Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Author Interview – Julia Park Tracey

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Yes – it’s that love is more important than dogma. If you’re feeling guilty about sex, it’s probably because of your religion. Finding true love is not impossible, but if your religion tells you that a certain kind of love is wrong, you might want to reconsider your beliefs. It may not be the path that really serves you – or God.

How important do you think villains are in a story? I think of villains and heroes like I think of a tartan fabric. You have to have some thick lines and thin lines going this way and that way, crossing each other. Together they make up a complicated plaid pattern, with beautiful and complex colors. Your hero/heroine needs something to push against, to struggle. Your villain cannot be a cardboard character. It’s easy to hate someone who’s one-dimensional. Give me a round, complex person with deep motivations, and I can love or hate him. Remember that evil people are often the most charming, and you may find yourself taken in long before you realize there’s something wrong. Be aware of that when writing villains into your story.

What books have most influenced your life? I think the books I read as a child taught me how to be self-reliant. Books like the Little House books, for example – I have reread those probably 30 times or more. Stories by Elizabeth Enright (Thimble Summer, Gone Away Lake) are simple stories with ordinary characters; I think I’m an ordinary person with a simple story, too – I am more comfortable in a simple life. But as an adult – I have my master’s in early 20th century British literature. I’ve studied Shakespeare, Austen and the Arthurian cycle, and so much poetry. But I think it took Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy to teach me about love.

Have you ever considered anyone as a mentor? I have had writing buddies with whom I exchanged chapters or short stories or poems, and that was always more helpful to me than a group of other writers. One other writer who is on the same plane as you, or better, so that you learn from him or her. It’s just so hard when you are more experienced than the other partner, because you may not get as much from the relationship. Seek writers from whom you can learn.

Who is your favorite author and why? I’m a big fan of Jane Austen. I’m a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and I try to go to the annual meeting each year; it’s in a different city and sometimes different countries. I have presented a paper to this group and hope to present more in future years. I love the Regency period and Jane Austen, but I never got into spinoffs, sequels or the “Jane Austen and Zombies” trend. Jennifer Ehle was my favorite Elizabeth Bennett, and Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.

Have you started writing another book? Tongues of Angels is the first of a series of books that use the Catholic Church as a setting. A novel I have been working on, that started as a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, is about apparitions of the Virgin Mary, in a not-quite-slapstick way, but it features many of the same characters as Tongues of Angels. I can’t wait to finish writing it, because I think it will be deliciously fun to share.

What are your current writing projects? My biggest project is the ongoing publication of the Doris Diaries ( These are real diaries that I inherited from my flapper great-aunt. I published the years 1925-1926 in 2012 and the next volume – 1927-1929 – is coming out in September. I’ve done a lot of traveling and presentations about the Roaring Twenties, especially during Women’s History Month in March. I will be on another book tour in fall to share the Doris Diaries Volume Two. So that keeps me off the streets.

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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