Hi, Tracy! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.
Hello, I’m Tracy Whitwell and for years I was an actress, mostly on the telly. I’m an actress again now, which surprises me as I thought I’d given up, so I got loads of tattoos and dyed my hair purple (which should have rendered me unemployable)! It just shows that ‘being yourself’ might actually work. I am also a writer and have written short stories and poetry since I was a tiny child. Later in my career (and especially after my son was born) I started writing plays, screenplays and music videos then graduated to novels. I love writing books and I only left it so long because I didn’t know if I was clever enough to write a full novel. Authors have always been my heroes and I didn’t dare think I could be one of them.
Which gives you more satisfaction – to write a first draft, or to finish the last round of editing?
The first draft. After that I know it’s tweaking and fun. Getting the bones down is the hard bit and it’s incredible when you realise that it might be in its rawest form but you just created a whole new book.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
Everything inspires me. I’m a great believer in collecting as much life experience as possible so that everything I write about feels genuine. Saying that, I love the paranormal, crime and comedy and I mix them together as much as I can. I also love exploring human relationships which is why my standalone novel, Time for Alice, involves such different subject matter to my series.
Pick a random piece of writing that you worked on ages ago and that never saw the light of day. Now tell us about it!
I wrote a film set in Wales called ‘Gathering Moss’ about a woman who thinks she needs to live somewhere new to mend her relationship and health, then finds out she needs to live there for totally different reasons. I loved writing it and I love Wales but it didn’t get made yet. I’m going to add a witchy, spiritual edge to it and try again one day because I like the story and I would love to work in the Brecon Beacons for a couple of months.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you tell us about it?
I’m feast or famine. When I’m stressed out and life is being difficult it’s hard for me to write. But when I do get inspired, or I’m given a task and a deadline, I don’t stop writing until I’ve finished. My first first draft involved me writing eight hours a day then editing at night with a glass of wine for 30 days. I finished the novel draft in a month. I’m a maniac when I get the bit between my teeth. (Apparently JM Coetzee writes like this then doesn’t so much as pick up a pen for half a year afterwards. I’m not quite at his level, obviously.)
What was the last book that you read and what did you think of it?
I read tons of books. I’ve read three in the past week or two. Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant, a great little thriller, Baby Doll by Hollie Overton, an interesting examination of the impact abduction/imprisonment has on the families as well as the victim/kidnapper and Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, which is creepy and fab.
Who are some of your favourite unsigned and indie authors?
I read so many books, I don’t know who’s unsigned or indie! I just buy them from my local bookshop or a bigger seller and read them. I think Jodi Taylor was an indie until she joined Accent Press and she is brilliant. I read her ‘Chronicles of St Mary’s’ books in a fortnight, pretty much locked in the spare room when I wasn’t being mammy or working. I bought the whole series and just kept going. They’re great.
What’s the best bit of writing advice that you’ve ever received?
That thing about killing your ‘darlings’ that Stephen King says in ‘On Writing’. You write a line or a paragraph that you think is fabulous and that’ll be the bit that needs to go. It won’t fit with the flow or it’ll be pretentious or it’ll simply be clunky. GET RID.
What’s it like working with Accent Press? Tell us a little bit about your journey together.
Accent Press are a great team. The past year they have been transitioning so the person who actually discovered me right at the end of 2015, the amazing Rebecca Lloyd, is now freelance. But everyone I’ve spoken to in the new team seems to be really cool and now I just need to get drunk with all of them to make sure we really are compatible as people.
How do you get the word out about your work?
I tweet and Facebook but obviously that isn’t enough. Last week I gave a talk at the Body and Soul Spring Fayre in Glasgow about my life and the subject matter of Sex, Spooks and Sauvignon. Last night I went into Waterstones in Crouch End and had a word and am hoping to have a launch in there soon (I’ll also try and arrange one in Newcastle ASAP). I’ll basically have to keep whoring myself around as a writer and speaker until Steven Spielberg calls me for the film rights to the series. (Unless I suddenly come into money and I can hire an advertising company. But the chances of that are slim to none. So whoring it is.)
Big thanks to Tracy Whitwell for stopping by SocialBookshelves.com. Be sure to click here to check her books out on Amazon and to follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow SocialBookshelves.com on Facebook and Twitter for further updates. I’ll see you soon!