Tracy, the blurb for your latest book, And the Beat Goes On, really hooked me. Tell us about this book and how you came upon the idea.
When I first became a Christian I was perplexed by the apparent discrepancy between Biblical creationism and accepted ‘scientific’ explanations for the origins of the universe. This interest led me into years of research on the topic which eventually came together in this book. I don’t pretend to be an expert by any means, but I wanted to shed some light on the topic, and at least raise enough questions that my readers would want to investigate further. In the book, an archeologist finds the remains of pterodactyl and giant humans buried together. Of course, the find goes against everything that most scientists believe to be true. Mark, the main character, is himself skeptical at first, but is determined to uncover the truth. Sabotage, intrigue and even murder ensue. J This is also a story about personal redemption as Mark has to face his own issues from the past and come to terms with the evidence he’s found. I also love fantasy and Sci-fi, so I managed to incorporate some references to the ‘Nephilim’ – the mystic race of giants mentioned in the Bible as pre-flood ‘evil doers’.
I note you are currently working on three other books. I’m doing the same thing and at times find it a bit overwhelming. Do you utilize a certain method for working concurrently on three different books, such as setting aside a designated time to work on each, or do you just go with the flow?
I am totally a ‘go with the flow’ person. I need a variety of projects so that when I get bored with one, or come to a roadblock, I can switch to something else until I feel inspired again. I also love making schedules, but usually ignore them once made. J I guess I take some kind of weird comfort in knowing that the schedule is there if I need it, but that I still have the freedom to deviate. I actually prefer the term ‘framework’ – a much friendlier phrase for those of us who don’t like to be locked in!
Any upcoming releases?
My next novel called My Mother The Man Eater is due to release either just before Christmas or early in the new year. I had a lot of fun writing this one. It is about a forty something ‘cougar’ who likes her men and is concurrently dating five different prospects at one time. She also happens to have five grown daughters, and – you guessed it – each one of the ‘boyfriends’ end up falling for one of the daughters instead. The plot is further complicated by the arrival of her ex husband, an ex con involved with the underground drug world who is blackmailing her. It is a bit ‘edgy’ in spots, but nothing too graphic. I would classify it as Romantic Suspense, and although it deals with some pretty serious issues like sexual abuse, drug addiction, etc., it also has an element of comedy.
In your blog, you aptly use the monster truck your husband had to learn to drive for his job as a metaphor for an author learning the ropes of promoting their work. I agree- it can be overwhelming and frustrating. What do you think works for you best in regards to promoting your books?
Quite honestly, I’m still figuring that out! I had no idea there was so much involved when I first ventured into the world of publication. Targeting your niche is probably really important, which of course, means first figuring out who you are as an author. I categorize myself as an ‘Edgy Christian Suspense with a twist of Romance’ writer – kind of a mouthful, I know! I also think social networking is really key. At first it might seem kind of pointless – spending so much time marketing to other authors. We’re all doing the same thing – trying to sell our books, and I know I can’t afford to buy all the great books I hear about. However, I have come to realize what a wonderful resource these ‘friends’ are. The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know,” is true in this sense. I have gained some of my most valuable promotional advice from other authors.
I understand the Christian fiction market is a very hot market at this time. As a Christian writer, do you find this market more open to writers?
Yes and no. Yes, because Christian fiction is reaching a wider audience and is less pigeon holed than it used to be. No, because there are just so many authors out there that the competition is really stiff. You really have to work to stand out in the crowd.
As well as a published author, you’re a high school teacher of art, drama and English and a drama director. Have you incorporated any of your experiences in the teaching field into any of your books?
One novel, which is still unpublished, but which I am planning to pitch very soon, has a Kindergarten teacher as the main character. I actually taught Kindergarten in my first year of teaching – me – a person trained in Secondary School Fine Arts and English! FYI, the experience taught me that I really prefer teenagers! I’ve incorporated a few ‘artist’ characters in a couple of my novels, since I am an artist myself and love the arts. For me, the whole creative process is such an integral part of who I am, that I find my various creative roles do tend to mesh quite often.
