Author Interview: Tracey Shearer
Tracey Shearer has a story to tell. Not just any story, though, and not just a fiction story, but her story. Ms. Shearer has been through a lot, but came out stronger than ever! After losing her job, both of her parents passing, and finding out she had lung cancer, Ms. Shearer didn't lie down and say, "Screw it, I'm done." She instead rose above and decided to live her dream of being a published author.
Now, she has her incredible novel Entwine out for all to enjoy and is currently working on Book Two as well as other writing projects, her publishing company, and her coaching adventure. In this interview, you'll learn more about Ms. Shearer, her first published novel Entwine, and her secret "obsession".
Let's Learn More About Entwine
How Did Entwine Come to Life?
Lisa Hodorovych: How did Entwine come to be? Was it a dream or did something or someone inspire you?
Tracey Shearer: I’ve always loved the idea of friendships. I’ve lost a few in my life and it’s very painful. I’ve always loved the paranormal too, so I wondered what would happen if you added special gifts into the mix of friends, especially three girls, three women. Those gifts could draw them closer together or end up pulling them apart.
Then Robert came to me in a dream - sound familiar to what happened to Sam? I saw him running for his life. Racing back to his manor home in Scotland. He’d escaped prison and was trying to reach his home in time to something which might save him, but he failed. Bam! Lord Robert Grenning was born. Of course, that meant one of the women had to see ghosts because Robert was going to be their love interest. I knew it would be Sam.
And Entwine was born.
The Ghost World
Lisa: I have to say, what I loved most about your book, Entwine, was the world you created for the ghosts. I am a believer. I believe ghosts do roam this world and, at times, like to make themselves known in one way or the other. I have also wondered what it’s like to be a spirit. Are they just watching us, waiting for a moment to “show” themselves to us? Are they conversing with other ghosts while waiting? This is honestly something I do think about from time to time and you did an amazing job of answering those questions for me in your fiction story! Haha! My question to you is…how did you create this world for the ghosts?
Tracey: Like you, I’ve always believed in ghosts and wondered what they might be doing. I know my mom watches over me for all my cancer battles and I feel her energy around me. Which led me to think about why some ghosts move on and some don’t? And by moving on, I mean to whatever afterlife someone believes in. Could ghosts move back and forth? And if they weren’t in their final destination, where would they go? I knew Sam helped ghosts with unfinished business, so it would have to be someplace they all shared, someplace she could access. And since I firmly believe we’re all entwined, living and dead, the realm of Entwine came to life.
Ray the Poltergeist
Lisa: Like the ghost world, I loved how you described Ray the Poltergeist as being a tortured soul. He was constantly moving, but then becomes free when he faces his past. Again, how did you come up with this?
Tracey: I knew there was a poltergeist in Kate’s house - it was the catalyst to get Sam to Scotland. But I didn’t want to do the standard that we’ve seen in movies and books. They weren’t evil to me. I wanted to come up with something new and different. Instead, I thought about what would give a ghost strength to move things. I instantly knew it would be emotions. Strong emotions. And what are some of the strongest emotions that fuel us? The repressed ones. The ones we don’t face, yet eat away at us, that rob us of full peace. It’s scary to face what’s deep inside us, we are constantly twisting, turning, distracting, doing anything we can to avoid confronting those feelings. But when we do stop, when we do accept the pain, it’s a way to freedom.
Research for Entwine
Lisa: On the bottom of page 208, as the girls prepare for the memory journey, Kate hands Sam a box of frankincense and bistort incense cones and asks, “What will these do?” Sam answers, “Combined together, they’ll help with divination and improve mental strength.” Is this true? If so, how do you know? Did you do the research, or do you practice?
Tracey: I did research! I wanted to make sure I was authentic with what these items are supposed to help with. I go regularly to one of my local Paranormal Conferences to make sure I’m up on what the latest equipment and techniques are for ghost-hunting and exploration because I know we’ll have some paranormal troupe come in and try to debunk Sam at some point. Which means I have to get it right. So much of what we see on TV and in the movies about how paranormal investigators do things is inaccurate. And I know some of them in the Pacific NW, so I best be right.
