After losing the audio for the first interview conducted at RWA, I talk to Tracey Livesay for the second time – special thanks to Tracey for agreeing to speak twice! We talk about her experience at RWA this year, being starstruck when meeting Beverly Jenkins, and attending a conference during the release week of her book, Love on my Mind. She discusses her favorite sessions at RWA, and we debate who her cover model looks like. Tracey also talks about writing characters with Aspergers, reading social cues, and being one of many recovering attorneys writing romance, as well as her gateway to the romance genre, and the power of saying, “This is OUR genre, and it belongs to US,” as a reader, and as a writer.
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Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, July 29, 2016
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 205 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me today is Tracey Livesay. She did an interview with me at RWA, and when I got home I had ten minutes of audio instead of a whole hour of audio, and I was super, super mad, but she was cool enough to agree to do the interview again. So this episode is a little bit about what we talked about before and what we talked about after RWA. She talks a little bit about our original conversation, but she also talks about her experience at RWA, because I had interviewed her at the beginning of the conference. We talk about her favorite sessions, what it’s like to be starstruck by authors you admire, and what it’s like to be at a conference when your book has released that same week. We also talk about writing characters with Asperger’s, writing interracial romance, reading social cues, and being one of many recovering attorneys writing romance fiction. There are a lot of them.
All of the books that we mention will be in the podcast entry at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast, and the music you’re listening to is provided by Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. I will have information as to who this is and where you can buy it at the end of the show.
And if you would indulge me for a few moments, I want to thank all of the people who have become podcast patrons. We have a Patreon campaign to support the show at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. For as little as a dollar a month, you can help support the podcast and help me reach goals like commissioning transcripts for all of the episodes that don’t have one yet. But beyond that, it is an enormous pleasure to hear how much people enjoy the show and how much people enjoy each new episode. I love reading the reviews that you’ve left – it’s the only time I read reviews of my work, I swear – and I’m really, really, really happy to hear how many of you enjoy the show. So if you’ve had a look at the Patreon or you’ve thought about it or you passed the link along or you’ve become a supporter, thank you for listening; you are a made of awesome.
And now, on with the podcast!
Sarah: Thank you so much for doing this again. I, you should have heard me and the words that I said when I got home and I offloaded my recorder, and I had 10 minutes and 38 seconds of audio with you –
Tracey Livesay: [Laughs]
Sarah: – and, and I was so pissed because our interview at RWA was so fun, and it was so great, so I am really grateful that you are doing it again.
Tracey: No problem.
Sarah: All right, so this is Tracey Livesay, Take Two.
Sarah: So it’s been, like, a whole week since your book was released.
Sarah: So things are very different, and you’re now very jaded.
Tracey: [Laughs] I’m totally jaded. So –
Sarah: You’re, you’re completely over the publishing industry.
Tracey: So over it! Oh, my God.
Sarah: And do you have, like, many, many angry blog posts saved up about how you’re going to fix the industry and change it?
Tracey: [Laughs] No.
Tracey: I’m too tired!
Sarah: You’re too tired? Isn’t release week exhausting?
Tracey: It is, and then on top of that, for it to come during the conference –
Sarah: Oh, yeah.
Tracey: Yeah. I, I’m, I’m pretty, I’m, yeah, I’m pretty tired. I’m just, like, trying to just get back into the swing of things, so, yeah.
Sarah: Are you having jet lag? Do you sleep weirdly a little bit?
Tracey: It’s crazy. Like, I, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I took the red-eye Sunday –
Sarah: Oh, God.
Tracey: – and got back, you know, got into BWI on Monday morning about six.
Sarah: Oh, God.
Tracey: And, yeah, and then I drove home, which was, gosh, about two and a half hours maybe, and then my son had a, a dentist appointment, so I took him to that, and then my daughter had an eye appointment in Richmond, so I took her to that, and then, and then so the next morning I slept until, like, 8:30, which I never do. And then this morning – oh, and my daughter commented on it. She made a little, little remark about it, like, I guess somebody needed her beauty sleep. I was like, what?! [Laughs] ‘Scuse me?! And then this morning I slept ‘til about 7:50, so I think I’m getting better. I’m getting better.
Sarah: So basically what you’re saying is that this is the glamorous life of the author.
Tracey: Oh, yeah. I know, I know. I was like, nothing like being back in the real world where, like, no one cares who you write, who you are or what you write –
Sarah: Oh, yeah.
Tracey: It’s like, you know, mommy, let’s go. We’re going to be late.
Tracey: Get up. [Laughs] We’ve got to go, you know. Oh, and wash my clothes. Yeah.
Sarah: Oh, you’ve got to do your own laundry.
Tracey: Yeah. Got, got lots of stuff.
Sarah: [Laughs] I always find it very funny when people are like, oh, my goodness! You have such a huge Twitter following! Like, how did you do it? And I’m like, I honestly don’t know, and my kids don’t listen to me, so I’m completely unimpressed with how ever many Twitter followers I have. My kids still don’t listen to me.
Tracey: It’s crazy, ‘cause even knowing that, even knowing that this is my life –
Tracey: – and you saying that that’s your life, I’m, I still spent the, you know, entire week, you know, just like, oh, my God! That’s such-and-such! Oh, my God! That’s such-and-such! Like that, you know.
Tracey: Still do it. Yep.
Sarah: Was there anybody at RWA you were super starstruck to meet? Like, you couldn’t breathe? ‘Cause that’s happened to me a couple times, and it’s deeply embarrassing and yet also quite thrilling.
Tracey: Yes, well, as you know from the first time, there was you. I was very excited about that; that was very exciting.
Sarah: And look, and now you have to talk to me again, so I am, like, super boring –
Sarah: – and like, oh, my gosh, that Sarah, she’s so annoying! She screwed up the audio – actually, what happened is I screwed it up on purpose. I just wanted to talk to you again, because I’m annoying like that.
Tracey: I’m just like, ah! Now I’m boring. I’ve, I did all my good stuff, and I don’t have anything new.
Sarah: No, you’re not boring at all! Trust me.
Tracey: I feel, honestly, like when I say this I kind of feel like I shouldn’t, but, because I’ve been talking about her for the past week, but it, it was Beverly Jenkins. I was really excited to meet her, and I talked about her a lot before I met her, but meeting her, she was so sweet and so nice, she felt like, like one of my aunts or something, you know? She was just so down to earth and funny, and so that was great, and then the only other person that I have in the past lost my shit over was – oh! Yeah, was, okay –
Sarah: You can, you can curse!
Tracey: Yeah. I would never –
Sarah: There’re no FCC regulations. Drop as many F-bombs as you want.
