Name Martin Tracey
Where are you from Birmingham, England
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc I grew up in Kingstanding, Birmingham. I had one sibling, an older sister. I still live in Birmingham and I am married with two teenage daughters. I was educated at a Comprehensive school and achieved A levels in History, English Language and English Literature. Back in my day going to University was never really spoken about in the circles I moved in, so my education finished after college. I achieved Grade 6 in playing classical piano.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am nearly at the end of my next book Mind Guerrilla which I will be releasing in 2015.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My first taste of literary success was when I was seven years old as a pupil at Hawthorn Road Primary School. The school entered my story into a competition – the theme being road safety, and my story about a magical ice cream van that helped children across the road won first prize resulting in me appearing in the local press. A couple of years later the school entered a second story of mine into a separate competition, this time the story needed to reflect the dangers of children playing on building sites. My story scooped top prize once again and I was rewarded with a T-Shirt depicting a monstrous caricature of a mechanical digger with the slogan “Building Sites Bite.” This early success always stayed in the back of mind and I recognized writing was something I enjoyed and it seemed I was quite good at it. I have a perpetual creative urge which I first channeled into songwriting and then I went full circle and decided there must be a novel or two inside of me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My initial literary output was in the form of songs and I enjoyed some success in the music industry including supporting the Fine Young Cannibals. My song Raging Bull can be heard on Old Gold Anthems-The songs of Wolves FC, I signed a contract with Cherry Red Records for that to happen. This gives an insight into my personal interests which are soccer (mainly in the shape of Wolverhampton Wanderers) and music (usually in the form of The Beatles). My passion for football and music always make an appearance in the books I write.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I love football and I love the supernatural. The team I support is Wolverhampton Wanderers, AKA the Wolves, and I had this idea what if the players were actually werewolves? I then changed the concept to vampires as I felt they had more scope to explore and went about marrying the two worlds of soccer and vampires together in order to create my first book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not intentionally, it just comes out as it comes out. Due to being a working-class lad from Birmingham, I guess my use of the English language is competent enough but isn’t too hidden in flowery imagery. I believe that I am my own person, but if I had to compare my style of writing to that of a more famous author I would state that it is similar to that of Martina Cole. One thing I do like to do is weave a series of subplots together, which is probably a little unique. I’m wired with an active imagination that tends to run away with itself.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My debut novel is called Beneath the Floodlights. The story is about a soccer team that gets taken over by vampires. I liked the idea of their powers increasing as darkness fell i.e Beneath the Floodlights. For the title of my soon to be second novel the story is a little different. I’m a massive Beatles and John Lennon fan and always loved the term “Mind Guerrilla” in the song Mind Games. I figured that whatever John had originally meant by the term “Mind Guerrilla” it was a phrase that could lend itself to many things. I had this idea of a Detective suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and as his physical dexterity declined his telekinetic powers increased in contrast. I realised that “Mind Guerrilla” fitted nicely to this idea but the definition of “Mind Guerrilla” doesn’t have to stop there. The novel also explores mind control via religious cults and assassination grooming. To be honest, when people read the book I am happy for them to draw their own conclusions about what the title means to them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I always seem to go about seeking justice in my books and so Mind Guerrilla features pursuits of revenge. I hope that the reader connects with the spaghetti western overtones and the need to seek justice. For example, Tarantino is a master at showcasing revenge through his films like Django Unchained and Kill Bill. A relatively little known British film called Dead Man’s Shoes also achieves this very well. Although it’s a book as opposed to a film, I would hope that Mind Guerrilla achieves the same sort of connection as these pieces of work.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
