Interview by Suzanne Welsh
Kensington Debut western author, Tracy Garrett is in the Bandit lair to talk about her first book, Touch of Texas, which is on bookshelves now. While being a writer was not initially the burning desire in her life, creativity has always been core to Tracy. She is an accomplished musician with a bachelor and masters degree in flute performance, as well as post-graduate study in vocal performance, who continues to perform and teach. In recent years her need for creativity and her passion for reading began to merge, and with her love of romance, writing historical romance was a natural for her. She loves a “happily ever after!”
Suz: Congratulations on your debut book, Touch of Texas, Tracy. We Bandits love a good “call” story. Care to share yours?
Tracy: Thanks for inviting me to be a Bandit for a day. I’m so excited to see Touch of Texas on the bookstore shelves!
My call story is a bit unusual, I think. The phone didn’t ring – my email dinged! On July 19, 2006 at 8:09am, as I was wrapping up my writing session for the morning to head off to my day job, an email popped up from Hilary Sares of Kensington with five words that instantly changed me from writer to author: “…want to make a deal?...”
Suz: In Touch of Texas your hero, Jake McCain is a Texas Ranger, can you tell us a little bit about him?
Tracy: Jake – my favorite wounded hero (so far). He is of mixed heritage, which at that time in history ostracized you from anyone who considered themselves “civilized.” He saw his father murdered when he was four. He was buried alive with the body of his mother. Jake was discovered by a Texas Ranger, who took him home and raised him as his son. He feels he should have saved his father, though he was barely more than a baby, and he’s haunted by every man, woman and child he failed to save as a Ranger. He takes on this one last assignment before he disappears, and he doesn’t care if he lives or dies, as long as he brings the vicious outlaw W.M. Harrison to justice. Jake is fiercely loyal, bound by his word, dedicated to his job, worries about those weaker than he is, and truly believes he has no right to a happily ever after. MMMM, love those tortured heores!
Suz: Rachel Hudson is a woman alone and in trouble, how does she feel about helping your hero?
Tracy: Rachel never thought twice about helping a man in need. It was how she was raised, but even more, it is who she is.
Born to an El Paso light-skirt, or prostitute, she was raised in the tiny shack where her mother plied her trade. Because of Rachel, and later her brother Nathan, Rachel’s mother could only work when one of the other prostitute’s was done for the evening and could care for the children; hence, she had the dregs of the customers, the drunks who’d been tossed out of every saloon in town, or those who were so violent no other woman would service them.
When one of those customers tried to grab Rachel, her mother interfered, and the man killed her. In terror, Rachel grabbed her infant brother and ran away. She ended up being raised by a missionary couple, Reverend & Mrs. Hudson, who wanted the baby and kept Rachel around to do the work. When Mrs. Hudson died, and Rachel refused the Reverend’s demand that she become his wife, she and Nathan were dumped in the tiny gold mining town of Lucinda, Texas.
Despite the traumas in her young life, Rachel held onto the lessons she was taught, and grew into a loving, generous, glass-half-full kind of woman. She would never turn away someone needing help. Her only reservation was how the local gossips would view her actions, which proves to be a valid concern as the story progresses.
Suz: Touch of Texas is a western historical, a genre that has had a decline over the past decade or so. Do you think they are starting to make a comeback? And what authors have influenced your writing?
Tracy: I do believe westerns are making a comeback. Not only are we seeing more on the shelves of our local bookstores, but the release of 3:10 to Yuma suggests Hollywood thinks so, as well.
Some of the authors who have influenced my writing: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Lorraine Heath, Elizabeth Lowell, Madeleine L’Engle and Ray Bradbury.
Suz: Have you always loved historicals and westerns? What other genres pique your interest?
Tracy: My favorite movies are old westerns. John Wayne is my hero! I read almost everything. Contemporary, humor, paranormal... As long as there are printed pages between two covers, I’m happy. I hope to write westerns for a long time, but I have a few contemporary story ideas and a time-travel or two lurking in the back of my mind, too.
Suz asks, knowing her friend's favorite sport: Any other hobbies or interest our readers might like to know about you?
Tracy, grinning: If you’ve read my bio, you know I’m a musician, but I have a couple of interests most people don’t know about: trap shooting and car racing. Trap shooting grew out of my research into old west weapons, but NASCAR is pure entertainment. Over the last ten years, my husband and a dear friend of ours have converted me into a fan. Not a fanatic--at least, not yet--but I’ve learned more about cars, tire pressure and track surfaces than I ever thought possible. They started off my education with NASCAR, then moved on into open wheel and Formula 1.
I must admit, I love open wheel racing. Going two hundred miles an hour with your hind-end five inches off the concrete--way cool! For my fiftieth birthday, I want to ride in an Indy car. And who know, maybe a few racecar drivers will appear in future writing projects, when I run out of cowboys--which won’t be soon, I promise.
Now it’s my turn to ask the questions. Do any of you harbor a secret desire to try something new? If there were no limitations, what would you do?
Tracy will be giving away an autographed copy of Touch of Texas to one lucky commentor.