Friday, February 27, 2009

Interview with Tracy Madison

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Tracy Madison. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.
I understand you have a new release out called A Taste of Magic. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

From the back cover:

Elizabeth Stevens is one bite away from happiness.

Today is Elizabeth Stevens’s birthday, and not only is it the one-year anniversary of her husband leaving her, it’s also the day her bakery is required to make a cake—for her ex’s next wedding. If there’s a bitter taste in her mouth, no one can blame her.

But today, Liz is about to receive a gift. Her Grandma Verda isn’t just wacky; she’s a little witchy. An ancient gypsy magic has been passed through her family bloodline for generations, and it’s Liz’s turn to be empowered. Henceforth, everything she bakes will have a dash of delight and a pinch of wishes-can-come-true. From her hunky policeman neighbor, to her gorgeous personal trainer, to her bum of an ex-husband, everyone Liz knows is going to taste her power. Revenge is sweet…and it’s only the first dish to be served.

A Taste of Magic is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Actually, my editor Chris Keeslar chose the title, and I loved it immediately. My original title – A Spoonful of Sugar…A Pinch of Magic – was too long. We considered A Pinch of Magic, as well, but we both felt that A Taste of Magic fit the book better.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’d been targeting Harlequin for years; therefore, all of my prior work was focused on category romance. I’d never seriously considered trying my hand at a single title, especially a paranormal romance, which was odd, because I’ve always been a fan of paranormal movies, television, and books.

One evening, out of the blue, a question popped into mind: “How would a woman feel if one year after her husband left her for another woman, she had to bake his wedding cake for his new wedding?” The question intrigued me. WHY would she have to bake his cake and why would she even agree to do it?

The idea kept simmering and in a few short weeks, I’d started to write. It quickly became apparent to me that Elizabeth’s emotions about her divorce and her ex-husband needed to be balanced with something lighter. Something fun. That’s when the missing ingredient – magic – came to me. That, along with some zany relatives, gave me the foundation I needed. The book almost wrote itself, and it was SO much fun!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Like I said, a question popped into my mind and refused to leave me alone. I’m really not sure where the idea came from.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

I can’t really answer this, because I didn’t use any while writing this book. The magic in the book follows a set of rules I created, so I didn’t really have a need to search out information related to the paranormal elements.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Well, obviously, I loved writing about Elizabeth. It’s her story, and her feelings/thoughts that first captured my imagination. Elizabeth’s emotions pulled at me so deeply, that even though the book is fun and lighthearted, there were a couple of times I cried. When the book opens, she still hasn’t come to terms with her divorce, or figured out who she is without being married to her ex. With the gift of the magic, everything changes, and for the first time ever, she becomes empowered. It was great fun watching Elizabeth grow.

As much as I love Elizabeth, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her grandmother, Verda. This is a character I adore writing about, and have been able to twice so far – first in A Taste of Magic, and then in the second book A Stroke of Magic. Grandma Verda is fun, wacky, and loves to create just a little bit of havoc (with the best intentions, of course!).

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

I’m odd when it comes to characterization! I hate character sheets, interview questions, and the like. Everything I know about my characters comes to me organically, through the process of actually writing. I start with very few basic facts: name, age, family, location, and job. Then, I write myself a letter from the character’s point of view. This is free writing, and I literally write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes these letters are only a page long, but usually they’re several pages long, and at the end, I learn a lot about what makes them tick—their regrets, dreams, best friends, etc. Everything else about the character evolves as I’m writing the book. It’s what works for me, so I stick with it. J

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

At this point, I haven’t created an entirely new world in any of my books, but there is still world-building that needs to be done. For example, A Taste of Magic and A Stroke of Magic are set in and around Chicago. While I’ve been to Chicago several times, I still did research on the area to ascertain I didn’t make any huge mistakes.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Naturally! Some are authors I love to read and are on my must buy list, and others are authors in my life, my friends (whom, of course, I also love to read!). If I tried to list every author who has ever inspired me, we’d be here a very long time. But yes, there are many, many authors who have helped me grow in my writing AND continually inspire me to keep writing.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

You know, promotion is such a huge gray area. I have no real idea on what works and what doesn’t, how one book gets noticed, but an equally deserving book doesn’t. For me, I tend to focus on what I can do without going crazy or broke—which boils down to my web site, my blog, my group blog, guest blogging, a few advertisements at romance fiction web sites, and getting my book out for review. The rest is out of my hands!

What do we have to look forward next?

My next book, A Stroke of Magic, will be released on June 30, 2009. Readers are introduced to Alice in A Taste of Magic, and she gets her own story here. Writing about Alice’s journey was just as much fun as writing Elizabeth’s, and I’m already looking forward to hearing what readers think.

From the back cover:

You know how freaky it is, to expect one taste and get another? Imagine picking up a can of tepid ginger ale and taking a swig of delicious, icy cold peppermint tea. Alice Raymond did just that. And though the tea is exactly what she wants, she bought herself a soda.