Tracey: Yeah – but it was Nalini Singh, and I, I have pictures with her from every conference I’ve gone to.
Tracey: And this year I just couldn’t do it. Like, I was just like –
Tracey: – I can’t – I know! I know. But this year, I, I saw her, like, three times in the hallway, and I just, like, I just kept walking. I don’t know what it was. I was like, maybe I should, like, don’t push my luck or something; I don’t know. But other than that, everyone, you know, I met people whose names I’d only seen on books, so that was kind of cool, but I, I like to think that I, I kept my calm, that I was, you know, cool and, yeah, I’m supposed to be here. Not like, oh, my God! She just touched my hand!
Sarah: [Laughs] I know!
Tracey: So I like to think, you know, no one could tell that was going on.
Sarah: I have had many moments like that where I just, I, I, I can’t even control my breathing. I just sort of stand there, and I kind of move my mouth a little bit like, ab, ab, ai, buh, wow.
Sarah: And inside, and, and sometimes I control it really well, so, like, my exterior is, like, super chill, and then my inside, like, I, my inner thirteen-year-old is losing her mind at this moment.
Tracey: Yes! [Laughs]
Sarah: I remember a couple years ago at RT there was an onstage Q & A with Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood –
Tracey: Oh, my God.
Sarah: – and, like, I was in the back tweeting it, and they were like, can we take questions from the audience? And I’m like, okay, Sarah, come on, you can do it! So I stand up, but I have to cross my legs, ‘cause I swear to you, I thought I was going to lose control of my bladder, and that is not an exaggeration.
Sarah: I had my legs crossed, and I was holding onto the chair in front of me, like my nails left a mark in the back of, like, the pleather that was on the hotel –
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes!
Sarah: – and then I opened my mouth, and my mouth went dry, and I was like, I am completely losing my shit right now, and I have to ask a question, and I was like, ba-haa, ah-bah, blll. Oh, my gosh, I, I completely embarrassed myself.
Sarah: Like, there, I really was just so incredibly embarrassed.
Tracey: Oh, my gosh, yeah. Okay. The outfit –
Sarah: So, so don’t, don’t worry, you are never alone in that.
Tracey: The worst, I think the worst I did was at the Avon Digital Day before the conference, I met Sarah MacLean, and she said who she was, and I think I said, ahhh!
Sarah: Oh, my God!
Tracey: And she laughed –
Tracey: – and I was like, yeah, I am so cool! So cool!
Sarah: Oh, yeah, I am, I am the, I am the definition of chill, except not.
Tracey: Yes. Yes! [Laughs]
Sarah: So, aside from meeting Beverly Jenkins and Nalini Singh and Sarah MacLean, which honestly, that sounds like a really good conference –
Sarah: – how was your RWA? Was it good?
Tracey: It was good. It was probably the best one, and, that I – this was my fourth one, I think? So it was definitely the highlight, and to be honest, a lot of that probably was because my, my book had come out, and I was –
Sarah: Yeah! It was release week! You got to celebrate!
Tracey: Yeah! You know, it, it just felt really nice to sort of go and, and feel kind of like I belonged. You know, like I was there for a reason, so. It was a lot of fun. It really, really was. Tiring, but so much fun. Yeah.
Sarah: What are some of the sessions that you, you were like, I have to go to this; I cannot miss this? The, the calendar will be formed around this particular hour.
Tracey: Right. You know what, this is going to be the worst answer ever, but no, because, let me tell you –
Sarah: This is your fourth, no, it’s your fourth one!
Tracey: Yeah. Well, because I always buy the conference recordings, right?
Sarah: Of course.
Tracey: And so I know that I’m going to go home and listen to those, and then there are some that weren’t recorded, so I was like, I’ll go to those, and a couple – I don’t want to call any of ‘em out – some of them were really good; some of them were like, hmm. I have to tell you the best workshop I went to the entire conference was the Hamilton sing-along.
Tracey: And I cannot lie, I, I was so late to the Hamilton party, so, so late, I’m killing myself by how late I was. Like, I knew what it was, and I knew that people said it was great, and they said that the soundtrack was great. I honestly did not buy the soundtrack until the week before, when I knew it was going to be a workshop. And I listened to it, like, once, and that’s not enough to, you know, I knew it was good, but it’s not enough to, to really get all the words and stuff, and so I was like, should I go? Should I no, no? And I went, and I, I have listened to nothing else but that soundtrack. I sing that song when it’s quiet. I just start singing various songs –
Tracey: Yeah, I’m kind of obsessed now.
Sarah: You know, the nice thing about Hamilton fandom, it’s much like the romance fandom: there is always room.
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes!
Sarah: Like, we are not running out of room, and neither is Hamilton.
Tracey: No! It just –
Sarah: It’s going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Tracey: – so good! It’s so good. [Laughs] Oh, my gosh, it’s so good. I came home and I told my husband, I was like, we have to go see it. And then we looked online, and, like, the, the soonest that we could see it is in November.
Sarah: Yeah, of 2018, right?
Tracey: Yeah, right! And I think we, we don’t mind sitting up, like, in the very last row of the very highest balcony.
Sarah: Behind a pillar.
Tracey: Yeah, yeah, you know, so. [Laughs]
Sarah: In the hall. Yeah.
Tracey: In the hall, you know. So if we can do that, you know, and, and we have to be quiet, you know. So if I can do that, then I guess I can maybe see it, but I don’t know. Yeah, I’m obsessed. Obsessed.
Sarah: One of the things I love about Hamilton and the fact there was a Hamilton sing-along at RWA is that there’s just, in the community at RWA and at RT, there is no shame about loving what you love. Like, we love romance novels, and we take a lot of shit for it, so we give no shits right now.
Sarah: So if you add a fandom on top of that, it’s like tripling the enthusiasm.
Tracey: It was incredible! And it wasn’t just, like, people just sitting there singing. Like, people would get up and take the mic and sing, like, the song, and then, like, they, like, someone came dressed in, like, a Hamilton outfit?
Tracey: So she would do, like, most of the Hamilton stuff, and, like, the song was, like, him and his wife and, you know, what, you know, is that enough or whatever. Like, they were acting it out. I mean, it was crazy, bananas, so good. So good, yeah. So that was the best workshop, RWA, Hamilton.
Sarah: And you know what? That’s a lot of extroverting for a bunch of introvert writers.
Tracey: It was! It real-, it’s just something about that, something about that song, and I think people felt, they felt like they were in a room with love. Like, nobody –
Tracey: – was just going to, you know, no one making fun of them. Everybody there was in it and, I mean, it was crazy, and, like, people didn’t, some people didn’t know the words, like, I didn’t. We had our phones out; we were just singing along –
Tracey: – and the thing lasted, like, two hours, so it was only enough for part one, and people wanted to keep going.