That’s a great question. I do like to merge fact and fiction. The book is a fictitious novel but I weave in elements of reality such as using the backdrop of the London Olympics of 2012 for a lot of the book. I refer to real places in the book like Brindley Place in Birmingham, Camden market and a dramatic car chase occurs through the residential area of where Lennon and McCartney grew up in Liverpool! The Doomsday Religious cult in my book is purely fictitious but I nestle it in the same world as notorious cults such as the Waco siege and the Manson family. I also relate Gareth Banks, the serial killer in the book, to real life serial killers. I refer to the football tragedies that plagued British football in the 1980s to add reality to my fictitious football hooliganism episodes. I am sure that all authors use a certain amount of literary license, but in short, I do like to make my stories as realistic as possible whilst pushing the boundaries of reality. I want them to be entertaining but believable and for me writing about vampires, ghosts or other elements of the supernatural can still achieve that element of reality.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Definitely not on people I know but at times experiences in my own life may feature, but this is mainly through the use of locations rather than situations.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I was a real avid reader as a kid and Enid Blyton done it for me. I read lots of her books which I have no doubt helped me shape my own imagination of storytelling and helped me with my spelling and English at an early age. In more recent years Richard Laymon’s The Traveling Vampire Show helped inspire me to write Beneath the Floodlights. I also like to read biographies about people I admire so their respective story always inspires me to strive to do well.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Peter James. He is my favourite author and he really knows how to keep you hooked into the story. Like me he often introduces supernatural elements into his work. I also like his Roy Grace novels, so as Mind Guerrilla mixes crime with the supernatural Mr James has certainly inspired me and I quite often use his work as a benchmark. Dougie Brimson’s fine work always allows me the courage to introduce football/soccer into my work too.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Rachael H Dixon has come up with an unusual concept in her Sunray Bay series. Rachael explores where we may end up when our days on Earth are done – well how’s about a type of seaside resort for the dearly departed? But believe me it is hardly paradise. Rachael has vampires and werewolves amongst the ice cream and deckchairs! I like how she can take the reader into a whole new and unique world.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Finalising Mind Guerrilla ready for early 2015 publication.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Local BBC Radio. I had three great interviews for Beneath The Floodlights from three different radio presenters. They were keen to explore what a local author can offer.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would like it to be my full time career as writing is a labour of love, I enjoy the creative process. If it was 100% my day job I could spend more time doing it for sure. In saying that I recall a quote from Amy Winehouse about her music, she said “I just want to get it out there.” I can relate to that, I just want to get my work out there and if people like it that’s a bonus. I would like the fame of a famous author yet fame isn’t the driver for my writing, giving people pleasure is far more rewarding.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I say I’m wired with an active imagination and creativity is something I enjoy so writing is a perfect outlet for that.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
DCI William Chamberlain was sitting at his desk watching his silver pen roll back and forth across the glossy surface. His hands were positioned snugly on his lap, his fingers comfortably entwined. Every now and then he allowed his gaze to move away from the scribing instrument and instead turned his attention to the metal balls of his Newton’s Cradle as they rhythmically struck against one another causing a hypnotic clicking sound. Using only the power of his mind, William often found himself performing activity such as this to unwind in between his demanding detective duties.
The first time that he had become aware of his powers was at the tender age of five when he went to the school toilet unattended. After securing the bolt and subsequently taking a much-needed pee, the young William discovered that he was unable to unlock the door after the rusty metal of the bolt and catch had fused together too harshly for a boy of his physical strength and age to move. William the child had began to panic convinced that he was destined to a life inside an inept and filthy toilet cubicle, like all children at that age he never possessed the foresight to realise that eventually someone would come along and eventually free him.
His tiny fingers had attempted to wiggle the bolt free, even causing them to bleed, but it was no use the bolt simply would not budge. The skin on his fingers had began to painfully erode and became sorer with each attempt to free himself, but once he realised that his physical strength was no match for the metal he had found some kind of unexplained inner strength instead to serve his quest.
The young William didn’t know where this inner strength had arrived from, or why he had even began to contemplate this new approach at freeing the bolt, but he had felt a sudden necessity to calm himself down and to focus his eyes and mind on the rusty metal. With tears of frustration in his eyes William stared at the bolt willing it to move. Then eventually, millimetre by millimetre the bolt had began to slowly shift until eventually using only the power of his mind and concentration William remarkably unlocked the bolt and freed himself from the toilet cubicle.
