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An Interview with Tracey Holland

It is a pleasure to introduce Tracey Holland to the blog. Tracey is a debut novelist whose first book Faith's Folly in her Willowbrooke Chronicles, will be published this summer. We met at The Writers' Summer School at Swanwick some years ago and are now in the same author stable at SpellBound Books. Welcome to the blog, Tracey. Let's talk writing.

What inspired you to write your debut novel?

You know, they always told me to "Write what you know." I thought about it over and over, and then it hit me - man, I love a good crime mystery! Always had a soft spot for them. You can imagine my hesitation to dive into it though. Crime mysteries are no piece of cake!


So, there I was, at Swanwick Summer Writing School, trying to get my creative juices flowing. Then this crazy thing happened - I ran into a goat and this guy Pennant Roberts, a legit Welsh bard. Sounds random, right? But trust me, these guys set my imagination on fire. Roberts was so full of life, he practically begged to be a character in my novel. With him as the inspiration, I had my detective's lively sidekick ready. To honour him, I even named my detective Pennant. It was like the universe itself was spinning the plot for me.


And just like that, my cosy crime book Faith's Folly was ready to be born. It’s a bit surreal, but guess what? It’s coming out this August! Hard to believe, isn't it?


Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

In my novel, there's one character who steals the show effortlessly: Churchill the goat. I infused the story with his antics to inject a touch of humour. Despite his mischievous nature, Churchill remains fiercely loyal to those he holds dear. With his charming rascality, he adds depth and levity to the narrative, making him an unforgettable presence throughout the pages.


What was the first piece you had published?

Listening for Father, my inaugural published piece, originated as a short story within the memoir I was crafting. Its inclusion in a university anthology marked the beginning of my writing journey. 


Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?

I've embarked on writing the second instalment of the Willowbrooke Chronicles, titled Count Your Sins. With a target completion date set for November this year, I've found the process of writing book two to be smoother, having learned valuable lessons from the mistakes made in the first book. Doubt is a constant companion in the creative journey, but I've come to view it as a constructive force that drives me to continuously improve. This perpetual quest for improvement pushes me to make each book better.

Who is your favourite author?

I'm an avid reader myself, with a particular fondness for authors like Joy Ellis, Julie Wassamer, L.J. Ross, Mandy Morton, and, of course, you, Val. Immersing myself in a wide range of genres and styles keeps me inspired and in the writing zone. While I have countless favourites, listing them all would fill the page and then some.


What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?

I'm passionate about crocheting, and my home is filled with blankets. Gardening is another love of mine; nurturing plants connects me to nature. But nothing beats the serenity of the beach—the sea breeze, the scent of salt, and the rhythmic waves soothe and inspire me every time I visit.


When did you know you wanted to write novels?

I wrote stories when I was younger. I was a child carer, and my father was always ill. I would either read or write a story and drift into the new worlds or situations I created.

I used to escape, not physically, but mentally. I found a sanctuary in stories. Reading was my first escape. I would lose myself in the pages, living a thousand lives, exploring a thousand worlds. Every time I opened a book, it was like opening a door to another universe, and I was the adventurer, the hero, the silent spectator.


But then, there came a time when reading wasn't enough. I wanted to create. I wanted to build my own worlds, weave my own stories, breathe life into my own characters. That's when I started writing.

To me, writing was an act of ultimate creation. It was as if I had my own personal universe where I was the architect. I could shape it, mould it, and control it. It was my remedy, my respite from the real world.


Do you write in other genres?

You know, I've always had a soft spot for short stories - there's something magical about the challenge of creating a whole world in just a few pages. I even tried my hand at children's writing once. But let me tell you, breaking into that world is tougher than cracking a safe in a noir detective thriller! It sometimes feels like it's an exclusive club, reserved only for the rich and famous. But hey, never say never, right? Every budding writer takes a unique path, and who knows where mine may lead. 

What do you like most about being an author?

To be totally honest, I'm still processing all of this, you know? Feels weird, like I've somehow landed in a world I don't belong in. That whole 'imposter syndrome' thing, it's real. I mean, I'm no different than I was before, just a regular person who happens to put words on a paper. I'm still my harshest critic, always second-guessing every twist and turn, every dialogue. But, who knows? Maybe by my third book, I'll finally feel like I truly belong in this author's club. Until then, just bear with me!


