AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH Tracy Lawson
Tracy Lawson knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she could read. While working toward her bachelor’s degree in communication at Ohio University, she studied creative writing with Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. After short stints as a media buyer and an investigative analyst, she settled into a twenty-year career in the performing arts, teaching tap dancing and choreographing musicals. Though her creative energies were focused on dance, she never lost her desire to write. She now has to her credit an award-winning nonfiction history book, Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More (McDonald & Woodward, 2012) and Counteract and Resist, the first two volumes in the young adult dystopian Resistance Series.
Tracy splits her time between Dallas and Columbus, Ohio.
What are your favorite authors?
It’s hard to narrow it down–but I would say the authors who have influenced me at various points in my writing include Daniel Keyes, who was my creative writing instructor at Ohio University, Lois Duncan, who pretty much created the YA thriller genre, Roland Smith and Margaret Peterson Haddix, who both do a great job of crafting suspenseful stories for middle-grade and YA readers, and of course, JK Rowling–because she’s created stories that have captured the whole world’s imagination.
What are your favorite genres to write? What are your favorite aspects of writing?
I love writing for young adults, and I love plotting out the twists and turns of a thriller. Even though my stories are more in the action/adventure category, there is an element of romance. I probably spend the most time on the romantic scenes. It’s fun to remember the angst and awkwardness that goes with first love and guide my characters through it.
What time do you do most of your writing? Do you usually type or write your first draft?
I prefer to let the new ideas flow in the afternoon. If I can, I sit outside and write with pen and paper (I’ve also been quite productive on long flights). Then I let the written words gel and revisit them in a day or two. When I transfer it all into the computer, my scenes take shape.
Do you have any writing habits?
I am superstitious about the legal pads I use for writing, They are only for writing. I mean it. Don’t balance the checkbook or make a grocery list on that legal pad. It zaps the creative energy!
How long does it take to write your first draft?
The first draft of Counteract took a while–but I wasn’t working on it steadily. It was about three years from the first idea to a publishing contract. I got faster after that. Resist only took about a year.
Are you a self-publisher?
I have a traditional publisher for my nonfiction books. I had a different publisher for Counteract, but between Counteract andResist, it became apparent that I was going to need to make changes. I severed ties with my publisher, regained the rights to Counteract, and released it in a second edition concurrently with Resist, the second book in the series. I enjoy being in control and making the decisions for my books. I used to think that having a publisher–any publisher–made my books better or more legit that self publishing, but it’s simply not true. There are so many options available to authors these days. I think I’ll be a hybrid for a while and see how it goes!
What’s your most recent book?
Resist, the second book in the Resistance Series, was released on August 25, 2015.The narrative in Resist picks up right where it left off at the end of Counteract, and it was helpful to use that momentum and immediately draw the reader into the action as Tommy, Careen, and the other members of the Resistance flee OCSD headquarters, dodging roadblocks and the quadrant marshals. Writing Resist was different because I already knew the characters well. That’s not to say it was easy! I had to be careful to bring all the loose ends from Counteract forward as the narrative continued.
On your recent book, what inspired you to write it?
I’ve always wanted to be an author, but for most of my adult life my job as a dance teacher required most of my creative energy. I was planning to retire from most of my dance duties when my daughter graduated high school, so I focused on writing during her junior and senior years. I finished Counteract and began submitting it to publishers right before she left for college. I love reading mysteries and thrillers, and I’ve spent the bulk of my teaching career working with kids and teenagers, so it made sense to write for a young adult audience.
BOnus Book Info
Who do you trust when your world unravels and everything you believed is a lie?
For the past fifteen years, The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has guarded the public against the rampant threat of terrorism. Teenagers Tommy and Careen have never known life without the government-approved Civilian Restrictions. For them, there’s no social media. No one is allowed to gather in public places or attend concerts or sporting events. Only a small, select group of adults have driving privileges. It’s a small price to pay for safety.
Now a new, more deadly, terrorist threat looms: airborne chemical weapons that can be activated without warning. The OCSD is ready with an antidote to counteract the effects of the toxins. Three drops a day is all it takes. It’s a small price to pay for health.
Tommy and Careen obediently take the antidote; neither considers stopping when
strange things begin to happen. The day the disaster sirens signal the dreaded attack, Tommy shares his last dose with Careen, even though doing so might hasten his death. It’s a small price to pay for a friend. Follow Tommy and Careen as they uncover a web of lies and deceit reaching to the highest levels of the United States government and join an underground resistance group that’s determined to expose the truth.
Interested in learning more? Check out these links.
Tracy’s website and blog: http://counteractbook.com