Today I welcome author Tracee Lydia Garner to my blog. Her latest book, Deadly Affections, came out in March. You can purchase Deadly Affections on Amazon.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Virginia just outside of our Nations Capital. I love Virginia even though I love warmer temps than we get in the winter but I love living in a place where we get a glimpse of all four seasons. Right now, I live just 40 minutes from where I was born in a growing suburb, Sterling, VA. Sterling is a mix of people and transient groups from all over and I’m just ten minutes from Dulles Airport.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I started writing out of depression and the rejection from the opposite sex that EVERYONE who is anyone goes through. I used my writing to deal with my many emotions having a disability and being in college – at that time. It was poetry at first and later longer stories where I would paint the picture of the perfect hero.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a great question. I really only considered myself a “writer” in the last few years. I wonder if all authors experience this but when you release those first few books, I want to that for many, not all, but many budding artists, and for me, for sure, just more so dabbling in the art, finding your way, finding what you like, don’t like. Only in the last few years have I taken time to really map, write down and plan where I’m going with my career and to do that at some point you have to declare you are Writer – Hear Me Roar, like Katy Perry. LOL 🙂 I just think that unless when you were young you said I’m going to be a writer, which I didn’t, you kind of work your way to that. I will also say that creative types really struggle with sticking with things for the long term. We have tendencies to dabble here and there so staying long haul is hard.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
I think the emotion of my books is all me. I feel things deeply – so I’m told- I think if nothing else, I know I’m good at description which I get complimented on but I think there is a certain emotion to my writing of the relationships. I think because I’ve had a disability, the longing seems to come through. Not to get deeply personal or emotional but for me, as a child and later as an adult and still to this day, not being able to participate in some things can cause me such emotional grief. Most people don’t know this and at the end of the day everyone has something that they must bear, but it’s that left out or left behind feeling – that happens to me weekly and I think that I channel this longing to participate in love or family, imprinting if you will onto my characters. Too many vampire movies. LOL
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I have several projects started at any given time. I do work on just one thing at a time but that doesn’t mean years ago, I wasn’t all over the place, starting parts here and there, I have about 5 projects in various stages but my next project is wrapping up the Parker family series. Book two is currently out now with Deadly Affections and the third installment will be finished in just another month (I’m almost done) or so as I hope to release it in October. Next year, I hope to re-release two stories for rights that have reverted back to me after updating covers and editing of course, and I had never finished the conclusion so I’ll release that third installment with the set this time around.
Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time I have a full-time job in health and human services. My days are mostly working, I may take some time away, about 30 minutes to an hour a day to just write out some notes I’m thinking about or dictate using my phone. If I can dictate about 800 words in an hour, I’m happy. I then write mostly on nights and weekends. When I get home from work, I’m ready to go and I’m a night person so I try to write 2-4 hours a night. While most of my stories are pieces ripped from the headline, I joke that if nothing else, the stories from the people I see daily that don’t listen to my instructions for their lives and then end up in crisis are enough fodder for my books. I think that my last two books – Anchored Hearts and it’s sequel Deadly Affections should be marketed to social workers as a way from the to release, there is definitely a social worker feel to the professions my heroines experience in these last few books.
Those new ideas fuel writers to write. There is something magical that happens when you get those infant ideas. They are so awesome and the discovery of the characters, writing them, digging into them, writing them, it’s just something you want to do over and over again.
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
Most of my ideas are ripped from the headlines. There are some news stories that I have been so obsessed with like missing person cases – Natalie Holloway, Elizabeth Smart and locally here in the DC area and more recent – Relisha Rudd. When I obsess about these things, I try to create the story around whatever snippet I’m given in the news – building the beginning and the ending of the news pieces that come on. They are in the news for a short time and then we as the viewer are left to wonder whatever happened to them (usually never receiving an update which annoys me to no end). The plot usually comes to fit that news piece and being a pantser I’m just along for the ride and while it’s a mess in the beginning, I keep working at it until it makes perfect sense.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I’m a pantser, so nope.
Please tell us about your current release.