Third-Person Perspective vs. First-Person
Lisa: As I mentioned in the review of your incredible novel, you wrote it in the third-person perspective. Is this the perspective you prefer to write in, or did it just work best for the story? If you do like to write in this perspective, why?
Tracey: I enjoy writing from the third person perspective because I love to get information and views from different characters. It worked for my trilogy because it’s essential we know what each woman is thinking and feeling inside. Plus what’s going on with Robert. When you have first person, you are in their head and that’s it. You have to surmise what others are feeling by their words, actions, body language, etc. And if you aren’t someplace with the other characters, you don’t know what happened to them. I relish the immediacy of having something happen to a character who’s viewpoint we’re in and then seeing what they divulge to others. And knowing how it affects them is so powerful especially for future decisions and actions. I think first person is definitely fun and I would like to try it out with a different story that lends itself to that type of storytelling.
Lisa: How did you come up with all the different characters like Sam, Beth, Kate, Robert, Logan, Graham, etc.?
Tracey: Sam was my toy poodle’s name in NY when I grew up. I LOVED that dog. I used to push him around in my baby carriage. Such a good sport! And I always called him Sammy, just like Beth calls Sam. And Beth’s last name, Marshall, was the street I grew up on. Kate’s name popped up immediately as soon as I saw her in my mind. Robert came to me in a dream and told me who he was, so I had no choice there. But for the other characters like Logan, Graham, Beatrice, etc., I looked up names online that were Scottish. Then I tried them out to see if they fit with the character I had developed. In the second book, we get to meet Michael’s family and I had my online baby name search engine going big-time. Then you have to make sure you don’t have super similar names otherwise you can get your readers confused.
Who Did You Picture As Each Character?
Lisa: Did you picture yourself as any of the characters, like Sam? Who were you picturing as all of the different characters?
Tracey: What I found interesting is during the development of the three women, I realized they each represented aspects of me - some present, some past. Sam as my strength, the one who always protects. Kate as my heart, the one who always sees the truth inside (and gives second chances). Finally Beth as my damage, the one who has had to protect herself and in the process lost much of her trust. I didn’t see myself physically as any of the characters, though I think Sam has some of my facial qualities and the hair (smile). While Kate has my height and curves. Many writers picture actors and actresses as their characters. I never do. My characters are unique in my mind. And I deliberately try to dot in some things, but leave other aspects to the readers’ imagination. This way they make the characters their own. I learned that from Stephen King.
Lisa: Why did you set it in Scotland? I have no complaints as it’s one of my favorite places in the world, but I’m just wondering why instead of the States, England, Italy, or someplace like that.
Tracey: I had gone on my first trip to Europe and it was a tour of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I fell in love with Scotland. I imagined what it would be like to live there. The rolling green hills and the “feel” of it stayed with me. And when Robert popped up and told me he lived in Scotland, then I knew it was meant to be. Plus it’s a great place for forests and tales of ghosts….
Let's Learn More About Tracey Shearer
Writing As a Career
Lisa: When did you first realize your love and passion for writing and that you wanted to pursue it as a career?
Tracey: I realized my love for storytelling when I was a child. I always was in charge of the “make-believe” aspect of play with my friends because i came up with the most elaborate and exciting stories. But it wasn’t until I lost my job, got cancer, and my mom died, all within a four month period that I realized I didn’t know how long I had. Was I really going to let my dream of being a writer die? It was an incredible wake-up call. I took my first writing class after I had recovered from surgery. I was so nervous. My friends and family thought I had the writing chops, but they loved me. Could I really do it? Taking that class was one of the best decisions I made! I still have my writing group from that class and we’ve been together 15 years. My writing teacher encouraged me to enter a local contest that first year. I still remember getting the letter in the mail that I had made it into the finals. I sat down and cried. I knew at that moment that this was the right path for me.
Lisa: Who inspired you when it comes to writing? Who inspired you when it comes to life?
Tracey: My Mom and Dad both inspired me when it came to writing. My dad had always been a great weaver of yarns and could make you believe anything. I got my gift of storytelling from him. It was the greatest gift he could have ever given me. Then add in my Mom’s love of reading, and I knew I would be a writer. My Mom was my biggest inspiration in life. We had our tough times, but we came through them even stronger in the end. If I had told her I wanted to jump out of balloons, singing all the way down to the ground as a career, she would have cheered me on. She believed in me more than I did. And when she was gone, she gave me the added strength to believe I could really make my dreams of writing come true. And I did.
