After earning a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, Tracy worked in the clinical field before becoming a full-time writer. Marriage to a Naval Aviator for over twenty-five years has provided fodder for her imagination, especially the tours she spent traveling the globe on diplomatic orders in Rome and Madrid. Now settled back in sunny San Diego, she writes gritty romance novels, spanning genres across paranormal, historical, and military suspense. Tracy is also the founder and creator of THE CHARACTER COUCH, a reader-focused website designed to help fans keep in touch with their favorite fictional characters by providing fun monthly “therapy” sessions for a selected couple. Tracy’s a foodie and wine enthusiast, and when she’s not writing, she’s an avid dancer and tennis player. She has two children and a variety of pets at any one given time.
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Your debut launch, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a paranormal romance. What drew you to that genre?
Funny enough, I didn’t start out as a paranormal girl. I wrote (and still write) medieval historical romance. But at some point, I needed a break from the historical manuscript I was relentlessly editing. On my quest for change, I never thought I’d be lured into the paranormal side of romance (I tend to like books that lean towards realism rather than fantasy), but then I picked up the first of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. Ho, I was hooked! She made her stories feel very real; her characters are so marvelously 3-dimensional. Then Jeaniene Frost sucked me in with Cat and Bones, along with Lara Adrian and her Midnight Breed series.
I realized that there’s room for all kinds of different stories out there, and my imagination started churning toward how I could develop my own brand of otherworldly hunk.
Recently, I just about fell out of my chair when a Goodreads reviewer said my hero, “Jacken can hold his own against the best of the black dagger brotherhood.” Could there be a more incredible honor than to be mentioned alongside BDB? JR Ward is truly one of my author heroes, and to be in the same sentence as her is amazing. A big cyber hug goes out to Brenda for that compliment! A long road of work still lies ahead of me before I could hope to someday take a place next to the greatest writers in the genre, but I definitely don’t lack the drive to give it my best shot.
So you mentioned that your imagination took you toward something different. How so?
Well, first off, much of my story doesn’t take place among the human population, rather I’ve created a hidden town beneath the streets of San Diego, a sanctuary, really, for a unique race of human beings called Vârcolac. The Vârcolac have been slaughtered throughout history by people who feared they were vampires, and now they hover on the brink of extinction. They can only have viable offspring with women in possession of a special genetic makeup. When they find one of these rare women, they kidnap her. So, unfortunately, desperation to survive has turned the good guys into the bad guys. Dr. Toni Parthen, the heroine of the story, must overcome both her disbelief in the existence of a another breed of human, as well as her anger at being held against her will, before she can fall in love with the hard and frightening Vârcolac head of security, Jaċken. It makes for a wild ride!
Another way I like to keep my books dynamic is to have more than one story going on. The relationship between the hero and heroine will always take center stage, of course, but throughout The Community Series, you’ll see that I also explore one or two side relationships. I think this allows for richer storytelling, and multiple perspectives, but, mainly, I really like to push the envelope with what I put my characters through. Something that might not be acceptable to do to the hero and heroine—for me or the reader—I can throw at a side character. Remember how I said I like realism? My stories run toward gritty. In fact, I like to think of some of my scenes as “car crash scenes.” Okay, laugh, but here’s the thing: you may not think you want to look, but you can’t help yourself, and when you do…well, you’re kind of morbidly fascinated despite yourself. But, dang, I don’t want to end on that note. Let me also add that my stories are always filled with hope, and readers are guaranteed a happily ever after.
So what’s a Vârcolac? A vampire or not?
Argh, that question is more difficult to answer than you might think. Yes. And also, no. The Vârcolac have enough vampiric qualities to satisfy fans of the genre (they need to take in the blood of a host to live, for example), but they aren’t even a distant cousin to undead Dracula or anything remotely ghoulish. As I said, they’re humans—just a different breed.
So how many more books are on the horizon?
The Community is planned as an ongoing series—end date to be determined—with each book focusing on several of the Vârcolac soldiers who make up the Warrior Class. The next two novels in the series, THE PUREST OF THE BREED and DEEP IN THE HEART, are heading into edits. I’m also preparing to launch my medieval historical trilogy, and some time in 2014, I’ll be debuting a new military suspense romance series about a hot brotherhood of helicopter pilots. Something for everyone, right?
Wow, you’re busy.
LOL. Yes, and in addition to all of the books, I’ve founded a fun and engaging reader-
focused website called The Character Couch, where a couple from a favorite romance novel can go in for a lively therapy session. I say “lively” because these sessions are anything but angst-
ridden. I try to write the story like a courtroom drama—you think the issue is one thing, when it turns out to be another—and definitely with a healthy dose of humor. It’s really taking off. Authors are jumping on the bandwagon of this innovative marketing opportunity, and readers love being able to experience their favorite romance characters in this unique way. I’m always looking for new suggestions, so I encourage folks to head on over to the website (www.charactercouch.com) and submit a book.
Let’s end with you sharing something personal about yourself.
Sheesh, really? Okay, how about one of my most embarrassing moments? When I was in 7th grade, my biology teacher asked me to read out my definition for organism. To which I answered, “An orgasm is a single-celled life form that—” I couldn’t get any further. Everyone in the classroom (the teacher included) was laughing their butts off. While I, of course, sank beneath my desk. You know…now that I think on it, I should’ve seen that as a foreshadowing of things to come. With orgasms on the brain even at that young age, how could I not end up as a romance author?
The Bloodline War
Genre: Paranormal Romance
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A car accident changes everything for Dr. Toni Parthen. Her computer hacked hospital blood test confirms she’s the carrier of a gene that’s the key to salvation for a unique race of human beings. Abducted from her hospital room to a secret, underground community, Toni is asked to do the unthinkable: procreate with a man from a race called Varcolac-a species that must consume the blood of other humans to survive. Then bizarre turns dangerous, because a new, mysterious enemy also wants her special DNA, and Toni finds herself in the middle of an all-out war to possess her. It’s the job of Jacken Brun, leader of the Warrior Class, to keep the captured women safe from a demonic race of humans who rule a neighboring part of their underground world. His challenges multiply when Toni inflames the women into mutiny, and then there’s his biggest problem…his growing desire for the infuriating woman herself. Afflicted with a dark genetic makeup, Jacken can never be with a woman. Until Toni uses her scientific ingenuity to find a way for her and Jacken to be together. But then the new enemy faction unearths Toni and drags her to their hidden lair, where they’ll inflict an unspeakable cruelty on her to gain access to her valuable genes. It will take every warrior skill Jacken owns to save the woman he loves, but only if he can find her in time…