The best life lessons are those learned from unexpected detours in the road. Whether it’s losing a dream job or ending what you thought was a fairytale marriage, these painful experiences are tests of courage and strength. Oftentimes, the road less traveled becomes the path to happiness. Being able to come out on the other side more confident and self-assured makes the journey worthwhile. Misfortunes have a way of blossoming into some of life’s sweetest rewards.
This month’s Jen’s Jewels Tracey Garvis Graves addresses this very topic in her latest release, Covet. It’s a relevant story about one loving couple in crisis. When Claire’s husband suddenly loses his job, she finds herself questioning the longevity of the marriage. What makes this novel so appealing is like many of us, the author has faced her own adversity in life. Luckily for Tracey, it has translated into a successful writing career.
As part of my interview, Dutton, a division of the Penguin Group, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Contest winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.
Jen: As a New York Times bestselling author, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Tracey: Most people are surprised to learn that I have a BA in Business Administration. I did take two elective fiction writing classes in college, which I loved, but my dad felt strongly that a business degree would always come in handy (I really couldn’t argue with that!). My professional background has primarily been in Information Technology and Mortgage recruiting.
Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to become a self-published author.
Tracey: It was less of an “Aha” moment and more of a, “now that all the literary agents have rejected me, self-publishing is my only remaining option,” kind of epiphany. Self-publishing had come a long way from the days of authors selling their books out of the trunks of their cars, but I still felt like I’d failed. But then I realized that I could let the manuscript of On the Island sit on my hard drive gathering dust, or I could self-publish it and let the readers decide if they liked it.
Jen: How did you make the transition from self-publishing to mainstream fiction with Dutton, a division of Penguin Books?
Tracey: On the Island slowly and steadily found its audience, and after it had been out for about 6 months it was featured in an Amazon promotion. The book really took off after that and ended up in the top 10 on Amazon (where it would stay for the next two months). Literary agents started reaching out to me and after I signed with Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, I received an offer for a two-book deal from Penguin.
Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?
Tracey: Now that I’m writing full-time it takes me about 9 months to write a novel. The hardest part of the process is completing the first draft. Once I reach the revision stage it gets a little easier. It probably helps that the revision stage is my favorite part of the writing process.
Jen: Covet is a truly engrossing novel depicting the emotional journey of a young couple facing their first marital crisis. How did you arrive at the premise?
Tracey: 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.
Jen: Claire and Chris are at a crossroad in their marriage when Chris loses his job and tailspins into depression. How does this crisis alter the dynamics of their relationship?
Tracey: Men tend to internalize their feelings and withdraw when they’re under pressure. No matter how much Claire tried to help, it really didn’t ease Chris’s anxiety or lessen his stress. So much of Chris’s identity was wrapped up in his role as a provider. Once that was taken away he began to flounder within the framework of his and Claire’s relationship, which in turns caused their marriage to suffer. And as much as Claire loved her husband and wanted to be supportive, she was extremely vulnerable to an emotional affair because her needs weren’t being met at home. I think there are many, many women walking in Claire’s shoes right now.
Jen: Claire has Type 1 Diabetes, of which my thirteen-year-old niece Morgan also suffers. I applaud you for bringing this disease to light. Why did you choose to incorporate it into the storyline?
Tracey: I really wanted to highlight that no matter how bad things get within a marriage, losing your spouse would truly be the worst thing that could happen. Claire’s health was something that she and Chris completely took for granted because Claire managed her disease very well. Incorporating Type 1 Diabetes into the storyline allowed me to really explore how important it is not to lose sight of what really matters.
Jen: When Chris finally lands a new job, Claire struggles with her marriage, her kids, and her disease due to her husband’s taxing new travel schedule. When she meets police officer Daniel, how does their sudden attraction change Claire’s perception of her present situation?
Tracey: Claire’s friendship with the handsome and attentive Daniel made it easier for her to deal with the mundane aspects of her life, and the trials and tribulations of basically becoming a single parent due to Chris’s travel schedule. She felt less affected – and less bothered – by Chris’s absence because Daniel was there to fill his shoes.
Jen: In Claire’s neighborhood clique, each mom has personal issues of her own. Why does Claire not feel comfortable confiding in them concerning her troubles?
Tracey: In the book, Claire explains that she is worried about becoming fodder for the neighborhood gossip mill. Claire is going through a hard enough time as it is, and doesn’t want hers to be the family that everyone talks about.
Jen: How does Daniel’s eagerness to reach out to Claire serve as an avoidance of his private issues?
Tracey: It provides a nice diversion for Daniel. He doesn’t feel as strong a need to “get back in the game,” but at the same time he doesn’t have to be lonely, either.
Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Tracey: I’m actually in the process of migrating to a new website, so I guess you could say that traceygarvisgraves.com is currently “under construction.” My new website will have much more information, including an expanded FAQ section and a tab listing all of my upcoming signings and events.
Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news?
Tracey: I am! I prefer Facebook, specifically my author page. I can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest, and at www.traceygarvisgraves.com.
Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?
Tracey: I’ve just started drafting my next book, and it’s probably my most ambitious writing project so far. It’s a fast-paced, plot-driven, contemporary romance with an element of mystery. The heroine has a three-year-old son from a previous marriage so there’s a bit of a “Jerry McGuire” feel to it that I especially love. I’m really excited about writing this story.
Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Covet. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!
Tracey: Thank you so much for having me. I’m absolutely thrilled that you loved Chris, Claire, and Daniel’s story. Xoxo
I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Tracey Garvis Graves. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Covet today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be entered to win!
What is the name of Claire’s husband in Covet?
In October, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…welcome to fall.