Lisa: What is your writing process? Do you do an outline? Do you write everything out first before typing it up or do you go straight for your laptop?
Tracey: I’ve discovered, through trial and error, that what works for me is having a very basic outline. So, pretty much the beginning, some main plot points, and the end. I don’t know how I’m going to get there. That’s where the “pantsing” comes in. I sit down and write the first third of the book by the seat-of-my-pants and see what comes out. Then I look at my plot again and adjust. Caleb, the forest ghost, was not planned. And he is now an integral part of the Entwine series. I do that again with the second third of the book and by that point I know what the home stretch is going to look like. If I have stuff that is cool, but doesn’t work with my story, I put aside and save it. You never know what you might use later. I found that I need freedom to write whatever comes to me, but I also need some loose structure so I don’t waste too much time and have a direction.
As for the physical piece of writing, I go straight to my laptop. Working full-time doesn’t leave me a ton of time for writing. I need to maximize it and get everything digital up front to save input time later. Plus, my mind goes so fast that my pen can never keep up. I barely keep up with my laptop, but it’s definitely a better fit.
Genres Tracey Prefers to Write
Lisa: I know Entwine is your first book and I believe it is considered fantasy/paranormal romance, if I’m correct. Is this your favorite genre to write in? If so, why? Will you write in other genres? If so, what genres?
Tracey: It’s my first published book. My first ever book, that snagged my first agent, was a vampire story set in Seattle and Russia. We just couldn’t get it sold at the time since vampires had oversaturated the marketplace when my agent was shopping it. So, onto the subject of genre for Entwine, an agent late last year loved Entwine and said my book was genre-defying. She told me it was a mystery, a suspense, a thriller, a romance, a fantasy, and a Women’s Fiction, all with a healthy dose of the paranormal Which means, she’d have to tear out all the wonderful things that didn’t fit in order to get it traditionally published. She’d represent me on the spot, but we’d have to destroy Entwine.
I’m just fine not fitting into a box. I like being different and unique. Entwine wasn’t going anywhere.
She was so relieved I turned her down because she didn’t want to change a thing. She loved it. But since she said I could “write my ass off”, we’re looking to work together on another project. Yay!!! So, that’s a long answer to say that you’re correct in whatever genre you feel Entwine is. Haha! If you look at the Amazon reviews, you’ll see time and again where people say that they never expected to like “insert genre” and they loved Entwine. And men love it too!
Anything paranormal will always be my favorite type of story. I think it’s because I love to believe in magic and that there are things beyond what we know. Also my mom loved Stephen King and a lot of other authors who played around with reality and had stories of creatures along with people with abilities. I’ve considered doing a mystery series. Not sure if it will be without paranormal elements yet but I would love to come up with something that would also make a great TV series.
Tracey's Business Adventures
Lisa: I noticed on your Instagram account that you help fellow writers develop, edit, and publish their stories (Motivated Magic) and you also have your own publishing company (Twilight Sparks Press LLC). What made you start these businesses?
Tracey: I started Twilight Sparks Press LLC because I didn’t want my books to say “Tracey Shearer published by Tracey Shearer”. Haha!! And I also thought it might be cool to publish other authors down the road. I did some energy work and asked my parents (both gone now) to help me come up with the name. That’s a fantastic story for another time. Maybe for when you review Book 2 - winky wink!
As for the coaching piece, I knew how close I came to not pursuing my writing, my dreams. I didn’t want that to happen to others. And it shouldn’t have to be a series of tragedies that finally gets someone to wake up and realize what’s important. Writers can be fragile when it comes to their writing. It can take just one wrong review or comment from a friend to stop them from writing. And I also remember how lost I was when I started out to write a book. It’s so much more than just putting pen to paper. I wanted to give back and to help other writers, not only with my free Facebook Group where I share tips, trainings, motivation, etc. but also eventually with paid programs to help them master the elements they’ll need to create their stories, edit them and eventually publish them. I found light even in the darkness of cancer and I want to be someone else’s light. We’re all entwined. We’re all in this together.
