Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pamela Tracy's Dark and Stormy Night Tale

It was a dark and stormy night as the rabid reader climbs the trellis outside the suspense novelist’s home. Looking right and left, Rabid Reader assures herself that she hasn’t been seen. Good. She’s trained for this day.

Dressed in black, she feels a bit like a cat burglar. Only it isn’t jewels she wants; it’s information.

After she climbs through the conveniently unlocked window and lands quietly on soft carpet, she tiptoes across the bedroom and looks down the hallway. There, two doors down, comes a soft light. That's the room! The office where Pamela Tracy works, writes stories, stories that have driven Rabid Reader to tonight’s deed.

Pamela: Ouch. Hey, what’s with the rope?

Rabid Reader: I’ve tied you up. Now you won’t be able to type another work until you tell me all your secrets.

Pamela: Secrets? Me? I’m on deadline? I’m too tired to have secrets.

Rabid Reader (waving the cover of Pamela’s last Love Inspired Suspense Clandestine Cover-Up) : It’s all your fault. I start these stories, and I have to read them in one setting because I have to know whodunit.

Pamela: And you’re telling me this why?

Rabid Reader: So I can finally wake up in the morning with more than five hours sleep, so I won’t be looking at my clock all day and thinking when can I get back to the book, so I won’t be at work and wondering if I’m – just like the heroines in your book - just one step from the extraordinary, so…

Pamela: I get it. You’re wondering how a suspense writer works? Specifically how I, a wife, teacher, mother, friend, come up with these plots that keep you guessing until the end?

Rabid Reader: Yeah.

Pamela: Untie me and I’ll tell you.

Rabid Reader (picking up a bookmark and aiming it at Pam): No, I don’t trust you.

Pamela: Good, never trust a suspense novelist. We just might put you in a book.

Rabid Reader: That would be grand. I love all this characterization stuff you guys do. Just what do you do?

Pamela: My heroines are always 1/3 me, 1/3 someone I know, and 1/3 spunk. My heroes depend on the book I’m writing.

Rabid Reader: What are you working on now?

Pamela: Well, right now I'm working on the line edits for a Love Inspired contemporary. It will be out in December and is called Once Upon a Christmas. Not very suspensy.

Rabid Reader: No, not very suspensy.

Pamela: You want me to talk about Clandestine Cover-Up?

Rabid Reader: Yes, I love suspense.

Pamela: Well, my hero is a handyman. He’s really Vincent D’Onofrio from Mystic Pizza, only he’s a handyman who’s afraid to commit but not afraid to come to the heroine’s rescue.

Rabid Reader: Oh, I wish I could meet him.

Pamela: Buy the book online.

Rabid Reader: I will. Hey, you have a television in your office. Way cool. What are you watching?
Pamela: Bones.

Rabid Reader: Is that your favorite show?

Pamela: No, I do like it, but I watch it for mood only. You can’t trust it for fact. See, the investigators on the show have way too much freedom with crime scenes. When I write, I have to pay attention to what my readers will believe. Personally, I don’t believe all I see on Bones. I actually am really into The Gilmore Girls right now. On DVD, of course, during their heyday I was much too busy meeting deadlines to get to watch.

Rabid Reader: Judging by your books, I’d not take you as a Gilmore Girls fan.

Pamela: My critique group actually made me stop watching the Gilmore Girls. They said I was starting to put cutesy stuff in my suspense novels.

Rabid Reader: Where’s your critique group now? If they were loyal writer buds, they’d be here rescuing you.

Pamela: They’re too busy to rescue me. We all have a three pages a day goal. Then, we meet once every two weeks for critique. They’re brutal, which a suspense writer really needs.

Rabid Reader (Finding Clandestine Cover-Up on her Kindle and waving it around): You mean, you wrote this book at just three pages a day.

Pamela: Well, I wish I’d written it in three pages a day increments. But really, I have a full-time job (college professor), a husband, a son (in elementary school) and so many other things to do (clean house, attend church, judge contests) that I’d start with my three pages a book goal (Did you know that at three pages a day, you can write three books a year?) and eventually I’d be behind and start trying for five pages a day until I’d be really behind and writing ten pages a day for ten days. It works. By the time I get to the last 100 pages, I’m flying.

