Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Hi Fiona, thanks for having me on your blog, it’s great to meet you.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Tracey Scott-Townsend and I’m 56 years old (I know, hard to believe, at least on my part!)
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Lincoln but I live in Kingston-Upon-Hull with my husband, Phil and our animals – rescue dogs Luna and Pixie and our cat, Pheoby.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a BA (Hons) in Visual Studies and a Masters in Fine Art. I was one of seven children, (one adopted) and we also had foster-siblings from time-to time. In the summer we spent days roving our local common and swimming at the open air baths. On rainy Saturdays I would always be at our local library.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I suppose that is that my latest novel, Sea Babies, is now out in paperback (1st May) and that I’m really excited to be having a special launch event at the community centre in Uig, on the Isle of Lewis, which is actually mentioned in the book and where the book is set!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing as a very young child – the first poems I remember writing were when I was seven. My mother read poetry and stories to us and that might have inspired me. We were taken to the library from babyhood onwards. Books were always a part of my life and I was always trying to write a book of my own. A neighbour gave us a few typewritersand I remember my sisters and me sitting around the table writing our ‘novels’.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always *thought* I was a writer, and I’d completed the first drafts of a couple of novels by my early twenties, but it was only when my teaching job finished in 2010 that I sat down and began to write full-time. It was only then that I understood that you have to keep on writing until the end and then go back to the beginning and rewrite it, and so on and so on. My books take about eight drafts before I’m satisfied with them.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first attempt at a novel was inspired by The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell, about the wild horses of the bushland in Australia. I clearly remember the moment I first picked the book off the shelf in my local library at the age of ten. The cover was blue with a white horse on the front. My highly-plagiarised response, written in two exercise books, was called “Bonny, King of the Brumbies”.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I thought Bonny was a lovely name, although now it doesn’t seem quite appropriate for a glorious and wild stallion. And Bonny was the head of his brumby herd, hence ‘King’. I can still remember the first line, although I don’t have the exercise books anymore: ‘It was a howling, windy night and a brumby herd were trotting along a sandy path leading to the lower meadow below the mountain.” I think it was followed by something about the stallion having his ears pricked, head erect and his tail streaming out behind him.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I edit my work over and over again, and then send it to an outside editor once or twice before reworking it again myself. So yes, I find it challenging to meet my own standards of quality of writing. I’m not saying I always achieve this but that’s what I want. Most of my books have taken at least three years from first draft to publishing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My novels are realistic, but a lot – if not most – of them also contain a faintly supernatural element. All the experiences come from my own life or from people I know or have come into contact with. As my life becomes longer I’ve been through more cycles of experience and whether those experiences are good or bad, they’re always rich pickings for sprinkling into my fiction.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My novels are usually spread over more than one location, and I’ve been to almost all the places in my books. Sometimes my husband and I will specifically travel to a place in our camper van, so I can learn about it and set my novel there. This happened with Sea Babies: we visited the Outer Hebrides specifically for researching the location for the book. We returned there for a second time to add in the final details, and we’re going back there this June for a special launch event at the community centre in Uig, a place Lauren visits in the book. Iceland and Ireland feature in a few of my books because I visited those places several times. I have another novel, The Vagabond Mother, coming out in January. It’s set all over the world, in places my children have travelled to if I haven’t been there myself. Two of my sons wrote first-hand accounts of parts of their travels specifically for me, so I could use them in the book.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Most of my book covers are designed by a wonderful cover designer called Jane Dixon-Smith. But I’m planning to do the cover for The Vagabond Mother myself, using artwork by my talented son, who is one of my aforementioned travelling offspring.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In Sea Babies I would say the message is don’t judge harshly, and try to walk in others’ shoes. There are a myriad reasons people make the decisions they do, and one act of a single moment can haunt you the rest of your life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Holly Bidgood, who’s published by the small press I run with my husband: Wild Pressed Books. The moment I read the first page of her manuscript The Eagle and the Oystercatcher (published 2016) I knew I wanted to be a part of her publishing journey. Her writing is breathtaking and her characters and their stories stay with you a long time. Her second novel, The Seagull’s Laughter, will be publishedby us in November 2019.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Again I’m going to return to my childhood and remember a great uncle, Leo, who was visiting from Australia. I told him about my first-ever book, Bonny, King of the Brumbies and I remember him lifting me up into the air. Afterwards he told me to put the book aside for two years (two years – it seemed interminable to a 10-year-old!) and look at it again then. This I did, and I rewrote it at the age of twelve. But although I don’t know what happened to that particular story, I’ve always remembered his advice and his belief in me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. And everything to do with writing, such as my job as developmental editor for Wild Pressed Books.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I think because my books take such a winding route to publication, there’s plenty of time to change things along the way.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
