Happy Wednesday! It's halfway through the week, which means we're halfway to the weekend! And to help us get over the hump, we are pleased to have Tracy Sweeney here to discuss her writing path and her novel, LIVING BACKWARDS.
Welcome to We Do Write, Tracy. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a first time author and mother of two crazy boys who are seven and four. They keep me on my toes when my head isn’t in the clouds. We live north of Boston – sadly nowhere near New Kids on the Block, Matt or Ben. I still blame my parents for this.
Ha! Well, you're closer to them then I am. How long have you been writing?
Since I was a kid. I have memories of writing short stories in my fifth grade science notebook instead of listening to my teacher talk about rock formations. I hope she’s not reading this now.
Tell us about LIVING BACKWARDS. What’s the story about?
The main character, Jillian Cross, falls and bumps her head while trying to squeeze herself into a very unforgiving pair of skinny jeans. When she wakes up, she’s back in her childhood bedroom. It’s 1999 and she’s a senior in high school. Because she’s aware that any change she makes can affect the future, she sets off to walk the same path she walked more than ten years earlier. Unfortunately, she finds it’s hard to be the same person she was when she was seventeen. Mostly because the first time around, she didn’t have a pink, sparkly flask. And she hadn’t met Luke. It’s hard to be reasonable when there’s a cute boy on a motorcycle.
Sounds like a fun read! How did the idea of the story come to you?
I love time travel movies. Peggy Sue, Back to the Future, The Butterfly Effect. I eat them up. Maybe I spent too much time thinking about their nuances but if you were to really end up back in high school years later, could you effectively pretend you belonged there? Do you remember where your locker was or your locker combination? What you were studying in chem class? Where you sat? Could you be the person you were when you were seventeen? Could you make it through all of that trauma and teenage angst without a cocktail? I couldn’t.
You're right. I don't think I could either, and I don't normally drink. Speaking of needing a drink, how do you approach editing? Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I self-edit constantly. I’m always tweaking words and sentence structures. If I sat down with LIVING BACKWARDS now, I’d probably reword the whole thing. I’m terrible that way. But at some point, you need to stop and take a step back.
I have a few people who then read for errors and will poke holes in my plots and tell me if something makes absolutely no sense at all. When it’s cleaned up, it goes to my beta readers. It takes a village, folks.
Absolutely. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter. I usually start with a broad outline. When it’s time to dive into a chapter, I’ll flesh it out a bit with points I want to touch upon. That’s not to say that I don’t go off on a hundred tangents once I start writing but I have a very definitive idea of where I’m going and how I’m getting there. At least on the page. In life, I’m lost without a GPS.
I hear you! I get lost in my own town of 15,000 without a GPS. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Free time is at a premium for me. And I don’t like forcing myself to write. I’d totally fail at NaNoWriMo. If I’m not in the right frame of mind or the words just aren’t coming, I can’t do it. It just sounds forced. I’m constantly struggling with when I want to write versus when I have the time to write.
What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
A martini. Haha. Seriously, it’s more like what I don’t want nearby. I don’t listen to music or like having the TV on. Background noise distracts me. Just me and my laptop and I’m happy. Then maybe the martini later.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
X-ray vision. Kidding. I’m not that creepy. I’d like to be able to teleport. Croissant for breakfast in France. Favorite burger in NYC for lunch. Gnocchi in Italy for dinner. I’m very food-focused.
That would be really cool. And fattening! What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
The weirdest thing I’m willing to admit? Haha. I had to do some motorcycle and car repair research for LIVING BACKWARDS. I know more about a blown head gasket than I ever expected to know.
Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: ready, mustard, and caring.
Not caring about how I looked or what people said or whether I had a mustard stain on my t-shirt from that awesome hot dog at lunch, I marched across the library to tell him I was ready to finally work through this mess and figure it all out.
(I am a fan of the run-on sentence. It’s making a comeback.)
Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...
Texting, chatting on AIM, posting a picture to Instagram and updating my FB status.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
How much room do I have? I have an amazing support system and a huge fan club of people who may or may not be blood relatives.
My sister is my rock. She tells me when I’m crazy. And sometimes that I’m not.
Sarine, Nina, Carol and Kelly scoured over every word—a million times. They’re all amazing and so, so good to me.
Liz designed an epic cover that makes me smile every time I see the book. I couldn’t be happier with it.
My best friends Kim, Gina and Nicole are the best cheerleaders ever. My pre-readers (cute cousins and kickass co-workers) all read LIVING BACKWARDS and squealed over Luke with me.
And all of the support I received from people who read the story in the planning phases and now when I can hold it in my hands. I’m grateful for every person who has given me their feedback. It’s truly been a learning experience.
And finally, where can people find you and your book online?
I’m everywhere. Well, not really. Here’s a good starting point: