Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Author Friday: Tracy Richardson

When you live in the middle of nowhere, like I do (okay, the gravel road I live on has a number instead of a name), it is a rare and fun treat to meet someone who lives nearby that is doing what you want to do.  I was really excited when Tracy Richardson mailed me to books, Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray and Indian Summer by Tracy herself, that she had published.  I was excited when she surprised me and came to listen to my Mock Newbery Orientation at Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library.  And I loved it when she was kind enough to visit HMMPL again and talk about how young authors could bring characters to life.  Thank you, Tracy for being a local favorite! 

Why do you write for kids?

I started writing for kids when my own children began reading all the books I loved as a kid and story ideas begin forming in my head. I think adolescence and young adulthood are such exciting times in our lives and thus provide a great environment for exciting stories. We are discovering ourselves and the world and quite literally anything is possible. Also, I want to explore the world beyond what our five senses can perceive, a sort –of ‘magical realism’ and children are very receptive to that.

What advice do you have for kids who want to be writers?
I think the most important part of being a writer is using your imagination, so I encourage kids to ‘exercise’ the muscle of their imagination all the time. It doesn’t have to just be with creative writing. They should listen to music of all kinds, create art and go to art exhibits, do crafts and of course read, read, read! Reading good literature is important to train your ear to how truly good writing sounds, but popular fiction is important to get the voice of the characters as well. Practice your writing and enter writing contests for kids.
What is your current favorite book (can be a kid or adult book) and what was your favorite as a kid?
My favorite book of all time is “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, but my current favorite book is usually whatever I’m currently reading. I just finished “Artemis Fowl” in audiobook and I loved the “Hunger Games” series. My favorite book as a kid was “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. She wrote with a type of ‘magical realism’ that I use as well.
Do you have a favorite Newbery winner?
“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle is one of my favorite books of all time. I majored in Biology in college and I think I was influenced by the way she incorporated science into her writing. I realized something interested a few years ago. Meg’s parents in the book are named Kate and Alex and we named our twins Katie and Alex not realizing it. Kind-of a spooky coincidence! I also loved “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech.
When and where do you write?
I write whenever and wherever I can. I am able to tune out background noise, so I can write in a coffee shop or at the airport. I don’t have writer’s block – I know basically how the story will go before I ever start writing and once I get going, the characters kind-of take over! I do have an office at home where I write in the evenings, but sometimes I write on the deck if it’s nice out or at the dining room table for a change of scenery.

What are you working on now or having coming out soon we can look forward to?
I am working on a story about Marcie’s older brother, Eric, who appears in Indian Summer. It is tentatively titled “The Field”. He’s a high school soccer goal keeper and it delves into the power of the mind to affect the world around us . My teenage reading group (my children and their friends) are helping me make sure I get the teen voice right.
Have you ever gotten rejection letters?
Yes, I’ve gotten rejection letters, but more often you get no response at all.
Do you feel like a famous author? Has anything fun ever happened because you are famous?
I don’t feel like a famous author (yet!). The most fun thing about being an author is going to schools and talking to kids. I am very excited as I am dong an author talk at the public library in the town where I grew up which is the inspiration for the town where Marcie lives in Indian Summer.
How many bookcases do you have?
I have seven bookshelves now and we are planning to build a wall of bookshelves in my office. Both my husband, writer Chris Katsaropoulos, and I love, love, love books.
What lake did you spend time at as a child?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan. We went to the beach all summer long and one of my friends owned a catamaran (two hulled sailboat) that we sailed on the lake.
Did you ever race in the 4th of July regatta?
No, I haven’t raced in the regatta, but I do take the sunfish out on Lake Wawasee every now and then.
What fun things have come from having your book published?
It is fun to have people I don’t know read my book, love it and say nice things about it!
What are the challenges of running Luminis Books?
Mostly it’s a lot of fun because I get to read lots of great submissions and work with people who love books as much as I do. The biggest challenge is having so many different responsibilities. We work with the author, cover designer, marketing people, book distributor, and editors to get our books ready to publisher and out to readers. I enjoy it all.

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