Do you have a specific routine for writing?  Is there a special place or particular tool you use?

You know, I'm one of those people who can pretty much write anywhere. As long as I've got my trusty laptop or a pen and paper, I'm good to go. But I have to admit, I'm a bit of a neat freak. I like everything just so - it's probably the OCD in me.

But let me tell you, nothing beats writing outside in the summer. There's something about the fresh air and the sounds of nature that just gets the creative juices flowing.

And my secret weapon? My cat, Harley. Might sound a bit odd, but having him around, just purring away, it's relaxing. And the best part? Even if I have a terrible day, when I can't string two sentences together, Harley doesn't care. He still thinks I'm the bee's knees. It's nice to have a fan like that, you know?

What advice do you have for other writers?

Fellow writers! You know, it's funny - I didn't get my first book contract until I was 57. Yeah, you heard that right. 57! So, if you're feeling like it's too late, trust me, it's not.

You know what's important? Networking. Seriously, get out there and make friends with other authors in your genre. I've found some of my best buddies (especially you Val, you made me go for it) at the Swanwick Writers Summer school. They've welcomed me like family and introduced me to some amazing authors.

And guess what? That's also where I met my publishers, the fantastic team at SpellBound Books. Sumaira and Nikki, you guys’ rock!

But here's the thing - you've got to find your genre. Check out what's trending, see where your passion lies, and just go for it. And remember, just keep writing and keep trying. It's a journey, my friends. And every word you write is a step forward.



If your book were to be made into an Audiobook, who would you choose to read it?

You know, I've been thinking a lot about this. I'm kind of leaning towards introducing someone unknown in my stories. I mean, wouldn't that make my characters a bit more unique? I have a feeling that if I heard the right voice, it would just click, you know? Everything is sort of new and exciting to me at this stage. I'm also curious to know what my friends would think about this. It's always good to get a fresh perspective, isn't it?


If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play the main character?

Oh, that's a tough one! But, if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Kit Harrington for Pennant. He's got that brooding intensity that would be perfect for Pennant's complex character. And for Faith, I think Sophie Rundle would be great. She's got this incredible range and could really bring out all the different facets of Faith's character. As for the famous goats... well, I'm stumped there! Maybe we could have a goat casting call?

The Blurb

Photographer Faith Harrington returns to Willowbrooke, nursing both a broken heart and a permanent limp from her boyfriend's car accident. But her peaceful retreat is shattered when she stumbles upon the gruesome body of her friend Mirry's husband, Nathan Crawford. Detective Pennant McBride, new to town with a mysterious past, enters the scene. Despite immediate friction between them, they reluctantly join forces to unravel the truth behind Nathan's death, amidst a tangled web of lies, blackmail, and secrets. With her unlikely sidekick, Churchill, Faith navigates a perilous journey in this captivating whodunit, Faith's Folly.

The Author

Tracey Holland, originally from Sheffield but now residing in County Durham, is a first-time author with a deep affection for cozy crime fiction. Having acquired both a bachelor's and a master's degree in creative writing, Tracey is embarking on her literary journey, with a keen interest in crafting compelling mysteries.


Her fascination with the genre started early on, as she voraciously consumed works by authors such as Agatha Christie, hidden beneath covers and armed with a flashlight. These childhood adventures ignited a lifelong dedication to writing, where she marries her fondness for clever puzzles with intriguing characters to create her unique cozy crime tales.


As an emerging wordsmith, Tracey transports readers into charming villages and scenic environments, where mysteries are plentiful and her endearing, occasionally eccentric, characters lead them through captivating adventures. Through each tale, she aspires to immerse her audience into a world where secrets lurk around every corner, inviting them to decrypt the conundrums alongside her protagonists.


Tracey's dream is to one day inhabit a Gothic library, encircled by books, with her faithful cat, Harley, as her only companion. Though she is merely at the beginning of her authorship journey, her enthusiasm for cozy crime fiction forecasts a world of exciting narratives awaiting release. Her forthcoming novel, Faith’s Folly, is expected to hit the shelves next year.

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1 ความคิดเห็น

Great interview, Tracey and Val. And once again, Congratulations, Tracey!

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