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Monday, November 19, 2007

Interview with Pamela Tracy

LISA: Today we're chatting with author Pamela Kaye Tracy. Welcome Pamela! Tell us your initial reaction in finding out you had sold your first book? How many books have you sold since then?

PAMELA: Are you kidding? I jumped up and down. Now, picture this. I innocently go to get my mail. In amidst the bills is an envelope from Barbour Publishing. Envelopes mean: Dear Author, we’re sorry….. So, with a sigh, I open the envelope, right there where the mass mailboxes are, and inside is a letter telling me that with a few changes, they’ll buy my book. Yup, I jumped up and down, all alone, while cars drove by. I’m sure drivers thought I was killing a bug or something.

That was in 1998 and that first sale was a Barbour Heartsong. Since then, I’ve also sold Barbour nine novellas and two prayer books. I’ve also sold a romantic comedy to Kensington, and four Steeple Hill Love Inspired books. Three to the suspense line and one to the straight romance line. Yabba Dabba! I’ve jumped on a lot of bugs since that first sale.

LISA: That's a great story! Tell us about your latest release, The Price of Redemption.

PAMELA: I think there comes a point in a writer’s career where she/he finally knows she’s reached a milestone – mastered craft, found voice, something. My first Love Inspired Suspense Pursuit of Justice was a book that felt different from the first chapter. I’m not saying writing it was easy, no, no, no. But it felt different than my other books. It’s almost like I had more to tell. That more to tell must have been Eric Santellis’s story. He was a secondary character in Pursuit of Justice, and he ‘demanded’ his own story. See, he spent one whole book in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Of course, he needed one whole book of freedom. Too bad his freedom started with finding a dead body.

Then, I made the dead body belong to a cop. Yup, he was falsely accused of murdering a cop. He winds up with the wife of the dead cop. Romantic Times gave The Price of Redemption a 4.5. My first 4.5!

LISA: That's fantastic, Pamela! I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character from your book who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

PAMELA: This book, no, there is not a human character . In The Price of Redemption there is setting. I’ve named the town Broken Bones, but it’s patterned after a town called Congress, and the cabin where Eric lives belongs to my sister-in-law's family. I love the cabin and the area. It is my ideal location.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

PAMELA: The last time I did an interview with you, I mentioned discipline. I believe it even more now. I have a two-year-old. If I wasn’t disciplined with my writing, my writing career would either be on pause or over.

LISA: You are so right about the importance of discipline! Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

PAMELA KAYE: Short term: Finish the Love Inspired Suspense due Jan. 2. Long term: My dream is write three books a year for Love Inspired.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

PAMELA: I get up at 5:30 a.m. to write. Why? I have a two year old and a husband. Writing is my second career, so I also have a first career which demands more than forty hours a week. No matter what stage you’re in, be it pre-published beginner/intermediate /advanced all the way to multi-published, treat it like a career. You don’t write when you have time; you make time. Three pages a day, five days a week, will get you one or two books a year. Knowing that, schedule time to write 3 pages.

LISA: Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

PAMELA:When I began writing, I delved into any and all books. Now that I’m on 16, I don’t have time to spend.

LISA: What is the process you use when writing a mystery/suspense?

PAMELA: I’m not sure I’d called it a process more an intentional arrangement of events. I make sure to start with a hook. Book one - hero stops woman to give speeding ticket, shots are fired at the woman. Book two – exonerated hero heads to shed to investigation strange odor, finds not one body but two. Book three - heroine finds illegal immigrant hiding at her place a business. From there, I simply follow a formula of who is the least likely love interest (who has the most to lose) and, of course, that is the love interest. Then I add chase, doubt, other people in jeopardy, false clues, dead ends, etc.
Your question is hard to answer because I’m a SOTP’s writer. I always know my characters, my beginning, and my end. I never know the middle. Sometimes I don’t know the middle even while I’m in the middle of writing it.

LISA: What is your system to keep the story/clues organized?

PAMELA: I use a spiral notebook. I have it divided into two columns. One is my hero's. In The Price of Redemption Eric has a column. His column is about five pages long. I have blocked a space where I make sure to jot three high-intensity events. I also writing down names of characters and details that I might refer back to later, like the name of a road. Then, Ruth (the heroine) has a five page column. I do the same thing with her.
The nice thing about this system is, as I’m writing, if I get ideas, I’ll write the idea in the column where I think it’s most likely to happen. See, page one has a column that usually takes up three chapters. If I get an idea that might fit in chapter 8, I jot that idea on page three. If I don’t know whether my idea will be in Eric’s POV or Ruth’s POV, I jot in in the middle of the two columns.

LISA: Tell us a bit about the research you had to do for this story?

PAMELA: For this story, I did lot of research on how dead bodies would smell. No kidding! Keep in mind, there were two (and before the editor cut a whole plot line, I had three). I researched how the bones would look after certain months in a hot environment. I also researched if it was possible to have a funeral home on private land (a town that was basically one ranch that had been in existence for more than a hundred years). I did research on leave policy for a cop who’d lost her husband. I did research on washes (You know, after a rain when the water rushes down a wash). I did research on car junkyards and I did lots of research on the Chinese tunnels that really exist in Congress, Arizona. I love research!

LISA: THanks so much for dropping by our site, Pamela! Check out Pamela's website for more information on her books and be sure and leave a comment on our contest blog for a chance to win a copy of The Price of Redemption!


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