Rabid Reader (frowning at book): Wow, a college professor. Do most writers have day jobs?

Pamela: Yeah, I’m pretty sure.

Rabid Reader: Do you get your ideas during your day job?

Pamela: No, the book you’re holding, Fugitive Family, I got that idea while standing in line at the bank. I was looking at the mirror that shows the customer line, and I thought to myself, “Ummm, do I really look like that?” I’m pretty sure I also thought to myself, “Ummm, no more candy for me!” A whole book idea came from that moment.

Rabid Reader: A whole book idea!

Pamela: And you’re holding it in your hand.

Rabid Reader (staring at book): So, the idea came complete, all you had to do is write it?

Pamela: No, I had to write the synopsis, which is never easy for me. I always know my beginning and my end, but the middle is pretty much a mystery. I have four papers with two columns on them. I label the first column with the heroine’s name and the next column with the hero’s. Then, I starting coming up with at least three harrowing events per chapter that will happen to both. In Fugitive Family, there’s warnings posted on doors, flattened tires, tornados, corpses. Oops, I’m telling you too much. I need you to buy the book and then read it. Oh, and I also research. I found a bank manager and investigated what his life was like because I made the hero a bank manager. The heroine is a lawyer. Then, I also researched things like fallout shelters and go-go boots and stalkers and-

Rabid Reader: Stop, all of those things are in here! In one little book. See, that’s why I broke in tonight. You put all this great suspense in a book, and then I buy it, and pretty soon I’m losing sleep because I try to read it in one setting.

Pamela: I think you lose sleep because you’re reading and training to be a cat burglar when you should be sleeping.

Rabid Reader: Do you have a cat?

Pamela: Yes, his name is Tyre.

Rabid Reader (suddenly studying the walls and pictures in Pamela’s office): Do you have any jewels?

Pamela: Hey, I thought you were here to find out how I wrote books?

Rabid Reader: Yeah, but you just told me that most writers have day jobs. I’ll be a cat burglar by night and a writer by day. Thanks for helping me out.

Novelist Pamela Tracy lives in Arizona with a her husband, son, and cat. She was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and started writing at age twelve (A very bad teen romance featuring David Cassidy from the Partridge Family). Later, she honed her writing skills while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (And wrote a very bad science fiction novel that didn’t feature David Cassidy.) She’s a Carol Award winner and has been a RITA finalist. She's written for both Barbour, Summerside, and Kensington. Today, she writes both suspense and contemporary romance for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line.


  1. cool interview. I like how Rabid reader is going to turn to stealing cats or jewels (read rabid and wondered if she may have rabbies too).
    thanks for the insight.

  2. Nope, no rabies LOL. Thanks for stopping by.
    This comment was typed with a cat on my lap, one that the cat burgler didn't get!

  3. Fun blog, Pamela! I'm glad Rabid Reader didn't get the cat. :-)

  4. The cat would go willingly with anyone who provides food and petting.

  5. I LOVED it Pam! Great fun. And I LOVE the Gilmore Girls. I started late on them too a few years ago but had the best time catching up. I watch shows for the interactions and word play. Gilmore Girls has great word play between characters.
    I'm thinking you need to watch out for Rabid REader though, she doesn't sound like she's done... :)

  6. Great blog, Pam. You are so creative!!!

  7. Loved this! It's so nice to know I'm not the only one whose page goals go awry!

  8. Pam you better watch out I love cats and would dearly love one. I would feed and pat! (One place I clean gained 2 kittens. they are getting friendlier but I go there and they run for the hills I am getting a complex!)

  9. Deb,
    Yes, by the time I found the Gilmore Girls, they were already off the telly. Every holiday, my hubby bought the next season (he accidentally purchased season four twice!) Luke has been a hero in one of my books. Not Lorilei, though, sometimes I wanted to slap her. Shhh, don't tell.

  10. Oh, Sandra, if only what I want to do each day meshed with what I have time for, I'd been a five book a year writer

  11. My cat is fairly new, Jen. He's a rescue. He was meant to be with me. Now, to talk hubby into the puppy!

  12. Thanks Rhonda, I wrote it a long time ago for a magazine. I just can't seem to do things the normal way.

  13. Cute post, Pam. :)


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