I’m very pleased to welcome author and poet laureate, Julia Park Tracey to The Writing Life.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning author, journalist and blogger. Julia was the founding editor, and later, publisher, of The Alameda Sun. Her work has appeared in Salon, Quill, and Thrillist. She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, and holds a BA in journalism and MA in English.
Her published work includes the novels Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop, Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News (Booktrope), and Tongues of Angels; two biographies, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen and Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen; and Amaryllis: Collected Poems.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop is the first in a chicklit mystery series about a 20-something newspaper reporter trying to fight the good fight.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Veronika Layne. Sassy, tattooed, twenty-something newspaper reporter. Never saw herself working for the “man.” When her small weekly is swallowed up by Singh Media Group, that’s exactly where she ends up. Stuck writing fluff pieces that might as well be ads, how can she resist digging into rumors that a real estate developer is destroying native burial grounds? Warned away at every turn by her editor, she worries whether the story will see the light of day? And, dazzled by her sexy rival-turned-coworker, what is she going to do about her love life?
How did you come up with the title?
Veronika is a good Greek name (she’s Greek) that means True Image. Lois Lane was a female reporter (in Superman), so I put the two together for Veronika Layne. Getting the scoop is getting the story first, getting the inside information. She gets it – but not how she envisions it.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
I am a poet and lit-fic writer, as well as a working journalist. I put some of those pieces together and came up with the character, and wrote a lighter, fun story using my mad skills.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Finishing. Reading what I wrote and feeling satisfied.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Getting started. I have to have a deadline to light a fire under my feet.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Jane Austen (she’s a perennial favorite…but I just love her narrative arc.) I also love the domestic novels of WW2 and the first half of the 20th century – Monica Dickens, Dorothy Whipple, and DE Stevenson – I love these women and their fortitude.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
I learned a lot about chicklit and the sassy shorter form from reading Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. I learned how to include multiple POVs from Jane Smiley. I learned the sweeping arc from Austen as well as from Nevil Shute.
Favorite place to write?
Best place to write poetry is when I’m on vacation. On the deck of a cabin or at the beach. Best place to get longform writing done is at my desk. No joke – business gets done there.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I almost became a forest ranger instead of a journalist. I am very interested in eco-living, recycling, sustainable living, and other green topics. I have never lived in a redwood tree but we have a house in a redwood grove, and that’s close enough.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I kept the tone light. When I get too ponderous (too poetic), I have to remember that I’m not writing an essay or a sonnet. I’m writing New Adult fiction – it’s joyous and playful. I need to cultivate that side of me.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
There is no easy way out. You have to do the work. No one publishes the first draft – it takes many times to get the words right. Be willing to learn and open to critiques, and just keep writing. It won’t write itself, you know!
Where can we find your book?
Any bookstore can order from Ingram; Amazon has it right this very second.
What’s next for you?
A second Veronika Layne novel is on its way to bookstores, with a drop date of June 1. That novel, book #2 in the Hot Off the Press series, is called Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News. More hijinks for our sassy heroine.
And later this year, I have a contemporary novel called Whoa, Nellie that is heading for publication as well.
Thanks for a fun interview, Julia! Best wishes with Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News!
About Eleanor Parker Sapia
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and the Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.
A DECENT WOMAN available on Amazon