What do you like most about writing?
Sometimes I feel that it is less about me ‘liking’ writing, than it is about being ‘compelled’ to write. Writing is hard work. It can be so mentally exhausting that one feels physically exhausted as well. However, it is not something I will ever stop doing, whether I ever see any more of my work in print or not.
What inspires you as a writer?
I get inspired by the most random things. Of course, there are the standard things like music, nature, a place or event … but I remember being inspired one time while in the middle of a game of curling. My skip was not happy! He was yelling, “Hurry hard!” and I was totally lost in a scene I was making up in my head. Some of the characters in my next book were inspired by playing the Sims! How lame is that!
Which of your books and plays is your favorite and why?
That is a really hard question! Right now I am really excited about the release of My Mother The Man Eater, so I’m leaning toward that one. The characters are so well rounded, and it’s gritty, funny, sexy, and full of intrigue all at the same time. Of course, I am also very proud of And The Beat Goes On and the way that it is thought provoking, without being preachy. At least that was my intent – for people to learn something without them really knowing it – to just enjoy the book for the story.
What is your favorite quote?
“To thine own self be true,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This pretty much sums up my personal philosophy. Be the person God created you to be, and don’t worry about what other people think.
The Dames love romance. How did you meet your husband and how long have you been married?
We started dating when I was 17 and he was 20. I was a somewhat rebellious small town girl and he was a ‘bad boy’ from the city, which is probably what attracted me in the first place. J He was the brother of my best friend’s brother’s wife. (Figure that out!) My parents knew of his family and their response was “Oh no!” However, he is a very fun loving, adventurous sort and soon won them over. We often laugh that it was a good thing we met before the days of internet dating services. We are as opposite as it comes and would never have been matched! He loves nature, roughing it, and adventure of ANY kind. I like going to art galleries and live theatre and I don’t really like adventures. However, as the saying goes, opposites attract and we have been happily married for 27 ½ years and been together for thirty. He has learned to appreciate art, music and drama, and I have been on some crazy adventures that have been fun after all and have given me lots of fodder for my writing.
We haven’t interviewed many Canadian authors. Tell us about your area of the world.
As you know, Canada is a vast country – the second largest in the world after Russia and taking up about half of the North American continent. However, there are only 35,000,000 of us, which is why I think Canadians tend to be very ‘location’ aware. We really define ourselves, I think, by the vastness of the land and our small place in it. We are also very proud of our reputation abroad of ‘courtesy and tolerance’, and I do think we tend to be more liberal in our thinking about a lot of things. Not everyone would think this is a good thing, of course, but we usually just smile smugly and go about our business. There is a lot more to Canada than the stereotypic ‘hockey’ and ‘Mountie’ image. We do have large metropolitan cities and live pretty much as our friends to the south do. (And no, we do not live in igloos!)
My own experience has been somewhat unique in that I have moved a lot in my life (my husband’s adventurous nature again…) so I have lived in some a-typical and somewhat ‘exotic’ northern locations, if I can put it that way. For instance, Churchill, Manitoba is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World’ for good reason – polar bears do actually roam the streets and you have to be very careful and aware at all times not to get eaten! (Polar bears actually stalk humans.) We’ve also lived in several locations north of the 60th parallel, (the Yukon, for instance which is right beside Alaska) which is synonymous with ‘the land of the midnight sun’. It is not uncommon during the summer to see kids out playing ball at midnight or two AM, because it is broad daylight. Conversely, the winter is very long, dark and dreary, but you get used to it. We currently live in a small mountain town called Tumbler Ridge, which is know for its many waterfalls. Who knows what will be next?
Anyway, thanks for having me at ‘Dames of Dialogue” It’s been fun.
For more information about Tracy Krauss and her works: http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.blogspot.com