Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Traci L Slatton. She is the author of Broken, a book I reviewed here on The Gal today, and a lady with a very interesting imagination. The story that she shares in Broken is really want that caught my attention - and kept my attention - through the whole story. (You can see my review HERE.)
Hello, Traci. Welcome to The Gal. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Growing up, I was a Navy Brat, a tree-climber, and a dedicated reader of novels. I love chocolate and red wine, ripe peaches, Paris, Rome, and Old Master art. I received a BA from Yale in English and an MFA from Columbia in Creative Writing - Poetry. I lived all over the country as a kid so I'm happy to be settled now in Manhattan, in the same apartment for almost twenty years. I have four daughters (three and a step), ages 9 years old, 19, 24, and 24. I've written 11 books and I'm now working on my 12th, which is the fourth book in the romantic dystopian After Series.
What are 5 things about you that most people don't know?
- I love action-adventure movies where things blow up; I consider The Terminator to be a perfect movie.
- I laugh at silly jokes.
- I secretly drink from the almond milk carton, but only when no one's looking.
- Everyone teases me about my taste in music because so much of what I enjoy is pop. Neil Diamond, Cyndi Lauper, or Rod Stewart anyone?
- I do web design for extra money.
What is the first book you remember reading?
My first "big book," which I read at age 6, was called Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers.
What made you decide to begin writing?
When I was 6 years old, I went in a few months from reading "See Spot Run" to reading novels. I was enthralled by reading. The first "big book" I read was about a deceased child looking down on her family from heaven. It made a huge impact on me. I was moved to tears, and I thought, "I want to do this! I want to write stories that make people feel things so deeply!"
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Since I have been married with children my entire adult life, I've learned to be very efficient with my time. There are always twenty things competing for my time. So when I sit down to write, I write.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
I have a small home office, that's where it happens.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Middles are hard for me. I always start a novel with a burst of inspiration, creativity, and enthusiasm - I'm excited about the story. And then I get the same rush at the end, when I'm eager to bring the story home. But middles can be challenging for me, that's where I rely on a good outline and my craft.
What do you think makes a good story?
On one level, conflict and obstacle, along with three-dimensional characters, make a good story. However, all story is really an argument for a specific value. I've written about this in the Huffington Post HERE. So a good story is one that argues skillfully for the author's value(s). Think about Macbeth, which is an argument for the value "Overweening ambition contains the seeds of its own destruction." Shakespeare argues most skillfully! In Broken, I am arguing for the power of love, and I am arguing that spirit informs everything.
What book(s) have most influenced you?
As a reader and a writer, I love Whom the Gods Would Destroy by Richard Powell. This historical novel is set in ancient Troy, and it influenced my inner life a great deal when I was a kid. It also made a deep impression on me because it's so well written. The plot is well-designed and well-executed and the characters are three-dimensional.
I admire the writing of Daniel Silva, Sue Grafton, Richard North Patterson, and Greg Iles.
What inspires you most?
I'm inspired by many things: my family and friends, my travels, my spiritual practice. I guess what inspires me most, of late, is my yoga practice. There's something about showing up every day on my yoga mat. I get integrated more deeply into my own being, and that integration enhances my creativity.
Where do the ideas for your book come from?
Good question! Darned if I know. They seem to bubble up like dreams from the well of my unconscious. I'll recognize bits and pieces of people I love or hate, issues with which I'm grappling, fantasies and desires, old wounds, aspirations, relationships, places I've traveled ... I always say writing is an arachnoid process: I spin a yarn from what I pull out of my gut.
Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?
I think there's a little bit of me in all my characters. In Broken, Alia the protagonist has my love of children and my delight in good wine, poetry, dancing, and friends. Her neighbor Suzanne has lived a more conventional life, as I have - I've been married with children for my entire adult life, so I haven't had the opportunity to explore having lots of lovers, as Alia has. Maybe in my next life.
What have you learned creating this book?
Researching World War II was not pleasant. I confronted some of humanity's most evil actions. The Nazis acted out our shadow in a way that was shocking and terrifying. Many people were heroic, too. It was an archetypal time for humankind. I learned in deeper ways how evil we really can be, and who much we can sacrifice and endure out of love and heroism.
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?
I hope they will take away a deep feeling of reverence for the power of love and a sense of wonder at how spirit informs everything.
What makes your book different than others that fall under this genre?
I think the combination of sensuality and spirituality and painstaking research will differentiate Broken from other historical novels set during WWII. Broken is not a book for children - there are graphic, explicit sexual scenes. Those aren't gratuitous but are integral to the story. At the same time, Alia is a fallen angel, and she retains vivid memories of her time as one of the host. She is always aware of spirit, and she has visits from the Archangel Michael. Those visits, too, are integral to the story.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently working on the fourth book in my romantic dystopian After Trilogy, which is tentatively entitled Fire Storm. (This is just a working title and will probably change.) Readers seem to enjoy the first three books: Fallen, Cold Light and Far Shore; I get emails all the time asking when the next book will be released.
Thanks for stopping by, Traci. I was happy to have you here. Before you go - can you let us know where we can find you?