Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today I’ve invited Fran Tracey to join us. Welcome to the Clubhouse.
Thank you for the invite, Paula. This Clubhouse is something special. And the cakes are out of this world.
Yes, they always have a great selection. My first question to you is what would you like to drink?
Oh my favourite beverage Kir royale, if not sparkling water, please, Paula.
Right, now we have our orders let’s start with, what writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I love writing with a distinct and strong voice, whether it’s that of a child or an older person, a lover or someone with nefarious intent. I like it to be consistent (if unreliable). I look out for voice when I read too, and enjoy characterisation and dialogue. I could most certainly improve my plotting – which is why I stick to short stories with the odd foray into serials and novellas.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I’m in the midst of a serial for My Weekly which will be published in the middle of 2021. It’s set in the wonderful country of Oman and focusses on ecological issues, and in particular turtles. I love travel and like to set a story in every country I’ve visited. We visited Oman a few years ago with our kids and loved the quiet reserve of the place, and it’s beauty too, of course. I was invited to send a serial idea to My Weekly, and I came up with this.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have dozens of unfinished stories on my laptop. Some I go back to, some I don’t. Because they are shorts I’m not very precious about them. If a story doesn’t work, it doesn’t. I am happy to let it go, in the words of the Disney princess .
Do you write a synopsis first, write the first chapter or plan your short stories, or play or poetry do you plan your story ( poem), or let the characters lead you.)
I very much let the characters lead me – I’m primarily a short story writer for women’s magazines. I often begin with a snippet or a scenario, often taken from life. I then fictionalise it and start with my MC, who is often a woman. I often have an idea of the thread of the story, and the ending – in general terms – so I work my way towards the end with my characters in charge.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Oh, that’s a good question. I would say Carson McCullers, and in particular I was influenced by The Member of the Wedding which I believe was well ahead of it’s time in exploring adolescence, identity and one’s place in the world. I like writing about people who don’t quite fit, although as I write for the magazine market, they either fit by the end of the story, or are on their way, or at least happy with who they are. I have an idea for a novel that is darker than my magazine fiction in which I’d like to explore the idea of not quite fitting a bit more; a story with a co-dependent friendship at the heart of it. I love fiction that is uncomfortable at times, especially exploring the discomfort of relationships.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I think all of my characters have some aspects of real people in them. People I’ve known or seen, but just fragments and it’s not necessarily conscious or deliberate. They will usually be an amalgam. Whether anyone would recognise themselves – hmm. A couple of people have, but not in a negative way. Not yet! If someone tells me an anecdote that I think will work well in fiction I’m quite open about filing it away for later, but would never break a confidence.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
That I’m a published erotica writer (and tutor). I don’t keep it a secret, mind, and am proud that my best paying gig – £1000 for 1000 words – was winning the first Ann Summers erotica competition.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write for a long morning when I’m in the midst of a project – 8am – 2pm (ish) on weekdays. I have school age kids, so that suits my day. I work at home in the main, at the dining room table, but if I’m a bit distracted (fairly often…) I go out to work in a cafe, local gardens or woods, weather permitting.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
See previous answer! Yes, I do. It was tricky to come up with – but is a combination of my favourite designer (Izzy Miyake) and my favourite country – France – Izzy French.
How do you select the names of your characters? & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I’m a bit slapdash with names and backstory. I scroll through lists of names and choose one I think will work, though I don’t have much idea why. As I write a lot of stories set in other countries I am more careful about choosing names particular to, say, Oman, Montenegro or Jordan – all countries I’ve used as settings for stories. As my stories are in mags I don’t really have photos and am lax on the whole website thing….
Thank you so much for joining me today, Fran.
Thank you for having me, Paula. Take care and continued good luck with Stone Angels!
Thank you. Here’s a link Fran’s erotic romance:
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.