Meet Debut Author Tracy Sumner
Readers are talking about Tracy Sumner’s debut, Carolina Rose, set in her native South Carolina. Subversion managed to catch up with Tracy before she started packing up her belongings for a move to Utah—a long way from home and a long way from favorite city, Chicago.
Read our review of Carolina Rose
Subversion: What was your inspiration for Carolina Rose?
Tracy Sumner: Gone With The Wind and Margaret Mitchell, Vows by LaVyrle Spencer (the first romance I ever read), Stephen King. Any great book—Anna Karenina, A Separate Peace, A Knight In Shining Armor. Oh, so many—romance and other genres—Jane Austen. If you love to write, or it nags at you, any great piece of writing will inspire. No particular inspiration for Adam and Charlie’s story—they just sort of popped into my head.
S: What were your reasons for choosing a pre-Civil War setting for this story?
TS: Well, to be honest, I wanted to stay away from major conflict of this type. Plus, I’m very interested in the Civil War (as a Southerner) but not too interested in my romances being set in this time period. However, Carolina Rose is set in 1850 and there was a lot of political trouble brewing then, especially in journalism, as I do mention.
S: One of the interesting things about Carolina Rose was the way you let the reader fill in the blanks. For example, you aren’t entirely explicit about the villain’s motives. Why did you utilize this particular literary device?
TS: Literary device? Really … (g) I needed a villain, had a clear picture of him in my head, but never felt the need to actually bring him into any scenes. He creates a sense of urgency in Charlie and frustration and anger in Adam without ever being seen.
S: What messages do you think that romance novels send to readers? Did you find yourself consciously writing Charlie as a positive role model for other
TS: No, but I could never respect a weak woman and would probably never write about one either. Message? I read romance because I love the stories and write them for the same reason. I never try to send a message except a story of love between two people.
S: Can you tell us more about your writing background? Why romance? Do you write, or want to write, in other genres?
TS: I majored in Journalism—Master’s in Media Arts/Scriptwriting—although I don’t think “special training” is necessary in any way. A love of romance, the ability to create another world, interesting characters, is the talent here. I write romance because I like to read romance. Simple. Right now, I’m concentrating on learning the business side of this genre and am not interested in writing for another one.
S: How do you develop your stories – which comes first, the characters or the plot?
TS: Characters!!! I see them—maybe a scene pops into my head—then I go from there. I’m not a high plotter, I tend to write very emotional, character-driven stories.
S: What are you working on now? Can you tell us more about it?
TS: I’m working on my second full-length novel, Tides of Love, set for release in October 2000. [The story:] In 1888, a bitter family rift forced Noah Garrett to flee his home, with nothing but a split lip, the taint of a dark secret branding his soul, and a burning desire to forget the brothers he loved. Forget Elle Beaumont, the impetuous girl who loved him. Now Noah’s a man dedicated to science and rational judgment—a marine biologist who doesn’t believe the past holds any power over him.
High-spirited, strong-willed Elle Beaumont is determined to mend her reckless ways. No more flights of fancy about finishing college. No more delusions about her ladies’ school being financially independent. No more dreams of children or true love. Paltry goals for the impulsive beauty, but she’s learned life’s lessons the hard way. The worst of which still stings years later. Her reward for foolishly exposing her youthful heart to love … a love legendary in Pilot Isle for its one-sidedness.
S: How have your life experiences influenced your writing?
TS: I have lived in Asia and Europe, so perhaps I have a different view of life, who knows? Since I write historicals, I don’t think this influences me, because you have to enter a type of dream world—a world that is gone.
S: What are your favorite books/authors? Any favorites that you like to recommend to readers?
TS: I love Judith Ivory, LyVyrle Spencer, Nora Roberts—oh, too many wonderful authors to list here. Try new writers, though!! There are many of us out there, and we’re good (g).
S: What (other than reading or writing) hobbies do you enjoy? Any special talents or skills that you’d like to mention?
TS: Interests: my ferret, Clemson University football, reading, movies (1930’s and 40’s are my favorite). Ethnic foods: Indian, Thai, Korean.
S: The desert island question: assuming that fresh water is plentiful and that bananas are chock full o’ protein, what item(s) would be essential until you could be rescued?
TS: Books! I get panicky if I go to the post office without a book in my hand. What if I have to wait in line for ten minutes? Good reading
time. Oh, and I would have to have contact lenses or glasses—blind without them. Are there men on this desert island?
S: Any additional comments for your readers?