Strangely enough William didn’t discuss the experience with anybody else, and in terms of displaying feats of mind control William’s childhood passed by fairly unremarkably. It was when he stumbled upon his years of adolescence that William’s acts of telekinesis began to become more tellingly eventful…
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time is a major factor. Also access to the industry is frustrating. I am not convinced that it is a level playing field for quality authors to shine from all walks of life, what I mean by that is there appears to be a certain snobbery in traditional publishing where nepotism and status gets you the breaks rather than the quality of the author’s work.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Peter James, he is a great story teller and makes his story totally believable even whilst exploring the supernatural. I also like Haruki Murakami for sheer originality (plus he too is a huge Beatles fan).
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
My book signings have all been quite localized. In terms of locations for my books I primarily use local settings but Mind Guerrilla also features Liverpool and Camden which are places I love to visit so I enjoy writing about the places and describing the environment. I faced challenges when writing about Romania (Beneath the Floodlights) and Birmingham, Alabama (Mind Guerrilla) as I have not been to these two places which meant I had to indulge in a lot of internet research.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed Beneath the Floodlights but the publisher design team made it happen, and Mind Guerrilla isn’t designed yet. Do you recommend anyone lol? Can I say lol in an interview?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding the time when there is always so much other stuff to do.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
For Mind Guerrilla I heavily researched the concept of mind control along with conspiracy theories regarding programmed assassins. This gave me a lot of new knowledge. There is a lot of pretty scary stuff to read out there.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get interviewed by Fiona McVie, she rocks! Also be true to yourself and write about what floats your boat. Once you write to a formula trying to please others I think you would lose that X factor which is actually what makes your writing appeal to someone. Also connect with as many other authors as possible. We all like to support one another and share experiences.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, your support means a lot. People enjoying my work is the best reward I could ever wish for.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It would have been one of the many Noddy books by Enid Blyton.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Currently the most funny thing I can think of is The Inbetweeners. It really appeals to my sense of humour, and I think this sense of humour features in my writing, even when I am tackling a serious matter. Peter Kay is the best stand-up comedian I can think of and I like Lucas and Williams’ work too. Injustice can frustrate me to the point of crying. I will never understand how anyone can be cruel to a child or an animal.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
John Lennon, because he was such an inspirational figure both as a musician and an activist. I respected how he was willing to put his credibility on the line for what he believed in. I would like to pick his brain about his take on the birth of the Beatles. I would love to hear his stories of what happened in Hamburg and those early days in Liverpool.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Wow, what another great question. Here lies Martin Tracey loved by his family and Friends. Why? Because it is important that my primary existence of being there for my family is constant through my life. I would never want to lose sight of the importance of my family. I would also like the epitaph “Was always true to himself”.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Following Wolverhampton Wanderers, the football club I support. I still bash away on the piano too as Ringo the family Jack Russell sings along. He particularly likes to howl to Let It Be.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I really admire Quentin Tarantino films, in particular From Dusk Till Dawn. I think if he wrote books they may come out a little like mine. I also like most British Dramas, the kind that run for 2 or 3 nights and then that’s it.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Being a Birmingham boy I have to state that I genuinely love Indian Food as the quality in Birmingham is second to none, especially Pathia and Balti. I don’t eat meat, and Indian food caters perfectly for me. My favourite colour is possibly blue but of course being a Wolves supporter I like Old Gold which is the colour of the Wolves shirt (some would say that it is closer to orange). Black is always a cool colour too. Music wise, I have spoken about Lennon and The Beatles, but I also like The Doors, The Bee Gees, George Michael and Amy Winehouse. My musical taste can be varied – it just has to be good!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
A rock star first followed by an actor. I sound a bit of an attention seeker don’t I?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
If so what is it?
I certainly do but I really need to make a New Year’s resolution to blog more.
My blog address is: http://martintracey.wordpress.com/
And my website address is: www.martintracey.co.uk
I also have a couple of Facebook pages:
And you can follow me on Twitter:
I love to hear from fellow authors and of course readers of my books.
Thanks for the interview Fiona, I’ve had a blast!