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Monday, March 24, 2008

Interview with Pamela Tracy

Congratulations to Hannah for winning a copy of Lynette Sowell's A Suspicion of Strawberries. Be sure to check back tomorrow to find out who the winner of the writing challenge is! If you'd like to enter the contest to win a copy of Broken Lullaby don't forget to post a comment below.

This week we welcome back author Pamela Tracy. Here’s what Pam had to say about her new Love Inspired Suspense novel, Broken Lullaby:

Growing up in a mob family had scarred Mary Graham. She'd thought running away would ensure her son didn't face the same horrors. But after three years on the lam the single mom couldn't live that way anymore. So she'd come back home to Broken Bones, Arizona - and found herself at the center of a baby brokering scandal. To prove her innocence and help a grieving mother, Mary had to turn to her family's nemesis- a cop... a cop named Mitch Williams. He'd been after her family for years, so could she trust him to have her best interest at heart?

What's really cool about Broken Lullaby is it is a Romantic Times Magazine March Top Pick. I'm a goal setter, and earning a top pick from RT has always been a milestone I'd hoped to achieve.

Congratulations! That is a great achievement.
Why did you decide to write about the mob? Wasn’t that a little scary? What sort of references did you use?

Rosa's story, Pursuit of Justice, was an idea I had that came to me with a beginning, middle, end. That rarely happens to me. I usually have beginning and end but no middle. So, technically, I didn't decide to write about the mob... it was decided for me. When I really think about it, though, the mob isn't a character in my books, it's more a background: a shadow per se. Rosa is fleeing from it... she witnessed something she shouldn't. In the second book, The Price of Redemption, Eric is fleeing from it. Unlike Rosa, it really isn't chasing him. It's more baggage than black moment. In Broken Lullaby, Mary is fleeing from it, just like Eric, and it really isn't chasing her. Again, more baggage than black moment. The mob is scary, but society has always been fascinated by the intricacies of organized crime. As for references, my characters were 'not' involved in the mob, so I didn't have to learn the world. I did read a lot about Sammy the Bull. He entered the witness protection program and came to the Phoenix area and really wasn't too secretive about his real name. Lots of press. Then, I researched mafia association because both Eric and Mary were children of a boss.

For your LIS books, how do you keep the suspense coming, page after page?

I wish I really knew a precise answer to this question. I'd be rich. I'm really big on chapter endings. I want every chapter to end with a 'gasp' moment. The spiral notebook (November's interview) I keep helps because I jot ideas down for the future. Every book idea I have comes with about half the plot ready. I'm lucky that way (Of course, during the first revision, half my ideas wind up on the cutting floor). The other half is the chore. I'm not a plotter. I don't write outlines. I also have to (I mean really half to) write in order. I write chapter one, then chapter two... some of my friends skip around. To me, writing out of order is like leaving the bed unmade or not putting ketchup on the hamburger... simply not done. If I don't have a good chapter end, I stop writing (unless the book is due in the morning). Usually somewhere - either the shower, the car, or while I'm chasing my three-year-old - I'll come up with a brand new twist. The brand new twist will usually take me through about three more chapter endings. In Broken Lullaby, Alma having twins was an idea that didn't come until I was about 1/3 of the way through the book. In The Price of Redemption, the homemade bullets came to me while I was eating at an old restaurant that had all kinds of antiques on the wall. I think it was Cracker Barrel. In Pursuit of Justice, Rosa's escape from jail and the scalding water came from a newspaper article I read.

How do you dig deep for the internal conflicts of your main characters—beyond the surface mystery?

