Tracey is the author of several lesbian romance novels published by Bella Books, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Last Salute and No Rules of Engagement. She is a voracious reader, even more so now that she has retired from a 27-year career as a daily newspaper journalist.
We published a review of Last Salute today as it seemed a fitting title to chose for Memorial Day Weekend, and at the same time we took the opportunity to ask Tracey your six blogspot questions.
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Hmm, this has to be the hardest question of all! I read probably 30-40 books a year, so my “favourite” book changes from month to month. It’s probably easier for me to tell you who my favourite authors are.
For lesbian fiction, there are many very talented authors…too many to pick just a few, and I don’t want to neglect anyone. But I will say that two authors who inspired me early on (back in the 1990s) were Katherine Forrest and Karin Kallmaker. They were producing quality work early on when there wasn’t a lot around, and they made it look easy (which I know now it is not!).
I read a ton of more mainstream fiction (from both gay and straight authors) and some of my favourites are: Sue Miller, Hilma Wolitzer, Emma Donoghue, Helen Humphreys, Wally Lamb, Charles Baxter.
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
The War on Terror (Afghanistan, primarily) surprisingly inspired me to write two of my novels (No Rules of Engagement and Last Salute, both Lammy finalists). As a journalist, I was always interested in the war in an academic way. I really didn’t have an opinion about it early on, but as the war dragged on and more people (soldiers, journalists, aide workers) came back and told their truths, I found myself becoming more emotionally involved. I also felt it was my duty as a citizen to find out more about the war and to form an opinion about it. As I embarked on this journey, I decided I wanted to set some of my fiction in the war, and with those two novels, I really tried to unearth how the war might have impacted some people, and the sacrifices people made, and how the experience changed them and their loved ones.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
My fellow lesfic authors have been very supportive over the years. Writing conferences are very inspiring and supportive, and I try to attend at least one a year. Readers have also been very kind in writing to me, and many untold others who appreciate and enjoy what authors do have been supportive in many ways. I also belong to a writers group in my city (Ascribe Writers), about 10 to 12 of us, and we really push each other to grow and get better, and we’ve all become good friends. They inspire me and hopefully I inspire them as well.
One word: It’s COOL!
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
On the non-literary side of things, I’m trying really hard to learn to play the guitar right now. I’m enjoying it, but man, there’s a lot to learn!
On the literary end, my next goal is to write a mainstream time travel thriller, set during a very specific historical event. It’s taking a TON of research (which I love), and it’s going to take a huge chunk of time to complete. I don’t see myself ready to shop it around for at least another 18 months. Whether it ever sees the light of day or not, writing that kind of book is simply a way to challenge myself as a writer.
I’m busy working on my next Bella Books novel, (You Are) The Song in My Heart. It’s a romance novel involving two musicians… one an up-and-comer, the other a former star who walked out on her career years ago. It’s not going to be a tear-jerker like “Last Salute” however. I can’t afford all the Kleenex I owe my readers after that one! But I’m enjoying writing it, and it’s part of what inspired me to learn how to play guitar.
Huge thanks to Tracey Richardson for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more about her and see all her books on the Tracey Richardson Author page