~ Interview by Melina Kantor
It’s our pleasure to welcome bestselling author Tracy Brogan to the blog! She’s here to tell us about beginning her writing career at the age of 11, switching between genres, her new book, and to share some wonderful advice.
Q: You wrote your first love story at the age of eleven. What prompted you do to so? What was the story about?
A: It was a hormone-filled saga about the trials and tribulations of being an eleven year old girl in love with a boy who considered baseball more important than romance. Little did I realize then how things would never really change!
Q: You write both historical and contemporary romance. What is it like to switch between genres?
A: I love the variety and opportunity to stretch my voice in different directions. Because my contemporary romances are so light-hearted, and humor is a main element, I like to explore darker themes and deeper emotions with my historical work. Writing in both genres suits my mood swings.
Q: In your opinion, what is the appeal of contemporary romance?
A: Contemporary romance allows readers to really engage in the story. Not everyone wants to imagine sitting around in a corset and ball gown, but every woman (and man) can imagine being thrust into new circumstances and falling in love. Relatability is key to any good story and I think contemporary romance provides that.
Q: Your latest novel, The Best Medicine, is a contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Bell Harbor. Please tell us a bit about the book.
A: Evelyn Rhoades is a career-minded, thirty-five year old plastic surgeon who suddenly realizes she forgot to get married. Her professional reliance on scientific data makes her think using a computerized matchmaking service is the way to go, but when the totally wrong man crashes into her life by way of a stolen Jet Ski, Evie learns that in matters of the heart, love defies logic.
Q: What was your process for developing the world of Bell Harbor over a series of novels?
A: I’m from Michigan and so have spent lots of time in beach towns. Bell Harbor is a conglomeration of several different places, and the house in Crazy Little Thing is actually based on a cottage my crazy Aunt Margaret owned. And yes, there was a moose head. When I wrote The Best Medicine, I had a few landmarks, such as Arno’s restaurant, and Jasper’s place, so I just built from there. As far as character’s go, I wrote Crazy as a stand-alone story, so when the opportunity to make that a series came along, I wanted to weave in those beloved characters. Every story needs a little Dody in it!
Q: Your characters have some interesting professions. In The Best Medicine, your heroine Evelyn Rhoades is a plastic surgeon. What type of research goes into learning about your characters’ professions?
A: My husband is a physician and my previous career was in medical education so I’ve spent a great deal of time working with doctors, residents, and medical students. I just utilized that exposure. Although I did use this book as an excuse to go see a plastic surgeon to see if she could make me look ten years younger! Sadly, she cannot.
Q: Evelyn hopes to meet the love of her life through online dating and a list of criteria. You even created a site called Bell Harbor Singles. What is your opinion of Internet dating?
A: I’ve been happily married for a long time, so when I decided to write a book about a matchmaking service, I had to do some research. I told my husband I was investigating online dating services. He was far less threatened by this than I’d hoped, but I did find some interesting things from the website, such as the height preferences ranged from three to eight feet. I found that funny, so I included it in the book. (FWIW, I dated someone who was 6’7” and that presented a few interesting challenges.) Computer dating doesn’t go so well for Evie in the book but that’s because she wasn’t insightful enough to look for the “right” qualities. If I was single now, I’d definitely give computer dating a try! I have several friends who met their spouses via website matchmaking!
Q: Tyler Connelly, hero of The Best Medicine, couldn’t be more different from Evelyn. He’s significantly younger, unemployed, and somewhat irresponsible. Yet, you make it work. Have you always been a fan of “opposites attract?” What makes “opposites attract” such a special trope?
A: The idea of opposites attracting is fun because it lends itself to the belief that some relationships are just “meant to be” even if, on the surface, they look like they shouldn’t work. I also think the challenge and the “power struggle” in relationships is something that keeps them fresh and exciting. If you agree all the time, I guess that’s nice… but it seems like it might get a little dull! Not that you should be fighting all the time, but a nice intellectual dispute once in a while is a good thing. It stops one person from taking the other for granted.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished a third Bell Harbor novel called Love Me Sweet and I’m so excited about this one! It’s the story of Tyler’s older brother, Grant. He’s an action-adventure show cameraman who reluctantly joins forces with a reality TV star on a road trip to romance. It’s super fun, and in the first chapter, readers will find out more about the state of Evie and Tyler’s relationship. Next up for me is a World War II story that I have been longing to write so I’m really looking forward to sinking in to that project!
Q: Do you have any advice for authors just starting out or working on getting published?
A: Diana Gabaldon gave some great advice at an RWA conference about this. She said, “Read. Write. Don’t stop.” So I say read, read, read. Write, write, write. Figure out what it is about your favorite books that makes them your favorite books. Take a few writing craft course. There are great online options for this. And give yourself permission to write lousy drafts. Wallow in the stinky-ness of just how bad it is! The important thing is to get the ideas down on paper (or on screen) and worry about shining them up later. This is a hard job and it doesn’t get easier after you sign the contract, but it’s so worth it. I just told my agent that my “reward” for finishing my last book was the freedom to start plotting the next one, so for me, writing is both the illness and the cure!
Thank you so much, Tracy!
To learn more about Tracy, visit her at http://www.tracybrogan.com.