Traci RobisonDark Fantasy Author
If You Have Questions, I Have Answers
Don’t be shy…give me your best shot! I’ll answer all your questions so that you and future readers can gain insights into my writing process and what inspires me along the way. Don’t hesitate, contact me now!
Q When did you start writing?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. When I was about six, I started writing and illustrating stories about monsters and ghosts and horses in a little green notebook. My friends and I would talk on the phone for hours, collaborating on plays or stories, and I filled notebook after notebook with tales for them to read. I’d also entertain my younger cousins and niece by telling them goofy, Scooby Doo style mysteries and horror stories that were more funny than frightening. I was always worried I’d get in trouble if I scared them.
Q What kind of books do you like to write?
I like to write stories involving characters with inner conflict and complex relationships. For me, the story begins with the characters and grows through them.
Q What kind of books do you like to read?
I’m not a very loyal or intentional reader. I tend to wander the library and pick whatever book looks interesting on that particular day, and I’m usually not disappointed. I read a wide variety of fiction, but for me to truly enjoy a book, I have to care about the characters. A Separate Peace was the first novel I fell in love with as a kid and one of the few books I’ve read multiple times. Among my all-time favorites are: Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Jude the Obscure; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Idiot; Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four; Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood; Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat; and Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. I’ve read plenty of mystery novels, beginning with Nancy Drew and then on to Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I still like to zip through a good mystery now and then. I especially enjoy Janet Evanovich’s light-hearted Stephanie Plum series and Sharon Newman’s Catherine LeVendeur novels.
Q How do you come up with your ideas?
Inspiration for an entire novel usually begins with a character. That character might come from anywhere —a stranger on the street, a snippet of conversation, an image provoked by a song, a memory, a historical or current event. Something sparks my curiosity, and I begin to imagine a person in a particular situation. The story grows from there.
Q Do you have a ritual for writing?
I don’t have a particular ritual, but I usually drink coffee when I write. The coffee I make isn’t even good. I don’t know why I torture myself.
Q Where do you like to write?
I like writing where I can look up from my page and see life going on around me. I think it fuels my work. If I’m struggling, I’ll look around myself for inspiration and maybe write for awhile about the person one table over–describe what he looks like, what he’s doing, what he’s thinking. It’s good practice and it helps get me past whatever roadblock’s in my way. I’ve been doing most of my writing at home recently, though, with facebook taking on the role of the public space around me. I have to say, it’s not as satisfying.
Q What do you do to get away from writing?
Sometimes I feel I never truly get away from it. I’m often plotting or thinking about a character when I’m going about my day. When I’m working in the archives, I might come across a photograph or a letter that sparks an idea for a new project. For me, physical activity is the greatest escape. I work out regularly, which energizes me, and often my thoughts flow more freely afterward.
Q How do you research your novels?
I use a variety of resources–both online and regular old books. I usually do a bit of research about a period and jot down key elements before I begin and continue researching throughout my writing. That way I begin with a sense of place and character, while maintaining my curiosity, and the need to continue researching gives me productive work to fill the gaps in a bad writing day. I also like to bring my senses into the research by listening to music from the time, cooking period recipes, or visiting a setting in person if I’m able.
Q Do you outline a book before you begin writing?
I don’t generally begin with a detailed outline. I’ll know the general gist of where the story is heading but have plenty of room for things to emerge as I write.
Q Have you created characters that have been edited out?
I have created characters whose roles have been greatly reduced or edited out and others who began as passing characters and grew to a more central role. Plenty of changes can occur over the course of writing and through revisions. Aldrid in The Taking, for example, began as an extra, became a key character, and in revisions took on a somewhat smaller role in the story. In the same novel, Cretien had a much larger part, and his role was reduced to a single page at most.
Q How do you get over the hump of a really bad writing day?
I keep working. If my writing seems especially bad or if I’ve got complete writer’s block, I’ll do research for a while or I’ll switch from using the computer to writing in a notebook. I might take a break to exercise or play with my dog and then come back fresh. The key for me is to not simply give up. If the day’s work isn’t great, I remind myself it’s called a rough draft for a reason.
Traci’s Top 10
- A Separate Peace – John Knowles
- The Awakening – Kate Chopin
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice
- The Mask of Apollo – Mary Renault
- Music of the Spheres – Elizabeth Redfern
- Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
- The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber
- Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
- In Your Room – Depeche Mode
- Old and Wise – The Alan Parsons Project
- Fascination Street – The Cure
- But Not Tonight – Depeche Mode
- Leave Out All the Rest – LINKIN PARK
- The Chemicals Between Us – Bush
- Gravity – Barnaby Bright
- On My Own – Samantha Barks
- Take Me With You – VAST
Do you have questions about my writing process? If so, just ask and I’d be happy to answer!
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