Tracey: Like, they were like, can’t we just sing, like, more songs? And they were like, no, you know, we’ve got to go. That’s it, so. It was, it was crazy. Yeah.
Sarah: So your recommendation for RWA 2017 is a four-hour Hamilton sing-along/karaoke performance.
Tracey: I, yes. I’m going to tweet, I’m going to – yeah. Yeah, I’m going to tweet Courtney and Alyssa right after this and say, I was talking to Sarah, and this is what we suggest as a followup. Yeah. Four-hour, four-hour block.
Sarah: Four straight hours.
Tracey: Yep. Just, just bottles of water. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yep. Maybe, like, a small buffet of some salty snacks, ‘cause, you know, singing takes, it takes away your sodium.
Tracey: You know, they would just get off the stage, go refuel, come back. Yeah, I, yeah, I would sign up for that in a heart-, I would sign up today.
Tracey: To. Day. ‘Cause –
Sarah: If you register early and pay an extra sixty dollars, you get a guaranteed ticket to the Hamilton full-length sing-along. Boom! Purchased.
Tracey: [Laughs] I know! There you go!
Sarah: One-click buy!
Tracey: I would be like, oh, I can’t go to the signing; I’m so sorry. Hamilton. I’ve got to prepare my voice. I’ve got to be ready for Hamilton.
Sarah: You’ve got to rest your voice, man –
Sarah: – ‘cause RWA is hard on the vocal cords.
Tracey: Hard on the vocal cords; yes, it is. So much fun, though. Oh, so much fun!
Sarah: So one of the things we talked about in our first version of this interview, which died a very sad digital death, was your, was your book, and I don’t know if you’re tired of talking about your book, ‘cause, you know, it came out last week, which is like a year and a half ago –
Tracey: I know.
Sarah: – and I’m sure, I’m sure –
Tracey: I, I know. Already being replaced by other books. I want it to be like, no! No other books can come out. I’m still enjoying this, but –
Sarah: I know, right?
Sarah: New release period for an author is dastardly short.
Tracey: So short! I know, it’s so short! [Laughs]
Sarah: So last year your new book came out, back in the Mesozoic Era.
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes.
Sarah: Your, your book –
Tracey: I don’t even know if people are still even talking about, it’s been so long.
Sarah: Well, we’re talking about it.
Sarah: And I insist on talking about it, ‘cause, well, the digital recorder screwed up, and I lost our terrific conver-
Sarah: You have no idea; my husband was like, what is wrong with you? And I couldn’t even, like, put nouns and verbs together. I was just cursing.
Tracey: I could – your subject line was so funny.
Sarah: Crap, crap, crap, crap!
Tracey: I knew, I was like, something happened. [Laughs]
Sarah: I was so pissed! Like, super mad. But anyway, enough about me and my technological difficulties. Let’s talk about your book.
Sarah: You wrote a book!
Tracey: I did.
Sarah: It came out last week!
Sarah: How has your release week been? Have you been pleased with the response so far?
Tracey: I have been really pleased with the response. I’m, I was really nervous about the response. I thought, you know, I thought that it was a good book. I’m sure most, most people who write their books think that they’re good, but I was nervous about how people would take to my hero, Adam, if they would still find him sexy, if they would like him, if they would give him, you know, give him a chance, if they would read far enough to give him a chance, to warm up to him. That really was a concern for me, but it appears I didn’t need to worry about that because people seem to get him, so that made me very happy.
Sarah: Well, I mean, you have a reclusive, somewhat prickly computer genius hero –
Sarah: – in a genre that currently is sporting some exceptional antiheroes. I mean, he’s not even the worst.
Sarah: He’s not even in the same solar system as the worst. He’s just cranky, you know?
Sarah: And that’s okay.
Sarah: I personally am a big fan of the cranky hero, especially the cranky hero who is really, really bothered by how annoying feelings are and how feelings fuck up your schedule, and that’s just not cool!
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes.
Sarah: I’m a fan. So if, if people are not familiar with your book –
Sarah: – which, by the way, we talked about this last week, and I am still trying to figure out who that cover model looks like. He looks like somebody! And I don’t know who it is!
Tracey: He, he does, and you know what? Oh! Now I forgot, because somebody said, someone said –
Sarah: He looks like so-and-so.
Tracey: Yes. Some-, um, um, um, ooh, ooh, someone said Tom Hiddleston, but dark.
Tracey: That was what I heard.
Sarah: I could see that. Maybe?
Tracey: But he does, he looks familiar, like you know him. I know.
Sarah: Yes! That’s exactly it! He looks familiar, like I’ve seen him –
Tracey: He looks like somebody, and I didn’t know if it’s because I’ve been staring – [laughs] – at that cover?
Sarah: Well, I mean, it is your cover, and it’s a good cover, so –
Tracey: Yeah, I was –
Sarah: – of course you, you know, you want to stare at it.
Tracey: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they, they, they did good for me, so I didn’t know if that was it, but I’ve heard that a few times. He does look like somebody.
Sarah: Wait a minute, I’ve got one more thing I’m going to Google before I lose my mind, and then I’m going to actually ask you about your, about your book.
Tracey: [Laughs] Now I’m staring at him like, who is he?
Sarah: ‘Cause I’m going to say this, and people are either going to be like, what?! All right, he looks a little bit like Jesse Williams.
Sarah: See? It, it’s, it’s in –
Tracey: Yes! I can see –
Sarah: – it’s in the eyes and the jaw. He looks a little bit like Jesse Williams, which is a good thing.
Tracey: I, I can give you that, yes. I’ll give you that, yes.
Sarah: Yeah? Okay! [Laughs] Who does her cover model look like?
Sarah: I’m going to have to put up, like, a whole quiz for this entry. Like, okay, everybody, tell me in the comments who this guy looks like. I’ll put up the cover in, like, 600 pixel wide.
Tracey: Who’s this guy look like?
Sarah: He looks a little bit like Jesse Williams.
Sarah: Which is a good thing!
Tracey: Uh, yeah.
Sarah: ‘Cause I would not kick him out of bed for eating crackers.
Tracey: No, I would not.
Sarah: He could eat smoked fish in bed, and I’d be like, fine, go ahead!
Tracey: Oh, just, just come on. I’d be like, babe, scoot over. Jesse Williams is getting in.
Sarah: He’s on the list.
Tracey: That’s right! Oh, yeah.
Sarah: So, to people who may not have heard about your book, but are now going to go look it up ‘cause the cover model looks a little bit like Jesse Williams –
Tracey: [Laughs] That’s right.
Sarah: – tell, tell the lovely people listening again, for the second time, about your awesome book.
