I received an email from new author, Tracy West, apologizing for her late submission for an interview. As a staunch supporter of new, established and rising authors, I am more than pleased to feature her interview today. Welcome Tracy.
Tracy is a native of South Texas where her father’s gift to her of a puppy allowed her to overcome her paralyzing fear of dogs. She later learned to ride motorcycles and drag raced Harley’s for eight years. Her love of animals and motorcycles inspired the creation of the “Pug Mugs.” She is currently retired from a career in the chemical industry and happily spends her time catering to her three pugs. Her friends and dogs assist her in her writing her books: her friends by inspiring the plots and the pugs by translating Tracy’s friends’ adventures into pug-ese
WHAT DO ENJOY MOST ABOUT WRITING?
I enjoy the escape from reality that writing provides. When I write I’m in that world and I get irritated if someone or something drags me back to the here and now. I also love creating something that no one else can copy or reproduce. Someone else may write a piece similar to mine but it’s not the same as mine and never could be.
WHAT AGE DID YOU START WRITING STORIES/POEMS?
I’ve always written. I loved English class because it gave me the opportunity to do what I loved. Later I wrote as a way of expressing my feelings to others rather than doing it verbally. I never had a clue that someone else would be interested in reading something I had written.
HAS YOUR GENRE CHANGED OR STAYED THE SAME?
My genre has changed drastically. When I first started writing pieces for others to read and enjoy I was writing a “newsletter” for our motorcycle riding group. I took an event or situation and put a spin on it and wrote it as yellow journalism. No one was safe. I exaggerated, made fun and skewed the situation in my writing for affect. Through email, my pieces travelled the world. After 5 years of newsletters I laid the newsletters to rest. Still feeling the need to write, I started writing the Pug Mug series of children’s picture books. They were a take-off of the newsletter in that most of the stories are loosely based on mine and my friends’ experiences. I also write short stories and personal essays.
WHAT GENRE ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I’m currently reading thrillers and crime dramas. I wish I could write a crime drama but I know my limitations.
DO YOU READ FOR PLEASURE OR RESEARCH OR BOTH?
I’m a bit obsessive. I used to only read for information; history, biography, how-to, etc. Then I realized reading could be just for fun. I read several years for entertainment before I realized people liked what I wrote. Again I only read for information- how to write well. I read every how-to-write book I could get my hands on until I realized I was writing by the manual rather than what was in my heart. I’ve come to learn that no matter how I write it, if it reads right to me, it will read right for my reader. I now read mostly for pleasure along with some articles or books that I believe can help my craft.
WHO IS YOU BEST SUPPORTER/MENTOR/ENCOURAGER?
I have a large group of friends and they, and my family, support and encourage me but I wouldn’t have published without the repeated kicks in the pants that my boyfriend gave me at the times that I needed them. He has pushed me passed the point that I ever thought my writing would take me. I also have to give credit to a special, long-time friend whose courage in life and a battle with cancer gave me the strength to quit my job and concentrate on promoting my books. Her influence gave me the courage to chase my dream whole-heartedly.
OF THE CHARACTERS YOU HAVE CREATED OR ENVISIONED, WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
I have to say I love Sophie from a short story I wrote because she is so tragic and accepts herself with all her faults. In the Pug Mug books I love all my characters because I gave birth to them and developed them through a series of books. Dufus and Ditsy are the real life characters that inspired their literary counterparts. Of the fictional characters, I’d have to say my favorite is Tiny. He’s a lot like me, tough on the outside and a big softie on the inside.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SPACE?
I did my best and most of my writing at my old job when I worked nights. I worked 12-hour shifts alone and only had a couple of hours work to fill the night. I spent many hours writing on the clock. Since I’ve retired, I have carved out a niche in my home in front of a window looking out over my yard and the water. I now write with my dogs at my feet.
DO YOU PLAN YOUR STORIES , OR ARE YOU A SEAT OF THE PANT WRITER?
I usually plan my stories but when I start writing the story takes over and writes itself. I’m just a tool, and my stories can end up completely different from what I had planned. I built one of my short stories around a great sentence that I wrote as an exercise. By the time I was finished with the story, the great sentence didn’t fit anywhere in it.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR IDEAS/STORIES?
I depend a lot on personal experience, or the experiences of others, for my pieces.
DO YOU BELONG TO A WRITING GROUP? IF SO, WHICH ONE?
I did belong the Bookends Critique Group in Lake Jackson, Texas but I’ve been busy trying to get my children’s books published and out into the public’s hands so I quit for a while. I fully believe that every writer needs to be involved in a critique group. My writing improved as a result, as did almost all the other members. Not only having your own work critiqued, but critiquing others improves a writer.
DO YOU HAVE A BOOK PUBLISHED? IF SO, WHAT IS IT CALLED AND WHERE CAN READERS PURCHASE IT?
I have 2 recently released books, The Pug Mugs Save the Day and The Pug Mugs Go to the Circus. They are the first two in a series of 10 books about 8 Harley-riding pug dogs who have great adventures and love to help others. The books are available at www.pugmugsadventures.com and I’m currently trying to get them into stores around Texas and beyond. They will be available at Amazon in the near future. I am also trying to get them into Barnes & Noble.
IF YOU COULD MEET ONE FAVORITE AUTHOR, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I can’t limit it to one. John Steinbeck for his characters and settings, Jack London for his descriptions and John Grisham for his plots.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU AND YOUR BLOG?
My website is www.pugmugsadventures.com and anyone can reach me through my email on that site. I do not have a blog as of yet but the Pug Mugs have a Facebook fan page.
DO YOU HAVE PLANS OR IDEAS FOR YOUR NEXT BOOK?
My next 8 books are written and waiting for publication. I’m hoping to have The Pug Mugs Build a Clubhouse out by the end of the year. I would like to publish 1-2 books per year. I plan on the Pug Mugs having a long and successful career. I also plan to pick up writing short stories again soon.
Meet the characters here: http://www.pugmugsadventures.com/about.html