No, Alice’s life isn’t exactly paint-by-numbers. After breaking things off with her lying, stealing, bum of an ex, she discovered she’s pregnant. Motherhood was definitely on her “someday” wish list, but a baby means less time for her art and no time for recent hallucinations that include this switcharoo with the tea. She has to impress her new boss, the ridiculously long-lashed, smoky-eyed Ethan Gallagher, and she has to deal with her family, who have started rambling about gypsy curses. Only a soul-deep bond with the right man can save her and her child? As if being single wasn’t pressure enough!

Thanks, Tracy!

To celebrate her book release, Tracy is offering a free autographed copy of A Taste of Magic to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away... (Please check back Monday to see the winner)

Bio.
Tracy Madison lives in Northwestern Ohio with her husband, four children, a bear-sized dog, a snobby cat, and a loud-mouthed bird. Her house is often hectic, noisy, and filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments. Many of these incidents fire up her imagination to create the interesting, realistic, and intrinsically funny characters that live in her stories. As a successful freelance writer, Tracy writes all day, every day. She has the most fun when she’s knee-deep into a new story, figuring out who her characters are and breathing life into them. She’s active in her local RWA chapter, reads several books a week, and is addicted to reality television.

Check out author’s website at http://www.tracymadison.com/ and her group blog at www.thenovelgirls.blogspot.com.
Kim Watters

14 comments:

Kim Watters said...

Good Morning, Tracy. Thanks for blogging with us today. I love books that start because of a question and yours definitely has me intrigued. My question for you is were there any scenes that you adored that had to be cut in the final manuscript?

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Kim! Thanks for having me, I'm thrilled to be here. As to your question, my revisions didn't require me to cut a scene. Though, before the book was ever submitted, I did drastically alter one of the first scenes in the book. It needed to be done, and the book is stronger with the alteration--so all's good!

Angie Fox said...

Tracy, I have to tell you how much I love the concept for your book. Not only that she has to bake the wedding cake for her ex (ouch) but that you've added such a great paranormal twist.

And yay that you don't do character sketches, either. I always feel a bit guilty when I hear how some authors do charts, graphs, interviews, note cards. Yeek. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Congrats on the relese of A Taste of Magic. I'm sure it's only the first of many great things to come. :)

LuAnn said...

How fun! This books sounds great; I'd love the chance to read it.

Janette Rallison said...

Sounds like a fun book. I love a little bit of magic thrown into a story!

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Angie! I've tried character sketches, interviews, charts, etc. in the past, but I found that all of heroines always sounded the same, as did my heroes, LOL.

I did a post a while back on my blog about right brain vs. left brain thinking, and honestly (for me, anyway) I think things like character charts are too analytical for my right brain personality, and as soon as I get too analytical, my creative process dries up. So I end up with carbon copy characters, and how boring is that?!

I can't wait for your next release, btw! (The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers.)

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, LuAnn! Thanks for commenting. I had a blast writing A Taste of Magic, and I certainly hope readers feel the same. :)

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Janette! I'm exactly the same way...I love magic in stories. As a child, I loved watching reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and as an adult, I've been just as enchanted by Harry Potter as my kids. Thanks for stopping by!

Carol Webb said...

What an absolutely wonderful idea for a book! I haven't seen anything out there like this. Your book is definitely on my list to be read.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tina LaVon said...

I love the plot!

Lara Lee said...

A Taste of Magic sounds wonderfully fun and wacky. Love the magic element! Great website - it really fits your books.

How long did it take you to write this book? And did you sell as a result of a contest, or did you query?

Nice interview!

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Carol and Tina -- thanks for the kind words and for having me! I always feel a little guilty when accepting praise for the plot, because I have no idea where it came from. :) It just sorta showed up in my brain one day.

Tracy Madison said...

Hi, Lara Lee! I love my website...it was designed by Stonecreek Media, and they've done a great job for me.

As to your questions:

How long did it take you to write this book?

From page one to the revised copy I sent out for submission, it took me about 7 months total to write A Taste of Magic. And then, after it sold, I spent a few weeks on revisions.

And did you sell as a result of a contest, or did you query?

A Taste of Magic sold as a result of a few things, actually. I pitched the book to Chris Keeslar at a conference in March/April of 2007 and he requested the partial. At the same time, I was searching for representation, so I didn't send the partial in immediately.

Fast forward to July, 2007, and I received a call while at RWA Nationals in Dallas that the book had finaled in a contest, and the scene I finaled with would be read by Chris Keeslar. With that, I figured I should get the partial to him asap, so I sent it out after returning home from conference. He'd requesed the full in about 3 weeks, and then 8 months later, he called with an offer. I still get goosebumps when I think about it!

Kim Watters said...

Congratulations LuAnn. You're thje winner of Tracy's book. Please e-mail at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com to claim your prize. Thanks for joining us.