Tracey: My book is about Adam, who is this tech CEO, computer engineer genius, and he’s a recluse. He lives up in his house in the mountains, and he’s created this new device that is going to change the world, pretty much. And his company wants him to do a presentation, sort of like the whole Steve Jobs iPhone thing –
Tracey: – and he wants no parts of it because he hates the media. He had really bad sort of interaction with them, and he’s like, no, I don’t want to do it, but his company knows that in order for this device to get the attention it deserves to be the success it needs to be, that he needs to be out there in the public because that’s sort of what the public expects these days. People are tied to their inventions, and since Adam is refusing to do this, the company hires a PR expert, Chelsea, to work with him and get him ready for the presentation. The only problem is, Chelsea can’t tell Adam that his company hired her. So she has to find a way to get close to him, to work with him and get him ready for a presentation but not tell him who she is and why she’s doing it. And so she manages to do that because she’s awesome –
Tracey: – but in the course, obviously, they have their sexy times, and they fall in love, and so now she has to find a way to have him do the presentation, admit who she is, and not lose him in the process.
Sarah: So she has to come clean –
Sarah: – but also do her job.
Tracey: Also do her job, yes.
Sarah: Not necessarily in that order.
Tracey: Not necessarily in order, and I mean, well, I guess I can say the, a part of the problem of this, why it’s not just sort of, I lied; I’m sorry, is that Adam has Asperger’s, and for anyone sort of familiar with someone who has Asperger’s, they sort of have difficulty reading social cues, understanding nonverbal communication, and so for Adam, it’s essential that the people in his life are truthful and tell him the truth, because it’s difficult for him to read the cues that, or to read the circumstances that, that those of us who aren’t on the spectrum take for granted. You know, we can see certain things that let us know when someone’s lying. He has difficulty with that, so he is really sort of a stickler about truth and honesty, and he tells her that, and in the beginning he’s just a job, so it doesn’t matter, but once it turns into something more, she knows it’s going to be really difficult to get him to forgive her, if he will. So, yeah.
Sarah: And the longer the secret goes on, the longer she keeps the secret from him, the worse it’s going to be –
Tracey: The worse it’s going to be, yes.
Sarah: – when it comes out.
Tracey: Yes, and keep in mind, you know, he, she, he still needs to do the presentation, so she has a lot of stuff going on. And, and she’s been promised a promotion that she’s worked for for a very long time, and it’s contingent upon her completing this job successfully, so there’s a lot of, you know, stuff going on, and, so it’s not only also about her love for him, him doing a presentation, but him doing it successfully so that she can get what she wants too, so. Yeah. It’s a lot. Good conflict, good conflict, though. Good sex.
Sarah: You know, that’s a, that’s a really hard balance to set up for yourself as a writer.
Tracey: Yeah! [Laughs]
Sarah: That, that must have been a real challenge to write, because you have to sustain the tension of them not knowing and then make the damage to their relationship sustainable but believable in a space that it can be resolved. I mean –
Tracey: Right. Yeah.
Sarah: – that’s a really hard, there’s probably a word for this in writer language, but like a, a hard schedule of plot points.
Tracey: It, it, it was a lot to, to, to do so that he, you don’t want him to, you know, come off as an idiot. You don’t want her to come off as callous. The conflict had to be believable, and you had to understand both points of view –
Tracey: – and so, yeah, it, it, that part, I think that was one of the hardest parts for me was, I knew in my mind when the truth would come out –
Tracey: – but that meant, yeah, that meant that there was a good part of the story that I had to keep them moving and try to keep them likable and hope that the reader would still go along with them, you know, as they fell in love, yeah.
Sarah: This is a bit of a technical question, so feel free if you don’t want to get too deep into this. So, while you were writing, were you plotting this out, like, with Post-it notes on a wall, did you have a sketch of how you wanted this to go, or was it all sort of in your mind in the right order?
Tracey: No, no. I am a total plotter.
Tracey: So be-, yeah, before I even start writing I do, I don’t do, like, character interviews, like, what’s their color and stuff, but I do do character arcs, and so I start out with what, you know, what their internal motivations are, what their external motivation is, sort of what their wound is, what’s the thing that’s keeping them from being happy? Like, I do that for both characters, and then I do, I plot out sort of all of my, hit-, hitting all of my turning points and, and all of that, so before I even start writing, it, I do about two weeks’ worth of that type of work, and then I start writing. So some scenes I’ll write in one order, but then when I go back and revise I might say, oh, no, this works better before. You know, I, I move them around, and then also, because I do, I do my first draft fast. Like, I just write it. I don’t go back and revise. I write it, and then I go back and do my revision at the end, and before I even revise, I go through and I read all of the chapters in my hero’s point of view and make sure his arc is clear, and I do the same thing for my heroine, and that’s when I can fit in other scenes or switch things if, if it’s not flowing right, so I’m a total plotter. You know, I analyze it. I think really it’s ‘cause I was a lawyer, and it’s just, it’s just what I do.
Tracey: I’m sure I could do it faster, but it, it doesn’t feel right. I have to do it this way. [Laughs]
Sarah: You know, there’re a whole lot of recovering attorneys, as Alyssa Day calls them –
Sarah: – recovering attorneys in romance, and I have this theory as to why that is?
Sarah: So I’m married to an attorney, but he’s not a litigator, and so I know a little bit about law, but I’m by no means an expert. However, I know that when an attorney, particularly one who works in litigation or has to present, you know, present a document, there is a structure that the document has to follow. The opening looks like this; the middle looks like this. So you have all of these key elements, sort of like a scaffolding, and inside that scaffolding, you can make the most bad, crazy argument you want for whatever the hell you’re arguing about, but it has to fit within the scaffolding.
Sarah: Romance is a lot like that. There is a format, and everyone thinks that format means formulaic and all the same –
Sarah: – but no, there is a, there’s a, there’s a framework. There is a scaffolding in romance, and you can make whatever the hell kind of crazy plot you want in the middle, but there is a beginning and a middle and an end that is expected, that is part of the agreement between the reader and the writer, just like there is –
Sarah: – an agreement when you are in court that these are the steps you’re going to follow, and this is the behavior you’re going to obey, and everyone operates on those same rules. The same is true within romance, which is why I think so many litigators and attorneys and recovering attorneys –
Sarah: – find their way into romance, not only because practicing law can be emotionally draining –
Sarah: – but the structure of it is a familiar framework within which you’re very accustomed to writing and being creative.
