Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Tracy!
How long have you been a writer?
Since around the age of ten, when I wrote my first "real" story called The Talking Cat. I loved making someone laugh with my words, even if that someone was me. :)
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
I've been a teacher for seventeen years, currently teaching grade 5-7 Reading/Language Arts. It's been a wonderful career, but I am hoping to write full-time in the not-too-distant future, if my audience deems it so. :)
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
Like many writers, I was first a reader. And an avid one. I'd carry stacks of books with me wherever I'd go. I wrote a story (loosely based on My Friend Flicka - sshhh) which my mother typed up and my father, a Dean at the University of Maine, "published" on the College of Education bulletin board. One of the art professors even illustrated it! I still have the prints. This was my first "taste" of fame, but honestly, the private side of writing was just as rewarding. I used to love curling up on my yellow beanbag chair in my bedroom with my spiral notebook, filling it up with stories of angst and horses. I remember one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Kleine, staying in at recess and helping me edit my stories. She even submitted them to children's magazines. I wrote through high school for Inside, our school newspaper, and Enclave, our literary magazine, and had my first of three poems accepted by Seventeen magazine (15 bucks a poem - I was thrilled). I continued to write through college and wrote my first book, a middle grade novel entitled Joe Nobody, soon after I graduated. Motherhood of three daughters took up just a bit of my time, so my writing was mainly put on hold until my children were older and I went through a divorce. My marriage may have been over, but my writing career wasn't!
Please give a brief description / storyline about I Kill Me.
Christine Bacon has a fatal attraction. To all things fatal. A veteran hypochondriac, her near-death experiences are exacerbated when her husband proposes they have a menage a trois with Eleanor, his busty British massage therapist, to "shake things up." Christine reluctantly agrees (although she is more wholesome than threesome), never expecting just how much she'd be rattled. As her marriage to Richard, a/k/a "Dick," falls apart, so, too, does Christine, whose fear of her own demise causes her to research every freckle, blemish, cough, bump, lump, tingle and hiccup. She isn't a doctor, but she plays one on the internet. There is solace for Christine: in raising daughters Lily and Carli, leaning on her friends, and wearing out the shower massager. In order to heal, she struggles to become her own person and to view her symptoms (and ex-husband) as less malignant, while searching for that special someone who will love her--despite her grave condition.
What was the inspiration for this story?
I went through a very difficult, very unexpected divorce ten years ago. I found it cathartic to create a character who went through a similar experience. As the author of the book, I was able to control what happened, and this was comforting since my world had been so drastically shaken. I thought I'd add some humor with the hypochondria and make each chapter of the book have a double meaning...what the character was experiencing health-wise, but also what she was going through emotionally. For example, in "Heart Failure," Christine worries about having a cardiac condition but is also devastated by the realization her marriage has ended. I wanted the book to be a blend of heartache, angst, humor and personal growth, because I experienced all of those in my divorce, and I figured it could comfort other women enduring the break up of a long-term relationship. I've heard from several who said the book really resonated with them, and it makes me feel very good to have helped in some small way.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
Wonderful and scary and surreal and exhilarating. I loved it.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
I've written mainly contemporary fiction, but I am intrigued with the idea of writing a young adult or dystopian. Stashed away for possible future publication: a dark suspense novel, a middle grade novel and the text for a picture book.
What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I like to read contemporary women's fiction, young adult, dystopian and some fantasy. As a teacher, I have read a lot of middle grade and YA. My favorites are Charlotte's Web because of E. B. White's glorious writing style, gentle humor and use of specifics ... Tuck Everlasting for its gorgeous imagery, figurative language and theme ... The Chronicles of Narnia because I felt like I was stepping into that wardrobe, pushing back the coats to enter the magical land ... The Hunger Games for going boldly where no one had gone before and its plot ... I really enjoyed The Sea of Tranquility because of the characterization and voice, and the memoir Chosen By A Horse because of my love for horses and how poignant and heartwarming the story was. Truthfully, it's really hard to pick favorites because I have so many!
Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?
I really find I can write most anywhere, but I recently have written a lot at my new writing desk in my den. I can look out over our field, which right now is covered in snow. I will often start the gas fireplace and am usually accompanied by a glass of water with lemon and ice, a burning candle, and sometimes a writing buddy, my white cat Moby.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
I honestly don't know! They just come to me. Sometimes I operate like I tell my students: using the formula of thinking of a character and then give the character an issue or problem. Sometimes I'm in a situation, like in the beginning of my teaching career when I was thinking of how the "average" students in school--the quiet ones who are smart but don't participate much in class and who don't cause trouble--these are the ones who often get overlooked. I thought of how that must feel to a student, and I came up with the character of Joe Noble in the first novel I wrote, and how he's sick of being a "nobody."
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I try to make myself write 600 words a day, which doesn't sound like much, but when you're teaching full-time and have a small farm, it's a lot! I will try to sneak in writing whenever I can, but most of it is done after I get the horses in and the pets (and ourselves) fed. One of my favorite times to write is on Saturday morning.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I love creating the story and will often think of the ending (sometimes even the last line) as I am just starting the book. I love when the characters take over for me and tell their own stories. That's when I know I'm really "into" the book, when I can see and hear them almost as real people. The hardest part of writing for me is just finding the time, and when I get stuck in a certain place, moving through it. I try to stop writing for the day on a good part - a part I want to get back to. Usually this involves sex :).
