Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(GPT!!!) Terry Tracy, author of A Great Place For A Seizure

I'm really excited to share yet another brilliant guest post with you guys! Our today's guest, Terry Tracy, has worked as a human rights activist, journalist, and US diplomat. Her debut novel, A Great Place for a Seizure,  is now available both in print and ebook format!  Terry is a wonderful person, with a sweet and charming personality, I'm sure you guys are going to love her!

Guys, please give your warmest welcome to Terry! 

About Terry:

   Terry Tracy was born in Virginia, but moved around Latin America in her childhood as a military brat. She is Asian-Irish American with a German husband and a German-American daughter (who tries desperately to teach her mother German). After college Terry worked as a receptionist, then left to work for free in Honduras at an orphanage. She returned to work in a human rights organization in Washington DC, then left for Guatemala to work as a free-lance journalist. By this point, it was clear that she had developed an addiction to moving around. In denial, she jumped over the Atlantic to Cambridge, England to get a Masters in a completely irrelevant, but intriguing, subject matter: Americas in the 16th century. Upon her return she decided to join the establishment and started working for the US Government. She left her job at the State Department to take turns with her husband and become a stay-at-home parent in London. Terry has had epilepsy for over 25 years and with the extra time at home decided to write a funny, sad, strange, and moving novel about a sarcastic epileptic.

To be loved or not beloved
a guest post by:
Terry Tracy

      Before Jane Austen published Emma she wrote in a letter “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” She had recently published Pride and Prejudice and was already weary of the world's singular adoration for Elizabeth Bennett.  Emma, so it seems, was crafted to be the anti-Elizabeth.

     For some reason that remark stayed in the back of my mind as I wrote A GREAT PLACE for a SEIZURE. When I received my first brutal review on my initial reaction was horror as I scrolled down to read one verbal slash and spit after another.  Then the reviewer made an observation about my main character, Mischa, that made me smile from ear to ear:  After a while the reader may wonder why anyone would bother trying to be her friend and why someone hasn't punched her in the face.”  It was weird. I felt an athletic thrill in my gut, the kind that moved Mia Hamm to pull off her shirt and shout “YES!”.   It was as if I had scored a goal. 

I had created a character that some could love and others could hate.

     Any form of art is an imitation of life. Nevertheless, I believe that any artist, be it painter, sculptor, or writer, hopes that their work comes to life in the mind's-eye of the people who experience it.  After all, that's why we do it. We want to play “creator” and develop our own little world inside a frame, out of a rock, or printed on paper. To be able to create a character that someone hated so much that she wanted to hit her meant that I had elicited a real emotional reaction.  While reading my novel, for those few hours, that reviewer had entered my world and she could not pretend that she left it apathetic. Others had written about how much they admired Mischa.  Those comments left me feeling warm, grateful, and sometimes, truly touched.  But it was that reviewer,who paid me the greatest compliment.

When we are young, running around the playground or walking down locker-lined hallways, we delude ourselves to believe that life would be great if everyone loved us.  As you get older you realize that you would have to be a different person to be admired by types such as Qadaffi, Imelda Marcos, and Donald Trump.  These three, though far different from each other, have one similarity. They have become archetypes of certain undesirable characteristics; cruelty, vanity, and arrogance respectively.  As you mature you recognize that it's OK for people to dislike you, in fact, if everyone liked you it might be a sign that something is wrong.

So back to the question, “Does a writer want the main character to be loved or not beloved?”   It probably depends on the writer, but as for me it's OK if some people love her and some people hate her.  In fact, that's the way I prefer it.
That, in my opinion, is one fantastic guest post. I so often come across reviews that are totally bashing a book just because someone didn't happen to love the main character. The most recent example would be the brilliant Fury by Elizabeth Miles - so what that Ems is a back-stabbing bee-yatch! She was meant to be one! That's how Elizabeth Miles envisioned her. It was essential to the plot! Don't you guys think that judging a book solely based on whether someone liked or disliked the main character implies emotional immaturity and lack of professionalism? Well, I do! Would love to hear your thoughts on that!

Terry, thank you so much  for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us here today! I'm looking forward to reviewing your book!

Published April 18th 2011 by CreateSpace

Mischa Dunn's family flees Chile in the wake of the 1973 coup d'etat that installs a military dictatorship. She settles comfortably in her newly adopted country, the United States, until one day, an unexplained seizure in a library signals the beginning of her life with epilepsy. With an engaging balance of humor, insight, and sensitivity Mischa draws the reader into a vivid tale that travels across three continents over thirty years.
(from Goodreads)

Giveaway Time! 
Terry generously provided us with one paperback an one e-copy of A Great Place for a Seizure!!!

The paperback giveaway, as well as the e-copy, is open worldwide
Ends: Thursday, September 15th

*Mandatory entry: be a GFC follower of my blog and leave a meaningful comment with your email address, indicating what country you're from!
*Extra entries: 
+1 Follow me on Twitter @SeoEvie
+5 Tweet about this giveaway using @SeoEvie

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Wow this is an awesome question.

In my opinion, I think it depends. If the rest of the story is enticing and there is more to the story, then of course I can enjoy a book if I dislike the main character. I also think it depends on if the author intentionally did this. Sometimes an author does this to make a point. I get the point and it isn't distracting to the story.

I feel like I'm rambling. BUT...