Tracey: Yes. Abs-, I mean, that makes total sense. That’s absolutely right. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, that, I think that’s part of why my process is the way that it is, because, yeah, I’m used to working within a certain structure, and so once I have my structure in place, like you said, then I can have fun, and I can add these scenes, and I can have ‘em do this, and I can have ‘em do that, but we’re building to different things. We’re doing different things. So that makes perfect sense, absolutely. Ahhh! I’m not just crazy for crazy’s sake! There’s a reason –
Sarah: No, no-no-no, there’s totally a reason. [Laughs]
Tracey: There’s a reason it works that way! Yes!
Sarah: I think there needs to be a recovering attorneys chapter of RWA.
Sarah: Like, all y’all just get together and be like, all right, it’s bad story day. [Laughs]
Tracey: Oh, my gosh, like, ugh! Why – seriously, though, I mean, I could spend my time pulling out my hair, writing legal briefs –
Tracey: – or going into court defending people, which has its ups and downs –
Tracey: – or – yes – or I could spend my time pulling out my hair, writing romance! I mean, it’s –
Sarah: I am really struggling with this sex scene right now!
Sarah: It’s horrible!
Tracey: Gosh, like –
Sarah: No wonder these people won’t bang!
Tracey: Or get into what can I do that’s, I have to find the perfect black moment. What can I do to torture them so that they –
Tracey: – get back together, ‘cause I know they’ll get back together, ‘cause that’s what I write! Like, I, there is no contest for me. None whatsoever. I love, I love, I love this. I actually do.
Sarah: Well, we talked about that when we spoke last week: how much you love the romance genre.
Tracey: Oh, yeah.
Sarah: Now would you be, would you mind telling me again how you came to romance?
Tracey: Yeah, so my parents owned this seafood restaurant, and we lived in Farmville, Virginia, and I remember being in the eighth grade, so about eleven to twelve years old, and at the time I was reading, you know, Sweet Valley High –
Tracey: – and Nancy Drew and, like, the new Nancy Drew, like when they had sort of updated her so, you know, it was still the same characters, but it was, you know, late ‘80s, and I remember she took ballet, and that’s how she would fight, like, her, she would use her ballet technique to, like, fight the bad guys. Um, yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: Ohhh. Look, I took, I took, let’s see, I started ballet when I was three, and I stopped when I went to college at eighteen, so I took, like, fifteen years of ballet, and I do not think that that qualifies me to kick the crap out of anybody?
Tracey: Really? ‘Cause she would be, like, pirouette, kick, and she would kick the guy. No? That never in your life –
Sarah: I’m, I’m very strong, I have very strong legs, but I’m very short. I really do not think – yeah.
Tracey: Oh, Nancy. I don’t know, I hoped –
Sarah: You know, maybe she’s better than I am. It’s possible.
Tracey: Maybe! [Laughs] I don’t know, but that’s what I was reading, and, and they had teen romances at the time. I can’t think of the, of the line, but they, you know, they had romances where the kids were in high school, so that’s pretty –
Sarah: Yeah, probably Sweet Dreams.
Tracey: Sweet Dreams! Yes!
Tracey: Sweet Dreams! Yes! Sweet Dreams.
Sarah: Do, do, do me a favor. If you have any need to be productive, do not Google that on eBay. Do not go there. [Laughs]
Tracey: I’m writing it down, because I will be looking. Okay. Oh, my God, yes. Oh!
Sarah: Mm, Sweet Dreams.
Tracey: Okay, I have to digress. So there was this one Sweet Dreams I remember where it was the plot with the girl who had a crush on her older brother’s best friend.
Sarah: As you do.
Tracey: She said – I know, right – and she, and she had, like, I remember, I just remember she had this crazy curly hair, and she would, like, get up and just, like, wash and go type of hair.
Sarah: Was she, was she black?
Tracey: No, no, she was white. She –
Sarah: I was going to say, ‘cause I don’t remember there being any characters of color in Sweet Dreams.
Tracey: I was going to say, now, Sarah, you know.
Sarah: I was going to say, I did not remember, but you know –
Tracey: Yeah, no. No.
Sarah: I was, I was, I was really excited for a moment that maybe I had missed the, the one –
Tracey: The one, mm-mm.
Sarah: The one.
Tracey: No. No, no. She just had crazy, and her crazy curly was not my crazy curly, but I understood what, you know –
Tracey: – what she meant.
Sarah: Curly hair is a universal language.
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes. So she, but she liked her brother’s friend, and so she – oh, and I remember sh-, it was like the year before she had, she was, I guess, chubby, and it talked about how her pants would make the sound of the thighs rubbing together? Broke my heart. So I guess over the summer she, like, worked out and lost weight or whatever, so she comes back, and she decides she’s going to be cute for the brother or whatever, and so she, she gets up, like, an hour before school so she can do her makeup, and she talks about blow drying her hair straight, and she has this laugh that’s supposed to be like geese honking, but she works on a nice, ladylike laugh or whatever, and the entire book, of course, she’s trying to act one way, but it’s not quite working because the brother’s friend liked her the way she was before, and then at one point something happens, but I just remember she tries to do her little ladylike laugh, and it doesn’t work, and her real honking geese laugh comes out, and she just –
Tracey: – starts laughing and laughing, and that made me laugh. That’s what I remember. I’ve got to find that book. Okay, there’s hours. Hours on Sweet Dreams. Anyway, so that’s what I was reading. And so there was this waitress that worked at the restaurant, and she was, she was like, she was the cool girl. She just was pretty and cool and popular, and I remember. I was sitting at the counter, my head in a book as always, and she gave me this book, and she was like, you should read this book, and it was a Silhouette. I don’t remember the title; I just remember the purple cover with the little white oval and the picture in the middle –
Tracey: – and I was like, okay, and I read it, and that, that was it. It was like my first hit. I was done. I was done. It was –
Tracey: – drama; it was sex. [Laughs] They were, like –
Sarah: Oh, yes.
Tracey: – I know! They were touching nipples and doing things.
Tracey: And I, and then there was, I love you. I mean, I was, I was done. That, you could not do any-, I mean, that was it for me. And her name was Angie, and I actually dedicated my first romance novel to her, because she literally changed my life. That book –
Tracey: – it, it changed my life.
Sarah: That’s adorable!
Tracey: Yeah. I mean, I, I’ve read romance ev-, every chance I could get. And we had this flea market in town, and I would go, obviously with my mom –
Tracey: – on Saturdays, and for the first time after I read that book I realized when I went the next week that people were selling the Harlequin, you know, Presents. They would be, like, twenty-five cents apiece, and I would just take my backpack and –
Tracey: – fold ‘em in. Just –
Tracey: – give ‘em to me.
Sarah: Like, six dollars meant that you had –
Sarah: – a massive library until next Saturday.
