Lights! Camera! Action! Yes, It's that time of year again. Award's season is upon us - the Golden Globes kicked it all off in L.A. last weekend, the BAFTA nomination's have already been announced, and before we know it, The Oscars will be upon us.
Which brings me nicely onto the wonderful author I've been talking to on my blog today - Tracie Banister. Her new novel - Blame It on the Fame - takes us into the lives of five very different actresses and how they all deal with being nominated for the Best Actress Award at The Oscars... but I'll let Tracie tell you more about that later.
So, let's find out more about Tracie Banister, and her writing...
Author Bio: An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara. Her debut Chick Lit novel, Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012. She resides in the Southern US and enjoys watching TV, going to the theatre, finding talented, new writers, and spending time with her three adorable rescue dogs. She blogs about her books and other fun stuff at http://traciebanister.blogspot.com/ and her Twitter handle is @traciebanister
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. My work was first seen on the stage of my elementary school, where my 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that I scripted (Like all good divas-in-the-making, I, also, starred in and tried to direct the production.) By the time I reached junior high, I was writing under the pen name Blair Banister (I’ve always had a thing for alliteration) and spent my nights pounding out stories on my typewriter (Yes, kids, that’s what us old folks used before there were computers) that I would then put into envelopes and stuff into my friends’ lockers the next morning. In my spare time, I practiced scribbling my autograph so that I’d be ready to sign all of those bestselling books I was going to write when I grew up. The weird thing about my lifelong proclivity for writing is that there are no other writers in my family. All of my relatives are in left-brained fields like medicine and finance, so where I got my creative side or inspiration to put pen to paper is a mystery.
Where do you get your ideas for your books? Is it purely from your imagination, or do you use a little bit of life experience in there too?
I get ideas everywhere – from friends, family, the internet, TV, magazines. I never know what will provide a springboard for my imagination. There is a little bit of me and my life experiences in every story I write – these can show up in character quirks (like a heroine loving to do crossword puzzles), or places I’ve visited, or relationship dynamics.
Tell us a bit about your debut novel, Blame It on the Fame.
Blame It on the Fame tells the story of the five women who are in contention for the Best Actress award at this year’s Oscars. These are five very different ladies, ranging in age from 24 to 48, and they are all at very different places in their lives and careers. For some, this nomination is a dream come true. For others, it’s a nightmare. All of them will experience tremendous highs and lows on their journey to the ultimate red carpet event.
The book’s got a very strong Oscar theme surrounding it, so, do you yourself love the movies? Would you love to be part of the whole glamour and glitz of Oscar night? And what would you wear to such an occasion, should you get the chance to walk that red carpet?
The movies have always been a very important part of my life. My mother took me and my little brother to a matinee every Saturday when we were kids, and I always thought it was a special treat to be allowed to stay up late on the weekends so that I could watch an old movie or two on TV (I was very fond of MGM musicals.) The Oscars have always been like a national holiday in my house and a major cause for celebration. I’ve never gotten decked out in formalwear to watch the Oscars (I know a lot of people do this for home viewing parties.) But if I ever had the great good fortune to get invited to the Academy Awards, I would jump at the opportunity to get gussied up and walk the red carpet! And I’d wear a sparkly red dress (red’s my favorite color and it always looks fab on a blonde) with lots of diamond jewelry!
Who would be your ideal Oscar night date?
So many movie star crushes to choose from . . . I think I’d like to make my grand entrance at the Oscars on the arm of Jude Law. Yes, he’s prettier than me, but that’s okay, I like my eye candy. And Jude would be the ideal Oscar date for me because he’s charming, he has a great accent that I wouldn’t mind listening to for hours on end, and he’s a brilliant actor (so being paired with him on the red carpet at such an event would give a girl a certain cachet.)
If they made a movie of your life, which actress would you love to play you?
Reese Witherspoon. She’s petite, blonde, Southern, and sassy, and I am all of the above.
Favourite actors/actresses – who are they?
My fave actors in no particular order are Johnny Depp, Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem, and Michael Fassbender.
Fave actresses include Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Judi Dench, Emma Stone, and Sandra Bullock.
Favourite genre of movies you love to watch – do you have one?
I have two favorite genres. Romantic comedies, ones that have heart, not ones that are sophomoric. And Period Films – I adore almost anything set in another time with actors wearing beautiful costumes and driving around in carriages.
Ultimate all-time favourite movie – one in particular, or have you got loads you love?
