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Author Interview: Scott Tracey

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Today, I am delighted to be interviewing with Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes!

Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden’s powers to unlock Belle Dam’s secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father–and Trey, the enigmatic guy he’s falling for, is Catherine’s son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.

First, how does it feel to be getting published? Was there anything about the publication process that you found surprising or interesting?

It's a little strange to actually get close to the day when I can say I'm a "published author." It's one thing to dream about some day seeing your name in print, and a whole other one for it to actually happen.

I think one of the most surprising things for me is just how many people get invested in your book.  As the author, you have an editor you deal with, and then someone from the publicity department as you get closer to release date, but there's a ton of other people behind the scenes who get involved.  The art department who mocks up your cover, the copyeditors that make sure you know how to use the word 'its' properly, and everyone in house that reads your book in advance.  Not to mention the book bloggers who do so much promotion on your behalf, and the readers who can't stop talking up your book.  It's crazy.

How did you come up with the idea of witch eyes?
The idea of the witch eyes came from an ordinary day.  I was working mostly evenings at the time, so when I'd leave my apartment, the sun would be setting, and it would blind me as I stepped foot outside my apartment.  This led to me thinking about people who are allergic to sunlight, or photophobic.  So then I wondered, what if there was a supernatural cause to light sensitivity like that?  And the nature of the witch eyes came from there.

Where did the name 'witch eyes' come from?  I'm not sure - I knew the power that Braden had needed some sort of name for it, but the first day I sat down to write, the term 'witch eyes' popped up in the first few paragraphs.  And as soon as I saw it, I knew that was what I was going to title the book, too. Flux liked the title, and thankfully let me keep it.

Witch Eyes sounds like an epic read. Tell us a little about your writing process and how you balanced the real world with the supernatural.
My writing process is really simple. I have giant stereo headphones that I put on, turn up a playlist of songs that 'fit' the book, and then try to spend a few hours at a time working.  Some days it's easier than others, but when I'm seriously drafting, I do at least 2 or 3 heavy 'rounds' of writing per day.  I usually draft fast, as a result.

It was really important for me to try to bring the city of Belle Dam to life. One of the things that I did was to figure out exactly where Belle Dam would be located (it's a town in Washington state), and once I found one that fit all my criteria, I started researching. So Belle Dam is an original town, but it's directly influenced by a real life counterpart. So I look at weather patterns, natural resources in the area, etc.

I also spent a lot of time figuring out how the people of Belle Dam cohabitated with this magical, supernatural underground all around them.  Certain aspects of the feud came to light as a direct result of this, and gave me a lot of unique perspectives to play with.

A picture of a town that resembles Belle Dame, the city where the events of Witch Eyes takes place

What do you believe makes your story unique? (Well, it obviously is, but we'd love to hear your take on it!)
Well, I think one of the most obvious things is that the book has a gay narrator, even though his sexuality is one of the least important things about him.  Belle Dam is a city full of secrets, and Braden's arrival brings some to light, while exposing even more secrets waiting in the wings.  It's a novel filled with intrigue - everyone has an agenda, and Braden has the unenviable task of trying to figure out the truth before something terrible happens.

Your novel features a gay couple, and I saw on your guest post at the Gay YA blog that you believe novels featuring gay characters should focus more on the story. Would you talk a little about this to the readers at Imaginary Reads?
Sure. I think that there are many different kinds of books about gay characters.  Two of the biggest are the coming out novel (in which the character has to come to terms with his sexuality) and the dealing with adversity novel (in which the character has to deal with the rest of the world coming to terms with his sexuality).  I think there's a growing need for novels where the characters aren't defined by their sexuality, which we're starting to see more and more of in supporting roles.  One of the most important things for me in writing Witch Eyes was to write a book where the character's sexuality never defines him, and there's nothing to come to terms with because he accepts who he is wholeheartedly.

Why do you believe that there have been so few stories like this out there? What would it take to get more of these stories in the market?
I think it's just a business decision at this point - the belief that the only people who would read a novel with a gay protagonist are gay people and possibly some women readers.  All it will take is for one book with a gay protagonist to catch on, and that trend will start to change, and you'll start to see more and more books coming out.

We've definitely seen this happen with the swarm of dystopian novels flooding the market recently! If you could see into the world as it truly is like Braden, what would you look into?
First off, I would say I would NEVER want to see the world the way Braden does, haha. It's a horrible, painful process.  It's like memorizing everything that ever happened the entire year of fifth grade in one single moment.  Not so much fun.  Even using his powers just a little bit gives him nosebleeds, headaches, or migraines.

But if I had to, I'd want to go to one of the really old castles in Scotland or Ireland, and just look around for a while and absorb all the history, and sift through generations of emotions and memories.

What would you like readers to get from reading your novel?
I just hope that readers walk away enjoying the novel. I think, if you read into it a little bit, Witch Eyes tells you a bit about how the only person who can define who you are, is you. And that the things that are different about you aren't always the things that matter most.

Quickshot questions:
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would you choose?
Teleportation over long distances.  Because being able to teleport across the room would not be as cool as popping into Paris for lunch.

It's always smart to read the fine print when asking for magic powers. In honor of the advent of summer, what would be your ideal vacation spot?
I'd love to live in a cabin on a lake for a few months.  Either that, or getting dropped into the middle of England to live and work.

Personally, I'd go with the first choice. What could be more relaxing than a few months in a cabin on a lake? If you could bring one extraterrestrial creature to life, what would it be?
Can we go with supernatural creature? Because I would choose witches. Obviously. ;) Who wouldn't want to have magic powers?

I don't know, but that person isn't me! Do you have a playlist for Witch Eyes?
I do!
  1. "Unbreakable" by Fireflight is the main song on my playlist, but almost every character has their own theme song.
  2. "The City is at War" - Cobra Starship
  3. "What Would Happen" - Meredith Brooks
  4. "The Running Free" - Coheed and Cambria
  5. "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid" - The Offspring
Nice. Now, I want to get me a theme song of my own. Tell us five random facts about yourself.
  1. I'm left handed.
  2. When I was younger, I thought that anyone could learn to fly like Superman, they just needed enough momentum. That's how I broke my arm the first time.
  3. My favorite book growing up was The Secret Garden.
  4. My imaginary friend was an old man named Henry.
  5. My favorite food is probably tuna casserole.

Thanks for interviewing with us, Scott!

Tracey's Website | Facebook | Twitter

Scott Tracey lived on a Greyhound for a month, wrote his illustrated autobiography at the age of six, and barely survived Catholic school (and definitely not for the reasons you might think). His gifts can be used for good or evil, but rather than picking a side, he strives for BOTH (in alternating capacity) for his own amusement. He is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

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