Tracey: It was so – I would go home and, and look and read the blurbs and pack ‘em in order of how I was going to read them, and I, and that’s what I did all week. I would, you know, I read in school, in between, like, in the textbook. I read in church when I was supposed to usher. I loved the week that I had to usher, because I had to sit away from my family, so I was in the back.
Tracey: And God help me, I’d have a hymnal open –
Tracey: – and right in that hymnal, I’d be reading about stuff. [Laughs]
Sarah: Ohhh, hiding romance in the hymnal!
Tracey: In the hymnal! Oh, my gosh!
Sarah: I, I remember when we were talking last week, you were like, and the Lord knows my heart –
Tracey: He does!
Sarah: – but yes, I read all the romance during church. [Laughs]
Tracey: He knows it was love, Lord, it was love. He knows. Oh, He did not strike me, so He knows, He knows.
Sarah: Apparently, no, apparently now you have found your, your calling in life.
Tracey: Right? Right? So it was meant to be. It was meant to be. So, yeah. That, that, that was my introduction, and I, I’ve been in love with them ever since. I’ve read them continuously ever since, and I just, I just love, I love the genre. And I’ve been, as you know, I’ve been mocked for it, you know, I’ve had people, boyfriends sort of make comments about it, about my unreal expectations, and you know, like, no, I don’t think it’s unreal to expect a man to treat me well and to love me and, no, I don’t think that’s – and to give me orgasms. No. No.
Tracey: Nope. ‘Cause I can do ‘em myself, right? So if he can’t –
Tracey: – contribute, then what’s the point? [Laughs] So I don’t think it’s unreal. But yeah. Love, I, I love the genre, and to be a part of it now is – that, that’s why I lose my shit when I meet people. It, it’s why, because it’s just, it’s given me so much, and so, to be able to be a part of it is incredible. Like, I don’t think if I were talking to the Me, you know, eleven, twelve, thirteen and I said, one day you will be a part of this, I don’t think I, I would believe it. I would, I, I don’t, so. Yep, okay. And there goes tear number one.
Sarah: Are you crying already?
Tracey: I am! [Laughs]
Sarah: No, I, I know exactly how you feel; I feel the same way. I sort of look at, I mean, every morning I wake up, I wake up and I think, this is my job? Are you kidding? Like, I have dreams, very vivid dreams, where I have to wake up and go back to my old job, and, you know, my desk is still there, and I’m like, but I had this great dream where I ran a website, and I talked to readers all over the world. What happened to that? Where did they go?
Tracey: You’re like, no!
Sarah: Like, the, the fact that this is my job, I, I am in awe, and I am just deeply humbled that this is something I get to do. You know what I mean?
Tracey: Yes! Yes!
Sarah: Like, I am so grateful and, and deeply, deeply thankful that this is, this is, this is the community wherein I have made my job?
Sarah: Like, how did that happen? Oh, my goodness.
Tracey: I do. I, I mean, and I, I think, I think back to, you know, I stopped working, and when I had my kids, which turned out to be another sort of great thing that happened – when my youngest started kindergarten I remember talking to my husband, and I, you know, I knew what I had to say – [laughs] – so I was like, I can go back to work, you know, if, if it’s necessary –
Tracey: – but I would love to be able, you know, to try, to give writing a try. To, like, try to get published, because I’d been writing, you know, on and off. We all start, like, three chapters and then don’t finish, but I’d been trying for a while, and I had joined my local chapter and a national chapter, and I was like, I really –
Sarah: And that’s, that’s pretty serious. I mean, once you join a chapter and join organization, I mean, I speak to RWA chapters every now and again, and I, and I always want to say, you know, you, you’re giving up, like, all these hours on a Saturday once a month, you’re constantly working on this. That, you’re showing up. This is, this is real. You’re a writer.
Sarah: You put in the work, you show up, you are good.
Tracey: Yes. I mean, I think that, for me, that was, you know, part of the law thing too. It’s like, if I’m interested in this, and I’m serious about this, there’s a place for people like you, so go look into it and see, and yeah, that was before I talked to him, that was before, you know, anything, but it, it was one day a month where I could go and talk to other people like me. So when the time came I said, you know, I can go back to work, it’s not a problem, but I’d really like to try this, and I mean, I, we all love our husbands, but you know, he was just like, if that’s what you want to do, you go ahead and do it. And that, that’s one of those forks in the road, you know? And, and I couldn’t have been happier. I was so happy for his support –
Tracey: – and so to, to, to have that and to never feel guilty about it and to, to be doing what I love is crazy.
Tracey: It’s exactly what you said. I love these books, and so now my job is to write them? My job is to go and hang out and meet people whose names I just see on the books? Like –
Tracey: – okay. All right.
Sarah: So one of the things we also talked about was the part of the genre that is not so great, that, that hurts when you love it so much, and you don’t see yourself in it.
Sarah: And your, your book is fixing that a little bit.
Tracey: I hope!
Sarah: Well, you have an interracial couple –
Sarah: – and it’s just sort of matter of fact. Like, that’s not the conflict.
Sarah: That’s not the thing that’s keeping them apart. It’s this whole lying and interpreting the truth and not telling people who you are.
Sarah: You know, like, other conflicts.
Tracey: That was a conscious decision for me when I knew what I was, that I was going to try to do this, and it was because I, not only was I, did I want to write a black heroine, because I wanted to see, you know, myself –
Tracey: – represented –
Tracey: – but I wanted to write what, the relationship that I had experienced. My husband is white, and it’s crazy to say, but within our relationship, if our relationship was, was a romance novel, race was never an issue in our relationship. Other people outside of our relationship were, you know, had those issues, but the things that, you know, that bonded us or when we had our fight or our black moment and proposal, none of that –
Sarah: Different, different kind of black moment.
Tracey: Different kind of – [laughs]
Sarah: it’s a whole other kind of black moment.
Tracey: Oh, different kind of black moment! [Laughs]
Sarah: Okay, just, just checking, ‘cause you know, I just, I need to be clear for, you know. Sorry.
[Laughing and laughing]
Tracey: I just walked into that! I didn’t even see it! You see? Oh, God, yeah.
Sarah: Oh, I’m sorry.
Tracey: Oh, no, that was great. That’s my whole point! Didn’t even, didn’t even see it.
Tracey: Oh, yes. But that, that is my point. Like, our things had nothing, race was not even an issue, and so I know that there are books about that and that there are people who write those stories, even those romantic stories, and that’s great if that’s what you’re looking for, but when you pick up, hopefully, you know, my book, you’re just reading a romance about two people. One is going to be white and one’s going to be black, and they’re not stupid, so they will mention it, but it’s, that is not going to be the source of the conflict. This, it’s just not, so. I, I was, that’s a conscious decision on my part. It’s like, no, that’s not the type of story that I want to tell.