I remember a talk Donna Dixongave years ago, this was when I hadn't published yet, and she said, "If your hero’s a fireman, make your heroine a pyromaniac." Of course, the heroine cannot really be a pyromaniac. It's the chance that she is... that keeps the reader reading. Or, it's the reader knowing something the hero doesn't that keeps the reader reading. In Pursuit, Rosa is not only a 'wanted' criminal in Sam's eyes, but she's wanted for killing his partner's son. In Redemption, Eric is not merely the man who finds Ruth's husband's body, he's also a member of the mob family who are suspected of ridding the area of her husband. He's also a man Ruth (against her better judgment) helped get 'out' of jail. And then he finds her husband's body! Hmmm. In Broken, Mary's not just a woman who stumbles upon a baby brokering scheme, she's also a woman who disappeared for three years because she feared her own son would be 'taken' from her. Mitch had a sister 'taken' from him. These plot points, more than anything, at first push the romance away, but then cause the H/H to battle together, and that which doesn't kill us makes us strong, especially in romantic suspense.

You’ve mentioned using a spiral notebook for laying out plot points and details for each book. Is this system still working for you?

It's the only tool I've found that works for me, and I get angry at myself when I don't keep it up because it causes me to waste time looking for a name I used in chapter two. Worse, the notebook gets buried, and so I grab a piece of paper and make new columns and then wind up having to spend time transferring two or three rough columns into the 'real' column. Of course, while I'm transferring, I come up with new ideas, so in the long run, I win.

Some of your towns are fictional. Is that easier than using a real town? What are the pros and cons?

I've been sitting here thinking about this, and I'm wondering if any of my settings are 'real'. Broken Bones, Arizona, is really Congress, Arizona. Gila City is really a combination of Gila Bend and Yarnell. I refer to Phoenix and Payson and such (real places) but they’re usually referred to during travel not as a place to 'stay'. In Grand Canyons Brides, we used the Grand Canyon, so there's one time I used a real place. I like fictional towns because I can put what I need where I need it. I do lots of combining. The two-story jail I have in Broken Bones is really a two-story jail from another small AZ town.

As a multi-published author, how do you keep records pertaining to your published books? Do you have a system for keeping track of the royalty statements, fan mail, and publicity efforts for each book?

For business dealings, I have a file cabinet and I keep a file for each publisher. I haven't sold to Kensington since early 2000, so no more file. For Barbour, there's a file, and for Harlequin there's a file. For fan mail, I have a notebook. I kept every piece, and I also log the address into my computer. For publicity, I save information on the computer. I probably don't do enough with fan mail and publicity. Besides being a wife and mother, I have a full time job (school teacher). I write from 5:30 - 7:30 a.m. The rest of my day is work and family. Then, there's church and housework and...

You write novellas, romance, and suspense. What’s up next for your readers?

We've talked quite a bit about suspense, but after this March release of Broken Lullaby, I have a Love Inspired romance coming out next January called Daddy for Keeps. It's about a small town girl and a bull rider. It's more or less a secret baby plot. It's set in Texas (I lived there for six years). Yup, it's set in a fictional town which is a combination of Abilene (my all time favorite place in Texas) and a small town here in AZ. Right now, I'm hoping to sell a three book proposal to the suspense line, this time set in Nebraska - my home state. Go Cornhuskers!

Sounds good! Anything else you’d like us to know?

If you want it bad enough, work for it. If you work hard enough, it will happen. Don't let yourself think that shortcuts lead to success.

How can your readers learn more about you and your books?
Here's my website


And here's my blog. The neat thing about it is it got mentioned in CBA Retailers Magazine.


Thanks ever so much for interviewing me!


Posted by Susan


Blogger Gina Conroy said...

That sounds like a great read. Count me in!

5:08 PM  
Blogger ChristyJan said...

Wonderful interview! Please enter me in the contest to win a copy of Broken Lullaby.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Carolynn W. said...

Please enter me, I would love to read the book, thanks!

7:08 PM  
Blogger tetewa said...

I'd like to be included!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Beth Goddard said...

Me too! Am I allowed to enter? LOL
Hey Pam, I loved hearing about the way you come up with your ideas and your notebook.


2:37 PM  
Blogger PamelaTracy said...

Thanks for all the comments. Hope you enjoy Broken Lullaby. And, Beth, if I don't keep a notebook my H and H's often change hair color midway through LOL

12:21 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

This story looks like a good one.

1:40 PM  

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