 2000."
I asked her if she had ever suffered from writer's block.
"If you define writer's block as sitting in front of the computer (or over the blank paper) having no idea what to write, no, I've never had that (well, since college/grad school). But I've had long periods where I had no motivation to write, and during those periods, well, I don't write! I'm fairly lazy; discipline is by no means my middle name. It's not even my confirmation name. In fact, it's not the name of even one person in my extended family. I don't even KNOW discipline, and I wish it would stop calling me."
She admitted she couldn't pick just one favorite author. She used to read Stephen King and loved his characters and dialogue; she loved Dick Francis' leading men and Donald Westlake's humor. She considered Lewis Grizzard a great humorist and Jane Donnelly, in the 60s and 70s taught her it was possible to write books in which the lead characters got to know and care for each other in ways unrelated to wild animal passion.
"Not that there's anything wrong with animal passion, mind you," she said, "it's just it doesn't last."
The characters normally come first for Tracy, sometimes long before she comes up with a plot in which to embroil them. The plot only came to her once or twice before the characters.
At any given time, Tracy told me she always has works in progress—either in a file or in her head. Some of the things she was working on at the time of the interview were a sort of mystery set on Mobile Bay, Alabama, in which a murder from sixty years earlier is the focus and a tale of an accidental time traveler from the old West who ends up in present day in the middle of a schoolteacher's complicated life.
Sometimes titles for works just jump into Tracy's mind, like with Evan's Castle and Sending Rupert Home. However, other times they take a long time to appear, as Reasons did. She has a series of mysteries which took forever to name themselves because she wanted them to be similar and interesting.
"It's that last part which is so tricky," she said with a smile.
"What inspired you to write your first book?" I asked her.
"My first book ... the one I finished when I was fifteen and in love with the characters on the old TV Western High Chaparral? Or that first 'real' book, back in 2000? Let's go with the latter; I've already said too much about the former. I was obsessed by both a character and a subplot point: what if your husband was once accused of murder and everyone knew it? What would your life and your marriage be like?"
Tracy has completed twelve novels with Sending Rupert Home, which came out in March, being the third one published.
"Describe your writing space," I invited.
"My head. Kinda damp, pinkish gray... squishy... oh wait, you mean where I AM when I write. Boring. My office/spare room, just me and the PC. I'm surrounded by books, dust, papers, a bit more dust, clutter, a Spock bobblehead, more dust, and two stuffed sheep plus a stuffed baby gorilla."
She admitted to learning some surprising things while creating her books.
"That spell check couldn't stop me from being an idiot, that not every word I write is gold, and that in spite of this, I still want to write and apparently I don't suck."
On a more personal note, Tracy doesn't want a dog. In fact, if she had a pet it would be a cat, but she has allergies that prevent her from having either.
"I wonder if I'd be allergic to hamsters," she mused. "I could probably handle a hamster." I asked Tracy if she had any strange handwriting habits.
"Some find it odd that I write the top of a capital T before I write the bottom of it. I'm lefthanded, so others find it odd that I write properly (not that hook style hand many lefties have). My mother always wants to take knives away from me when I'm cutting meat because it 'looks wrong,' but this is perhaps beyond the scope of the question."
The strangest thing she's ever eaten? Emu.
"The emu sausage was tasty; the burgers were a bit dry, and the steak was a bit tough. In case you wondered."
"Have you ever cried during a movie?" I asked.
"Baby, I cry during Hallmark commercials."
Tracy snickered when I asked if she'd ever made a crank phone call.
"Yes. In my teens. The only one I'll admit to now is when (egged on by friends) I called a sorta friend and simply shrieked into the phone. (I was inspired by a scene from The Ritz)."
She feels scientists should invent a dishwasher that unloads itself.
"I mean, honestly. Wouldn't that be a fantastical thing?"
She can't unwrap a Starburst with her tongue, but if you give her one she can say, "Ack! Ack! Ptui!"
She can also tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke.
"Pepsi is bad, and Coke is good. Pretty easy, she says confidently from the security of her locked room where none of those Pepsi Swill lovers can get her. But in truth, I drink Coke Zero and Diet Coke. Coke is 'IT!' Pepsi is 'what?'"
You can keep up with Tracy on her website, http://www.tracyfabre.com