Sarah: And so, has there been, among readers that have contacted you, has there been a response of, oh, my gosh, it’s me, it’s my experience, it’s my life? Have you had that yet?
Tracey: I haven’t had that particular comment. What I’ve gotten, though, what I’d hoped was that I wasn’t the only one who was picking up a romance novel with a woman of color on the front and just praying that that wasn’t part of the story. I just wanted to find a book where there was a woman on the color, black woman, woman of color, and she’d just have her own romance story, and the race wasn’t an issue. And that sounds easy, but it wasn’t. It just wasn’t for a long time. And so I hoped when I was writing my stories that there were other women out there who would pick up, you know, an interracial novel and know that, that the race wasn’t going to be an issue, and so the response I’ve gotten from people – not like there’re, you know, hordes, but the ones who have written have said, you know, that’s what I like. It’s just a romance novel. The race issue isn’t a part of it, and I appreciate that, and I like that, and so that, that, that makes me feel good. It’s also just, the idea that seeing themselves on the cover and seeing the story where they’re the heroine, it just, it reinforces the belief that we’re worthy of having stories about love told about us. That we are attractive and beautiful and worthy beings, and that people, that we are worthy of love, and it sounds like a small thing, but when you, when this is, you know, when these are the books you read, and the books are all about people falling in love and finding their Happily Ever After, and no one who looks like you is a part of that, you start to, it makes you feel as if you’re not worthy of having that experience. You’re not worthy of someone looking at you and thinking that you’re attractive, or that no one wants to read your stories. Your stories aren’t important, and so, to some it’s a small thing, but when you are the one that’s marginalized, when you don’t see yourself, it’s huge. I mean, it really is huge, so to be a part of that, to know that in some small way I am saying yes, our stories deserve to be told, we are worthy of love, we are worthy of having our moments read and talked about and, yeah, like, that part, when I get serious about it, that’s, that means a lot to me, but I try not to think about that too much, you know, ‘cause – [laughs] – I cry. So I just think about the fun stuff, but that is, it’s really important. It’s really important to me.
Sarah: So with your book, you, you get to help fix the genre, and you get to help improve it. One of the things that you said in our original interview, which I later quoted you when I was on a panel last week, was that you said, this is ours. This genre is ours. It belongs to us.
Sarah: This is our genre, and if it’s going to change, we’re going to change it.
Tracey: We’re going to change it. We, yeah, I mean, we say all the time, we talk about women and men and how we’re alike and how we’re different, and we, you know, say, well, if women were running things, you know, this, this, and this wouldn’t be a problem –
Tracey: – or this wouldn’t happen, and so –
Sarah: Like, like if men had babies, how different would medical care be, right?
Tracey: Right! Oh, my gosh, exactly. You know, or this issue of choice, but don’t let me get started. This is not that podcast, I know.
Tracey: Don’t want to have to, you know, have you have to reclassify this podcast, but – we say that all the time, but yes, this, this is ours. This is, this world is our world. Women rule this world.
Sarah: This is ours.
Tracey: And yet we still have some of these issues, so we need to, we need to do what we’re, what we talk about. If we’re going to, if we are the better angels, then that’s what we need to do. And so we know that this is a problem; let’s step up to the plate and fix it. Absolutely.
Sarah: So what is, what is next for you in your part of the genre, in the part that you get to, that you get to add to? What are you working on now?
Tracey: Well, I’m finishing up edits on the second book, so, and Love on My Mind, Adam’s friend, Michael, Mike –
Tracey: – is the one who hires Chelsea, and so book number two is Mike’s book, so I’m writing his story, and it’s between him and Chelsea’s sister, India, so, and I’ve already, I’ve already had some people who’ve been like, it looks their book is next! And I’m like, yes, their book is next. So I’m very excited about that book. India is a different heroine than I’ve written before. The three that I’ve had previously, they’re very, they’re professional women. They, they’ve got their shit together. They’re on it.
Tracey: Indy is a, she’s a free spirit, and so she does have her stuff together, but at the same time, in a different way. So she’s the type of person who works to live. She wants to experience different things, so she’ll, you know, say, I, I think I’ll travel to Nashville, and she’ll go to Nashville, and she’ll work at a bar for about three months, and she’ll meet people and soak up experiences, and then she’ll be like, yeah, I think I want to go to Seattle, and so she’ll go to Seattle and do something. And that’s, and that’s new for me, but I was, I really, really liked writing her, so. That’s the second book; it’s called Along Came Love, and that one’s coming out in October, and then the book after that is Adam’s other friend, Jonathan, and that book comes out next year.
Sarah: Are they also interracial stories?
Tracey: Yes. Yes. They will, they are all. Until someone tells me I can’t do that anymore –
Sarah: I will not be saying that. [Laughs]
Tracey: That’s what I’m writing. So, yes, and I just think about it sometimes like – [laughs] – I have to write, like, a novella at the end where, like, all these hot, gorgeous white men walk into the restaurant with all these hot, gorgeous black women like, yeah, yeah, it’s just the way it is.
Tracey: Noth-, nothing to look at over here. We’re just all out –
Sarah: Totally normal.
Tracey: Totally normal.
Sarah: So I have one last question for you, ma’am.
Sarah: What are you reading that you would like to tell people about? Now, I know I asked you this last week, and if you can’t remember and you’ve got new books, we would, I would love to hear about them, or if you want to just say the same ones, that’s fine too.
Tracey: I do, I do. I will say them all. So –
Sarah: Go ahead!
Tracey: What I am reading. So, of course, Nalini Singh fan, so I’ve just finished Allegiance of Honor and, which is the newest one that’s sort of like a story with everybody, like, everybody coming back in, and I was a little behind because of all the writing and deadlines, so I hadn’t read Shards of Hope, so I did them back to back, so that was just like, oh! Yes! [Laughs] That was great, so, Nalini Singh, love her.
Beverly Jenkins, I just read Destiny’s Captive. I did this Avon book lush where you sort of drink a glass of wine and talk about an Avon author you love, so I did Beverly Jenkins, Destiny’s Captive. That’s incredible, so good. The heroine is a pirate. I mean, she kidnaps the hero, ties him to his own boat, then steals the boat and, like, leaves him just, like, in a little dinghy and like, good luck. Good luck to you. And, so that was incredible, and then they meet back up, and it’s, like, at a house party – this is a historical, by the way – so you think, you know, she’s going to, I mean, I don’t know what they would normally do, but –
Tracey: – I wasn’t expecting –
Sarah: If there could be a contemporary with a lady pirate who kidnaps the hero –
Tracey: [Laughs] Yes.
