Meeting the lovely Tracy Grant was another benefit to my relationship with Catherine Coulter. We got to know one another at one of CC’s lunches a couple of years ago, and I’ve been entranced with her work ever since. She’s a very interesting woman – I mean, come on, how many people do you know who studied fifteenth-century British history at Stanford, co-wrote with their mom, and love opera? Tracy is now writing in the fascinating vein of fellow favorites of mine, Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig, whose work come alive on the page as history mixed with a dash of romance and a lot of suspense. I can’t recommend her enough both as a person, and a writer. She’s the bomb.
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
"Children will Listen" from Into the Woods. The original Broadway cast, though I also listen to the movie version.
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
A scene set at the London docks involving a runaway child. It’s from my as yet untitled WIP, the next book in my Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch Regency/Napoleonic historical mystery series.
What’s your latest book about?
THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, which comes out tomorrow (May 15) begins with Malcolm and Suzanne woken in the middle of the night by a friend who is a Bow Street Runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been murdered in his St. James's Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was found standing over the dying duke. Laura has been a minor character in the series. It was fun exploring her story - and her secrets.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
At home curled up in an armchair. In Peet’s Coffee & Tea with a latte or a cup of Earl Grey. Or in the play park or Pottery Barn Kids while my daughter plays. I write on a MacBook Air using Scrivener, but sometimes I take notes by hand. I’m very attached to my Cross pen.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Different books at different ages, but THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer was a favorite from about 10 on.
What’s your secret talent?
I'm good at seating arrangements. Would come in handy if I found myself in one of my novels.
What book are you reading now?
WHO BURIES THE DEAD by C.S. Harris. Love this series!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I actually can't remember not wanting to be a writer, but the first I remember consciously thinking about it was in 3rd grade when we were assigned a story in school and characters and scenes poured out of me. From then on I was always writing something.
Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?
Jane Austen and Tom Stoppard. I suppose it's conceivable I could meet Tom Stoppard someday. I think I'd be starstruck to the point of incoherence.
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
"Don't get it right, just get it written." My mom, Joan Grant, with whom I wrote 8 books, had it taped to her computer.
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
Tell myself I just have to write 100 words and then I can take a mini-break, check email, look at Facebook or Twitter, read a few pages. Then another 100 after the mini-break. I can nearly always come up with 100 words (and usually when I read them over they aren't as bad as I fear).
Are you creatively satisfied?
Yes very. As long as I'm working on a book!
What would you like to be remembered for?
My writing. And, by my daughter, for being a good mom and inspiring her to be creative.
Alright, now for the really important questions:
Beach or mountains? Beach.
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Lattes or Earl Grey tea while I'm working.
Skydive or bungee jump? I like to create adventures for my characters rather than have them myself, but if I had to pick probably bungee jump.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Though I love vanilla lattes!
Winter or summer? Winter. Good writing weather.
Cake or pie? I have to pick? Cake.
Cats or dogs? Both, though right now we have 3 cats.
Pens or pencils? Pens.
Truth or dare? Probably truth. Of course I might change my mind if I heard the question...
Print or ebook? Both. I still love print books and buy them. But I got an iPad to read out-of-print research books and found I love reading on it, so that's actually how I do most of my reading now.
Tracy Grant studied British history at Stanford University and received the Firestone Award for Excellence in Research for her honors thesis on shifting conceptions of honor in late-fifteenth-century England. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her young daughter and three cats. In addition to writing, Tracy works for the Merola Opera Program, a professional training program for opera singers, pianists, and stage directors. Her real life heroine is her daughter Mélanie, who is very cooperative about Mummy's writing time. She is currently at work on her next book chronicling the adventures of Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. Visit her on the Web at www.tracygrant.org.
And here's a little more about THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, in stores everywhere tomorrow!
In the elegant environs of Mayfair, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch live a seemingly charmed life. Malcolm, a former diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent, is a rising Member of Parliament. Suzanne is fast becoming one of London’s most sought hostesses. But even their closest friends don’t know that the Rannoch’s marriage is still reeling from the revelation that Suzanne was a French spy when she met British agent Malcolm and that she married him to gather information on British plans. Malcolm and Suzanne are hoping for private time to repair their marriage. But their peace is shattered by a late night visit from a Bow Street runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been found murdered in the study of his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was standing over the dying duke.
Malcolm and Suzanne are convinced the woman they trusted with their children is not a killer. To prove Laura’s innocence, they are drawn into an investigation that will test their wits and the fragile truce between them. But whether or not she murdered the Duke of Trenchard, Laura Dudley is certainly not what she seemed. Revelations about her identity cut dangerously close to Suzanne’s own past. Malcolm and Suzanne realize more is at stake than Laura’s life and liberty. The investigation into the Duke of Trenchard’s murder will either prove the resilience of their bond–or snap it in two.