Deadly Affections explores what happens to two foster children who part ways, grow up and the turns and twists their lives take after a devastating tragedy – the twenty-year-old mystery of her sister’s death in the foster family, brings Leedra Henderson back to Virginia to find out what happened to her sister. Dexter is all grown up, a doctor now, desiring to help Leedra find the answers she seeks but when someone doesn’t want past deeds brought to light, it gets harder and harder, not to mention more dangerous to uncover the truth.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I looked up a lot of unsolved cases and murders of children -which was quite sad- that had not been solved, even some blogs of foster kids, which is all a theme in Deadly Affections and then I also researched the process you go through when you report that your child is missing – as my character, Dexter Parker has to do when his daughter is snatched on her way to school. The heroine in Deadly Affections used to work on a Mercy Ship and I found a blog of a nurse on a Mercy Ship where she documents her experience abroad and that was so interesting. More often than not, I think I’m a lazy writer – Not really- but I try to write as far as setting goes, what I know. Building a world seems daunting to me thus I’d likely never do it. So I use real locations, real street names all of which are usually in and around my Virginia/DC/Maryland area here. I do use real estate/house hunting websites and I use mapquest to find the distance and if I need I’ll look online to see if I can read the local paper for a state I want to use but haven’t actually been there or know anything about.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
I only have had twice when I disliked my character and it wasn’t really that I disliked them, I disliked their name. I had a character I didn’t intend to revisit, he was a secondary character in another book and I named him Vondell. That annoyed me to revisit with him. I hated that name. LOL Then there is a character I’m exploring now with the same name as one of my horrible bosses. I gave him a nickname real quick. My favorite characters, of course, are the heroines but also surprisingly, the children. The children are an integral part of my stories and it wasn’t even something I had intentionally thought about or knew that I was doing but thinking back, there is a child in all 7 of my stories. They just came and I get to do little funny, quirky things with them that I can’t do with the adults. One of my first jobs was at a daycare and I loved that time there with the children.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
I think I’d want to be one of the children in my book – probably Anchored Hearts, I’d love to have a chef for a big brother which is what little Hannah has. Her brother owns a restaurant and sadly thinking about her 1. I want to eat and 2. I don’t want to have to do anything except let the adults do all the stuff and I just get to come in every now and then with comedic lines or need of comforting. Hannah has some very big themes in her young little world, she is left at a shelter for abused women by drug-addict mother and she is the product of an illicit affair with a married well-to-do Senator, so her plight isn’t easy throughout the book but of course it’s romance so all will turn out happily. Hannah will get to enjoy the cooking of her brother by the end from then on to years to come.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
I write and do just about everything on my Mac desktop. I love that computer, it’s like my boyfriend. LOL I got it only about 3 years ago, and it was my VERY first Mac. I think Macs are for creative types. I don’t know why I didn’t have one before then. I will say the learning curve was not easy, however, and I learned it in the middle of writing a book and I was SO frustrated (and do not recommend that ever) but I got through and now I feel I am more design conscious because of using a mac as oppose to a PC. I’m sure the Apple people are happy about that even if its’ all in our Mac-user head.
What book are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m reading some of the Love Inspired: Suspense by Harlequin and also some of the Desire imprints which are really quite short which I get done in about two days. When I’m writing, I don’t want to read something too lengthy but I’ve learned I MUST still read, it’s so important. I also just finished Warning Signs by Katy Lee, it’s about a Deaf principal that’s being targeted by some kids into drugs. It was good and very interesting. I will be on a panel this year that discussed disability in the romance genre so I’ve been reading more novels that feature a character with a disability in preparation for my panel this July in Orlando.
How far would you go to uncover the truth?
Psychologist Leedra Henderson has a hidden motive in abandoning everything to accept a new job at the Anchored Empowerment Center. She secretly hopes that the new position will help her to investigate her own past – and to finally uncover the real story behind a string of mysterious deaths at her childhood foster home.
Now a strong, independent woman, Leedra doesn’t need help: she wants to seek justice, and she will. Alone.
Can you really limit your involvement when love is on the ticket?
Dexter Parker needs his own answers about that time in the foster home so long ago. A grown man reeling from the fallout of a broken marriage, Dexter’s rational mind tells him never to try the risks of love again – but he knows he could fill in the blanks for Leedra, if only it doesn’t end up costing him his heart.
More urgently, Dexter needs to save the determined Leedra from the results of her detective work, before it all blows up in her face and costs both of them their lives.
Can the pair set aside their painful histories, avenge the lives that have been lost and – who knows – discover new love?
About the Author
Tracee Lydia Garner is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes stories full of complex heroes and heroines, relationships and families that experience tough but realistic life challenges in their quest for love. She also has penned her sixth book but first nonfiction project about life’s universal challenges and the take-aways we should learn from each one. A Virginia native, Tracee works in health and human service at a Virginia-based nonprofit organization by day.
You can purchase Deadly Affections on Amazon.