During the writing of Sea Babies, I had to do a lot of research about the situations of refugees through time, and also about the clearances on the Scottish Islands, and I had to look up ferry timetables between the Western Isles and other relevant information.So yes, I learnt lots of new things.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d consider the Scottish actress Rose Leslie to play Lauren in Sea Babies, as the book (and the film would) features the character from the age of 20 or so, into middle-age and I think she could get away with playing younger than she is and then be made up to play older.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Stick at it, see it through to the end and then go back and start again. Over and over. Even ten minutes a day is writing, even staring at a blank page is (sort of) writing. Never say you don’t have time to do it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please read my books, and having a good cry is beneficial.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished reading After Leaving the Village by Helen Matthews. It’s a novel about people (women) trafficking and I found it shocking and moving.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was probably a pony book such as Jill’s Gymkhana, because I remember deciding to love horses from the ageof six, and I devoured books about horses and ponies from that time on.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Things that are true to life make me laugh and cry. I was never a ‘jokes’ person, I was always scared of jokes because I never understood them. But I love comedy based on life’s flaws, and drama that reflects the sad and difficult things that happen to all of us makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Someone really brave and strong who stuck up for their beliefs, like Martin Luther King.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy sewing. I’ve made several of my own dresses and I used to make clothes for my children when they were little. I also love gardening, and I’m really excited to have recently acquired an allotment, which I hope will provide us with lots of fresh food (and keep me fit!).
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love series’ like Fleabag, Derry Girls, Fresh MeatandCall the Midwife on TV (we don’t actually have a TV but I watch programmes on my iPad) and I think my favourite film ever is The Lake House, starring Sandra Bullock and Keano Reeves. I love time-slip and what-might-have-been stories that leave me with a feeling of poignancy.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food: although I try and eat as low-carb diet as possible, I can’t resist a decent Macaroni Cheese. Love it! Colours: Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson. Most of my paintings relied heavily on those two colours. Music: Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Genesis, NeilYoung (yeah, I’m an old hippy!)
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Er, well, that’s pretty hard to imagine! But if I ABSOLUTELY couldn’t write I’d turn back to the paintbrush, or make music, or spend all my time reading, growing things, sewing and making.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d need to make my way to a forest or a beach – or preferably a forest leading down to a wild, deserted beach, (with mountains in the background) and light a campfire. I’d like to be surrounded by loved ones, including my dogs.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She is Part of The Everything.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can find me here:
Writer page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTrace/
Buy Sea Babies Kindle version here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Babies-Tracey-Scott-Townsend-ebook/dp/B07KTTRRTQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3W56N0HFC5C49&keywords=sea+babies+tracey+scott-townsend&qid=1556559312&s=books&sprefix=sea+babies%2Cstripbooks%2C217&sr=1-1-spell
Author profile on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracey-Scott-Townsend/e/B00MBZS252/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Tracey Scott-Townsend: Bio
Tracey Scott-Townsend’s fifth novel, Sea Babies will be released on 1st May 2019. She is also the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll andAnother Rebecca. Her novels have been described as both poetic and painterly. Her first poetry collection, So Fast was published in January 2018.Her pamphlet Postcards from the Van will be published in June 2019.
Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts, enjoying new places and writing.
Tracey is also the editor for Wild Pressed Books, which she runs together with Phil. Wild Pressed publications can be described as “Lit-Fic, with a touch of something magical.”
WPB have recently signed their 8th author.
Armen Pogharian said:
Congratulations on the paperback release of your latest book and best of luck with your lunch event. Very cool that you’ve been invited to an event featured in your book.
Liz Gauffreau said:
I enjoyed reading your interview. Best wishes for the success of Sea Babies! (I love the cover. If I saw it in a bookstore, I would have to pick it up to see what was inside.)