Sarah: – I, I would be very intrigued. But as you were saying:
Tracey: Yes, right, like, how did that work? But, yeah, they meet up at this house party, and I don’t know what I was expecting. I was not expecting her to grab a sword and for them to start, like, dueling. Like, I was not expecting that, so that just kicked my ass. I was like, ah! Beverly Jenkins! Love you! And so then, since then, because I had the free time and it was RWA and there’re so many people to meet and there’re so many books to read, I’ve been reading like crazy, and so I just finished Alisha Rai’s – I hope it’s [Ray] – I talked to her; I hope it’s pronounced [Ray].
Sarah: I think it might be [Rye], but you can say [Ray], I’m –
Tracey: Is it [Rye]?
Sarah: Yeah. It doesn’t matter –
Tracey: Oh! I’m so sorry, Alisha!
Sarah: No worries!
Tracey: But Glutton for Punish-, is it Glutton for Punishment? No –
Together: Glutton for Pleasure –
Tracey: – and Serving Pleasure. [Whispers] Oh, so good! So –
Sarah: Ohhh, you didn’t –
Tracey: – good.
Sarah: – read those while you were hungry, did you?
Tracey: [Normal voice] Hungry in both senses, ‘cause I hadn’t seen my husband in, like, two and a half weeks, so, yeah. Don’t read them when you’re hungry or horny. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t. It’s, it’s, it’s not good for you.
Sarah: No, it, you cannot, those, there’s, like, a whole list of books that I say, okay, this is a great book, but you need to have food nearby.
Tracey: Oh. So. Good. And I just knew the third sister’s book was, like, next, so when it was not, I tweeted her. I was like, ‘scuse me –
Sarah: Where, where, where is it?
Tracey: – book! The book! As if I don’t know how long it takes to write a book, but I was like, get on it, please! I, I need to read that. So, yes. And then I was, I had listened to your podcast with Rebekah Weatherspoon talking about her series and the books with her and the sugar daddy, and it was like, I don’t know. That was me, I was like, a sugar daddy? Ooh, I don’t know. Yeah, liked that one too. So.
Sarah: It was just, it was so sweet. You know, I, and I, now I realize that that’s the title, like –
Tracey: That’s the title!
Sarah: – durr! But, like, I, I was expecting it to be –
Sarah: – not – yes! Thank you!
Sarah: I was expecting a lot more raunchy and –
Sarah: – darker, more, more angsty and emotional, and it was just really this sort of fluffy, sweet story.
Tracey: Just sweet and just funny. Like, her voice is totally all through it, like, I can hear her –
Tracey: – as I was reading it. So good, and then saw on your site Tessa Dare’s, one of her older books was on sale for $1.99, so I was like, yep, I’ll go ahead and get that and read that. So with Any Duchess Will Do, so yeah.
Tracey: I’m reading that now.
Sarah: You like it?
Tracey: Love it. Love, love, love. Yeah.
Sarah: She writes – and this sounds like a strange thing to say, but you can say this to a romance fan, and they understand what you mean – she writes really beautiful sex scenes that are, that are, like, they move the story in a way.
Tracey: Yes. Yes. Yes, they do. I haven’t gotten to a full-fledged sex scene, but the, like, their first kiss? Oh, my God! Like, pages of just –
Tracey: – about this kiss, and you’re, like, there and feeling it, and oh, God, yeah. So, mm-hmm. So I have, I’m, I’m so excited that, to have the time to actually read, which I haven’t been able to do for a few months, so I’m excited about that. So I have, like, about –
Sarah: Isn’t that the best?
Tracey: It is. It is, and I, and I know I’m late, but it’s like, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that I’ve, you know, that these have been out forever and I’m just getting to ‘em, ‘cause, oh! So good. And, and it’s, it reminds me why I love the genre, you know? Like, I’ve been writing for so many months and just focused on what I’m doing, and it’s so great to take a break and then read and remember why I love this and why I’m such a fan too. [Laughs]
Sarah: Thank you so much, so much for doing this again.
Tracey: You are welcome. Thank you.
Sarah: I didn’t make you cry really hard though.
Tracey: I didn’t cry as much this time. Only –
Tracey: – you know, you get me when I start talking about the whole diversity thing. I, you know, there’re certain discussions I can have when we talk about diversity that make me angry, and then there’s a certain one that make me tear up, and it will always be the seeing ourselves and being represented in that way. It just, you know, it just, it, it gets to me. It gets –
Sarah: Well, you’re, you’re coming from a place of great love and –
Sarah: – and, and, and how much you adore the genre, and how it lets you down.
Tracey: Yeah. That’s it, yeah.
Sarah: And now you, you can do something about it.
Sarah; You, you can, you can move a little bit forward where you think representation and inclusion needs to be made.
Tracey: Yes, I, I can do my part. You know, I’m going to say, yeah, exactly.
Sarah: And that’s, that’s, I mean, I, I find that really humbling.
Sarah: You know? Like, it’s not like, hey, look at me! I’m so awesome! It’s more like, okay, I can do this small thing, and hopefully it means as much to someone else as it does to me.
Tracey: That’s exactly what it is. Exactly what it – like I said, there are going to be people who write all different types of stories, there are going to be people who are more eloquent than I am about, you know, what it means just theoretically about representation, but the thing that I know that I can do is, I can write a story with these two people and hope that readers fall in love with the story and then, and, and then, and in that way, I’m contributing.
Tracey: That’s my part, that’s how I contribute, and I am totally happy with that.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s episode. I want to thank Tracey for speaking with me – twice. If you’re curious about her books or you want to find some of the things that we talked about, you can see the podcast entry at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast. I will have links to the books and the music and all of the things we talked about so that you can go and take a deep dive into Sweet Dreams romances just like I did. It took many hours, and, y’all, those covers are something else.
The music you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. This is “Strictly Sambucca” by Peatbog Faeries from their album Blackhouse, and if you’d like to buy that too I’ll have a link, because I did, and it’s awesome.
If you have taken a look at our Patreon campaign I want to say thank you again. You can find us at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. For as little as a dollar a month, three dollars a month, five dollars a month, you can support the show, help me reach some specific goals like commissioning transcripts, and generally make the show more awesome. At least, I hope it gets more awesome. I’m doing my best, you know. I’m trying to upgrade the equipment and make sure that the dog doesn’t dig a hole in the carpet. It’s too hot right now for the dog to dig a hole in the carpet. He is asleep on the floor and completely uninterested in digging a hole, and it’s really kind of a disappointment. If I had any noisy cats or dogs I would put them in the show now, but everyone’s sleeping like the lazy, furry creatures they are.
So, on behalf of Tracey and myself and everyone here, we want to wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.