If I'm not invested in a character and the entire story is about their general life without a message or something else enticing, I probably won't read it. It has nothing to do with immaturity but rather...a bad character CAN equal to a bad story if there is nothing else to care about.

Uh I feel like that didn't come out right and I would need an example or something.

Overall, I don't like perfect characters but if they are going to be unlikeable, hopefully there is a reason for it that I can understand and it adds to or makes the story better.

tft said...


You have a good point. I remember when I submitted my first few chapters to some professional readers for advice (by the way, I had to pay a few hundred bucks for that advice). The original draft had a long scene, an argument between teenage Mischa and her mother, at the beginning. There was one reader who gave me some very intelligent and sublime comments on structure and pacing. Then her writing style changed when she got to Mischa. She described Mischa as bratty and made some reference to her own teenage daughter. I had hit a raw nerve. Others had called Mischa spunky and brave. Now, regardless of whatever personal problems that reader had at home I took her advice seriously. I could not afford to put people off Mischa immediately. I had to pace exposing the good parts and the bad parts of Mischa's personality. As you said, I had to have the reader invest in her emotionally.

My guess is that if a novel is character-driven, where the author likes to dwell on the inner-workings of the soul and motivations of the character, then you need a main character that can be loved and not beloved by different people at different times. In fact that is the essential art of a character-driven novel, crafting a well-rounded portrait of an individual, like a painter does through shading and lighting. You can't afford a character whom everyone would hate all the time in a character-driven novel because that main character would be one-dimensional and boring.

However, if the novel is more plot-driven than character-driven, then a reader doesn't mind going to hell and back with a demonic main character because the ride is so interesting. In a plot-driven book the action will keep the readers' interest and the reader invests in just wanting to know what the nasty person does next: kill, seduce, lie, cheat, etc.

Because I write a character-driven novel I do have to care about getting a reader to invest in the character at first. If I am successful some will love her and others will not by the end of the book, but I'll count success as the fact that they finished the book and they have an opinion on her.

So Alexis raises a good point. Perhaps in a character-driven novel a main character has to be loved in the beginning, at the very least, THEN the complexity of being loved and not beloved can evolve as the story moves on.

Terry Tracy

RhiannonPaille said...

Hey Terry!
Great post and I share your sympathy! I think it makes a character more real when you want to slap them or tell them something, as a reader, when you want to be involved in the story, that's when the story goes from being a story to being real. I remember feeling that way about Katniss and Sam and many others.

As for the review stuff. I recently got a 3 star rating, which was mostly good comments. Her negative comment was that my book was too sad for her.

All I could think was "Yes! I made you cry!"

So I get it, having a character and a story that moves people is what it's all about. Thanks for this post, and hope to chat with you soon in the twitterverse!

SweetShenanigans said...

I think it's great to have dispute and mixed reactions over a character- that's what makes it interesting!

GFC: SweetShenanigans
country: Canada
email: girl23rocks at hotmail dot com
twitter follower @Alliegal101

mary ann said...

Yeah, I think it depends on the writer if whether he/she likes his/her main character to be loved or not, but of course if I am the writer I would definitely love if they would adore my main character, because I do understand that it is not that simple to do a character especially one that would suit to the readers.

And for the next question, I would absolutely say yes!, it is immaturity to based the impression of the book on what others think about the main character, whether they were too ordinary or because the main character was self-centered. For me judging the book must be on your own view,after you've finished to read the story, not just because of someones view. People differ in some many ways especially on their view on some things.

maryanngacayan at yahoo dot com

Oh BTW, I'm from Philippines the land of sweet mangoes;p

tft said...

Wow, Evie runs quite a global blog. All at once we have a conversation going that includes the Philippines, Canada, US and UK.

Rhiannon Palle--congratulations on making a reader cry. I know it sounds cruel to say, but having elicited that emotional response is a real achievement. You made the words come alive for her.

I share a goal with Sweet Shananigaans: to have mixed reactions to my character. I began to fear that I had created a cardboard character when I heard too many compliments about her personality. Then when that one reader proclaimed her desire to punch Mischa in the face I felt a little more confident. I also think it's a show of some ability if a writer can make the same reader hate the character in some scenes and love her/him in others. It's a sign that the character has been written true to life because of course we all hate/love our friends and family at some point in our lives depending on based on their reactions to a situation.

As Maryanngacayan noted, I think a reader's view of a character is really a mirror of their own personality. I think the type of reader who can read through a novel with an arrogant, self-centered main character is the type of person who takes people the way and doesn't try to change them. That reader enjoys watching personalities react and learns about human nature through a novel. I think a novel can be like prolonged people-watching from a park bench--only you get to see the interesting parts of their lives. I would make a bet that many novel readers are people-watchers. I would make a bet that every writer is a people watcher.

I think the type of reader who dislikes a book merely because they dislike the main character is often a reader who sees a book as a first draft. They think they could have done it better if this...if that...if this. They don't take it as it come and. try to see the writers' point of view. They do not consider the novel a dialogue between reader and writer, but a monologue and they can only think "I would have said it differently". These readers....well I'm still trying to understand them...but it's become more clear in my reviews that I have readers who've read my book and readers who wished they could have edited and rewritten the book and THEN it could have been so much better. I'm still trying to figure out and understand the motivations of those readers.

Terry Tracy

Mary Ann.

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