Me: I know that, like me, Tracee Lydia Garner, is an author and, like me, she is from the Washington, D.C. area. Her latest novel is Fatal Opposition.
Me: Hi, Tracee. Although I have had the occasion to “meet” you in cyberspace where we have both participated in virtual book events, this is my first time interacting with you one-on-one. If I may ask, where exactly are you from, Tracee?
Tracee: I was born in Alexandria, Virginia though we moved from there to more of the Lorton/Springfield area when I was about 4 or 6. Alexandria has a lot of rich history and it’s a great place where many of my characters live even though I presently live closer to the Dulles Airport area and what some consider wine country east, in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Me: I’m curious: What compels you to place your story locations in Washington, D.C.?
Tracee: People always say write what you know. I don’t know where I’ve heard that but I’ve heard it A LOT and research hasn’t ever been my strong suit, not to mention the additional time it takes to really dig deep, so I write contemporary, modern-day stories set in places I’ve lived. Don’t get me wrong, I do research all the places I haven’t been and I do utilize other places up and down the east coast but I feel most comfortable writing about what’s most accessible. I will also say that due to a disability, I don’t travel as much as I’d like to and that can make hands-on research difficult. With that, I feel very fortunate to live in a culture-rich place like the D.C. area because it has literally so many places, kinds of scandals and diverse groups of folks to write about. In this area, we have always had a rich mix of people and cultures. It’s the most transient area next to California and New York, probably where almost every other person is NOT from “here”. I also think because I’m often writing about senators and police and corruption, high stakes suspense, that provides even richer aspects being here in the political front row, if you will.
And finally, I remember growing up and my Mom worked for the federal government and all of our family was like “up there in Washington” like it was this iconic place and not until I was older did I realize what a big deal the nation’s capital seems. It’s not a big deal to those of us from here, it’s no better or worse than any other major city (because I feel we’re all more alike than different) BUT, the idea of it especially to southerners – which was where my parents were from – had awe wonder and idealism. And of course it’s a bit trumped-up, that wonder, but for me it’s home and it’s a really subject-rich place to write about.
Me: That it does. How many novels/books have you had published?
Tracee: I’ve published a total of eight books. Three traditionally and five self-published.
Me: Are you a fan of self-publishing? Did you go the traditional publishing route with your books, self-publish or a combination of both?
Tracee: I am a fan of self-publishing. I was telling someone the other day that as I age, and I think more because I have a disability, I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency in life. I’m just looking around all the time and I’m silently thinking I can take charge, and I can chart my own course. Another thing that made me say “Hey, keep a-going”, was that the Kimani (a Books of Color publishing line) will be no more. There are virtually zero lines focused on people of color left and the closing of lines one by one has left a lot authors initially devastated by the news. I say “initially” because there is a hope (to me) that didn’t used to be, where your imprint and your proverbial house may be gone but with so many authors self-publishing, there’s no way (I hope) that you can’t try to get excited about doing your own thing. And truthfully, things like this happened when I had a contract. I was with BET Books, they were bought by Viacom, and eventually another line and things changed. I don’t think I’m overly emotional or dramatic but I can only imagine if I were still with a house, reading the daily closing report or shifting, or editor moving on, that there would for me (and likely others) this intense feeling of displacement and then looking for your next move. With self-publishing, you’re really always (eventually) committed to doing that and making a go of it. There’s no real shifting foundations and major pub house shake ups to worry about.
With that said, I will be candid, as I have trialed and erred my way through self-publishing, that there were many times and I still do, long for a pub house to be placed with but I feel that I will always have a feeling as there are aspects of self-publishing that anyone can grow frustrated with. Similarly, there are aspects of the traditional route that authors grow frustrated with and in either setting, you have to take both of those.
And another part of me wants to do both, to seek a traditional contract as well as self publish my work solo. I think people (an unpublished person who desires to be published) has first, a fantasized view of publishing and secondly, does not have a clue about some of the deadlines and the pressure that go along with a traditional contract. Life happens, you may or may not work full-time and you can’t always meet those deadlines or what if the book isn’t as good as your previous one? That, too, can end your career with the publishing house and then what? At the end of the day, I don’t want added pressure WITH my full-time job. I have not, but it’s certainly on the list of pursuits when I’m no longer working for the man and when writing/speaking/teaching can be my sole endeavors…. but again at one’s own pace is the main point here.
Me: I understand. Who are your literary influences?
Tracee: My early influences include Sandra Kitt, Debbie Macomber, Brenda Jackson and Rochelle Alers. Currently, I still love all of those authors but have added more and more Christian authors to my list such as Jacqueline Thomas, Jullie Lessman and Irene Hannon.
Me: What do you think is the future of books, electronic and physical versions, in the 21st Century?
Tracee: I think books will be a mainstay of our future and I’m thankful. I think that audio books will continue to grow as they have in the last few years because of the time constraints and diversified interest we as creative/go getter types of people have but honestly, digital and print will always be no matter what and I hope they continue to coexist as they do. I also think there will be a time where we get back to basics where people will desire brick and mortar stores (and not big box stores) but the stores with the huge stuffed bear in the back for children’s story time and that going to the local book shop as a family will be a thing again. I think most things, kind of like clothes, old clothes are now vintage and in great demand, will come around again. It’s just how things work, very cyclical.
Me: We can only hope. What would you like to see happen?
Tracee: I’d like to see what I’ve described for the small book shop come back, and I’d like to see more Indie Author sections period at these stores. While self-publishing has been a stigma for many, I think indie authors are finally getting the respect for quality merchandise, enough of us put out quality work (great covers and proper editing/formatting) to combat those that throw something together, making the rest of us look bad, and I think while big chains such as Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million have taken significant hits, I see some larger authors opening their own places of community where books are sold but I see this more as a genre-specific (mostly Young Adult and Romance) thing that I’d like to see go wider. I think that if we were to pool our resources, we could have/open those very bookshops or even really small nooks. I think that it’s going to happen, the small, cozy store on the corner (not big box) in You’ve Got Mail, I feel will return and that is exciting.
Me: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Tracee: I’m always writing something, whether it’s for work and such. I do enjoy marketing aspects of my writing. With the inception of Canva, I’ve become a bit of a graphic design addict and I absolutely LOVE event planning–which I do on the side, small events, fundraisers, etc., so whether it’s the next book launch party or my mother’s birthday party, putting together a great event and inviting folks to fellowship, eat of course and have fun is something I have enjoyed since I was a teenager. I’m planning my next large launch party event in the coming months, it will be for books 9-12, which is a series.
Me: What are you working on now?
Tracee: Right now I’m working on a four-book series about siblings. The Jameson family, two books I realized early on in my career, 2003 and ’04, respectively. Thus, I am now cleaning them up; changing the story line a tad and planning to release them. With that, there were two siblings more I did not write about so I will finish their stories so they can see the light of day as well. I’m also writing a novella, featuring a character with a disability. This is an anthology that I’m working on with other authors; ALL the stories will have a main character that has a disability so I’m very excited and hopeful for that story’s impact.
Me: Wow, you are a very busy lady! Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
Tracee: Readers can visit me at any of the following and I love, love, LOVE to hear from them anytime and I always respond.
Website – www.teegarner.com
Blog – www.Teegarner.com/blog
Twitter – @Teegarner
Instagram – @Teegarner
Me: Thank you for visiting me today!
Tracee: Thank YOU so much for inviting me to chat with you.