Tracey Garvis Graves is best known for her skyrocketing bestseller ON THE ISLAND, a book that was originally self-published after being repeatedly rejected by traditional publishers. When she released ON THE ISLAND independently, word-of-mouth spread like wildfire and her debut novel was selling out, ultimately becoming a New York Times Bestseller. Penguin snatched up the rights to ON THE ISLAND and have since released her next novel, COVET. Read what Tracey has to say about her latest book, where her inspiration comes from and what's next.
Tell us the story behind the story. How did you come up with the plot for COVET?
My inspiration came from a real-life event. In the fall of 2008 my husband was in danger of being laid off. He was a valued employee and had been with his company for over fifteen years, but the recession was in full-swing and none of that mattered. I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time so the threat of losing our only source of income weighed heavily on my husband and me. Fortunately, he did not lose his job, but we knew many couples who weren’t so lucky. Most of my books start out as a question, and Covet was no different. I wondered, “What if my husband had lost his job? What if he wasn’t able to find another one? What effect would that have had on an otherwise strong marriage? The answers to those questions became the basis for Covet’s storyline. I just had to know what the outcome would be.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing COVET?
The hardest thing was managing a balance between my writing time and the ongoing marketing and promotion of On the Island. I also gave a lot of presentations at libraries, literary festivals, conventions, and book clubs. I spent lots of time on airplanes and in my car.
What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?
Marriage is hard and there will always be ups and downs. It takes a lot of effort to fix a marriage that’s not working, but it’s worth it in the end, especially when there are children involved. Problems can be solved.
You self-published your first novel, ON THE ISLAND and did your own guerrilla marketing. How has the process differed with COVET?
Honestly, it’s not that different. Much of my marketing is due to word of mouth. I’m very accessible online, and my readers are able to find me pretty quickly on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. I spend a good deal of time interacting with and thanking my readers.
Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?
I am very much a plotter. I can’t just sit down in front of the computer and start writing, and before I even begin drafting a new book I like to have a good idea of the beginning, middle, and end. That doesn’t mean I won’t change things – because I change things constantly as the story develops – but having a general roadmap to follow keeps me from staring at a blank page.
What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?
I have a Kindle paperwhite on my nightstand. I’m currently reading The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. It’s wonderful!
Which authors inspire you?
Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Meg Wolitzer, Curtis Sittenfeld, Sarah Pekkanen, Emily Giffin, and Catherine McKenzie are a few of the authors I look up to. They are all massively talented.
What have you learned from this experience?
I’ve learned that dreams really can come true, especially if you’re willing to work hard and persevere when the going gets tough. I’ve also developed a pretty thick skin.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
I would tell a beginning writer to look at what’s selling really well right now and not try to write that. Be the author who starts the next trend.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Trust the process. When you first start writing a new book you wonder how you ever managed to write the first one. But if you turn off your inner critic and just write, pretty soon you’ll see the story start to develop and you’ll find your footing. The rest will come.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a book that leans a bit more heavily toward contemporary romance, although it could probably also be categorized as commercial women’s fiction. It’s a fast-paced, plot-driven story with an element of mystery. The heroine has a three-year-old son from a previous marriage so there’s a “Jerry McGuire” feel to it that I especially love. I’m really excited about writing this story.
To learn more about Tracey Garvis Graves visit her website here. And if you haven't already checked out Tracey's work, be sure to add both ON THE ISLAND and COVET to your list of To Be Read books!