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Lisa: I know you self-published your debut novel, but in this world of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, there are a lot of people who are on the fence, unsure of which way to go. What advice would you give them?
Tracey: I used to think self-publishing wasn’t the way to go, but after having an agent who couldn’t get my books sold and then getting a publishing contract that was super-restrictive (I turned down), I realized that I didn’t want to wait any longer. With traditional publishing, it can take a long time to get an agent. Then it can take a long time to get a publisher. And then, it depends where you fit on their publishing timeline. So, you could be waiting three years for your book to come out from the time you get an agent.
For me, it was important to finally take control and make my dreams happen with self-publishing. And because of what I’ve learned from the business side, I’m now a much better partner for a future agent. And the agent who is interested in working with me now was very impressed that I just got the darn thing done and I was out there promoting it too. Initiative goes a long way to show someone you’re willing to do the work. Remember agents don’t get paid unless you do. They want someone who’s an active partner.
With self-publishing, you have to front costs, but you also keep 100 percent of the profits. You control when you publish, what swag you want to create, what book signings you do, what conferences you go to, etc.
With traditional publishing, you can have a greater reach in promotion (they have connections you don’t) and they’ll front printing costs, pay for your cover and so forth. They also will give you a smaller percentage of the pie and then your agent gets 15 percent of what you get.
My suggestion is to try for an agent if you want to get a publisher, but also plan for potential self-publishing. Think about shopping for an agent with one book and self publishing something else. Hybrid authors are everywhere. The choices writers have now are so much better than when I started.
Advice to Fellow Writers
Lisa: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Tracey: Be persistent - the more you write the better you get.
Form a critique/writers group - others will help you grow.
Learn your craft - you don’t have to follow every rule, but understand what the rules are and what makes an incredible story.
Always remember that even if the same story has been told by someone else, the way you write it and your experiences, will always make your story unique. Don’t get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others. The world needs all our voices.
Lisa: What is next for Tracey Shearer?
Tracey: Book 2 - RAVEN! Then, I’m considering writing Book 3 while I’m working on the other book I mentioned for the agent I want to work with. I can’t tell you the concept there. It’s so fabulous!! I’ve never done two books at once, but I think it will help me get them both done faster. And I just might dust off my vampire book and see what needs to be edited there. I absolutely love the story and I know from the people who read it in my beta group, they fell in love with the characters immediately.
On the coaching front, I’m planning to launch my first writing program shortly. I’ll bring 20 story elements to life - really make them breathe for you so you understand how important they are. And how much better your story can be when you utilize them effectively. I’ll also be offering one on one coaching with potential critique. I’ve found working directly with a writer on their story helps them uncover things they are doing without realizing. I had one writer liken me to Dumbledore and Gandalf. I’m going to ask him to give me an official testimonial!
Lisa: May I have at least one interesting fact about you that no one knows? (For example: You’re a comic book enthusiast, you have a plethora of tattoos you’re hiding…something that would make people say, “What?!” Haha!)
Tracey: Hmmm...this is a hard one. It’s pretty common knowledge that I love Hallmark movies and I’m Dr. Who fan. And some know I can actually shout across an empty football field and be heard on the other side. But I don’t think anyone realizes that I like to name inanimate objects. My new ring light is called Priscilla, my vacuum is Armand, and my phone holder is Bob. The names just come to me like my character names do. I also thank the objects when they’ve helped me accomplish something. I think it’s an extension of that feeling that we’re all connected - people, animals, nature, objects, everything.
Thank you again, Ms. Shearer for taking the time to talk with me and answer my questions! It was an absolute honor and it is truly appreciated!
If you would like to learn more about Tracey Shearer, her books, and where you can purchase them, please check out her website, http://traceyshearer.com/.
Remember, I did not get paid to write the review on Entwine nor am I getting paid to interview Ms. Shearer. I'm just a fellow writer and fan showcasing the work of a great author. If you have any questions or would like to be featured on my blog, please don't hesitate to contact me.
The photos featured in this post were given to me by Tracey Shearer for that very purpose.
**This post was originally published on May 21, 2020**