That’s like asking me to name a favorite book – impossible! Okay, I’ll narrow it down to my top five fave films - Gone With the Wind, Singing in the Rain, The Princess Bride, A Room with a View, and The Notebook.
Your characters in Blame It on the Fame – were they inspired by anyone in particular?
There are small aspects to the characters in the book that were inspired by certain celebrities. For instance, Danielle Jamison rose to fame as the goody-two-shoes lead on a primetime teen drama called “Doheny Bay,” much like Katie Holmes did with Dawson’s Creek. Laurel Hastings is a blonde middle-aged actress who resides with her non-celebrity husband and kids in the suburbs of Connecticut, just as Meryl Streep did with her family during her heyday. And like that notoriously combustible couple Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Philippa Sutcliffe and Miles McCrea had a torrid affair while filming a movie about a pair of famous lovers (Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in their case – Cleopatra and Mark Antony in Liz and Dick’s.)
How do you shape the characters that appear in your books? Do you know from the very beginning where these people are going to go, or do you let the story drive the characters? Do they grow, and even surprise you, as the story progresses?
I always know where my characters are going to start and where they’re going to end – how they get there is almost entirely dependent on them. I think if you write characters who are strong and well-developed, you can let them play on the page. I am very often surprised and delighted by what my characters do. I can also get frustrated when they refuse to do what I want them to. That’s when I have to stop and listen to what the characters are trying to tell me. If they are balking at doing something, that means I’m forcing it and I need to relax and let the story unfold in a more organic way.
You’ve been writing for the past 7 years, and you did have an agent at one point. So what drove you to go it alone, start again, and try the Indie author route?
My story is similar to a lot of Chick Lit/Women’s Fic writers who’ve tried to break into the publishing business in the last several years. I sent out queries on my first novel and was fortunate enough to get two offers of representation from top-notch New York agents. I went with the one I felt a connection with and was excited to hear terms like “bidding war” and “movie rights” being bandied about. Although my book received really positive feedback from publishers, they all said they had a backlog of Chick Lit and didn’t want anymore. I went back to the drawing board and wrote book two, thinking that by the time I finished it, the tide would have turned and fun fic for women would be in again. Nope. Every agent who read my book praised it, said I was an incredibly talented writer, had a great voice, made them laugh, etc., etc., but they simply could not sell Chick Lit written by a new author in the current market. I actually had several agents and publishers tell me to switch genres because I was wasting my time and talent by persisting in writing Chick Lit. If I were smart, I probably would have taken their advice and started writing about vampires. But I knew in my heart that there was still an audience out there for the humorous, entertaining, romance-filled stories I like to write (and read.) So, I wrote book three, my magnum opus, and when I finished it, I knew I had a really good, marketable, appealing book on my hands. I queried agents (again), but I did it half-heartedly because I knew that the depressed economy had had an adverse affect on the publishing world and there wasn’t much opportunity for an untested writer there anymore. Agent after agent told me that they couldn’t help me because there was no longer any demand for light women’s fic. That’s when I had my epiphany. I had a wonderful book to share, and there were plenty of readers of Chick Lit who were being ignored, so why not cut out all the middle men and take my book straight to them? Fortunately, I was able to do that with digital publishing, so now I am an indie author and proud of it!
OK, we’ve talked about the writing, but what do you like to do when you’re not writing? How do you like to relax?
I love to go to the movies and I adore live theatre (major Broadway addict!), reading has always been my favorite pastime, I exercise every day and enjoy spending time with friends, family, and my three adorable Cocker Spaniels.
Have you got any new writing projects on the horizon that you can tell us about? What’s next for Tracie Banister?I have lots of writing irons in the fire right now. My next release will be a Chick Lit novel set in Miami about a Latina psychologist. I think it’ll be a great beach read for the summer, so I plan to get that out in May. I’m currently working on the first book in a series that I’m calling “Regency Chick Lit” as it will focus on the romantic trials and tribulations of the young ladies in an aristocratic English family circa 1814. I hope to release that book by the end of 2012! Meanwhile, I have two other projects on the backburner – a time-hopping epic romance with a paranormal twist and a YA novel.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Michelle!
And that's a wrap! It was a pleasure to have you here, Tracie! Thank you for taking the time to give such a great interview!
And I wish you every success with Blame It on the Fame!
Fancy a little bit of Oscar action? Blame It on the Fame is available to buy now from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords