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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Interview with Author Tracy Solheim

Author Tracy Solheim, a military brat who now makes her home near Atlanta, began her writing career as a teenager when she penned a column in her town's local newspaper. Then, it was on to journalism school and a brief stint with NBC sports. After spending nearly two decades writing reports and testimonies for Congress, she delved into fiction. She lives in the suburbs with her husband, two teenagers, an aging Labrador retriever and a pony named after a monkey. When she's not writing, she enjoys photography, cooking, and reading. A frustrated sports writer, the books she loves to read--and write--feature athletes and the women who capture their hearts.

First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
I’m a wife and mother of two adult kids (18 and 23) who is finally living the dream. I grew up a military brat—a lifestyle that has given me a unique perspective on people and the world around us. I worked for Congress for nearly two decades (I started when I was twelve!) and I also had a fun Walter Mitty experience working as a production assistant for NBC Sports during the Seoul Olympics. I’m a sucker for wine, chocolate and a Hugh Grant movie.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I started writing stories in the fourth grade. I wrote screenplays for my favorite TV shows and moved on to actual screenplays when I was in high school. (A friend bought me a fake Oscar when I was in college!) I used to keep them all in spiral notebooks in a trunk in my bedroom. I’d love to read them today just to see how ridiculous they were! I wrote for my local and high school papers and in college, I wrote for magazines. It wasn’t actually that I always “wanted” to be writer, it was just who I was—who I am.

What kind of writer are you? Panser or Plotter?
Sadly, I am a Pantster. My picture should probably be next to the word in the dictionary. (Is it actually a word?) Every time I begin a new book, I vow to plot it out in more detail. Sadly, it never happens. I know my editor and my family would appreciate it if I did a little more plotting at the front end, but oftentimes, I know the beginning and the end, but I have to let my characters sort the story out on the page as I write it. I find some of my best secondary characters that way!

Where do your ideas come from?
I get ideas from a variety of real life situations. Each of my books from the Out of Bounds series dealt with actual events that occurred in the world of sports—BountyGate, NFL cheerleaders suing their teams, and the overzealous paparazzi, for example. I’ve even got a romantic suspense hanging around under my bed that was inspired by two network news shows. The hero is a real life DEA agent I saw interviewed on the evening news. When I switched the channel to ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, the show’s host was talking about his daughter getting a job as pastry chef at a Washington, DC restaurant. Just like that, I had my story of a hot DEA agent and a pastry chef on the run from the Russian Mafia.

A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
Even love might not prove strong enough to save a man’s promising future from a woman’s hidden past. #AllTheyEverWanted #smalltownpolitics

What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. I’m also a sucker for a happy ending. Life is crazy enough not to have resolution at the end of a book. There’s a nice dent in my wall from the books Gone Girl and Girl in Translation.

Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
Wow, that’s a tough one because I have so many favorites that it would be hard to choose. My most current favorite would have to be Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes. I can’t wait for the movie although books to movies don’t always go well, you know?

What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write? Why?
I think I struggle most with the scenes that are supposed to be humorous. Since I spent so much of my life as a journalist, it’s hard for me to insert levity into a scene. I wish I had the ability to write laugh-out-loud slap stick like Jamie Farrell or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but I don’t.

If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
Two of my favorite authors are no longer living, but we can pretend, can’t we? I’d love to invite Harper Lee because I have so many questions to ask her. I’d also invite Dick Francis because his books about horse racing taught me everything I needed to know about pacing a story. And I’d invite Kristan Higgins because she’s so sweet on the page and in person. Plus, she always has great recipes in her newsletter and I know she’ll bring a fabulous baked good for dessert!

Last question, are you working on anything right now?
I just finished a 50K word novella for Tule Publishing. It’s the first in a series about smokejumpers in Montana. This was such a fun project because I had to coordinate characters, locales, the storylines with the four other authors writing the follow-up books in the series. Look for it early this summer. I also have another football romance that I’m wrapping up. This one involves the team’s placekicker who is Scottish and has a wee problem with his immigration status. That one will be out during the 2016 football season. After that, I’ve got more books involving the McAlister family in the works.

My fictional town of Chances Inlet is famous for second chances. If you had a second chance at something, what would it be?

In the new Second Chances novel by the author of Back to Before, even love might not prove strong enough to save a man’s promising future from a woman’s hidden past...

All he ever fought for...

Aspiring congressman Miles McAlister has dreamed of representing his hometown of Chances Inlet, North Carolina, since he was a boy. So when he’s asked to help run his mother’s bed and breakfast he moves home and rolls out his campaign at the same time. But political stardom isn’t a given, especially when he’s expected to compromise the very ideals he’s trying to uphold. Making matters worse is the inn’s stubborn, and distractingly beautiful cook. He’s loved and lost before, so falling for Lori Buchman is not part of his plan.

All she ever feared...

Lori just wants to do her job and be left alone until she can safely move on. The last thing she needs is to get involved with her boss’s son. Miles proves to be too sexy to ignore, however. Their heated fling elicits feelings deeper than either anticipated. But everything about Lori is a lie. She’s harboring a secret that’ll destroy Miles’s career, and when the truth gets out it’s going to shock Chances Inlet to its core, forcing Miles to make the hardest decision of his life.

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Check out the Second Chances series: