Traci L. Slatton-Interview with the Author
TRC: Hi Traci and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of COLD LIGHT-the latest in your After Trilogy.
Traci: Thanks! And thanks for having me at The Reading Cafe. This is fun!
Link to : Traci’s Website
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Traci: When people ask where I grew up, I say, “Around,” because my dad was in the military and we moved around the US a lot. But I liked that because it gave me a chance to see different ways that people live. I am now married to classical figurative sculptor Sabin Howard www.sabinhoward.com . He is really the best in the world at what he does, but he keeps leaving his dirty bicycle shorts on the dining room chair, and he doesn’t know how to clean up after himself in the kitchen…. I have three daughters and a stepdaughter. We all belong to two labs, a chocolate and a yellow. My favorite places in the world are Cape Cod and Florence and Rome and Paris.
TRC: Many authors begin their love of writer at an early age. What was the catalyst that started you on the road to writing?
Traci: When I was 6 years old, I went from reading “See Spot Run” to reading novels. I fell in love with books and there was no holding me back. After a few months I read my first novel. It was about a child who had died and was watching his family from heaven. It moved me deeply and my emotional response made a big impression on me. I thought, “I want to do this! I want to move people the same way!” After that, writing novels was the longing that led me through my life. It still is.
TRC: What challenges have you faced as a writer?
Traci: Whew, there have been a lot! I came from a family that had not had a lot of education, and I was the first person in my family to go to college. Then, even though I was determined to write novels, it didn’t come naturally. I had to reinvent the wheel several times to figure out how to structure a story and to create characters. I’m still learning.
I’ve had a gazillion rejections; that’s a 1 with a hundred 0’s after it. I could wallpaper my whole apartment over in rejection letters. There was even a journalist who read a first draft of something I wrote–this was back in the days before spellcheck was automatic, and I hadn’t even spellchecked the document–and he trashed my writing in print, in a book he wrote. Transference is a bitch, right?
I’ve been through a bunch of agents and now there’s some funky stuff going on in publishing, because the advent of Print on Demand technology and eBooks have revolutionized the field, in the same way the Gutenberg Press did five hundred years ago. Authors really have to watch out. The brave new world of publishing offers unparalleled opportunities to authors, but there are some sharky literary agents doing the wrong thing, eg, running their own epublishing houses and getting their authors to pay them for it. Not cool!
TRC: FALLEN is the first book in your After Trilogy. Would you please tell us about the premise of the novel?
Traci: FALLEN is set after a global ecological cataclysm has killed billions of people and devastated the planet. Most of the structures, both physical and social, are gone. Emma is an American woman caught in France with her daughter on “The Day,” and she struggles to stay alive. As she travels south, seeking safety, she takes on seven other children. She becomes the de facto mother to a little band of survivors whose safety she is desperate to ensure.
TRC: There is plenty of reference to ecological and biological warfare etc. How mush research was involved with the writing of this particular series?
Traci: You know, I always do a lot of research. Some of it is on the internet, some of it comes from books, some comes from talking to people. I was sitting at a dinner for an arts organization and the man next to me ran a company that makes blankets that are actually solar energy cells–so I used that idea.
TRC: COLD LIGHT is the second instalment in the series. Would you please tell us something about the novel?
Traci: COLD LIGHT picks up about a year and a half after FALLEN ends. In COLD LIGHT, Emma is back in Canada. Her older daughter is kidnapped by raiders, and Emma sets out to get her back. Along the way she encounters some old friends and has faces some heart-wrenching choices…
TRC: If you could virtually cast the characters in the After Trilogy, which actors or models would you use for the major characters within the series?
Traci: For Emma, I’d love to see Natasha McElhone or Kate Hudson. Both women project a good balance of serious and humorous, and they come off as soulful. For Arthur, maybe Scott Elrod with his hair dyed black. For Vasily, since we’re dreaming, Anthony Hopkins. For Laurette, Emma Stone with her hair dyed dark–Emma Stone can be sassy and arch in just the right way for Laurette. For Robert, a young red-haired Irish actor. For Alexei, Alexander Skarsgard, who brilliantly plays a handsome sociopath. For James the doctor, Noah Wylie. What do you think?
TRC: Did you face any difficulties or challenges getting this series published?
Traci: It was originally represented by a famous NYC literary agent who claimed to love it. After a few publishing houses passed on it, she tried to get me to let her epublish it, and she would take 15% of the profits–and I would pay for the conversion to an ebook. But I had already done a lot of research into independent publishing because of a sculpture book I was writing with my husband, “THE ART OF LIFE.”
It’s unethical for agents to open their own epublishing branches. Several of them are doing so, and it’s just not OK. It presents a conflict of interest for agents. I’ve heard too many stories about novels that went around to publishers several times and were rejected by twenty editors before the twenty first editor picked it up–and turned it into a bestseller. An agent with his/her own epublishing enterprise simply won’t be motivated to work as hard, and to persist as long, in getting a book sold to a traditional publisher.
I politely declined with this agent and asked her to represent the foreign rights, because my first novel IMMORTAL did very well around the world. But she was pretty mad that I didn’t want to give her a lot of money to do something I could do for myself more cheaply, so she dumped me.
TRC: Writers Block is a very real phenomenon for many authors. How do you handle the stress and anxiety of Writers Block?
Traci: Darn good question!! Even to say those words, “w- b-” is like a golfer saying “shanks.” It makes you feel jinxed. This is me knocking on wood and making the sign of the cross and throwing salt over my shoulder!
Physical exercise really REALLY helps me. Joyce Carol Oates writes about authors running. I don’t run anymore because I value my hips and knees and I want to keep them in good condition until I’m 90 years old. But I have a regular yoga practice and I like to get on a stairmaster or elliptical trainer at the gym. Cardio REALLY gets the ideas flowing.
I also walk a lot. Dickens used to walk all over London at night. Walking seems to shake things loose in my head. Then, if I’m really blocked, I start going to the movies a lot. That helps the creative juices flow.
TRC: With whom do you bounce ideas?
Traci: I try to bounce ideas off my husband, but Sabin is obsessed with sculpture and just kind of nods at me. He’s a good reader of a first draft.
I ruminate a lot. Sabin says writers are lost in their thoughts much of the time.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Traci: I’m working on a historical novel set in Germany during WW2 and the last book of the After Trilogy. Also taking notes on a fable called SHOE. I’ve written about five chapters of a bittersweet romantic comedy called THE YEAR OF LOVING.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Traci: YES, thank you: I wish you and your readers much JOY OF READING!
See above, chocolate. Chocolate is a reason to incarnate in the physical body!
Favorite TV Show
Tie: Splash and The Terminator
Last Movie you saw
To Rome with Love
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Last Vacation Destination
Do you have any pets?
I belong to two labs, a female chocolate named Molly and a male yellow named Gabriel. I belong to them, and so do my socks and knickers, which they see as snack food.
TRC: Thank you Traci for taking the time to answer our questions. WE are looking forward to your final instalment in the After Trilogy. Keep us in mind when you are closer to the release date.
Traci: Thanks for hosting me and you’ll be one of the first people emailed when the new book is ready!