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
Spending time with my children, both human and furry. I've loved having my daughters home on college break because the empty nest stage has been hard for me. I've always been passionate about animals, ever since I was very young. I love walking my dogs or snowshoeing with them in the winter, riding and grooming my horses, cleaning stalls, preparing their hay, grain and water...I love the whole farm lifestyle. It's purposeful work, and very grounding. I also enjoy reading on my Kindle before I go to bed, and going to Sunday breakfast with my husband at our favorite local restaurant. I also really love just being at my home and working in and around the house.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
Ralph Fletcher, author of What a Writer Needs, wrote that "the writing becomes beautiful when it becomes specific." I always keep that in mind and also emphasize that with my students.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
When I write a line that I believe to be unique, and especially when I hear from readers that they loved the book or that it moved them in some way...that means the world to me.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
I use my Facebook author page, and I will often comment on Goodreads and thank people for taking the time to read and review my book. I love hearing from them. I pretty much suck at Twitter. :)
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
Like any writer, I do lots of looking and listening to the world around me and will often picture a real-life person or event when I'm writing. Many characters and situations, however, are purely fiction.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
Christopher Smith and his amazing success as a thriller writer has inspired me. He's given me great advice and support. Jessica Park, another indie writer, has also been an inspiration and wonderfully kind. Years ago, I sent a piece I'd written called Thoughts of a New Mother to Elizabeth Berg, and she sent me back a handwritten postcard that said there were so many nice things in my writing and to keep it up. I did. :)
What is your definition of success as a writer?
Selling lots of books is part of it, of course. But to be able to move people in some way so that they take the time to tell you and others, and to be very proud of one's writing and confident enough to share it...that, to me, is success.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I'm about 30,000 words into my next book. It has some humor like I Kill Me, but it has more sex and more drama, with a major twist planned for the end. The main character is a 36 year old veterinarian who was widowed two years ago and is raising her teen daughter. She's rather addicted to sex but prefers to keep emotions out of it...until a new man enters her life. Oh, and she keeps seeing the image of her dead husband as she orgasms. I'm hoping for an early spring release.
Thank you Tracy for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us.
About The Author
Tracy H. Tucker ~ I Kill Me ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway
Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card
Contest Dates: Jan 14 - Feb 4, 2013
Giving back! Tracy will be donating 25% of her US royalties to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition during the month of January!
I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac by Tracy H. Tucker
Publisher: Black Dog Publishing
Publication Date: July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback - 213 pages / Kindle - 381 KB / Nook - 639 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: I Kill Me: Tales of a Jilted Hypochondriac
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Christine Bacon has a fatal attraction. To all things fatal. A veteran hypochondriac, her near-death experiences are exacerbated when her husband proposes they have a menage a trois with Eleanor, his busty British massage therapist, to "shake things up." Christine reluctantly agrees (although she is more wholesome than threesome), never expecting just how much she'd be rattled. As her marriage to Richard, a/k/a "Dick," falls apart, so, too, does Christine, whose fear of her own demise causes her to research every freckle, blemish, cough, bump, lump, tingle and hiccup. She isn't a doctor, but she plays one on the internet.
There is solace for Christine: in raising daughters Lily and Carli, leaning on her friends, and wearing out the shower massager. In order to heal, she struggles to become her own person and to view her symptoms (and ex-husband) as less malignant, while searching for that special someone who will love her--despite her grave condition.
I Kill Me was selected as the Best Indie Book for 2012 by Chick Lit Cafe!
My Book Review:
I Kill Me is a laugh-out-loud comedic story that follows Christine Bacon's journey as she navigates her way through a messy divorce and tries to pick up the pieces of her life while suffering extreme bouts of hypochondria. In her debut novel, author Tracy H. Tucker weaves a humorous and lighthearted tale written in the first person narrative told by Christine, who keeps the reader in stitches as she battles through crazy antics and drama that life has thrown her way.
At some point in everyone's life there are intense stress and struggles that you have to deal with, so it is easy for the reader to relate to the struggles that befell Christine. I couldn't help but feel for this neurotic woman, at times I wanted to hug her, and at other times I wanted to shake her and tell her to pull up her big girl panties, deal with the issues and move on! I think the author did a wonderful job of adding a touch of humor to an otherwise serious condition that afflicts some people, it lightened up the story and provided a nice balance.
Christine's journey to start her life over has its challenges: the stress of divorce from a wacker of an ex-husband, teenage daughter drama, a crazy controlling mother, and the introduction of a new love interest. As Christine goes through the ups and downs, the reader is drawn into her world. I couldn't help but commiserate with Christine as her hypochondria spiraled out of control, but there were also some pretty hilarious scenes that kept me snickering as I cheered Christine on when she finally got a hold of herself and moved on.
I Kill Me is an uplifting and lighthearted story of one woman's journey to find herself through chaos and heartbreak as she learns to start her life over.
RATING: 4 STARS ****